Monday, April 14, 2014

Springtime in the Geisha's Garden...MQX

The quilt I have been working on for the last year was finished last month, and went to it's first show this past week.  MQX is a fantastic machine quilting show, and will forever be regarded as my home show.  It is the first real show I ever entered, the first one I got a real quilting ribbon at, and the first Best of Show that truly matters.  The competition is always stiff, so to place is an honor.  Last year my Big Bertha surprised even me by winning the BOS, but I knew that wouldn't repeat itself this year.  There were too many great quilts entered.  What I did get, though, was nearly as good.  I took 4 awards, much to my surprise.  My Autumn's Surrender (the silk quilt I showed in Feb) won 1st in it's Solo category as well as the much coveted Best Frame Machine Quilting Award.  The latter award is honestly, the best to me since this is a machine quilting show.  It validates all of the neurotic, miniscule and seemingly foolish decisions I make to perfect my craft.  My Rainbow Nouveau quilt was re-entered at MQX again this year, as it didn't ribbon last year.  It got a 2nd place!  It just goes to show you that some years, some categories are harder or larger.  This year I entered it in the custom heirloom category, and it had only 10 entries (one of whom was bumped up to best of show, leaving another placement).  And, my 3rd 2014 show quilt, which I have yet to show the entire quilt, (below) "Springtime in the Geisha's Garden" took first in the large wall hanging category, another sweet award.  I really love this quilt and am thrilled to have all my hours of handwork and careful design decisions rewarded.

It measures just about 60" square (a hair smaller).

I started on the dahlia center last March.  This center medallion has a dark brown piping between the ivory and the print from the silk Radiance.  I have also put silk accents in other areas on the quilt.  This fabric is simply addictive, and I love working with it.  Here are a few links to the thought process I used during construction...Here and here
 The brown floral is a fabric that I had 1/2 yard of only, and got as a gift.  But I just loved it, and used it as the inspiration for all other fabrics I chose to use on the top.  I selected shades of green in the forest tones as well as the golder tones, because they both coordinated with the print.  When I was in Paducah last year, I found the material I used on the outermost border of this.  I had been hunting, and thought it was serendipitous to have found it there.  I also bought several of the paler pinks and added dogwood blooms to the flowers to represent my Paducah journey.  I was there too because one of my quilts had an honorable mention ribbon at the show.
I wish I could tell you how many leaves I appliqued, but I have lost track.  It is nearly 150.  Each also has embroidery on the veins from silk floss.  This is a little pricey, but it has such a pretty sheen.  Like the leaves, I have also forgotten how many tiny circles I hand appliqued down as well.  LOTS!...and many were silk.
 The ribbon is made from silk Radiance, and as my good luck would happen, the ivory silk matched the center background fabric very well.  Quilting on this silk is limited so as to only show the movement of the ribbon.  The silk is actually easy to quilt on, but I chose to keep it unquilted for effect.  As I was finishing up the hand stitching of the applique, I was also mentally designing the quilting.  I do tend to do these things hand in hand, as some details on the construction of the top affect how I may quilt it.  I knew I wanted this type of quilting of the outer border, and the scalloped edge, so I opted to applique another 30 1" circles on the quilt!  What good is crazy if it is not crazy squared!  I think that the effect is what I was aiming for -- to bring a little shimmer to the outer area of the quilt.

One thing I ran into with this quilt that I have not had before was the fact that the deep green stem (3/8" bias piece) seemed to pull in as I worked on the applique.  I was pretty disgusted with the top when the applique was all done because I was not certain it would ever be flat again.  I did something I have not done before - I blocked the top prior to quilting.  I carefully set pins to mark the center square on point, then wet the background and eased it all out smooth, setting pins around the outer area to hold it in place.  About 3 days later when it was dry and I was certain it would not revert to a C-cup, I removed it from my blocking board. It was a nice flat piece of cake to quilt!  This doesn't explain why it bled a little during the final blocking, but that is a story for another day!
It has about 150 hours or more in the quilting.  I used double batting, and silk thread on the entire quilt.  The quilting just sings to me; I couldn't be more pleased with the choices for patterns and designs.  I chose textures to hopefully help convey the Asian garden theme.
 The hardest areas to design quilting for are prints.  I think this ribbon design for the floral area beneath the suns came to me in a dream (the overlapping ribbon).
 Here's a look at the backside.  I added a little hand embroidery after it was finished.  Since some of the shows hang quilts to show the backs, I love to have a little something that is unexpected.  I also chose to do a line of hand stitching (embroidery) right where the binding meets the backing.
This quilt and two others of mine will be heading to HMQS in Salt Lake City next week.  If you happen to be going to that show, it sounds like there will be some great quilts there.


Quilting Babcia said...

Simply Spectacular!

Tie Dye Queen said...

Every thing about this quilt is fabulously beautiful. I want you to know that I am hoping to have you quilt one of my own Very Simple quilts one day. And, don't you have a quilt at AQS Paducah where I am headed next week?

Unknown said...

Your quilt is SPECTACULAR! What a gorgeous work of art!

What Comes Next? said...

Congratulations Margaret, on all counts! This new one is simply (far from it in fact) gorgeous!

JoyceT said...

Exquisite design and execution!

Becky (My Fabric Obsession) said...

Simply Gorgeous!! Congrats on the 4 ribbons. Well deserved!

Heritage Keepsakes said...

Margaret your quilting on Geisha Garden left me breathless!! It is absolutely stunning!! I love all the details and the way you executed your quilting designs on this quilt, is truly mind blowing. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent and the technicalities of the construction process.

Valerie the Pumpkin Patch Quilter said...

All of your quilts are beyond amazing and watching you grow as a quilter has inspired me over the years. I sent my first little quilt to HMQS today - nothing like one of your stunners but I'm still tickled to know that my quilt will even be at the same venue!!! I have always dreamed of MQX much because I've watched you share and speak so highly about it - I feel like I know the show without even having had the opportunity to go!

I appreciate the thoughts and words of wisdom you share here - I don't always comment, but I am listening and taking mad crazy notes! :) ...and I hope the floor doesn't collapse from the weight of all those ribbons on your ribbon wall... LOL :)

Michele said...

I so loved gazing at this quilt at the show. It is beyond amazing. You give me hope that some day I can do this kind of work too. Congrats on all the ribbons.

Janet Ann said...

All of your quilts were just Fabulous! I had the chance to attend the show and your right, the competition was stiff and you totally deserved every ribbon - your work in OUTSTANDING! Love following your blog - truly inspirational.

Kristen Willard said...

I'm excited to see this one in person at HMQS. I love to see hard work rewarded by fantastic results. Well done!

Unknown said...

Очень красиво!!!!