Have you ever entered a challenge?
I haven't. I've meant to. But I've never done it. Mostly, I chicken out. Other times, I just don't have time to finish or start my project...or so I say. Maybe that's just another way of chickening out.
A while back, Amy Friend of Made During Quiet Time, made a blog post about a contest she was hosting. It's called Texting While Sewing. You can read about it here. Amy does some pretty amazing stuff with fabric in general, but I've always been amazed at the great stuff she does with text fabric. You can see some examples of that in her post about the contest.
Basically, the challenge was to create a 12-inch block using fabric that has text on it in a creative way. You could design our own block, use someone else's design (and give credit for it)...whatever. But you had to use fabric with words on it.
I asked Amy if I could make my own text fabric, because I don't have a lot of fabric with words on it. And, I really wanted to make a journaling block.
Also, one night in July, when I was in Minnesota, I went for a walk. I was, for some reason, missing Iowa, where I grew up. I have felt that way off and on, ever since I went back to Iowa last October for my mentor's award. I saw this sunset when I was in Minnesota, took a photo (above; admittedly not a great photo....with my camera phone and shooting right into the sunset) because I thought the corn fields were so beautiful (hard to see in the photo), and suddenly knew what I wanted to do for my block. I wanted to do a journaling block that summarized what I missed about Iowa and that indicated corn fields.
I'm pretty nervous to enter this challenge. I know I won't win any prizes or anything. I don't think what I'm doing is all that "wow." But, I felt so compelled to make this...and I knew I wanted to make a mini-quilt, not just a block.
Here is the block I made. I can't believe how nervous it makes me to show this to you all!
I'm going to call this little quilt, "Sometimes I Really Miss Iowa..." My journaling on the block starts out, "Sometimes, I really miss Iowa....," and it goes on to talk about all the things I miss.
I wanted to do a big sunset, with rolling corn fields below. I wanted to use my reflections on why I miss Iowa, in my own handwriting, to indicate the rows of corn. The block, itself, isn't very exciting (my humble opinion). All along, however, I had in mind to accentuate the corn rows with quilting, which I'll show you below here. Then, I'll go back to the block and work up to the quilting:
Here is a close up of some of my text. Prairie Lights Bookstore is my favorite bookstore in Iowa City; the Airliner is a bar in Iowa City I frequented as an undergraduate; Swaney Equipment was my grandpa's implement store; Vanourny Implement was my other grandpa's John Deere store; Iowa Book and Supply is my other favorite book store in Iowa City; the Irish Democrat is one of my favorite bars and restaurants in Cedar Rapids (I really, really love a good Irish pub); the Vernon Inn was a great Greek restaurant that we used to go to a lot in Cedar Rapids. Get the idea? Some parts are sentences that talk about what I miss about Iowa. The rest is just free associating different places I miss in Iowa....
I can show you how I did it, if you'd like....
I started with these cool ombré fabrics (is that how you spell that?) I picked up at Gruber's when I was there on my retreat in July. I was thinking I had bought more, but this is all I could find. As soon as I finished the block, of course, I found two more fabrics that were more yellow and orange that I had planned to use. Oh well!
So, I made a template for it and appliqued it on using Aurifil's monofiliment thread. (I'll do a post on that part by itself later. I have a giveaway for you, too!) I fussy cut the ombré fabric so that in the sky, all the lights were near the sun, and the sky got darker as it moved away. I did the sun points moving from dark to light.
I made templates for the hills (and for the round part of the sun). I used a heat resistant template plastic. The round part of the sun and the hills were all appliqued using the same strategy. I cut fabric to cover the template. I folded the edge of the fabric over the top of the hill, used some starch, and ironed that edge over to give me a nice crisp edge. I positioned hill #1 where I wanted it to be, and machine appliqued it, using the monofiliment thread. Then, I appliqued hill #2 down, and finally hill #3. I did all of that on a muslin foundation. I then trimmed my block to 12.5" unfinished.
By the way, I meant to put the lightest hills in front, and the darker hills in back, to get the perspective right. But then I realized I goofed and couldn't fix it, because I didn't have enough fabric. So, I just went with it. I thought, "Well, the sun is shining on that hill." Sigh. (Although now, when I look at the photo, the hills closer to me are darker due to the sun lighting up the fields in the back and the exposure in the photo. So, maybe it's okay!)
Now I'm stuck. I can't decide what to do next. I don't want it to get busy, so my inclination is to keep the sunset fairly "low key." My first inclination was to use lots of flashy thread and maybe some beads, but I'm afraid that would compete too much with the heavy stitching and journaling on the bottom of the block. I'm thinking some rounded lines in the round part of the sun, and some more straight lines in the sky...all with thread that blends with the fabric, like I did in the rays. What do you think? I was hoping to have this finished before I showed you all, but I felt like I needed some advice. So, I didn't rush it.
That's all I need to do. Then, I'll put a backing on, bind it, and call it done. I am going to use some of the ombré for the binding. I think I'll try to variations of light to dark with the binding but haven't quite decided how...
Like I said, I don't expect to win any prizes with this. My goals were to (a) submit SOMETHING, and (b) get out the urge to create this little quilt to express my feelings about Iowa. I met these goals, so I am happy!
Am I happy with it? So far, I think it's okay. It does look pretty much like I envisioned it. So, that is good.
But I know others came up with some pretty creative stuff. And I'm in awe of that. If you want to see them, head on over to Amy's blog and check it out. She's having a Mr. Linky party with all the posts. I know I can't compete! But I feel good to have overcome my fear of submitting something. I can't believe how much I feel I am putting myself out there with this! Whew!
How about you? Does entering a challenge make you feel really self-conscious?
Until next time,