Thanks to everyone who voted for my block, I won the latest Modern Quilts Unlimited/Michael Miller quilt block challenge with my ZigZag Bow Tie block. More than winning the challenges, I have enjoyed how each month’s block has “challenged” my creativity and skill set. I have taken advantage of this opportunity to push my envelope to do things out of my comfort zone, or to try new techniques. I’ve been quilting long enough now that if I think of a design, I have enough “tools in my tool box” to figure out how to execute the design. Part of this comes from knowing where to look to find out how to do things. I have taken advantage of the many on-line opportunities such as Craftsy, The Quilt Show, Quilty, or youtube how-to videos. Many of my ideas have come from thinking about a technique that I have seen on one of these on-line venues. For instance, the first block challenge was for a flying geese block. I had been wanting to do some transparency blocks after watching Weeks Ringle’s Craftsy class. In order to achieve this, I needed to do foundation piecing. I designed the block on EQ7, and printed out my foundation piece templates. I learned how to do foundation piecing by taking several of the Craftsy classes. This was my first attempt at designing my own foundation pieced block and was thrilled with the result in Spinning Transparent Geese.
The second block was Snail’s Trail, and I had the idea to do a 3 dimensional block after recently watching Karen Combs’ “Tumbling Blocks” Craftsy class. To design the block, I actually drew it on graph paper, then translated that to Apple’s graphic design program to make one parallelogram, and then that to EQ7 for the complete block and foundation piecing pattern. One of the things I learned from doing the prototype block, was that there is a difference in foundation papers. The Golden Threads foundation paper actually distorted in the process, and because of this my parallelograms were skewed and did not match exactly. Grrr! So, I used Carol Doak’s paper for the next block and it worked great. Wonky Snail’s Trail didn’t win, but it is one of my favorites and I got a lot of positive feed back on it.
December’s challenge, the Bow Tie block, was a simple pattern of two contrasting colors; I wanted to do something to utilize that contrast. Kathy Miller had been on The Quilt Show and demonstrated the Japanese technique called “Notan”. According to Wikipedia, “Nōtan is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark as they are placed next to the other in art and imagery”. I used a simple design that mirrored each other in the contrasting colors. You cannot see the “bow tie” as easily because your focus is drawn to the opposing shapes in the contrasting colors, but the base pieced block is still the bow tie. I used freezer paper to make the template for the “ZigZag”, and ironed the edges under using starch. I applied the ZigZag using machine applique with Superior’s clear MonoPoly polyester thread. I’m happy to once again win the challenge with this block.
So, get out there and challenge yourself! Learn and explore new techniques and add more tools to your box! Be Creative!