I love a good challenge…..

Every year our quilt guild does two challenges with one being due at the December meeting which was this past Tuesday. My long-time method for these challenges is to start out with tons and tons of ideas, slowly winnow them down over the 3 or 4 months that I have to do the challenge, and then finally settle on an idea and get to work on the Friday before the Tuesday meeting and normally finish it with minutes to spare. My friend Sheila calls this the “Frances Method”!!! This challenge was no different.

The rules were to make a quilt, of any size, that featured a Silhouette in black or white. The challenge was to make the background be the exciting part of the quilt.

Now, I LOVE a good sunset and immediately started thinking about several photos that we had taken in Australia and India…..

Then I found this photo…..

This is my husband, Michael, sailing in Canyon Lake in Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is at the base of the Texas Panhandle and is known for it’s wind, which made owning this Banshee racing boat a LOT of fun, but it is not known for it’s large bodies of water. This small, man-made lake was filled with treated sewer water!!! You were not allowed to swim but could ski or sail.

Obviously there is not a sunset anywhere in this photo, but I loved the idea of using the silhouette and the idea was born.

First step was to draw a basic design and I googled how to paint a sunset to get my starting point…..

I then covered the pattern with a super lightweight fusible interfacing and started adding fabrics…..

Most of the fabrics came from my scrap bin of pieces that were too small to sub-cut into usable sizes…..

I cut each piece in a wavy pattern…..

….and added it to the background, trying to overlap them slightly…..

I really liked the bit of yellow that shows thru in the pink and decided to mirror that “break through” in the blue…..

After I finished with the water, I carefully ironed all of the pieces to the fusible interfacing and then went back in and glued down the pieces that were overlapping and not touching the interfacing…..

I decided that it needed a few more highlights on the ocean waves and originally planned to use fabric snippets, but after cutting a few out, I decided that paint would be easier. I also added an aura around the sun so that it would stand out more…..

I always try to do something new with each challenge and this time I wanted to add tulle over the top and then do the quilting over the tulle. We had seen a bunch of quilts done this way at Houston and it looked like an easier way to handle raw edge applique. After I pinned it in place, I decided that it needed some stitching to hold it in place….

Then I basted it and started quilting!! The problem with the tulle is that you can’t easily rip out stitching so I tried to make every stitch count. I did have to rip out a small amount and it was HARD to take out the stitches without catching the tulle in the seam ripper. Most of it was done from the back but there were a few stubborn stitches that I had to do from the front. It was nerve-wracking!!

I did change to a smaller needle and used Bobbin Thread in the back and I think that helped some with the quilting.

I normally use a facing on my landscape quilts but was concerned that the thickness of all of the layers (backing, batting, interfacing, overlaid fabric, and tulle) would make it hard to turn to the back. Instead I planned to make a binding where the colors shifted as it moved around the piece. Unfortunately, because I had done this quilt using the “Frances Method”, I was completely out of time and didn’t want to play with doing the binding. So, a good old plain binding was attached!! In the long run, I think that the binding is a nice frame around the quilt……

I called this “Dreaming of Sunsets” and I am very pleased with how it turned out. The jury is still out about the use of tulle which is concerning because that was how I was planning to finish my Henna Girl portrait so I need to do some thinking now!! I didn’t use the finest quality of tulle and I think that was part of the problem. I will definitely look for “wedding quality” the next time.

So I can mark that challenge off of my list and now get back to the portrait….

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5 thoughts on “I love a good challenge…..

  1. Hi Frances – thank you for this post! I am working on a sunset/silhouette project and have been experimenting with processes to create an abstract yet kind of realistic sunset. I’ll have to try this method!

  2. Frances, This is a special quilt. Thank you for showing your technique. I love sunsets too. You’ve captured the colors so well. I’m tempted to try a sunset silhouette quilt after seeing yours.

  3. Great work with the challenge. Such a lot of work in a short time. Interesting to read your thoughts on the tulle. Yes, I have seen a lot done using that method but never used it myself. I wonder what the secret is. Good thing you found out before jumping in with your henna quilt. Some experimenting may be needed.

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