Remember when printed fabric panels were pretty much confined to kid-themed nursery prints? Such is no longer the case! Our quilt guild recently held a “fabric panel challenge” in which members were to select a panel and then use it creatively in a quilt. "Tropical Punch", above, was my entry. It began as a panel with the look of hand-painted abstract flowers along with a pack of pre-cut batik strips. I had lots of panels to choose from because I’ve got a bit of a “collection” (ahem) going on in the fabric closet. But this one went so beautifully with the batiks, that it’s the one that drew my attention. And I used all but one small scrap of it in this quilt.
This is the original fabric panel before I went rotary cutter happy on it. It’s one of two images that came on the panel. Interestingly, this challenge really piqued the interest of members and we had nearly 30 entries which was one of the larger responses to this activity in the guild. We discussed “what is a panel” because there were some questions about panels versus repeating images in yardage. We relied on the expertise of Judy Hansen of The Quilt Shop of DeLand who explained that fabric panels are marketed as such by fabric companies, and while they may have companion fabric prints, they are usually a 22”-36” length of fabric that contains a single image, or a collection of smaller block-size images. Sometimes they have a central image surrounded by smaller complimentary images.
Part of the fun of the challenge was the culmination in our luncheon held at a gracious member’s home. We enjoyed a lovely meal and got to vote on our favorite quilts in several categories. You can see that we took our work very seriously and pondered each numbered, anonymous entry. That’s me in the orange tropical shirt. Our hostess had a team of workers who set up the quilts in her lanai and her guest suite as if it were a quilt show. We wandered through the display and made our selections. Completing an entry is our ticket in to the luncheon. When our hostess took a preliminary count at a meeting of how many planned to participate, her eyebrows shot up at the number! However, she and her team rose to the occasion and did an outstanding job of accommodating all the guests and setting up the quilts in an area where they were hidden from view until it was time to choose the winners.
I am a happy quilter- Tropical Punch won Best Use of Color award. I’ve entered lots of challenges, and this is the first time one of my entries has won a category. A funny story about the voting- We proceeded through the quilts in a line and the member behind me came upon my quilt, examined the photo of the panel, and said to me “That panel is so pretty- who would want to cut it up like that?” Then she turned to look at me with a laugh and added, “What am I saying… you would, of course. That’s your quilt, isn’t it?” Ha!
But my day was not finished. My quilt also tied for the Best Entry award with fellow quilter Mary Ralph. You can see Mary’s photo of her original panel attached to her quilt. That was one of the requirements so that members could see how the entry had evolved. I’m very grateful to those who voted for my quilt. The cute raffia “prize flowers” are shown below.
Do you have a collection of fabric panels, too? The companion panel to this one is making its way into a quilt as we speak. I’d say fabric panels have come a long way, wouldn’t you?
So many stitchers and crafters work their needles and supplies to create beautiful items “under the radar”, so to speak. There is a creative gift or spark within that drives them to make something lasting that is a labor of love. Their work is so lovely, and often it’s not seen by many others. I think it needs to be revered! I’m sharing a few more handmade items that I’ve received just to note the crafters' generosity! The delicate and lacy bookmark on the left, above, was made by Penny using her embroidery machine. The fabric tag on the right was stitched and grommeted by Celeste. She then brought one each to a fiber arts bee for us to spray, stamp, and otherwise embellish. We did so under the instruction of Sharon of Cootie Coo Creations, who also brought all of the supplies needed to complete our tags. I love how mine turned out.
Card makers impress me with their meticulous work, too. The Christmas card above is one I’ve kept for many years. It was made by Mrs. Alice Howard who was well into her ‘80s when she made it 20 years ago, using her tiny hand-tatted flowers, some glitter, and ink. Do you know anyone who does tatting? It's becoming a rare needle art. Look at her beautiful penmanship, too. Quilting friend Mary did the Thank You card in the middle, above, precisely folding scrapbook papers to form the inside of the tulip. I think the technique is called Iris folding. Bea made the birthday card using pin embroidery. She pricks tiny holes in a pattern on the cardstock, then completes the design with stitches of various colors worked in thin thread or floss. she finishes her creations off with color pencil shading and some jewel accents. Her works are a marvel. Really, all of them are- so tiny and carefully worked.
Then there are the fiber artists. Billy McCray had a vendor booth at the recent Jacksonville Quilt Fest. She uses recycled materials to craft unique ornaments and other decorative accents. I purchased this lively fish for a friend’s Christmas gift. Online artists are also among the people you “meet”. The 6” square of hand printed fabric is one of a collection I won during a blog hop from The Printed Fabric Bee, Architecture. Happy day! This one was painted, textured, and stamped with hand-carved stamps by Julie B Booth. The other fabrics are in transit, so I’ll show them when they arrive. I treasure all of these items, and am constantly surprised and delighted by the wide array of creative talents I discover in the people I meet!
That line is from Dr. Suess, and it captures the delight of meeting new people. It's all the more true when the people you meet are quilters and stitchers! I find that quilters are not only the nicest people, but also impressive because of the wide-ranging talent they possess The photos I’m sharing in this post are the work of a modest stitcher named Ida. She is an embroiderer extraordinaire, but humbly unaware of how lovely her work is. The smaller the work, the more Ida likes it. Just look at the intricate swirl flowers she stitched on this fabric.
For this section, Ida replicated a tiny tomato pincushion in floss. You can see the threaded silver needles and the glass-headed pins pushed into the pincushion. Would it surprise you to learn that Ida doesn’t watch much tv? She’s the kind of crafter who needs something at hand nearly all the time. So she spends her time beading, making tiny yo yo embellishments, and embroidering other stitchery projects.
She’ll sit quietly at work at one of our small craft group gatherings, with conversations swirling around the table and everyone working on their own projects. Her materials are kept orderly and neatly at hand in a good-sized container that kind of hides what she’s doing. And then suddenly I’ll look and see this intensive stitching and beading in her work which just delights everyone who sees it! She's a constant surprise.
I asked Ida about this colorful beaded design, and she replied that she calls it “Sweetgum”. It may well be her original, "signature" design as I’ve never seen it before on any of the Crazy Quilts I’ve come across. The Sweetgum tree is found mostly in the South, and the long-stemmed, spiny fruit do resemble the image she’s stitched.
Here’s another pretty beaded flower in a stitch-dense section of her work. It just occurred to me to suggest that Ida sign her work, because I don’t think she does and she needs to! I could sit and look at her work for a long time, and often will when she brings her Crazy Quilt blocks to work on. Such a delightful and amazing woman- I might never have met her if it wasn’t for sewing, and that would have been my loss.