The story of this quilt…I’m not even sure where to begin. It has been such a labor of love. I’m not usually the type of quilter that can spend months working on a single project. When I have a plan for something I’m super passionate about, I tend to work frantically until its done, or at the very least until the top is done. I will stay up late and rise early with excitement everyday for a project that gets my motor going. Such was the case with this Wildabon quilt. Once I had it in my mind that there was enough time to pull it off, I could not be dissuaded. The rational part of my brain, however, did not agree with me. It said, “NO! You do not have time for that. You won’t be able to work on anything else for 2-3 months if you do this. Can’t you see that its all hand-stitched!? You have carpal tunneI, your hands will ache, you probably won’t even be able to finish it for the pain. ARE YOU INSANE?!” I think my Right-Brain must have had her headphones in that day because she didn’t hear a word of that nonsense. She was making a Wildabon. There was no stopping her. She was going make it happen. She looked right at that Left-Brain and stuck her tongue out in defiance.
I suppose to tell the story I must start at the beginning. Back in October I attended International Quilt Market in Houston for the first time. I was awestruck at the sheer magnitude of this event. When you spend your whole life being infatuated with fabric and the craft of sewing, you spend a lot of time by yourself. Just you alone in your space, with your fabric and tools. Planning, thinking, analyzing, cutting, sewing, pressing… Alone… Quiet. I had lots of friends growing up but none of them sewed. If you’d told me as a kid there was this magical place called Quilt Market where all the amazing fabrics are on display along with quilts and vendors, my eyes would have gotten as big a saucers. You mean, OTHER PEOPLE LIKE ME get to attend this “Quilt Market you speak of and mill around looking at all the pretty things? I would have taken you hostage and vowed not to release you until you had taken me there.
I saw a million beautiful things at Quilt Market. So many that I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t even fully process it all until I was back home and had some time to reflect on what all I’d seen. There were a few things that stood out in my memory from the trip, but one in particular that kept occupying my thoughts. The image was snapshot in my mind’s eye of the back wall of Carolyn Friedlander‘s booth where she’d hung her Collaboration with Leah Duncan, Wildabon. For weeks after I’d been home I could still see it there. A gorgeous quilt of appliquéd flowers glowing almost as if there was a halo of light around it. ( I like drama, okay?) To say I was infatuated with this quilt is an understatement. I knew that someway, somehow, Wildabon and I were destined to be together.
So fast forward a few months to maybe January. It was around that time that Mathew aka Mister Domestic (you can find him on IG here) contacted me to ask if I’d like to help him, along with Art Gallery Fabrics, promote AGF’s new line concept Capsules and Fusions. These bite-sized mini collections seemed like a fun and interesting spin on an old way of doing things. I was intrigued. Each mini collection takes a handful of prints from multiple designers that we’ve seen in past collections and recolors them to create something entirely new. I was immediately taken with the Abloom Fusions collection. It was a mash-up of some of my all-time favorite AGF florals in brand new colors. As soon as I saw Abloom that halo image of Wildabon surged to the front of my mind once again. The vision in my mind could not be unseen. There was no going back.
I knew if I was seriously going to attempt this quilt then my hands would be a problem. I have carpel tunnel. Its not advanced, but intricate handwork like binding a quilt, or any kind of hand-stitching has to be done in small amounts or I suffer. Right away I decided that if I was going to do this I had to find some other technique than needle-turn, which is what the pattern describes. I began to research other ways.
I have been friends with Cristy Fincher on IG for awhile (you can find her shop here). She is the Queen of Machine Appliqué. At least in my book she is. If you ask her though, she’d probably tell you that at best she is the Princess of Machine Appliqué because she learned everything she knows from her famous, Master Quilter mom, Sharon Shamber. I knew she had a great machine appliqué technique but I had never tried it. I immediately set out to learn all I could. If you are interested in learning how, Cristy has a fantastic series of 5 videos on her YouTube channel that shows you the entire process, step-by-step (direct video links here——> part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5). This technique is the closest I have ever seen machine appliqué come to looking handstitched. Perfect. I had found my solution to the needle-turn problem.
Not only was I able to give my hands a break by machine stitching the appliqués instead of hand-stitching them, I pulled in my trusty Brother Scan N Cut machine that I got at Authorized Vac & Sew to cut out all the foundation papers for me which saved me A TON of time. I might even say the Scan N Cut is worth it for the ability to use this technique alone. Its amazing what you can do when you have the right tools to help you.
In learning Cristy’s technique I discovered a magical product. The secret to this appliqué process are foundation “papers” called “Sharon’s Secret Foundation” (SSF). Without this product I could not have made this without sacrificing my hands. By using SSF to prep all my appliqués before they were attached to the background fabric, I was able to turn all my seam allowances under and get all that needle-turning out of the equation. The foundation papers not only helped make the appliqués but they also eliminated show-thru for the lighter fabrics making turned seam allowances completely invisible. Once the papers got washed the first time they softened right up like they weren’t even there. They even puffed up a little giving the quilt a bit of a trapunto look, which I adore. This thrilled me so much that I thought I’d try and accentuate the look even more by quilting it with double batting. The end result is a sort of 3D effect. There are some places where the appliqués puff out a half inch off off the background. I chose an all-over wood plank fill for quilting to make the appliqués pop off the background as much as I could possibly get them to do so. I have never made anything else that looks like this. I am ecstatic at the results.
This quilt finished at 46″ x 52″. I used my favorite print from the Abloom Fusions collection for the backing and went with a 3/4″ binding out of the black Smooth Denim from AGF’s Denim Studio line. The background fabric is the linen blend from the same denim collection. I really love how the wide binding gives the quilt a nice bold frame. I’m a wide binding convert for sure.
I love this project so much. I learned a completely new-to-me technique and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out. This one will be cherished for many years to come. Huge thank you to Mister Domestic and Art Gallery Fabrics for organizing this fabulous shindig and providing all the fabrics to make this quilty dream mine come true.
If you are just tuning in to this fabric party, congratulations! You made it in the nick of time! Its my job to close the place down but I’ve got the deets on all the other projects from the last two weeks right here. You’re not going to want to miss a single one of these either, believe me…It has been a blog tour for the record books, my friends.
Capsules (April 17th – 21st)
Monday, April 17: Cristy Stuhldreher (@loveyousew_) http://www.iloveyousew.com/
Tuesday, April 18: Kitty Wilkin (@nightquilter) https://nightquilter.com/
Wednesday, April 19: Sharon McConnell (@colorgirlquilts) http://colorgirlquilts.com/
Thursday, April 20: Stephanie Palmer (@latenightquilter) http://latenightquilter.com/
Friday, April 21: Nicole Young (@lillyellasworld) https://lillyella.com/blog/
Fusions (April 24th – 28th)
Monday, April 24: Nicole Daksiewicz (@modernhandcraft) http://modernhandcraft.com/
Tuesday, April 25: Tara Curtis (@t_jaye, @WEFTYneedle) http://www.tjaye.com/
Wednesday, April 26: Melissa LeRay (@ohhowsweetco) http://www.ohhowsweet.com/
Thursday, April 27: Sarah Thomas (@sariditty) http://www.sariditty.com/
Friday, April 28: Jennifer Rossotti (@jennrossotti) http://gingerpeachstudio.com/ <—– You are HERE 🙂