Monday, September 18, 2017

My Moda Bella Challenge Quilt

It's been so hard to wait to share my entry in the Moda Bella Challenge here on my blog (I did share on Instagram last week though) but I wanted to share it as part of the Blogger's Quilt Festival this week. So be sure to stop by Amy's Creative Side to check out the details on the festival and visit festival participants to get your dose of quilty goodness!

Now without further adieu, let me introduce my Moda Bella Challenge quilt......Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids.
Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids designed, peiced & quilted by Thistle Thicket Studio.

In case you hadn't heard about the challenge, Moda is celebrating the 15th anniversary of their Bella Solids fabric line. They chose 12 fabric colors from the collection that had to be used in the quilt - all 12 had to be used and no other additional fabrics could be added. It was open internationally to anyone who wanted to create a contemporary art quilt. The quilts were to measure 72" x 90" and had to be an original design. The quilt had to be finished, quilted, bound and quilt label attached. The deadline was last Tuesday, September 12. I made it with 6 hours to spare! WooHoo!!!

Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Quilt Drawing by Thistle Thicket Studio.
My inspiration came from the idea that solid fabrics or colors are the basis of a quilt and its the combining of 2 or more fabrics/colors that creates the patterns of a quilt. That made me think of the same relationship in all things, that when 2 or more atoms combine, they create molecules. With that thought in mind, I also had seen a couple of people on Instagram who were weaving fabrics to create patterns and I had been wanting to try it. I also had seen several people who were making circle blocks which was something else I had never done before. I always think part of a quilt "challenge" is to challenge yourself to try something new. So all of things came together in the above drawing of my quilt design idea. The ink lines and color pencil markings were the design, and the pencil lines were construction notes on how to sew the blocks into sections and how to shade from top to bottom.

The challenge was announced by Moda back in February and I purchased my first fabrics soon after in March. But, in keeping with my usual procrastination, I didn't do anything with it for a couple of months. I thought I'd start after wheat harvest, but then my mom fell and broke her shoulder in June and I stayed with her for 3 weeks to help her - until I fell in mid-July and fractured my elbow and hands. So finally the first week of August, when I could stand the pain of pushing on a rotary cutter and ruler, I started working on my quilt. I really didn't hold out much hope that I'd finish in time, but by then I had purchased more fabric after calculating what I thought I needed for my plan and thought I had to at least try because I had a lot of money wrapped up in this project. 

Stack of Half Square Triangle Blocks by Thistle Thicket Studio.
And so began my love-hate relationship with half square triangles - 720 of them to be exact! I used the Triangulations method by Brenda Henning to make the 3" HSTs which helped to make accurate and square blocks.

Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Quilt in the Construction Phase by Thistle Thicket Studio.
I worked in sections, starting in the top left corner and working my way down to the bottom right, shading from white to dark gray.

Thistle Thicket Studio's Molecuels of Moda: Bella Solids Quilt During Construction.
I sewed a section of HSTs together then would add the circle.

An Inset Circle in the Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Quilt by Thistle Thicket Studio.
I found a fun technique for making my inset circles on You Tube and will share a tutorial later this week here on my blog.

Triaxial Fabric Weaving by Thistle Thicket Studio.
The fabric weaving was fun although I struggled with making the bias tape (I cut my fabric strips on the straight of grain because I didn't want them to stretch) because it didn't want to pull smoothly through my bias tape maker. I chose a different weaving design in each of the woven circles. To help weave the strips of fabric, I purchased a Wefty Needle designed by a friend on Instagram - Tara Curtis.

Oops! That's Not What I Planned To Sew!
The construction of the quilt top was time consuming but really I didn't run into too many problems - except this. I managed to sew right through the middle of my finger! I wish I had taken a photo before I pulled the needle out because it really did go all the way through and I had to use pliers to pull it out. Luckily, it didn't hit the bone and was relatively painless. I've been sewing since I was a kid and that was definitely a first that I didn't plan on including in this challenge!

Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Quilt Back by Thistle Thicket Studio.
Once the top was complete, I decided to use some of each color of the left over fabric along with some black and white yardage to make the backing. I just love a pieced back! And I love how the quilting shows up on the back of the quilt!

Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Quilting Threads by Thistle Thicket Studio.
I ran into a couple of issues once I started quilting. It didn't take me long to realize my original quilting design plan was going to result in a BAZILLION threads that I was going to have to knot and bury (something else I had never done before) and because time was ticking down (I had a week left until deadline) I decided I needed to get creative. Sometimes hurdles are a good thing because I think the resulting quilting designs added so much more dimension and movement to the quilt.

Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Close Up by Thistle Thicket Studio.
The other big hurdle I ran into was that the woven circles were too thick and my quilting machine just would not sew through it. It resulted in big areas of skipped stitches. So I decided that instead of machine quilting those areas, I would do some big stitch hand quilting. I really like the juxtaposition of the organic hand quilting next to the precise machine quilting stitches. Again, it just adds to the texture and movement of the quilt.

Big Stitch Hand Quilting the Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Quilt by Thistle Thicket Studio.
But, it still wasn't a piece of cake getting those woven areas quilted - even by hand.

Close Up of Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Quilt by Thistle Thicket Studio.
But in the end, I just love how the quilting turned out.

Each solid fabric circle has a different quilting design stitched in it, all designed by Karlee Porter. The bulk of the background patterns are either designed by Anita Shackelford (Modern Gem, Pearls Fill, Spikey Fill) or patterns that I divided and manipulated to fit into areas of the quilt.

Close Up of Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids Quilt by Thistle Thicket Studio.
In total, I have 50 hours of machine quilting in this quilt. All of the dense quilting really made the size of the quilt shrink though. It started out at 72.5" x 90.5" and ended up 70" x 86.5". I hope that doesn't disqualify the quilt! (It shouldn't, I asked Moda in an email before I started because I knew I wanted to do dense quilting and they said it wouldn't.)

I hope you enjoyed my behind-the-scenes post on how the Molecules of Moda: Bella Solids quilt was created and the thought behind it. I'm crossing my fingers that it makes it as one of the 6 finalists. The top three winners, which will be announced on October 20, will be purchased for Moda's CEO, Mark Dunn's, personal quilt collection and will be displayed at Quilt Market in Houston the end of October.

I'll be linking this blog post up with the Blogger's Quilt Festival. 


P.S. I also linked this post up with Laura's TGIFF linky party over at Slice of Pi Quilts.