I love a quilting challenge. When the opportunity to participate in a challenge comes my way, I am right there, ready to sign up.

Last summer when the FABs were together for our first retreat, two members, Linda and Pam were ready with a challenge for the group and the, “Baby it’s cold outside!!!” challenge was launched.

We were each provided 1 yard of soft lilac fabric – not blue and not purple, but somewhere in between the two colours. (Finding some fabric to go with the challenge fabric proved to be a challenge in itself. During my quest for just the right “go withs”, I found several fabrics that I loved but were either too blue or too purple to go with the challenge yardage.)

The rules were wonderful and included a comment that “rules were meant to be slightly torqued”.
* Have fun
* Procrastinate (up to one day prior to mailing is quite acceptable.)
* Let your imagination soar–BE CREATIVE
* TRY to keep it a secret

Well, I definitely followed the rules. The challenge was a blast. I definitely procrastinated. Even though we had months to finish our challenge project, I took the last stitches on my project on January 31, 2010. The mailing deadline was February 1st and my project was mailed on that date. I changed my mind so many times during the months leading up to the deadline that I feel like I was really exploring my creative side. Each idea that I came up with seemed better than the last until finally time dictated exactly what I was going to work on as there was no time left to change my mind again. I was able to keep my project a secret from Linda although it was really hard. Linda and I are used to collaborating on our projects and not being able to share photos and comments about what I was working on with her was a challenge in itself!

Finally, this is what I came up with for my challenge partner, Linda. I know that Linda has space limitations in her house so I wanted to make sure I was going to be giving Linda something that she could use, not something that she would be stuck trying to find room for in her house. I know that Linda does use placemats so that was the first project I made. The mauve portion of the placemats was the challenge fabric. When the weather is cold outside, my thoughts go to Spring and warmer weather so I included pieces of floral fabrics. My fabrics were not just any florals though–they were scraps from the last project that Linda and I worked on together. This was a subtle part of the project that was not lost on Linda. When Linda opened her package, she immediately recognized those florals as being part of my Daisy Chain project which we recently worked on in January. I quilted the placemats with narrow parallel stitch lines – 1/2″ apart. I love dense quilting and I wanted to include that element in my project. I finished off my project by washing the placemats to give them that antique crinkled look that I love. But, I was not done. One of the things I like to do in a challenge where I am provided with a fabric is to use as much of it up as possible. So, I made a second project. Remember I said I had a tough time coming up with the “go with” fabrics? After I had the placemat tops pieced, I found the perfect piece of fabric in the fabric shop that went with the challenge fabric. It was a gorgeous butterfly fabric. Using what I had left of the challenge fabric I made Linda a tote. This tote pattern is one I have made several times before. It uses denim for the base and web handles that completely envelop the bag. It is a very sturdy tote, perfect for filling with books. You can’t see the challenge fabric in this picture as it is actually the lining for the tote.

This is the gift that I received from Pat in the exchange. Pat used the challenge fabric on the fish and in the pieced border. Pat made sure she included fish in my project as she knows only too well about my husband’s love of fish. Pat was very thoughtful in making sure she considered my husband in my project. Pat included the perfect finishing touches, quilting that looks like water and beads for the fish “bubbles”. I love my quilt. This quilt reminds me of the water around a tropical island which is where I would definitely like to head, “When baby it’s cold outside!”

We have already launched the next FAB challenge, which will be the fourth challenge our group has done. The theme of this one, is “Fall”. We have until September 15, 2010 to mail our project to our partner. …..and the best part, that is it for the rules! We don’t have any challenge fabric that we have to work with. And we are only limited by our own creativity. Fall can be Halloween, schoolhouses, leaves, thanksgiving, and fabric prints that encompass fall coloured fabrics and images. I am going to have fun with this one. I love fall and I have a ton of fabrics in my stash that are screaming to be used in this challenge!
The last challenge that I am working on is for our Quilt Guild’s fall show. We were given a piece of batik fabric, 6″ x 21″ (picture below). The theme is, “Circles in the Valley”. The quilt can be no smaller than 14″ square and no larger than 48″ square. We must use at least half of the challenge fabric and it must be very visible and large enough to be identifiable. Each quilt must include a minimum of one circle and it cannot be any smaller than 1.5″ in diameter. We are allowed to make this one of our own designs or use a commercial pattern as long as we identify our source on the label. I am so grateful that this is not a challenge that Linda is participating in as I have been using her talents big time on this one–she is my main resource. This morning Linda and I have been busy sharing ideas back and forth. Sorry, I can’t share more details than that as I know several of my fellow guild members follow my blog.

There is nothing better than a challenge to get the creative juices flowing.

1 thought on “Challenges

  1. Both of my challenge gifts are getting quite the work out. The placemats are on the table now though I always flip it over to the plain side in case I spill—which I have! I love taking the tote bag on library trips and will take it with me on my upcoming car trip too.

    I love the guild challenge fabric. I guess I shouldn’t say what my first impression of it was since you have local followers. We did get some ideas flying back and forth, tho! Love it, love the collaborative process.

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