Today is a really exciting day because I can finally share the Phoenix quilt with you!! I’ve been practically tap dancing with impatience since finishing this a few weeks ago.
This quilt is based on a Quilt Design A Day (QDAD) pattern I made last year, and was submitted to the Modern Quilt Guild’s Quilt of the Month program. It was selected for September and the pattern has been released today on their community site (you need to be a member to get to it). Go check it out for the free pattern! The pattern includes step-by-step construction and assembly diagrams as well as a coloring sheet so you can try your own variations.
I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts lately that I have a lot of trouble naming designs. Nothing came close to how much trouble I had coming up with a name for this quilt. It was originally destined to be named Quetzalcoatl, after the feathered serpent Aztec deity because the design reminds me of feathers and serpents (okay also lions) and has a somewhat Aztec feel to the pattern. However, I realized immediately that no one would be able to spell that and also naming things after a deity of a culture I am not a part of felt fairly insensitive.
So after many brainstorming sessions, Gillian @ codingcrafter suggested Phoenix because it reminded her of flames and also touched on the Southwestern elements of the design. I thought it was a fitting name as I feel like I’m going through a time of rebirth in my own life and I like the reference to Arizona and our recent cross country trip. And humorously, I have a lot of trouble spelling it correctly. (In my defense, I have dyslexia and that double vowel mucks me up!)
I probably could have just called this design “My Love Affair With Curves And Jen’s Templates” but that seemed overly long and kind of awkward.
When it came time to make this quilt, I had some serious reservations about the colors. I am an analogous kinda gal, and the really bold, strong colors in this made me doubt my own design. QDAD is great at forcing you to use colors you wouldn’t normally use, but this was the first time I’ve made one of the strong color combos into reality. When the fabric arrived and I saw how the slightly orangey red and the blue-green vibrated against each other I almost changed to something else, but [fortunately] I didn’t have time to order more fabric.
You can imagine my surprise when I finished the top and realized that I absolutely LOVE this thing. The strong colors against the dark grey make me smile every time I see them. And then it came time to quilt it. I wanted to do this quilt justice but also had a bad case of the “please don’t let me ruin this!” freakouts.
I have said a lot in the past that I’m not a very good quilter. I’ve spent a lot of time being afraid of FMQ, only to finally try it and realize it wasn’t really my thing. (Probably if I practiced it more than 4 times it’d be more my thing, but a girl’s gotta have her flaws.) But I’ve been working to make my quilting more of a design element and less of a hurdle that’s just for getting past.
So I sat down with Illustrator and started sketching out quilting ideas. I threw away at least 5 designs as nothing was working. I asked some other QDADers and they suggested I decide what I wanted to highlight about the design. I thought about the Aztec influence in the design, and looked up Aztec motifs and started incorporating them into the quilting pattern. It was at that point that the quilting design really started coming together.
But as the design got more complicated, the less I wanted to quilt it, so I procrastinated by making the quilting design more complicated. Not the best feedback loop! I finally forced myself to get quilting and am pleasantly happy with the results. I would like to work on making my designs more dense in the future, but it took me a week and a half to quilt this thing as it was!
And that is the story of The Phoenix Quilt. It’s currently my favorite quilt I’ve ever made, if only because of the amount I had to grow as a designer/artist/crafter to create it. And I will now hope with all my being that there are no egregious errors in the pattern!
Dimensions: 68″ x 72″
Fabrics: Front: Kona Tomato, Kona Bluegrass, Kona Pepper (Wouldn’t this make an awesome soup? Tomato soup with a twang.)
Back: Kona Pepper
Binding: Kona Pepper and Kona Bluegrass
Thread: Aurifil 1158 – Medium Grey
Time to complete: 3 weeks
Number of times I wished I had a longarm while quilting this: ~20 times/day