Monday, November 16, 2015

QuiltCon Compilation Quilt 2015

This past February I had the pleasure of attending QuiltCon. It was an amazing experience, and I walked away with an overabundance of inspiration. This quilt combines aspects of all four workshops that I took at QuiltCon 2015: Japanese Sashiko Stitching with Maura Ambrose, Emphasis with Carolyn Friedlander, Basic Improv Quiltmaking with Quilters of Gee's Bend and Off the Grid: Creating Alternate Layouts with Lee Heinrich.

I started the improv blocks in the Basic Improv Quiltmaking with Quilters of Gee's Bend workshop. The supply list called for old clothes, so I brought a couple of my husband’s old dress shirts and some coordinating quilting cotton scraps. There wasn’t a lot of structure in the class, so I left with a stack of improv blocks and no idea what to do with them.

While the improv blocks sat untouched in my WIP pile, I pondered what to make to enter in the QuiltCon 2016 show. I really enjoyed the 2015 show, and wanted to contribute something special to the next one. One day, it hit me: why not make a quilt that showcased what I had learned at the last QuiltCon?

First, a made a scrappy version of Carolyn Friedlander’s Emphasis block. You can find the pattern in her book, Savor Each Stitch. Paper piecing still isn’t my favorite technique, but I enjoyed taking a more improv approach to this one, in order to make sure that it played well with the Gee’s Bend blocks.

Using the dimensions of the Emphasis block as a guide, I trimmed down and built up my improv blocks into rectangles. I laid them out in an alternate grid, with the Emphasis block offset as an asymmetrical focus point, inspired by Lee Heinrich’s Off the Grid class. I made sure to make enough blocks so that the end result measured 37” square, just big enough to be too big for the Small Quilts category of the show.

After the top was pieced, the fun began. Using the circular motif that Maura Ambrose had taught in her Sashiko class, I hand quilted concentric circles one inch apart, using the middle of the Emphasis block as the starting point. I used a Sashiko needle and thread, and no hoop, just like in the class. At first, it was challenging to hand quilt a larger piece without a hoop. Once I got the hang of it, I loved it. Stacking stiches on the large needle made for quick stitching and the thread glided through the fabric in the loveliest way. Since I really wanted to finish this quilt in time to submit it to the 2016 show, I worked on it whenever I could, but I was a little bit sad when it was finished because I enjoyed quilting it so much. I already have plans for my next quilt using this technique.

In the end, I am extremely satisfied with my QuiltCon compilation quilt. I feel that it expresses the spirit of each of the classes I took. Even if it isn’t accepted into the show, it’s a wonderful souvenir of my trip and all that I learned. 

Update: Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday at she can quilt and Finish It Up Friday at crazy mom quilts.


  1. This is really special. Your description of each element is lovely too and your hand quilting just makes it, Rachel. Nicely done.

  2. What a great way to preserve those memories! It came out really nicely.

  3. Beautiful and the stitching just makes it perfect. I think you were really successful with the emphasis block, it blends right in!

  4. I think it is so important to know the story behind each quilt. It makes it more special. I think you did a great job of showcasing all that you learned.

  5. I love all the elements especially the hand quilting.

  6. Such a lovely quilt! What a great way to synthesize and celebrate your experiences at QuiltCon 2015!