This is the story of the creative process that I went through to create my quilt EvolutionGone Wild. I’ve always been fascinated by the stories behind other people’s creative journeys and I’m hoping this blog post will allow some insights into my decision making and processes
from the initial conceptualisation to the finished product.
I think that evolution and creativity go hand in hand because as creative people, learning new skills and techniques allows us to evolve our creative processes and grow in confidence.
The impetus for designing this quilt was to submit an entry to the Sydney Quilt Show. I wanted to challenge myself and push myself creatively by making an art quilt.
My first step was to sketch out the design. To do this, I taped a very large piece of brown paper to the wall, put on my headphones and listened to some music as I started to draw. I envisioned a plant growing wild, its flowers unfurling to take on their own unique personalities.
Once I was happy with the sketch, I darkened the pencil lines with a sharpie and photographed the image.
I then put the photograph onto my computer and used Illustrator to trace over the drawn lines making minor adjustments as I went to refine the image until I was happy with the design.
I also altered the size of the design but it wasn’t until I had printed the pattern out on multiple pieces of paper and taped those papers together that I realised how big a monster I had created!
I used the printout to trace all the different elements of the design onto Vliesofix, numbering the pieces and marking the overlap and underlap sections as I went. I then fused the pieces of Vliesofix onto a variety of fabrics, mainly brights and various greens.
I assembled each image, layering the pieces as I went onto baking paper, repeating this process for each section of the plant. This has the effect of making my design like a series of giant stickers. I found this method to be quite fun and assembling each piece was exciting as I could see my vision coming to life.
Once all the sections had been made, it was time to connect them. After that they could be fused onto the background fabric.
Finding the right background to compliment the design was tricky. At first I thought I’d use various grey fabrics, pieced together in an improv style but after playing around with that concept, I realised that it distracted the eye away from the appliqué.
Using a plain solid colour looked too flat so I decided on using a dark grey, Moda Grunge wideback. The mottled appearance of the Grunge fabric provided just the right amount of colour variation and depth whilst allowing the applique to shine.
At this stage I had to submit my entry form to the show. Once that was done there was no backing out!
I didn’t want the stitching on the applique to show or detract in any way from the design so I settled on a narrow zig zag stitch using a fine weight, matching thread.
This step took many weeks, making sure each piece was secured onto the background. Once that step was complete it was time to load the quilt onto my Grace Company Q’nique 21Pro quilting machine and baste the layers together.
Whilst I had been working on the applique, I’d been thinking about how best to quilt the design. I wanted the quilting to compliment everything I’d done up to this point. Batting choice was also important, I needed a batting that would help the texture pop and give dimension. I chose NuWool 60/40 blend to achieve my desired effect.
I started with quilting in details on the flowers and leaves,then for the background I used a topographical swirl to give the piece flow, texture and movement. I also played with the density of the quilting to create a rise and fall effect across the quilt and for a fun element, I quilted in plenty of snails as well as the words hello and flowers.
After quilting the quilt was hung on the wall for a few days whilst I contemplated how best to bind it.
My friend Lizzie Allen suggested that after putting so much time and effort into the quilt I needed to make the finish spectacular. So rather than use a regular binding I started experimenting with prairie points. Eventually I settled on a double prairie point with the larger triangles being cut from the background fabric and the smaller triangles being cut from a range of colourful fabrics.
These were then carefully positioned for symmetry around the quilt, hand basted in place and finally stitched in place using a facing. This allowed the prairie points to stick out, away from the quilt and provide even more visual interest.
Once I had completed hand sewing the facing down (at 3.30am!) it was time for Mum and I to hit the road to Sydney to deliver the quilts to the show. As well as my own quilt, we had 2 beautifully pieced quilts made by Nanny June, quilted by me and Turtles of the Imagination, an appliqué quilt made and quilted by Mum using my long arm machine.
Once all the quilts had been delivered to the lovely volunteer at the show it was time to head back to Armidale and anxiously wait to hear about the judging.
2 weeks later we received an email, notifying us that both EvolutionGone Wild won an award but we i had to wait a further 10 days before we knew exactly what they had won.
The first wonderful surprise was that Mum’s quilt Turtles of the Imagination had won the President’s Award, this was only selected the day before the show, making it a massive surprise for Mum, later mum discovered it would be showcased in the 2024 @quiltnsw Calendar!
I was over the moon when EvolutionGone Wild was announced as the 3rd place winner in the Appliqué Quilt (professional) category.
Then absolutely stunned to be named as the winner of the Best Contemporary Quilt (professional) award!
I felt absolutely overwhelmed and was holding back tears as I collected my awards. All the work (over 250 hours) I had put into this quilt and late nights had been totally worth it!
I’d like to thank all the generous show sponsors with an extra special thank you to Cozy Corner Quilts and Nu-Wool Mini Jumbuk who were the sponsors of my prizes. Also thank you to the Grace Company who were also show sponsors. I do all my long arm quilting on their Q’nique 21 Pro machine and I’m very proud to be a brand ambassador for them.
In the near future I’m planning to release a limited number of digital prints of several of my quilt designs including EvolutionGone Wild. So if you’re interested, please reach out and I’ll put you on a mailing list so you can be notified when the prints become available.
So after all that excitement it’s back to my day job as a long arm quilter for other people’s quilts. I also have a range of my own quilt patterns available in my shop and hold various classes in patchwork where I can share my passion for quilting and help other people to unleash their inner creativity.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if any of these things are of interest you and let’s see what wonderful things I can help you to create!