Changes Art Quilt, Deconstructed

Change Art Quilt_front(2)


Thursday, May 1st, was the reveal for our second series of Art Quilts.  This year’s theme is Urban, and this quarter’s challenge was Landmark.  And as is my usual, I do a post on how I put it together.

marylin-monroe-in-pop-art-editedMarilyn Monroe, by Andy Warhol was the second step after making list of potential landmarks; I had chosen the hillside letters from a list of six ideas, but how to interpret the idea is always the next challenge. I liked the idea of Warhol’s repetition, and as a commenter on Reddit noted “Warhol does not give us one Marilyn; he gives us twenty-five. Perhaps he wants us to consider our obsession with celebrities, or to suggest that more is always better, especially in the case of a celebrity with an already ubiquitous image.”  Okey-dokey.  I think I just liked the different colorways, and the duplication. Here’s another famous one of his:

Andy-Warhol Soup

Layout Decisions Art Quilt

I thought about two different layouts: one like the Warhol’s Marilyn in a grid of three-over-three, or one where I’d displace some of the repetition with a larger image.

Layout for quilt

Guess which one I chose?  I got out my Steam-A-Seam fusible webbing (it doesn’t gum up the needle too much in machine appliqué), a stack of fabrics from my stash (some are quite ancient), and cut  and cut, and by the time I went to bed that night I had assembled this:

Layered Fabrics Changes Art Quilt

Satin Stitching Changes Art Quilt

The next day, I went back and forth between using a straight stitch to secure the edge or a satin stitch.  I’ve been using satin-stitch appliqué for about half my life, so that won.  It’s my go-to technique when I want that distinct line around my raw-edge pieces and the fusible product holds them in place as I stitch. I dial that stitch length down as far as I can.  I used to stitch using 0.3, but I can only get to 0.5 on this machine.  So I have to “hold it back” a little with pressure from my fingers as I try to get that smooth lay-down of thread. I’ll explain.

Back of Satin Stitching

I have always (ALWAYS) used two pieces of paper underneath my stitching and I *lower the upper tension* on my sewing machine.  I want the bobbin stitches pulled to the underside.  Because I use paper, that’s what I kind of hold onto as I “hold it back.” And by using paper, I also don’t have any buckling of the fabric.  After I finished all my mountains, I stitched my hillside letters.

Back of quilt block

It’s really easy to rip that paper off after you are finished. This is what it looks like after the paper is removed. Look Ma! no buckling of the fabric! (I’m not kidding–use two sheets of paper–it works like a charm.)

Appliqued Blocks

After all the blocks are all satin-stitched (and paper removed), I trim them down.  I had decided I didn’t want to seam them, but instead butt them together, as I didn’t want that heavy ridge line that a seam would bring (all those layers!).

Trimming Blocks

After I trimmed, I cut small strips of interfacing 1″ wide and laid the blocks side by side, fusing them onto the strip.  (I did have a photo, but it was too blurry.)  I assembled the quilt in units:  (first) the three minis below the larger block, then (second) the two minis to the side of the larger block.  Then (third) I attached the two side minis to the large mountain image, and fused those together.  Then (last) I added on the lower three minis.  Hope you are following all this.

Assembling Changes Art Quilt

I then satin-stitched the raw edges, using a slightly larger width (about a 3.5) to cover the seams.  I layered it up with a backing and some batting, and then went to town quilting it.

Outlined Satin Stitching

I decided to quilt it by emphasizing the satin-stitching; I straight stitched on either side of that.  Sometimes I’d use matching thread, sometimes I wouldn’t.  I also lowered the upper tension for this step, but not as much as I did when I was doing the satin-stitching.  I was happier when I had some King Tut thread to outline my satin-stitching (it’s a bit weightier thread and shows up better).

Outlined letter H

I also stitched around the H, as it just disappears into that autumn-colored mountain.

Quilted and Trimmed Art Quilt

Here it is, quilted and trimmed.  I used my preferred binding, of a strip 2″ wide, folded in half (this *post* tells how), as I like that look.

Change Art Quilt_back

I made the usual triangle pockets in the corners for hanging, then attached the label.

Change Art Quilt_front

Thanks for enjoying our little art show yesterday, of all the Four-in-Art Quilters.  As per my usual (and I hear others in our group do the same thing!), I procrastinate too long, letting other chores, correspondence, phone calls and the usual detritus of life take up the space I need for creativity.  The deadline gets me focused again, and I’m pretty happy to have this little quilt at the end of it all.


Sketch of Mountain

If you want to make yourself a little mountain quilt, with your own set of letters, here’s a jpeg of the mountain, which should measure 4″ when printed.  Enlarge it 200% for the bigger mountain so it’s double that, or 8″.  This idea and technique can be used for any simple sketch: a baby’s hand, a simplified portrait, a household object (like Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans?).  Let your creativity lead you where it will, and if you do make a similar art quilt, drop me a note and let me know!


Our next Four-In-Art reveal is August 1st.





Change, a Four-in-Art Quilt

Change Art Quilt_front(2)

#3 in the Urban Series, Landmark Quarterly Challenge
Quilt #131

Y Mountain Provo(Y Mountain.  Photo courtesy of Judy Cannon)

This is the landmark I grew up with, a letter on a mountain in Provo, Utah.  Known as the “Y,” there are annual hikes, and a lighting of the letter on Homecoming.   I thought everyone had a mountain with a letter on it, but as I grew up and moved around, I found out that most of the world, and certainly the East Coast of the US, doesn’t.  Since I chose this idea for my landmark, I found there’s a whole Wikipedia page about these hillside letters.  Also known as “mountain monograms,” as one professor wrote in an article about the origins and the spread of these letters, I discovered that University of California-Berkeley was the first. And here’s a map of these letter landmarks, mostly in the mountain west.  (Maybe because we have mountains?)


RS Mountain with Town

The movie Cars even used hillside letters on the mountain above Radiator Springs, the fictional small town in the movie.  The RS is just to the right of the stoplight.  (Sorry for the weird image, but I had to take a photo of my computer to get this shot.)  The mountain from another view:

RS Mountain

Columbia University in New York does have a “C” painted just above their boathouse on the Hudson River:


Yet most people think of this when I say hillside letters. . .


. . . but to me, neither of those counts.  A letter needs to be embedded on a hillside or a mountain to count as a landmark.  So that was the genesis of the quilt.


Our landmark hillside letter is a C, an imitation of that first University of California-Berkeley letter, which was set onto a hillside about 1905, the granddaddy of all the other mountain monograms.  This is a blurry image from Wikipedia of our local mountain (our letter isn’t really yellow).  I tried to photograph it, but couldn’t get a good vantage point, so this will have to do.

Change Art Quilt_Big C block

Here’s my little art quilt with its C on its mountain.  (Note: although I like to photograph outside, today we are having raging Santa Ana winds, so inside it is.)

Change Art Quilt_E block

What is the significance of these other letters, spelling out the word C-H-A-N-G-E?

Change Art Quilt_label detail

As Longfellow observed, “all things must change.”  And I keep my mother’s advice that “A change is as good as a rest” close to my heart, for that’s a truth as well.  But the C-for-Change  linkage came to me one weary night, when I had to go and do one more pick-up and one more errand when teenaged children were still at home.  It must have been during our University’s Homecoming Week, for when I rounded the street corner at the base of the Box Springs mountain, I could see the “C” all lit up. I pulled over and gazed at the glowing letter with that tired-behind-the-back-of-the-eyes fatigue, wishing that that I could go home and be home, like I could when the children were little and weren’t off at some activity that required me to be out and about picking them up.  I thought back to the “easy days” of tucking them in after a story and prayers and a drink, and about how wonderful those times were.  Why did things always have to change?

But I realized that change is the law of the universe, and instead of being at war with that constant mutability towards “something new, something strange” I should just accept it.  Change and I are now uneasy companions.  I know it won’t always be like that, for experience has taught me that change can come in steep cliffside drop-offs and hair-raising turns on a winding road.  But for now, I’ll be content gazing at my quilt where it hangs in the corner of my kitchen.

Change Art Quilt_on wall

4-in-art_3button Please visit the rest of our Four-in-Art group, and see how they’ve interpreted the Landmark Challenge:

Amanda  at whatthebobbin.com
Betty at a Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/toot2
Elizabeth at opquilt.com (you are here)
Leanne at shecanquilt.ca
Tiny Nine-Patch
And come back for the next post, with instructions on how you can make your own little art quilt.
Change Art Quilt_back