Friday, May 21, 2010

Y2K10... aka my Watercolor Quilt... aka my Insane Quilt Project


Thanks so much to Amy for hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Finally, I finished my Insane Quilt Project! Its official name is Y2K10. It is about 62" square.


I started this quilt in early 2002, late to the Y2K charm square swapping party. Back then, there weren't really any quilt blogs but quilters were hanging out on quilt message boards on sites like quilting.about.com. Lots of quilters were swapping 2 1/2" or 3" charm squares in order to make a Y2K quilt with 2000 different charms. There were even magazine articles about how to join these swaps. Mostly people would send out sets of 25 different fabrics, plus a signature square. It was a fun, and really inexpensive way to get a hold of a large variety of fabrics (this was important because we had a tight budget during those grad school years). Each swap was set up individually via email (there would be lists of people willing to swap on various websites), and a lot of people sent a little typed up biography of themselves with their squares.

I found the pattern in the May 1999 issue of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine--it is called Colourwash Checkerboard and was designed by Deirdre Amsden. (I modified the pattern slightly for my quilt.) This back issue is no longer available on the QNM website, but you might be able to find it elsewhere. The designer wrote a book titled Colourwash Quilts: A Personal Approach to Design & Technique which is available used on Amazon, if you're interested.

It was a really time consuming quilt to make--I cut every single piece individually--the triangles and the square-minus-triangle-chunk shape were each cut with templates, and the squares were 2 1/4" before sewing, so I had to cut each square piece down to size too. If you look closely you'll see the quilt is made of 9 sub-units, and each one is made of several different blocks of colors. I pieced each color block together first, then made the large sub-units, then pieced the whole thing together.
Here's the back. I just made the back a couple months ago. I used leftovers and scraps to make the rainbow strips. This photo shows the quilting better than the front, too. I didn't want the quilting to take away from the fabric and color so I chose to do a simple grid design. I quilted it with tan/blue/brown variegated King Tut thread that was recommended by Debbie at my local quilt shop. I had thought I would use a gray, or a gray variegated thread, but I'm glad I went with this one.

I quilted it with my old Viking 100 machine, using the walking foot with the presser foot pressure slightly loosened (having it slightly loosened made a big difference and I didn't have any problems with the layers shifting as I quilted). I used painters' tape to mark my lines, and quilted diagonally through the squares on the front of the quilt (every other diagonal row). This didn't necessarily translate to perfectly straight lines, but you can't tell that from the front.

The main backing fabric is a brown quilter's only solid from JoAnn. I used this same brown on my figgy pudding Christmas quilt that was finished at the end of 2009.

Here's the signature block. I received a total of 71 signatures from 37 US states and 7 other countries.

Aren't they great? I love the variety--handwriting, transfer/printing, stamps, embroidery, fabric paint.

This is the center section of the quilt, it's the first section I made. I made the navy blue color block in the middle first. You can see the small template shapes a bit better in this photo. If you're interested in getting a closer look at the whole quilt, I've posted photos like this of the 9 quilt sections on my flickr account.

The process of making this quilt was a real education in color and value. I first sorted my fabrics by color, and then value (lightness to darkness of the color). The fabrics in this quilt were divided by their value into lights, medium-lights, medium-darks, and darks. I kept the sorted fabrics on quarter sheets of posterboard that were stacked on top of each other and stored in a cardboard box that fit the posterboard just right. This was really helpful for keeping the project all together and made it easy to take it with me too. I started the project in Utah, took it with me when we went to Oregon in the summer of 2003 for my husband's graduate school internship, continued in Utah for another year, and then brought it out here to Kansas.

Sometimes I wonder what it would look like if I hadn't sorted by color, and just done it by value. I think that if the fabrics hadn't been sorted by color first, some of the fabrics would have ended up in different value categories--I'm thinking about the yellows here. I do love how it ended up of course, but I think it would be interesting, someday, to make a "values" quilt where the values were focused on more than the colors.

Now that I'm done... for a long time I've said I would start a Dear Jane quilt as soon as I finished this one. I don't think I'm ready for that yet--maybe after I finish a few more projects!

Just in case you want to read even more about this, here are my previous blog posts about this project:
8 out of 9

and we're back
rainbow
watercolor quilt back

If you have any questions about this project I'll answer in the comments! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today, and enjoy looking at all the Quilt Festival quilts!

51 comments:

bearpaw said...

Amazing quilt! Well done!

angela said...

Wow! What a labor of love there - it is so wonderful! That block of signatures is fabulous - I love all the little drawings and handwritting. Thanks for sharing the story with us.

laurenaphelps said...

Amazing! I've never seen anything like this quilt. It is beautiful! You told a great story and I love the signature back too!

Linda said...

Sometimes being a little insane produces wonderful results. It's beautiful!

Blue Is Bleu said...

This quilt blows my mind every time I see it! Looks like all your hard work was worth it! Hope your sanity's still intact though... hehehe!

"Lois Grebowski" said...

oh my gosh, all that hard work. I can why it drove you insane several times. But just look at how beautiful it is! And I adore how you treated the siggy blocks in thier own section. It really tells the story!

Elizabeth said...

That is an amazing quilt. It turned out beautifully and I love what you went for with the back. The design is really amazing. The nine subsections are very obvious, but it is cool how the triangles in one block fit with the triangles in the next block and make complete squares within the whole design, but the colors separate out squares in another direction. I like the quilting you chose for it too. Nice job! That is a real treasure. I'm just a teensy bit jealous, but totally in a good way. BTW, this is my first stop on the Quilt Bloggers Festival tour :D. Thanks for making it such a good one!

Jan said...

Astounding. I love it; but it was so much work. You're incredible.

Mrs Moen said...

It's fantastic! I cannot imagine how many hours you have spent planning and cutting the pieces and then fitting everything back together.

L Johnson said...

Oh I do love this quilt it represents so much! So glad you are sharing it in the Quilt Show!

Me aka Supermom said...

fANTASTIC DESIGN!!

margaret
www.quiltsoflove.blogspot.com

Dielle said...

Stunning, Vicki!

I think the idea of one done by value is interesting. I think about color value a lot more now because of Sabrina. She can tell the difference between yellow and red because of value. But she calls most browns, purples and pretty much any dark color "red." And conversely, a light green or blue she might think is yellow. Any in between color value, she has no idea.

Zonnah said...

I love this quilt!

John said...

Vicki this is really great! I love the quarter-turn grid work! It really looks like a lot of work went into it. The angles and cross-seams are all perfectly aligned - what a quilter! I'm impressed with your blogging abilities as well! You're an inspiration. I just wish half of what I've planned out in my head were finished.

Suz

CraftyMummy said...

This is beautiful! I'm not sure I have the patience for such an involved design so I'm in awe!! Love it!

Stephanie said...

Wow that's an amazing quilt, definitely need patience for that one :) Nicely done!

Jan said...

Your quilt is fabulous! You did a wonderful job!

Ivory Spring said...

Wow, beautiful! All the fabrics are lovely, and they make such a stunning statement all together.

Laurel H. said...

This quilt is amazing!!!

Nikki said...

I am so impressed with this beauty.

I will join you in an Aunt Jane quilt... It's been on my to-do for a while.

When you get ready to get serious about it, let's talk :) Would be fun!

Valentina said...

Vicky, I am in awe...at your quilt and your perseverance! Well-done and congratulations!
:)

lej619 said...

you did an awesome job!!

Leslie said...

this is so beautiful!

Michelle said...

I LOVE this quilt! The overall design is so appealing, and the uniqueness of every fabric square is intriguing. I could lost looking at this beauty.

Marie said...

amazing it is beautiful.

Alexis said...

Congrats on the finish- it's wonderful!

BJ said...

Love it. Great quilt.

Allie said...

This is lovely!!!!!

Sandra said...

Wow, what a great quilt. You did a terrific job with the shading and color values. Don't forget another label with info on its making.

My festival posts
1890 antique double pink star
http://utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com
1890 antique cheddar star and its newly repro
http://starleyquilts.blogspot.com

Kriza said...

it's a stunning quilt. you must have tons of patience, and the result is worth every moment you spent on it.
Kristina
www.priscillacraft.blogspot.com

Magnolia Bay Quilts said...

Wonderful quilt. You had to have spent so many hours on just getting the fabrics in the right place. Beatufiful job!

Kathy said...

This is a work of art! I bet you are glad it's finally done and now you can enjoy it.

QuiltSue said...

Woww, what an amazing quilt

Jessica said...

What a beautiful quilt. Thank you for sharing.

Mandy said...

OMG! It looks really tedious!!! I don't think this is something I would try but I certainly appreciate it's beauty.

SheilaC said...

wOw! What an amazing achievement!

This quilt is beautiful and I love how you finished the back with the siggy blocks!

SheilaC

kwiltmakr said...

That is such a super quilt. I love how you collected all the fabric. And the signatures on the back, wow that is really a special quilt. So very pretty I love it.

Stampmouse said...

wow this is awesome.

Laurel H. said...

What an amazing quilt. The notion of selecting the fabrics and arranging the blocks and partial blocks is truly intimidating, let alone the sewing. Wow!

Karen said...

Great quilt! A true labour of love.

viridian said...

An amazing, beautiful quilt. Some of those fabrics you wouldn't think would work in a watercolor quilt, but they do!!! Congratulations.

Shevvy said...

This is wonderful. A quilt to be very very proud of. THanks for sharing.

Jodi said...

Absolutely beautiful! Do you have a pattern you could share? I would love to make it but am not clever enough to figure out how!

quilthexle said...

O my o my - that's a beautyful quilt. I really like how you organized the colours and values, well executed

Alisa said...

That is an amazing quilt! I have seen the magazine - I recognize the pattern. You did a wonderful job.

janet said...

Wow. Just amazing!

Randi said...

Gorgeous. Love the back with the signatures.

Anne at Film and Thread said...

How can anyone not fall in love with this? That signature block is fantastic!

Laurie said...

this is fabulous; I want to be adopted so I can inherit this quilt! Great job.

Ella said...

What a beautiful quilt!! Was this quilt in a quilt show this summer in springville utah?

Marg said...

This is stunning Vicki, I can't even begin to imagine the hours you have spent on this quilt. I love value quilts and this is absolutely gorgeous, and I love the signature block on the back and the rainbow strips.