This quilt began its life in the reject pile. But, in its defense, many things I appreciate in life started there, or at least, ended up there at one point or another.
To name a few...there’s the long-suffering and heartbreakingly loyal Velveteen Rabbit. And what a treasure he turned out to be!
Also, the beautiful Jennifer Hudson. Do you remember, was it Simon who told her she had no talent or did Paula land the death blow? Either way, American Idol gave her the big N-O.
And let’s not forget ALL of the 80s fashion that has made an unexpected comeback: jean jackets, stirrup pants, Keds and believe it or not, scrunchies. I have seen a suspicious amount of scrunchies strutting about my neighborhood. And yes, Wicker Park is a bit of an unreliable fashion microcosm, but there have been MANY scrunchie sightings – which leads me to believe that it’s not just a blip.
Mayan Mosaic was part of a batch of designs made for a client, and even though it was trying its best, sadly, did not make the cut. MM, it’s not because you weren’t good enough, it just wasn’t your time!
I wasn’t going to give up on this quilt, though. Like Jennifer Hudson, Mayan Mosaic and I were going to pull ourselves up from the reject pile and plough ahead. Come what may.
With my little sketch in tow, I reached out to Aaron at Me + You fabrics. I was itch’n to try some of the rad batiks they were making and crossed my fingers that he would like this quilt design as much as I did. Thankfully he jumped on board, and presto! A wonderful collaboration was born 🙂
After wrestling with the math on my Warrior pattern, I was more than confident that figuring out round two of an aztec design was going to be a cakewalk. The great thing about this pattern is that once you master equilateral triangles, everything else is simple straight edges. Since triangles can be somewhat tricky, especially with a small border strip in between each shape, I went ahead and made a video tutorial.
However, right before I was able to jump in and make MM with all of the vigor and energy in my excitable heart, I was commissioned to make a quick turnaround appliqué quilt. I kept looking over my shoulder to see that sumptuous batik fabric stacked in a pile and caaaalling my name. “Suz! Suzy! Suzy! Suz! Suzza! Suzzay! Soozy! Snoozey! Snooze! Scooze! Scoob! Scuba! Scooby! Scooz! Suz! Suzy!”
After many hours of needle-turn appliqué, I had finished my secret sewing project and was freed up to work on this straightforward and bold design; a much needed reprieve.
Machine Quilting vs. Hand Quilting
Over the last 15 years, I’ve changed a lot. When I first began my quilting endeavors, I exclusively used a longarm quilter. I actually didn’t even know there were other options until three years later when I went to college. As an overly confident fiber arts major (tooootal oxymoron. I know...now.) I thought I was a pro at quilting...here’s the trouble...I actually didn’t even know how to quilt. What I suddenly realized was that I was a “pro” at piecing. Quilting was a brand new thing.
After machine quilting entered my life, the speed at which I was able to crank out quilts was mind blowing! I could start a quilt and then finish that same quilt in a week with NO wait list time from my longarm quilter! What world was this?!? I new and brighter one!
Years later, feeling very much the “pro” at machine quilting, I was a little tired of just busting out quilts as fast as my walking foot could handle. My bright world was starting to dull around me and I was too focused on speed to realize it.
Instagram, I like you so much. IG, darling, if I were being true to myself I’d admit that my proclaimed “like” has grown into love, but I still feel insecure about loving a social media platform, so publicly, I’ll keep referring to it as “like,” but just know that I lurve you, bae. xoxo
OK, what was I talking about? Oh yes, hand-quilting. 😉 About a year ago I saw on Instagram some modern quilters utilizing hand-stitching. My initial Speedy-Gonzales response was, “What am I missing? Don’t they know they can make 3 quilts in the same time it takes to make 1??”
I was intrigued, but wasn’t quite ready to give up the speed of my machine. I wanted to dip my toe in this mysterious hand-quilting pool, but only slightly. This sparked the design of my Mod Mountains quilt. It was mostly machine quilted with some hand-stitching added to create a bridge between the pieced fabric and the negative space.
Over the Hills (seen above) was my second attempt at hand-quilting. This baby quilt was fully hand quilted and fully worth the time it took. Finishing that quilt was when it finally dawned on me that hand-quilting was something special. Could this be the magical fairy dust I sprinkle on quilts for added beauticity!? The spice in my chili! The padding in my push-up bra! The bedazzled rhinestones on my jean jacket! To my delight, quilting became fresh and new again!
[I'm inserting this after many questions about hand quilting supplies, so here's the skinny: I use DMC Pearl Cotton No.8 thread, run-of-the-mill embroidery needles and THIS leather thimble (which really is amazing). Also, a needle threader will make your life a lot easier :)]
I knew Mayan Mosaic needed to be hand-quilted once I stepped back from my design wall and saw it as a whole. It was already written in the stars, or the fairy dust...or whatever analogy I was loosely using before.
I set up production on my dining room table and tried to coax anyone who entered my house to help. This guy was my favorite, though 🙂 (quick fact: also husband)
After all of the stitching, trimming and binding was complete I thought to myself, “That wasn’t so bad! Barely took any time at all!”
It’s now been a few days since I finished the quilt and I see clearly that I have a very serious case of quilter’s amnesia. That must be the reason I'm already hatching plans for more hand-quilting! I have completely forgotten how many hours it took me to make Mayan Mosaic and if you were to ask me, I couldn’t string together a quasi-accurate guess. 5 hours? 40 hours? Je ne sais pas . C'est la vie ! I don't even speak French!
Quilter’s Amnesia: remembering all of the fun piecing, but forgetting any and all boring bits once the quilt is finished and seen in all its glory. Strongly evoked at the sight of a finished Mayan Mosaic.
This pattern is available for purchase in my shop!