Thursday, June 30, 2011

Modern Quilt Guild Challenge- 3

Midnight is the deadline for the Modern Quilt Guild Challenge.  So here is my quilt.  I named it Canary in a Coal Mine*.
I've really been enjoying making these improvisational giant courthouse steps.  I think they show off fabrics beautifully.  They are fun to make too.

I showed a little teaser a while back, but didn't mention that the fabric stacks were for this quilt.

Not every fabric made the final cut, but they never do.  I love these fabrics so much I'm thinking about making a king size log cabin or courthouse steps using a quilt as you go method.

My last 2 quilts like this I had quilted in square spiral starting from the middle and working outward.  As I got about half way to the outside I started picking up so much loose fabric that I was getting major puckers.  I knew I needed to quilt this one differently.  I started with a plus sign around the center square and then did each quadrant echoing the original center quilting.  
This worked so much better and resulted in exactly zero puckers.  I'm getting pretty good at this straight line quilting.  My lines were about an inch and a half apart.  I used painters tape and the width of my walking foot to keep a consistent distance between the quilting lines.

I kept the back simple some light grey solid, a light grey wood print and some scraps from the front.
The binding is Kona Pepper.  I love the definition it gives the back.  On the front I wanted the binding to blend into the outermost ring, but not be exactly the same.  The outermost ring is Kona Charcoal, so they are very close, but not exactly the same.

*  The phrase Canary in a Coal Mine, refers to the practice of miners, particularly coalminers, of taking song birds down into mines with them.  The small birds were much more sensitive to air quality than the miners.  If the songbirds stopped singing/died then the miners were warned to get out of the mine because the air was too noxious to breathe.  Coal mines were particularly notorious for sudden changes in the air quality.  You can be overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning before you know it.  Now, mines have electronic air quality monitors, in the old days they had canaries.

This is what I wrote for my submission.

Canary in a Coal Mine
50 inches by 50 inches

From the inspiration word, Organic, I drew two definitions that determined the construction method and appearance of my quilt.  First, I decided that I would construct my quilt organically.  I started with a center square and constructed the quilt in an improvisation manner, allowing the quilt to grow naturally from that center.  I added each concentric square to the quilt looking only at the work that had already been done and not knowing what would come next.  Like the growth rings on a tree, my quilt grew from the center outward without planning, in other words, it grew organically.

The second definition of Organic that gave me inspiration relates to chemical compounds containing carbon, as in organic chemistry.  Carbon is the building block of almost all life on earth.  I drew the color scheme of my quilt from this chemical meaning of Organic, compounds containing carbon.  I choose carbon grey as my primary color, with accents of canary yellow.  I created “Canary in a Coal Mine” with these two separate yet related definitions of Organic as my inspiration.


  1. Love the quilt. Your fabrics/color choices are wonderful!!!! And it does say "organic" to me.

  2. I really like this quilt! The colors are great and are balanced well. My eye traveled happily the composition.