Friday, September 29, 2017

VLA Quilt: Finished!

Earlier in the week I started sharing about my new VLA quilt for our upcoming show called Life Along the Rio Grande. This is the call for entry: The wonderful variety of living things along the vitally important Rio Grande River. Work could explore historical or cultural themes, scientific or geological topics, or social and environmental issues relating to the flora, fauna, and people living on or near this historic river.

It will be quite interesting to see what people come up with.  In addition to the expected landscape or flora/fauna quilts, there's a lot of human history in this area, so its possible there will be quilts on, for example, ancient Anasazi culture or something.  The Rio Grande river forms part of our border with Mexico, so it's possible that we may see some quilts about immigration or other more political topics.

In any case, the show is being curated and organized by Betty Busby and has several venues secured already (thanks to hard work by my mom and others), and the first 35 quilts submitted that meet the requirements (this show has a specific size) will be included as part of the show.  So if you're a SAQA member in (or associated with) those regions, make a quilt!  I was excited to get to make the logo for the show, and later on I'll be doing the print materials as well.

When I left off, I mentioned I'd cut out the silhouettes of three telescope antennae in preparation for some openwork free motion embroidery.  I've done a fair amount of this (e.g. here and here and here), and my general approach is to pin a sheet of water soluble stabilizer underneath the opening and then just stitch away.  I started off that way on this quilt, beginning with the medium sized telescope, and boy was it a giant mess.  It got all puckered and pulled funny and was a general disaster.  Part of that was that my quilt sandwich was a bit thicker than usual, so it was difficult to get off the open/stabilizer part back onto the quilt.  However, two other factors played a much bigger role in the mess.  First, the openings were just very large.  Second, I ran out of my good water soluble stabilizer. Unfortunately, I don't know what brand the kind I liked was, but it was very fibrous, and though not thick, was not stretchy and held its shape very well.  When I ran out after my last project, I bought a roll of Sulky Super Solvy heavy duty water soluble stabilizer and it is terrible!  Its thin and plasticky and stretchy and sticky, and though it's sturdy in the sense that it didn't rip when sewing through it, it has absolutely no stabilizing ability due to its shiftiness and stretchiness.  After nearly ruining my quilt on the middle telescope, I wound up hooping with a large embroidery hoop for the other two.  To be fair, for the large telescope especially I probably would have had to do that even with my old stabilizer, but even with the hoop, free motion-ing on the large telescope with the sulky stuff was awful.  And of course the large telescope is large enough that it took five different hoopings to cover all of it, each with ~5-6 different thread changes.  Yuck.  I'll definitely plan differently next time!  Anyway, here's what the openwork telescopes look like after soaking the whole quilt in water to dissolve away the stabilizer.

There are always a few loose threads after soaking to remove the stabilizer, so here I am hand stitching a few.  The openwork didn't come out perfect; I definitely need a better way to stabilize, but I love the depth and texture the velvet gives.  I didn't have any problems with the velvet or stretch velour getting puckery (though I did stabilize the stretch velour), and it was way easier to work with than I was anticipating.

And here's the whole quilt.

Shannon Conley, VLA, c.2017, 48" x 32"


  1. Very nice, I bet the texture is amazing in person.

  2. You never stop to amaze me. I love this piece!

  3. It really is amazing....a true work of art! Well done! Hugs, Diane

  4. Wow, Shannon, I am in awe of your finished quilt. Sorry you had issue with figuring out the stabilizers and stitching, but amazing finish! Like your logo too!