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19 - Winner | by The Modern Quilt Guild
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19 - Winner

Alison Schmidt

Flickr: Ms.Alleycat


One of the definitions of the word ‘organic’ is ‘developing naturally’. I started this quilt with one basic idea: quilting is about cutting fabric into little pieces and sewing them back together again. I was inspired by a quilt created by Joelle Hoverson in her book Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts called the Little Bits Quilt. I had no other ideas where I was going to go. I started with several strips of little bits and pieced the rest of the quilt completely improvisationally. I laid out my first pieces on a design wall, and stared and thought, and added in some long strips of green, trying to balance out the colors and move your eye around the canvas….quilt. This is just what comes naturally to me, and my favorite way to put a quilt together. I had a lot of negative space to fill between the little bits, and started building my canvas with long strips of leftover green fabric, because that’s what I had on hand. I had my linens that were left over from making the ‘little bits’ strips, and some other fabrics that felt like they belonged in the same world. I would cut and hold and eyeball and pin, starting from one ‘little bits’ piece and trying to make the quilt grow to touch the next. Since I did it mostly by touch and eyeball, sometimes a piece ended up too short,and I worked some other fabric in to enlarge it. Sometimes a piece was bigger than needed, and I trimmed it to fit, leaving me with some interesting pieced off-cuts to work back into another area. The bigger pieces of fabric seemed dull to me, next to some of the more intricate piecing, so I sometimes added a large diagonal slash through a chunk of fabric and worked in some value contrast. I think my favorite part of the quilt is actually the more subtle wide stripes in the center made up of even strips of a solid tan linen and a Moda crossweave in brown/tan where you can see every thread that makes up the cloth. When I quilted this quilt on a long-arm machine, I wanted something curvey and natural to balance all the lines and angles in the piecing. I kept finding myself using the word ‘organic’ when I was trying to explain how I wanted the quilting to look. I guess I can’t think of something ‘organic’ without thinking of the natural world, whether that’s the bright green new leaves or the varied tans and browns of tree bark, or the patterns we see in nature. I tried to mimic the ripples that wind makes on a body of water with my stitching, and I think it looks just right for the quilt, a natural choice. I believe my entire process making this quilt was organic, doing what I enjoy and what just felt right at the time.

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Taken on June 30, 2011