Whirligigs — The Michael Miller Challenge

I finished it!  It was a challenge…a real challenge, but I did it!

This is my entry for the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge with the Modern Quilt Guild.  I’m calling it ‘Whirligigs’ and it is the first modern quilt I’ve designed and finished!

The line of fabric from Michael Miller is called Pinwheels, and that name reminded me of the yard decorations that twirl around when the when blows.  Some are shaped like windmills and some are of people and the legs spin in the breeze.  So I wanted to do something that showed that sense of motion and also using traditional blocks in a modern setting.  From making my twin car seat quilts, I knew I could use the same block to mimic spinning blades.

Cutting into the fabric was a little nerve racking, but I measured carefully and went to work.

First there were three…

then five…

and then finally eleven…five pairs of two and one that was not exactly like the others…


I auditioned about a dozen layouts, most of which I did not take a picture of and even the ones I did, I won’t bore you with the unchosen options.  In the end, I picked a layout and started adding the gray background.  The background fabric is Kona Steel.

Finally, the top was done!

The next big challenge was the quilting.  I wanted to do something really amazing, something full of swirls and swooshes…but I was running out of time and even more critically, I simply don’t have good free motion quilting skills yet.  I’m working on it, and I’m going to be taking a class next month, but for this, I needed to stick to what I could do well.

I cut a strip of swedish tracing pattern and scribed a wavy line using a quilting ruler that I had in the back of the rack.  I pinned the template to the quilt and carefully stitched along it across the middle of the quilt.  Then I used the arm thingie that attaches to the presser foot to quilt lines in dark gray thread about 2 1/2 inches apart from the middle to the bottom of the quilt.  I flipped the template around to make a mirror image and did the the middle to the top.

But the gray wasn’t dramatic enough.  I grabbed some brighter colors from my thread bins and did lines in between the gray lines and that made all the difference.  The quilt looked happy.

The lines aren’t as nice as I wanted them to be.  But I was coming up on the deadline and I was determined to finish before the last day!!

It took a few hours on the last afternoon to sew down the binding by hand and them the final hurdle:  taking a good picture.

The weather here had been sunny for days…perfect picture taking weather…until the day I finished.  Then it rained.  So we set up some lights in the living room and my daughter helped take some lovely pictures.  I do still want to take a couple more outside sometime…

It was done at last!  I posted it on the Modern Quilt Guild forum and went to bed!

Finishing this quilt has given me a real sense of accomplishment.  I know I did a good job, even though I won’t be a finalist or winner.  I’m very much looking forward to the next MQG challenge!