Quilt Design Quandaries - Solved!!!

Leslie Ehrlich © 2009

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As many folks may have heard, I have been working on a project for the “Making Memories” organization. This is a non-profit group dedicated to helping women affected by breast cancer. Part of their operation accommodates donations of wedding dresses that are in turn sent to folks willing to make quilts for them that will subsequently be auctioned or sold for breast cancer research (http://www.makingmemories.org/).

I sent out requests to my local crazy quilting group, Rocky Mountain Crazy Quilters, http://www.rmcq.org, and one of my online CQ groups http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crazyquiltinginternational/, for blocks. After dispersing many, many envelopes of fabric to those who said they would help, the blocks began pouring in; all based in bridal white and ecru with light pastel touches in the stitching. The “theme” was hearts. It has been one of the MOST rewarding projects I have been honored to work on! It has also presented its own unique brand of challenges. I found that the tone on tone in white made it quite difficult to display each block so it would show every one to its best advantage! You’d be amazed at the range of color in white and what a problem satin can be! It throws off so much shine that it can distract the eye and create the “look” of a darker color! Below are some pictures of the center I created (still tweaking this part), and then one with some of the blocks placed temporarily around it. I felt the center was getting lost, and that was why I decided to add a border so the quilt would flow better. Well, it still had problems, as you can see.

The border really did not do much to highlight the center, just separate it. So, I added some bridal lace around the interior edge of the border. Again, not the effect I was after. I then thought that the satin of the border was a detractor due to the shine of the material, so I toned it down with an overlay of lace. Better…but not quite there. It FINALLY came to me that the laces could be plunged into some potassium permanganate and that the resulting antiqued effect might be enough to pull it together! It worked!! It was also very interesting to see the differences of how the natural fibers “take” the potassium permanganate. Cotton and silks seemed to absorb more than the rayon. I believe some of these laces had a bit of polyester mixed in with the rayon and cotton, but they still took on enough of the lovely golden color to make a difference! I haven’t any of the lace left to do a burn test to tell the difference, but will play with some other laces at some point, and then journal it so I don’t forget! Also, the pearls and sequins were not affected by the potassium permanganate as they are plastic. The heart can now be seen and the interior lace edges toned down the satin, while highlighting the border. I also took some of my Latte Adirondack Alcohol Dye,  thinned out the color with some blending solution, and using a fine brush, painted the embroidered design on the interior of the heart. JUST RIGHT!

The glory of potassium permanganate is that it works to age natural fibers, which lends an antiqued look to the fiber. The longer it soaks, the darker the fibers get. That said, it isn’t advisable to let it soak for too long, or the fibers will scorch. It is also critical to rinse whatever you have dipped, thoroughly!! Any potassium permanganate left in will continue to work and the fibers will eventually disintegrate. NOT what I want after all that work!

The final touches are still being added to this quilt. Beads, stitching, etc. on the center and I will be adding some dyed rattail cording to the interior edge of the blocks surrounding the center. I finally feel like I’m on the right track after MUCH frog stitching!

One of the most wonderful highlights of this experience was that I received enough blocks to create THREE quilts. which means more dollars will ultimately be generated for breast cancer research! I am sooooo excited! Thank you to EVERYONE that helped with this project! You are ALL a wonderful, creative blessing! More close ups and information can be found at my blog, http://pinyoncreek.blogspot.com .

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