Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Entry for Beth Revis's Creative Contest


As you may have heard me mention several times on this blog, Beth Revis is hosting a Creative Contest this month. The grand prize? An ARC of A Million Suns (!!!!) and a beautiful, handcrafted charm bracelet with symbols from Across the Universe (which I have been salivating over for the last couple of months).

I decided to make a quilt.


I started quilting in the first grade with the Girl Scouts, and all of our quilts were then donated to various charities that support moms of new babies who need a little help. We even got to visit the NICU ward at a local hospital one year and talked to some of the moms who had received our quilts. It was such a powerful experience. The point of the story is that quilting has been a part of my life for a long time (16 years!), and, although I have yet to master all the skills, it is something that I love doing. I had so much fun making this quilt!

I started off with these fabrics:

Ah, the prettiness!

I had to take this picture with an ARC of ATU because my finished copy is off visiting a librarian friend of mine, who wanted to check out the awesomeness of the book without taking a fabulously circing copy off library shelves.

The white fabric, which actually has some sparkle to it, is for the Godspeed logo, which was appliqued to the quilt backing. the purple, blue, turquoise, and pink fabrics are for the quilt squares. (I felt like I was in an early/mid-90s flashback - all of my clothes growing up were those colors!) The silver lamé and the blue, yellow, and orange patterned fabrics above that are for the appliqués on the front, which are all symbols from Across the Universe. The pretty blue patterned fabric looked like space, to me at least, so that is the border around everything. And finally, the blue and purple plaid flannel is the backing and binding. It might not look like much yet, but it's getting there!

The next step was to choose the symbols from the book. I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do at this point, but it also needed to be feasible. So, I found basic templates of a light bulb, water droplet, star, and koi fish. The stars went onto the silver lamé, because I think stars should be shiny. (That's a terrible explanation, but, sadly, that was my thought process for that decision. The rest are better, I promise!) The light bulb and water droplet went respectively onto the yellow and blue patterned fabrics. If you'll notice from the picture above, these fabrics are very geometric and so the design is very controlled. That made these fabrics perfect for the two elements of the story that are so controlled by Eldest: the light bulbs, which are supposed to be actual stars that show just how far the Godspeed has come in her journey, and the water, which has been drugged to keep the general populace in line. Finally, the koi fish went on the orange batik fabric. This print is very free-flowing and artistic - none of the pieces I found were exactly alike. That uniqueness made it a perfect fabric for Harley's koi and all of the artistic people aboard the Godspeed who had been made to believe they were insane.

At this point, I thought all the hard parts were over, and the rest would be easy going. Boy, was I wrong. I tried time and again to find a pattern that worked well, but everything ended up too forced. I finally resorted to assigning a number to each of the four fabrics and using a random number generator ( to create the pattern. I had to tweak it slightly were there were big patches of one color, but otherwise what you see is the pattern as it was generated.

Now things started to move swimmingly. The symbols were cut out of their coordinating fabrics and machine-appliquéd onto the squares with metallic silver thread. The detail on the light bulbs (threads) and koi fish (whishers and eyes) was done freehand. The squares were then sewn into strips, and those strips were sewn together, and so on and so forth until the final quilt top emerged.

Now for the really hard part: the Godspeed logo. Whoever designed that logo must have some kind of superpower with parallels and angles, because that just about put me over the edge! I spent hours working on the template, only to discover that I hadn't thought it all the way through and should have done it flipped backwards because of how the template would iron onto the white sparkly fabric. DOH! It worked out in the end, even if it did involve several extra layers of fabric and fusible webbing. The logo was then ironed and machine appliquéd onto the quilt backing, but just with regular silver thread this time because the sparkly stuff kept snapping.

From there it was once again easy going: I just had to make the "quilt sandwich" (put batting between the top and backing), bind it, and stitch in the ditch - but on an angle to make it extra special. I am so very happy with how it turned out, and I hope you like it too!

:: happy dance ::

I would also like to mention that I did most of this work while listening to the audiobook of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This is by far one of my favorite books, and I still have the first copy I ever read (which was first my dad's, from his childhood). But the audiobook rocks too! If you're wondering why this is relevant, go find the secret page (and the password for it!) on Beth Revis's website.