Monday, January 28, 2013

"Driving in Circles" Madrona Road Challenge Quilt

I will start at the end of my story and lead you back to the beginning.... One glorious Saturday morning my friend Anne and I played tourist in our own town.  Going on a full fledged photo shoot adventure like I see others do with their quilts was one of my New Year's resolutions.  We set out to photograph the QuiltCon Charity quilt before shipping it to Austin and my quilt entry to The MQG Madrona Road Challenge went along for the ride.
photo by Anne: Natural Bridges 
I think I love the back almost as much - improv is so liberating and clearly it wanted to fly free like a bird at the beach!  Here are a few close ups of the fussy cut binding that can be read on the front as well as the back  a close up of the quilting detail - circles of course.

There have been several blog posts herehere and here about the progress of this quilt so I'll try to share a little more about how the design came about.
photo by Anne: UCSC campus
One might think that the name "Driving in Circles" came to be because of the round wheel-ish shapes in the pattern of the quilt, but it's not.  That design shape was actually inspired by the floral print of Madrona Road shown here:
Flower Shapes - the inspiration 
"Driving in Circles" is about my creative journey - a path that was anything but a direct route and could easily be dubbed "Driving myself Crazy"!  Maybe it was because I tried to set out with an end result in mind rather than let it evolve or maybe it was because it was my first MQG challenge and I wanted to accomplish too much in ONE quilt... (more about that later).

Our MQG generously purchased additional fabric for participants to go along with the fun stack provided by Michael Miller and I ordered several more yards myself.

Using my Quick Curve Ruler was a must - I jumped on the chance to create an original design (at least I think it is). I wanted something I was going to keep since everything I've ever made with it I've given away, like the 4x5 bee blocks  and two table runners.

Quilt Math = cut list
The Goal: a four-by-four layout of sixteen blocks measuring 60" square with an emphasis on scrappy.  Quilt math is the worst for me but I knew I needed a cut list and a variety of fabric amounts so that is what I came up with.
Scrappy Mix and Match... not
As much as I love scrappy this layout of mix and match (one of many) lacked cohesiveness and was visually confusing.  When I overcorrect the design it felt predictable and boring.  Around and around I went.

Playing on the design wall is the sweet spot in the process for me - so when it got to the point where even I was tired of arranging and re-arranging I know something is wrong.  Finally I came to the realization that using all my parts was not in the best interest of the quilt.  Just because I had made 64 arches and 64 half square triangles didn't mean I was bound to them (cringe).

In the end it became a nicely balanced strategically placed three by four layout that you see here:

What became of those abandoned arches and triangle? You can read about the birth of "No Inherent Sense of Direction", my other challenge quilt entry and the bonus Bed Runner .

Six days from first cut to finished tops was a trip to remember.  The moral of the story is that you may not end up where you set out to go but that isn't always a bad thing :)

Specs: 48"x64" Original Design
Quick Curve Ruler
Pieced and quilted with Aurifil 50wt thread on my BabyLock Symphony, binding hand-stitched.
Batting Pellon Nature's Touch Cotton.
Started Dec 28, 2012 Finished Jan 22, 2013.
Companion Quilt "No Inherent Sense of Direction" and bonus Bed Runner.

EDIT: Linking up to FAL Q1 with Leanne of She Can Quilt as one of the 6 of 7 qualifying projects done.  1) No Inherent Sense of Direction 2) Tassels 3)Driving in Circles 4) Luminosity 5) Sisterly Love 6)QuiltCon Charity.
2013 FAL Q1 Goal Mosaic 


  1. Wonderful quilt! And wonderful backdrops and scenery to photograph it in. I think that's a great idea to play tourist. And now I'm hitting myself upside the head at the name of your blog: capitolaquilter. All this time I thought it was Capitol A Quilter and that you were somewhere in Washington DC. How crazy to find out that you are Capitola! I used to hang out there a lot when I was a teenager. We used to drive down there from the Bay Area, where I grew up, so I have lots of fond memories of the beaches and all the area. Wow. You learn something new every day!

    Okay, back to the quilt: I agree that designing on the pinwall is a sweet spot. I can't really even make a quilt anymore without the ability to throw it all up there, take a photo, change it around, take another photo. I think your idea to leave off some pieces was brave, yet it contributed to such a lovely finish. I love it!

    Congratulations on such a quick finish, too!

    (from Riverside, CA)

  2. Love the madrona road quilt and the quilty photoshoot. What a beautiful place to live! I need to try the quick curve ruler.


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