Design Wall Tuesday: The Incredible Journey of Radio Quilt

20180417-the-incredible-journey-of-radio-quilt

Rosemarie DeBoerName: Rosemarie DeBoer
Title: Managing Editor, Modern Patchwork and Quilting Arts
I live in: a phenomenal apartment which is the second story of a house built in the early 1900s. Oak woodwork. Original oak floors. Miniscule closet. (Yes, that is closet, singular. One closet in the entire apartment!)
I started quilting: about 20 years ago—but was a garment sewist long before that, thanks to a very patient mom who got me started early.
What I’ve Made: At heart, I’m a maker, so I’ve tried nearly every fiber art possible. Tatting, macramé, home dec, quilting in all forms, spinning, weaving, needlepoint, embroidery—I love them all. The last skill I’d like to add to the list is being able to toss those little bobbins around to make lace. I’ll let you know when I find and finish that class.
What I’m Making: Right now, quilting and knitting occupy most of my time. One recent quilt project that started in my studio last spring, has had an interesting year. Let me tell you that story.


In part because of my background as a graphic designer, I’m drawn to interesting shapes and forms—apart from their practical use. When I came across the picture of a radio from the 1950s, I was intrigued by how modern the speaker vents looked. A quick screen grab was plopped into a folder cleverly labeled: Ideas–Later.

Last spring it was time to turn Ideas–Later into Ideas–Now and I transformed that grainy screen grab into a design for a full-sized quilt. (In case anyone is interested, my method of choice for designing is Adobe Illustrator. Why? I learned it years ago and it’s a comfortable program for me. I can work quickly, and I spend more time on the idea than the machinations of the software.)

The original design for Radio

The original design for Radio

So with the design finalized, it was time to get to work. As you can see, not too many color decisions needed to be made. The critical part was being absolutely certain that these long blue and white strips were sewn perfectly straight every single time. With no fabric print to distract, any wobble would be easily noticed. After trying unsuccessfully to achieve this with extremely careful sewing and pressing, I realized that I needed to figure out something else. “Well, that looks pretty good” was not going to work in the long run.

Thanks to my working knowledge of stabilizers, I turned to a fusible, tear-away stabilizer. By fusing the long edges of the strips to a length of the stabilizer, I was able to sew these long seams as wonderfully straight as I had envisioned them.*

Radio on my design wall. Those seams are so straight! If you look closely at the top of the first picture, you’ll see the paper pattern that kept me organized.

Radio on my design wall. Those seams are so straight! If you look closely at the top of the first picture, you’ll see the paper pattern that kept me organized.

In no time at all (Who am I kidding! It took a very long time!) the quilt top was complete. Due to looming publication deadlines, I sent the top to the talented Tia Curtis for quilting. I knew what I had in mind, and Tia did a phenomenal job.

The finished quilt, plus a close-up of the quilting and the center motif, which I appliquéd to the background.

The finished quilt, plus a close-up of the quilting and the center motif, which I appliquéd to the background.

So a quilt that started in my studio in Massachusetts first traveled to Tia in Kansas. Then it was off to Colorado to be photographed for the November/December 2017 issue of Modern Patchwork. And back to Massachusetts.

And one more journey was in store for Radio. It was accepted for the QuiltCon exhibit in Pasadena, so while we New Englanders were slogging through another winter, Radio spent some time in Pasadena!

Vivika DeNegre, Modern Patchwork editor, takes an on-location selfie with Radio!

Vivika DeNegre, Modern Patchwork editor, takes an on-location selfie with Radio!

Now my quilt is back home. And it’s time for me to revisit what’s in Ideas–Later.

Inspiration abounds in the pages of Modern Patchwork and the latest QuiltCon magazine. Seeing the work of other quilters energizes my creative spirit. Try it!

*Detailed instructions for this are found in the November/December 2017 issue of Modern Patchwork and in the downloadable Radio pattern.

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