QuiltCon Exclusive: Making Mini Quilts for the 100 Day Project

100 Day Projects from QuiltCon 2019 Special Exhibits. All photos courtesy of the artists.]

How are you doing with your 2019 artistic goals?

Is it time for a resolution-refresh? It is nearly springtime and, quite possibly, the resolutions made so earnestly in January are now on life support. Creative types have long been known to set artistic goals, choose words of affirmation, and make plans for self-improvement. But, like everyone else, a goal to “Make 100 Mini Quilts” (like modern quilter Debbie Grifka) is daunting.

Debbie Grifka writes of her challenge to make 100 mini quilts in 100 days: “I found such joy in making one of these little compositions each day. If I was pleased with the result, fantastic, if not, there was always tomorrow.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

Debbie Grifka writes of her challenge to make 100 mini quilts in 100 days: “I found such joy in making one of these little compositions each day. If I was pleased with the result, fantastic, if not, there was always tomorrow.” Photos courtesy of the artists.

Here’s a suggestion:

Break down the goal into achievable chunks of time that you can work on every day. We saw incredible examples of this kind of ‘can-do’ artwork displayed at QuiltCon 2019.

Kitty Wilkin pushed the limits of piecing small in her 100 Day project. “I confirmed my love of precision and found that true joy exits in meticulously cutting fabric at a miniscule scale. I will never look at fabric the same again.” Photo courtesy of the artist.

Kitty Wilkin pushed the limits of piecing small in her 100 Day project. “I confirmed my love of precision and found that true joy exits in meticulously cutting fabric at a minuscule scale. I will never look at fabric the same again.”

The 100 Day Project

The 100 Day Project is a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The special exhibit at QuiltCon 2019 showcased work from 100 Day participants who focused specifically on quilt-related making.

Kristin Axtman framed her small studies in embroidery hoops. "I learned that like brainstorming, the real challenge was to generate ideas while withholding judgment, acknowledging all ideas are valid, and finishing a small piece every day. Also, creating constraints forced me to focus my thoughts and pushed me to use materials differently." Photo courtesy of the artist.

Kristin Axtman framed her small studies in embroidery hoops. “I learned that like brainstorming, the real challenge was to generate ideas while withholding judgment, acknowledging all ideas are valid, and finishing a small piece every day. Also, creating constraints forced me to focus my thoughts and pushed me to use materials differently.”

Process

The goal in the 100 Day Project is surrendering to the process while showing up day after day. The QuiltCon exhibit featured the work of modern quilters Debbie Grifka, Daisy Aschehoug, Kristin Axtman, Kitty Wilkin, and Michelle Wilkie whose studies in design and technique were awe-inspiring.

Michelle Wilkie used her project to experiment and explore color. Her quilt “Correlation” was part of the Special Exhibits at Quiltcon 2019.

Michelle Wilkie used her project to experiment and explore color. Her quilt “Correlation” was part of the Special Exhibits at Quiltcon 2019.

We caught up with each of the artists in the 2019 issue of QuiltCon magazine. When asked about her commitment to this project, Daisy Aschehoug’s experience was fascinating.

Daisy writes:

“Over the last few years, the act of making quilts became routine for me. The process always started with an idea that became a sketch, which eventually became a design. The design was machine pieced and machine quilted. I aimed to use color and shapes in innovative ways, but I rarely experimented with technique or materials.

Daisy’s Bojagi was small enough to stitch on the go.

Daisy’s Bojagi was small enough to stitch on the go.

Deviating from routine

My 100-day challenge encouraged me to consider something outside my routine. Bojagi is traditional Korean patchwork where fabric is pieced with a flat-felled seam. None of the online tutorials I found had instructions to hand sew a curved bojagi seam. I developed a technique using modified quarter-circle templates to cut pieces that come together without bumps in the seam or the fabric around it. Then, I set out to perfect—or at least become proficient at—the technique over 100 days.

Dasiy’s technique developed over time and took lots of practice to master.

Dasiy’s technique developed over time and took lots of practice to master.

Craftsmanship

For me, this daily practice offered limited opportunities to be creative, but I eagerly focused on craftsmanship. Every few days I would realize something new: a new tool that made holding the fabrics more comfortable or a new way to prepare fabrics that would make the seam more accurate and easier to sew. I tested various thread weights to see what performed best with different substrates. Some days my stitches looked elegant and consistent. Other days they reflected the normal-life chaos around me.

Some of the many quarter circles from Daisy’s 100 Day project.

Some of the many quarter circles from Daisy’s 100 Day project.

 

Commitment

As the days wore on, I thought a lot about commitment. Some days I was excited to stitch, and some days I had to squeeze it in the last few minutes of the day. Eventually, I began to tire of the repetition and other projects ate away at my commitment, so I took a break.

My commitment to this new technique will continue, but with the 100 days complete, the project now merges the old routine with the new one. I’m deciding how to arrange the different blocks that I stitched over the 100 days. As I make decisions, I’ll sew them together with bojagi seams, grateful for a new skill in my creative practice.”
-Daisy Aschehoug

Revisit and refresh

Resolutions like taking part in the 100 Day Project often need to be revisited, refreshed, and revitalized. The Quilting Company Podcast explores this theme in Episode 3, available on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you prefer to get your podcasts, on March 13. Why not subscribe today and never miss an episode?

Best,

Vivika Hansen DeNegre
Editor

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