It all started a couple of months ago, when Machine Quilting Unlimited magazine (MQU), announced that, in honor of its tenth birthday, it was holding a 10" x 10" challenge. Cleverly doing the math, I came up with 100, so I cut about 100 1.5" squares from batiks. (A 1.5" square will finish at 1" when stitched.)
Next, sorted them by hue (blue, green, red, orange, pink, yellow). Then I sorted those from lightest to darkest. Made a circle on a large piece of posterboard.
Little did I know that this activity would quickly turn into an obsession, resulting in cutting thousands of squares, sorting, then laying out color runs up and down the value scale, to create what I shall call "art quilt color studies" [aka "incredibly basic quilts that even your 5 year old could make."]
Brought this to the sewing machine and speed-stitched the grid together, first stitching down the vertical seams, at which point it looked like this.
Just like my kids' cubbies in preschool, calling out to be filled with clean underwear, these little boxes cried out for something...beads...buttons.....the works!
What's more, the neatly-aligned squares on the front become zig-zags on the back, due to the flipping of seams, giving the whole piece a sort of unfocused Monet waterlily look! How did I miss that all these years?
I fell so deeply in love with the back-with-vertical-seams-pressed-open that I decided to make it the permanent front. I added batting and backing and did a pillowcase turn, with the back of the top facing forward. (The horizontal seams stay flipped.)
I wanted to fill the cubbies immediately, but embellishment would require hand-sewing, and this challenge was - remember? - for a magazine with "machine quilting" in the title. So I held off.
Furthermore, the challenge rules said the number ten had to appear on it somewhere. I rubber stamped the numbers 1-10 and letters A-J on little bits of fabric and stitched them in position.
Plus, if anyone wants to locate something on the quilt, I could simply say to them, "The leaping rabbit golden glass button is located in Square C-7!" and "The Hebrew letter shin is in F-6!" It's like finding Waldo, but on a (nonlinear) grid!
I wasn't done with arranging squares into mini-quilts and other items, not by a long shot. Nor was I done with backwards. Something even bigger and stranger was still to come. (Update: Read the sequel here.)