I wrote about this process here and there on the blog, but it was scattered, so I'll add in some more details now. I took the mini charm squares and improvisationally pieced together blocks that were based on those colors. I made sure to include pieces of white and black in each block (one of my techniques for structured improv is following a stipulation). Only within the last couple years have I started using strong colors like black in my piecing (and I love the effect!). I really had no idea where this quilt was going, but I knew it needed something more (similar to the beginnings of my Pebble Cascade quilt).
I decided to piece all of the blocks together and surround them with something. But what? Instead of making the big improv piece float in negative space or one solid color, I decided to "go bold" and use several different prints. I tried to place the background fabrics opposite of where they were featured in the middle (orange far away from orange, for example). This kind of quilt was difficult to imagine until it was done, but I think this technique established color balance.
As I navigated through the process of cutting into the improv piece and sewing partial seams, I recall being cheered on and encouraged by the Instagram quilting community (so, thank you!!).
Once I finished the top, I let it sit in the WIP pile. Which became the UFO pile. Which is NOT a bad thing. The reason it sat is simply this: I didn't know how I should quilt it. You might know how seriously I take that step because I love it so much!
I took it with me to classes and lectures about modern quilting, where I asked for suggestions. Several people remarked that it looked like a city (specifically the island of Manhattan), and that I should quilt with that in mind. The more I showed the quilt, the more I was influenced by this feedback. I'm grateful, because I'm pretty sure the quilt would never have been finished! I love the idea of a quilt based on cities (and I love cities) so eventually, I was ready to start.
Instagram caption: "@quiltyhabit will be quilting this at the #cjmqg sewing day!" - 2/6/16
Then, the quilt top sat for a few more months while I contemplated quilting the surrounding background part. One day, out of the blue, it hit me: it needed curves. I quilted them all with my free motion foot in Aurifil #2024 (White). The quilt was calling for curves that differ and change but still flow. I couldn't go back after that - it was a lot of quilting!
For the backing, I pieced together two colors that go well together (orange and blue). I wanted to use up some of these fabrics. You can also see where I outlined the improv piece on the front with white thread to make it "pop" even more!
When the quilt was done, I knew I had to photograph it in a an actual metropolis. New York City fit the bill! This quilt was small enough to cram into a backpack (my sister proudly told anyone we met up with that day that she had a quilt in her backpack!).
These two pictures were taken at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park. We always enjoy visiting. Luckily, there were no people directly in the middle of the open space, so we ran to get a quick picture in front of the arches! Definitely got some interesting looks from people nearby, though (or maybe we were imagining it - but it's not every day someone whips out a quilt in the middle of Bethesda Terrace).
The picture below was all luck! We were on the High Line (if you've never heard of it and you're going to NYC, you won't be disappointed; it's a beautiful, elevated park that spans a couple miles of western Manhattan). We caught the last few minutes of a lovely sunset. I love how Marisa captured the quilt within the bars - so industrial looking, kind of like the quilt itself. By this point, we were absolutely exhausted from our day in the city.