Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"What Burr Said" - A Hamilton Mini Wholecloth Quilt

I set out to create a couple of mini quilts to practice wholecloth quilting (using just one fabric as the background for a quilt) for a challenge with Renee @quiltsnfeathers. What I didn't intend was to spend an entire week on two of them, creating intricate details and scheming about the moments they would end up in their forever homes.

 "I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable, I am an original."

While this quilt isn't just one fabric, I practiced the same concept of wholecloth quilting: quilting that thing to life! One of my closest friends Jessica Levitt (@jtlevitt) had a birthday earlier this summer, and I wanted to make her something Hamilton related. If you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of Hamilton: An American Musical, I suggest you go give that soundtrack a listen, STAT. Lin-Manuel Miranda is an exuberant, inspiring genius.

Once I finally see it (one day but who knows when I'll be able to get tickets!), it will surely make my list of favorite musicals. Anyway, I got Jess into it, and we've both been obsessing over it for months! We have a pact that we'll meet in NYC if one of us wins the lottery.

This is a quote from the song "Wait for It," in which Aaron Burr (Alexander Hamilton's "nemesis," played originally by the brilliant Leslie Odom Jr.) discusses his ambition and his family's legacy (listen to/watch an amazing a capella version here. CHILLS, people!).

These lines are what make the character so intriguing to me, and I felt like they apply to Jess and myself as well. It's about letting go of the things you can't control (for lack of a better word) and doing your best with what you can. I love the power and spice of so many exciting words put together; really, the whole musical is like that!

I decided to use three background colors to play with different threads. I started with citron green fabric, Jess's favorite color - the teal and navy quickly fell into place afterwards. It was exciting to experiment with thread colors; if something didn't show up like I expected, I simply traced over it a couple of times. A few motifs are purposefully light, which makes you look a little closer. Some of the threads I used: Aurifil 2024 (white), 2600 (dove gray), 2870 (green), 2710 (light blue), and 2783 (dark blue). I have so many ideas whirling in my head right now for changing thread weights and colors in my large project to come.

 A blank canvas! So full of possibilities.

I practiced the writing in my sketchbook and used my Hera marker for minimal marking - otherwise, the lettering is freehand. It's not centered exactly (which, I realized, is all part of the message) and that wasn't an issue for me. I just went for it and had fun creating all kinds of contrast.

I used some motifs that are very "Jess L." (the wonky square spirals) and some that are very "me" (orange peels, of course!).

Lots of pebbles of all shapes and sizes. I'm learning a lot about emphasizing letters in relation to the rest of the quilt!

The back shows tons of quilting - especially those orange peels! I chose this fabric because it reminds me of Jess (I used it in the very first thing I made her way back in 2013). I gifted this quilt to her privately at our guild sewing day last weekend and she was thrilled. It makes me so happy to sew things like this for others.

Yay, texture! I have another small wholecloth quilt to share soon. Until then, do yourself a favor and listen to Hamilton. Come on, you know you want to.

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  1. This is amazing!! Brilliant work!

  2. Good way to express what is inspiring you at the moment.

  3. This is a really beautiful mini quilt. It's so good to see, what inspires other quilters - and how there are so many ways to "translate" this into art. Thanks :-)

  4. This is wonderful, Jess. I like how the different background colors make me feel like shedding the weight of letting go of things out of your control as you read the quote. I feel lighter after having read it!

  5. OMG. This is the quote that has led to the cutting fabric with a laser cutter experiment I put on Instagram @jabloxham today, since I am not skilled at the FMQ like you are. This is amazing. I spent a large chunk of cash and spousal goodwill for tickets to see the show in Chicago in November for my uh, birthday. I really want this fabric to make myself a bag to carry to the show. http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/5516320-hamilton-inspired-silhouettes-by-beccamade

  6. This quilt is fabulous! I love all of your letters. I am trying to get more confident with FMQ. small quilts are so great for practice.

  7. Love that quote, it came out nicely.

  8. There's so much great detail and texture in this piece. I love that you made it three colors! And I'm reminded that I need to try out pebbling with stuff inside some pebbles. Great work!

  9. This is wonderful! I'm so impressed with how the words look, and all FMQ! Its good to play and try new things! I may one day do a whole cloth quilt, although my FMQ skills are not quite there yet! Thanks for sharing...what a great gift for a friend!

  10. CHILLS. So then I watched it again, and again chills. And since the topic of Then and Now is on my mind let me just say that you should totally do one for you quilting-writing! It has developed SO much! I love that scratchy-fill in the I AM letters, it feels raw, but bold! Such a great quilt, and the message is so, so good.

  11. Oh Jess, this is beautiful! You did make it come to life! I love all the details and that it is inspired by Hamilton. Will have to check out the soundtrack now to see what all the fuss is about.

  12. That is amazing - I had to stare at your lettering to see whether it was printed - it looks incredible and what a beautiful sentiment too!

  13. So that's how you dot the i's! Thanks, I love words and love to work them into a quilt!

  14. It's an original! Looks great!

  15. I can't love this enough!!! Hamilton is such an amazing production and "Wait for It" is one of my absolute favorite songs from the show, along with "Non-Stop." Beautiful quilting for a great quote.

  16. Not sure how I missed this when you first posted. I'm obsessed with words on quilts! Thanks for the link to Hamilton. I recommend Tonya Riccuci's book Wordplay Quilts for a very cool free/pieced letters technique. It's from C&T publishing. It may be out of print but you could get the E book version.


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