Fast Fridays Challenge

I believe this group was formed in 2006 as the quilter's answer to Project Runway. The idea being that each month a challenge would be issued and participants would have a limited time to complete the challenge. What is really great about this group is that each monthly challenge establishes some goals in art and design. The group is extraordinarily talented. See their work here:

I joined the group in September of 2007 with challenge #13. Below, you will see some of the pieces I made while a member.

Challenge 63, November 2011 Concept: Contrast

Santa Fe Courtyard

Size: 13.5" x 18"
Click on the image to see a larger view.

The photo that inspired this quilt


I was Hostess for this challenge, which means I suggested the theme or concept. The concept was "Experiments in Contrast and Color: Use strong value contrast in a dramatic way".

The basic quilt top was made in two days. The size is approximately 13.5" x 18". After posting the unfinished top for the challenge, it took me a few weeks to get back to it. It is now quilted.

To read more about the challenge and see other quilts made for this challenge visit the Fast Fridays blog

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Challenge 53, January 2011 Concept: Trompe d'oeil

After a lengthy hiatus from the group, I have once again entered the fray. I decided to do this challenge because I have always been fascinated by trompe d'oeil. See a larger photo and more information about this quilt. To see other quilts made for this challenge visit the Fast Fridays blog

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Challenge 31, March 2009
Color Concept: Bright, Intense Colors contrasting with grayed colors to create the illusion of luminosity
Composition Concept: Planes and Masses
Title: Untitled

The size of this quilts is approximately 18" x 14".

I began this piece in late March when the challenge was first issued. It was the end of winter and it seemed as if spring would never arrive. I became distracted by another project and not feeling like this one was going too well, so it was early May before I was ready to complete it. By that time the wisteria was in bloom and my earlier dismal mood was long gone.

The March challenge was two-fold: First, the color component was to use bright, intense, pure colors in contrast to dull, grayed colors in order to achieve the effect of luminosity. Secondly, to convey the idea of masses and planes. This I interpreted to mean achieving a sense of bulk or solid mass by shading the planes of the objects. I decided to try some two-point perspective on this piece in order to best work with the masses and planes.

The finishing touches were the quilting and the shadows. The shadows of the trees are made with layers of tulle. I finally finished this the night of May 6th, more than a little late for the deadline. I have had a hard time with a title for this one, hence it remains untitled.

To see larger photos of this quilt, go to and click on the images. You will see lots of other wonderful quilts at this site.

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Challenge 25, September 2008
Color Concept: Complementary
Composition Concept: Vertical, Horizontal or Diagonal layout
Title: Signs of Fall

The size of this quilts is 22" x 14".

A day or two after this challenge was issued, I happened to be riding through the mountains on a wet dreary day. The sky was gray, the trees and the hills on the whole were still mostly green but now and again I saw the bright red of vines that creep up the trees and add a burst of color. I thought, "This is it! This is a complementary color scheme with some neutrals." I did not have a camera at the time but tried to keep these images in my head as I made this quilt. I cut all the pieces freehand and pinned them down, moving things around adding and subtracting until it had the look I wanted. The vines are done with needle lace (embroidery done off the surface and then attached). This let me avoid the pitfalls of heavy thread work on a quilted surface. I would call the composition predominately vertical because of the trees but it definitely has horizontal and even diagonal elements. I guess nature does not go strictly by one set of rules.

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Challenge 24, August 2008:
Color Concept: Garden
Design Concept:Abstraction
Title: Fuchsia

I seem to find fuchsias endlessly fascinating. I have taken many, many photos of them and used one of these as an inspiration for this piece. I rarely choose to do anything "abstract" but in the sense that this is not a close replica of the photo and I did lots of editing, this is about as close to abstract as I get.

Source photo

In fact, I was called on the carpet for not being "abstract" enough and was asked if it "is hard to get out of the realistic box?" I understand that the challenge as defined by the group was abstraction. However, I engage in challenges to further my own personal artistic goals. I don't see realism as a box from which I want to escape. Given the way I work and the kinds of quilts I like to make, I have virtually no interest in making my work more abstract. Abstract art does not engage me on the same emotional level as more representational work. I can relate to a landscape, an artistically rendered flower, a beautiful courtyard scene or cityscape in ways I cannot begin to imagine relating to a canvas of non-representational shapes, lines and colors. I find the challenge of working with light and shadow, color and form in order to create depth and realism an interesting and worthwhile intellectual and artistic challenge. I think we all have different goals in our art. Mine do not include making my art more "abstract".

I cut the shapes for this collage freehand and changed the composition somewhat. I tried to work mostly from scraps from my scrap bin. I fused the shapes to the background using Misty Fuse. I enjoyed the opportunity to work a little looser than I often do.

Size: 8.5" x 11"

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Challenge 22, November 2007
Theme: Spot the Block
Design Concept: Balance
Title: Untitled

The idea of this challenge was to make a quilt block but to distort it in some way. I chose to use linear perspective on my block. It turned out to be a lot less impressive than I had hoped. When the challenge was announced, I had been spending some time in working with traditional type scrap blocks as part of my guild challenge project. (see some of the results here: Sampler Quilt. So I was particularly interested in giving this a try. Since I sometimes do perspective quilts, I thought I would work with a block drawn in perspective.

I selected a block from Jinny Beyer's "Quilter's Book of Blocks and Borders" and drafted the block in perspective. I decided to work with a brown/neutral color palette since I had so recently been playing with so many colors in my scrap blocks. I worked out the lights darks and mediums and drew the block full size onto freezer paper, with all the pieces well labeled so I would not mix them up. Then I cut out the pieces and cut them out of their proper colors and used Misty Fuse to adhere them to a background, a spare piece of old hand dyed mauve fabric.

You can see the results in the photo. Despite the many steps that went into this, it really just looks like a photo taken at an angle. My plan is to use this as a floor in one of my perspective quilts at some time, so I have not quilted or bound it.

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Challenge 15, November 2007
Theme: Proportion and Scale
Title: Mountain Roses

The challenge as stated was about proportion and scale. Examples seemed to indicate that we might attempt to exaggerate proportions in order to emphasize something about the subject.

The photo at right is one I had been thinking about using as the basis of a quilt for some time. It seemed like the exaggerated perspective of the fence might suit the demands of the challenge.

source photo

#15 Proportion and Scale
Size: 19.5" wide by 13.5" high

This is the result. I tried to exaggerate the perspective even more than the original image from the source photo. I also challenged myself to work faster and not do too much planning. I worked collage style, just cutting freehand from fabric for the trees, barn, grass and roses. I did use rotary cutting tools to cut the straight lines of the fence, but I did not measure anything, just cut by eye. I prepared a backing and batting, then pinned the tree, grass and barn pieces down and thread painted and quilted the surface at the same time. The fence pieces and the roses are fused.

I started thinking about the challenge on Friday and completed the quilt on Monday. Yippee! It was the first one I finished on time.

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Challenge 14,October 2007
Theme: Motion (with Embellishment)
Windy Day at Nags Head

A lot of things came to mind for this challenge. Laundry on the line, leaves falling, birds in the air. I think I kept coming back to the idea of wind. As usual, I started going through my photos to find something that might relate. My husband Bruce is a windsurfer and so we do have quite few photos of windsurfing. One of those cropped and enlarged seemed just right.

source photo

Size: 11.5" x 14.5"

I used my favorite Applique technique for this one: Upside-Down Applique. I printed an enlarged photo on paper and made a line drawing of the photo by tracing the elements of the photo. I used the line drawing as a pattern to re-create the the piece in applique. For the sail, I used a layer of organza over the colored pieces. The wake in the water is made from fabric and is thread painted to soften the edges and to embellish the surface.

When it was time to quilt the water, I used a variegated thread. Whenever the thread changed to a lighter color, I tried to quilt in some white caps. This makes them a bit random, as I think they should be. This was a fun project.

I was preparing for an out of town teaching job when this challenge was announced. When I came home, I was able to work on it, but was unable to meet the deadline. Though I tried to keep it simple, this one was about a week late.

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Challenge 13, September 2007
Theme: Architecture and Depth
Title: Victorian in Ghent

I was very excited about this challenge because I really enjoy working on architectural pieces. I love Victorian Architecture and have done a series of Victorian Turrets. I had planned to continue making these but other things always seemed to get in the way. This was my chance to continue.

My previous turrets have all been Journal Quilt Size (8.5" x 11") but this time I wanted to work larger. I actually did not think it would take much longer to work larger than to work small. Wrong! I found out that each piece when it is large takes on more significance to the outcome of the whole. This has lead to some trial and error and changes in my fabric choices.
I completed this in December of 2007, so needless to say, I missed my deadline. However, I feel that I have gained a lot by working on this challenge and am satisfied with what I have done. Learning something new, motivation to work on a topic of interest, that is reason enough to participate in challenges.

source photo


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This page was created on 11/28/07
Last update: 01/09/12