Last August I agreed to take part in the MQG's Riley Blake Challenge. Participants got 6 fat eighths of fabrics from Riley Blake's basics collection, we could make anything once it was quilted and could add any solid or any Riley Blake printed fabric. The deadline was sometime in February. I missed it. Understatement. Though most of the work, including the quilting, was done the few days right before the deadline. I semi-lie, most of the quilting was done the night before the deadline. Then I got to the buildings, realised how much I like sleeping, and how crazy sewing black thread on dark grey at night was, and gave up.
I'm glad I caved. I'm also glad I busted ass for the deadline. Without the challenge I may have never made anything like this ever. Tiny pieces, inspired by the real world, crazy dense quilting, self-drafted paper-piecing, starting and stopping quilting in the middle of the quilt, burying threads - I'd never done any of those things before this.
I also learned tonnes. For instance, I should have starched before I even started cutting for this project. I probably should have used interfacing for piecing the top section. The base has two different greys in it, because my ability to paper piece, think in mirror image, and work out triangles flipping over, are all limited. This required an eleventh hour trip to my local Hancocks when I still thought that I could finish on time if I busted ass till like 3am.
It is so far from perfect. And after spending the last 4 months putting it down and picking it up to bury what felt like a million black threads into the black backing and cursing myself for the zillionth time, I see all the imperfections. However, I'm proud that I finished it. That it isn't still languishing on the corner of the sofa. Getting the stink-eye thrown at it intermittently. I'm proud that one small piece of work can hold quite so many pieces of information, and maybe by putting it in my regular line of sight I won't forget those lessons when it comes to the next project. Mostly I'm glad it's done.
|You'll notice it's also not flat or square - the wall or pins are hiding|
that for now!
The other nice thing about it is that it's a tiny little non-cliché piece of home. It's not green, there are no leprechauns, and definitely no diddly-aye fiddles playing. That is dawn from behind a power generating station in Dublin. I struggled with the colours and prints that the Riley Blake fabrics came in for a couple of months, and then decided to just think about the broad colours and see what I could interpret them as. As I was busy racking my brain for all kinds of inspiration, I came across this photo taken by @botsbushman of Poolbeg Generating Station (or Pigeon House, as we've always called it).
|Picture's a link to this instagram pic!|
Dublin is not a very high-rise city so the chimneys at Pigeon House can be seen from a lot of places, and are a well known landmark. I've also spent a lot of time travelling up and down to Dublin along the coast by train watching the sunrise, so this seemed like the perfect inspiration. And still a challenge to get those fabrics to work.
|Seriously stumping, though the resulting Challenge Quilts were stunning!|