October 28, 2016

Cursive is a Fading Art

I am excited to share a recently finished quilt, Cursive.  This wall hanging was made for an entry in the Black, White and Pop of Color Challenge issued by the Greenville MQG.  And since I was the coordinator of the challenge, I definitely wanted to participate.

Cursive in front of the James B. Duke Library at Furman University
 The basic rules of the challenge were to create a quilt using only black and white fabrics whether prints or solids and one pop of color.  Some gray fabrics could be used and no side could be larger than 36".  My goal was to encourage participants to create quilts in a modern aesthetic which could then also be entered into QuiltCon East in the small category.

I actually thought of a similar idea back in 2014 when the MQG announced the bias tape challenge.  My idea at the time was to create hand writing paper with a broken midline similar to the paper used by those learning to write cursive.  But since I was able to use only one pop of color, I decided to design the background like ruled three-ring notebook filler paper.

Background of Cursive designed like filler paper
My original idea was to include the cursive words, Practice makes perfect and make them from bias stems rather than bias tape.  Bias stems are made from strips of fabric, cut on the bias and sewn wrong sides together to form a tube.

Since I did not use the more elementary style 'paper' I changed the wording to Cursive is a fading art.  The handwriting used was D'Neilian Handwriting and permission was granted by the developer, Donald N. Thurber.

This blue-gray brick wall found in downtown Greenville (SC) on the way to my MQG meeting was the perfect backdrop for Cursive.

Cursive by Paige Alexander
Most of the fabrics are text related fabrics from the background to the binding and lettering.  Four of the fabrics are from Modern Background Essentials by Brigitte Heitland (Zen Chic) for Moda.  Not able to find a dark gray text fabric, I used another Zen Chic print similar to text.  And you can see I started out with black text fabric and faded to a pure white text fabric (Jam's &Jellies by Henry Glass).  The next to last print is the binding is the backing is College Ruled from Paper Obsessed by Heather Givens for Windham Fabrics.

Fabrics used in Cursive
Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton in bright pink was used to make the bias stem to create the vertical line of the notebook paper and was the only bias which was stitched by machine.  The horizontal lines which finished at 1/4" were pieced from Michael Miller Cotton Couture in fog.  The thinner weight of Cotton Couture was perfect since there were bulky overlapping seam allowances on the back.

Vertical line created from bias stem and machine stitched in place

The background was pieced from one length of fabric and, although the text is subtle, I was careful to match the printed handwriting when inserting the horizontal strips.

I had the idea of practicing my cursive handwriting by quilting rows of lower case letters in between the lines.  Spacing of the rows needed to be calculated because some letters drop below the line while other are different heights. Knowing I was not coordinated enough to quilt this entirely free handed,   I drew out every single cursive letter and the horizontal guide lines with a blue water soluble fabric marker.  I tried to choose letters which were not too complicated so that meant not dotting i's or crossing t's.

Lower case cursive letters drawn with a water soluble marker
And another reason to draw out every single letter was that in order to fit the quilt easily under my machine, the letters in the top half were quilted sideways from right to left (top to bottom).  The most difficult part was quilting the lower half where I was actually quilting as if writing the backwards (top to bottom).

Lower case cursive letters were quilted backwards
I noticed the my stitch length when quilting the l's was longer after I rounded the top and was coming out letter.  Aurifil 2600 dove gray was used for the quilting the lettering.  I did use my walking foot to quilt in the ditch along each side to the notebook paper lines.

Cursive detail
This was the first time that I pieced the background, quilted and blocked it before I applied the hand and machine applique (and the binding).  I had no idea how this would work, but it worked out fine.  I knew there was no way I could keep the flow of the quilted letters if I had to stop and work around the applique.  Not to mention, I surely didn't want to bury all those threads.

Cursive detail
The most difficult part was hand appliqueing the lettering to the background and being very careful not to allow my applique stitches to be seen from the back.  I also had to manipulate the stems for turning corners and tight curves and carefully trim them at various angles to hide the stops and starts.

The dots of the i's and the period were made using Karen Kay Buckley perfect circles. I don't remember how long it took to complete the applique, but I stitched it all standing over my ironing board.

Cursive detail
Another shot of the lettering.

Cursive detail
I was astounded as to how creme the Modern Background is compared to the backing from Paper Obsessed.  When they are not together it wasn't that noticeable.

The label was hand written, not in cursive though, with a permanent fabric marker using the same fabric but on a square that was cut on the bias.
 
Backing of College Ruled from Paper Obsessed by Heather Givens
I was thrilled to received 1st place in the Black, White and Pop of color challenge and 2nd place in Gray Matters category of the Asheville Quilt Show.

Cursive received 1st and 2nd place ribbons
Here I am at the the Asheville Quilt Show with Cursive.

Paige Alexander with Cursive at Asheville Quilt Show

Here's one more of Cursive on the brick wall downtown Greenville.  You can see what I used to 'hang' the quilt sitting on the curb.  Loops of masking tape held it in place.

Cursive held in place with masking tape

And this one was taken on the wall of the old Dacusville Elementary School which is now a community center.

Cursive on the wall of the Dacusville Community Center
I know I've shared many photos and a lot of details but I wanted to document it well since Cursive is now in a new home.  After a friend of Susan Bachelder snapped a photo at the Asheville Quilt Show and sent it to her, she inquired about purchasing the quilt.  You see, Susan has just self published a book, Alphabet Crash, about the decline of cursive writing.  It couldn't go to a better home.

Cursive rolled up and ready to ship

Quilt Stats:
  • Finished size: 34" x 36" 
  • Pattern: Original design using D'Nealian Handwriting
  • Fabrics: Background - Modern Background Paper by Zen Chic for Moda and other prints listed above; Backing - College Ruled from Paper Obsessed by Heather Givens for Windham
  • Thread: Quilting - Aurifil 2600 Dove Gray
  • Quilting design: Free motion and some straight line with walking foot
  • Batting: 100% Cotton Warm & White by the Warm Company
  • Completed: August 2016



40 comments :

  1. The backing fabric is so perfect for the quilt, and I love how much detail you shared about your creation process. It was brilliant to do all the quilting before adding the bias tape - burying threads would have been such a task! And I have to admit I'm guilty of not using cursive. I do love my engineering block print that I happily adopted as soon as I got into college. :)

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  2. So beautiful Paige. Congratulations on the award. My daughter told me that the schools (in Tennessee) no longer teach cursive (long-hand)writing. That baffles me. After all, a signature is usually written in cursive, right? Quilting/appliqueing cursive must be quite difficult, and you did a perfect job at it.

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  3. This is a very cool quilt! Congrats!

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  4. That. Is. Brilliant! I love the way you have quilted letters in the background - very very clever thinking - well done!

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  5. Wow! Such skill! I love that you shared all of the details about this. It is fascinating. As most of the making of this quilt is not in my skill set, I would think a magic wand was involved in making such smooth curves and layering. :) I am not surprised that this quilt received those ribbons. It is pretty amazing.

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  6. Paige, I never cease to be amazed at your design skills. And your meticulous implementation of those designs. Wow! I never would have thought of all the details you considered. Amazing work, Paige! Ribbon well deserved!

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  7. Great attention to detail, as always, Paige. This little quilt uses the text fabrics very cleverly, and the quilting is perfection! Congratulations on the ribbons. They are well deserved!

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  8. It's stunning in every detail and so true! I'd love if you'd link to my Finished or Not Friday Linky Party at Busy Hands Quilts each week!

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  9. This is fantastic Paige. Very very nicely done.

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  10. Fantastic quilt! Every aspect of it is just perfect, from design to fabrics to applique and quilting. You deserved that blue ribbon, no doubt!

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  11. It's just brilliant Paige! Love how you described all your design process, and the execution shows amazing attention to detail...love love love! xAli

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  12. Your quilt is beautiful, inspiring, and so meticulous!

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  13. Hi Paige, this is such an interesting project. The idea behind it, the low volume with a pop of color, the amazing quilting you pulled off, and the intricate hand appliqué. Really, really amazing. I am so glad you won a ribbon or two because it is certainly deserving of them. What a perfect home this quilt went to. It seems like it all came together beautifully. I suspect between the planning and execution of this small-ish quilt, you have a lot of hours worked in it. Also, genius idea to quilt it first. I am going to try to tuck that in the recesses of my brain and remember it should I have a project that needs it. Excellent finish Paige.

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    1. Beautiful quilt and thank you for sharing all the details of your design process. Congratulations on the ribbons.

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  14. This is absolutely fantastic!

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  15. Wow, what a beautiful quilt. thanks for showing us so much detail, so much precise, careful work went into this! Are you entering it in Quiltcon?

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  16. This is a fabulous creation! Thank you the detailed story. It's just perfect from A to Z!!!

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  17. This is Super! Love all the wonderful detail that you have added, such as the text fabric as well as the quilting of of the cursive letters. Congrats on the ribbons....Well deserved! TFS.

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  18. From inception to execution, this is a fantastic quilt, Paige! Congratulations!

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  19. This is absolutely stunning Paige! I love the quilt and loved reading about your process and all the decisions you made along the way. And congrats on winning the ribbons! :-)

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  20. What a great idea for the theme. You executed it perfectly! Congrats on the ribbons.

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  21. WOW ! I missed that meeting, but recall seeing the GMQG post about it. I loved it then, but, i did NOT know you used a tube to form the main text. VERY impressive. You are supremely talented and creative.

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  22. Wow, this would have been best of show and best of 2016 in my books! Howe creative! LOVE the quilting and the design! Great job!

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  23. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I enjoyed reading the whole post. This is an awesome quilt.

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    1. Thank you Sandra, I appreciate your kind words!

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  24. I just love this quilt and enjoyed seeing it come together through your in-progress pics. I think that it is going to be well loved in its new home.

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  25. Paige, this quilt is truly amazing! I love the effect that quilting first and then adding the appliqued letters gave the quilt. I absolutely loved reading the process you went through to create this. Congrats on your ribbons! They were definitely well deserved!

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  26. This is a fantastic quilt Paige! Congratulations on the ribbons!

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  27. Wow ! Your quilt is fantastic Paige ! Perfect from design and fabric choice to quilting. The ribbons are deserved. Congratulations !

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  28. I love it! Thanks for sharing your techniques. Very inspiring❤️

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  29. Fabulous idea and fabulous quilt!

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  30. Wow, Paige! I absolutely love this! My favorite part is how the color of the fabrics fade as the cursive progresses. I didn't notice that when I saw this on IG but it was immediately apparent when I saw it on your blog. Beautiful, beautiful work and the awards were well deserved!

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  31. Clever idea and very well executed. I made a jelly roll quilt a few years ago with various shades of green and quilted in the words of the 23rd Psalm. It was a fun project. Congratulations on the ribbons :)

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  32. This is an amazing piece, Paige and I really appreciate all the detail and care that went into making it. Thanks for sharing the process.

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  33. It's gorgeous, Paige! I love everything about it, especially the way you faded the colour of the words and the cursive quilting. I probably wouldn't have thought of adding the applique after the quilting, but it's such a smart decision. I'll have to remember that in the future.

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  34. I have been writing in cursive since I was a child, so your quilt caught my eye right away. What a brilliant idea and the quilting is amazing. Congratulations on the wins! Really well done, Paige!

    -Soma

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  35. Awesome idea! You did an amazing job on this.

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  36. I love, love, love this quilt!! I smile every time I see it and keeping finding more to appreciate about its design!!

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