May 31, 2020

A Photo Challenge Finish: Decades

The mini quilt made for the Photo to Textile Challenge, aka Mill Challenge, is finished.  You can read all about the rules and see the inspiration photo in this post.  I'm calling it Decades.

I thought making a 15" x 15" mini quilt would not be that difficult.  Oh, I would be wrong.  This was the original photo inspiration of the Woodside Mill as it was back in January.  You can see, at some point, the windows had been bricked in.

And, this is what the mill looked like back in March.  You can see the perspective is almost the same as the original photo.  Construction in progress as the mill is being repurposed into housing.  I started to use the water tower or the smoke stack as features in my quilt but ended up being inspired by the windows.  

I took the photo above and cropped out almost everything but the windows.  

Next, I skewed the photo as much as possible to change the perspective. I'm focusing on the row of windows second from the top.

I then flipped the image to enable me to use the light box to transfer the windows to fusible web.  My only problem here is that there are only 11 windows and I need 12, one for each decade the building had been in existence.  I took the last window, resized it and added it to the end.  

After drawing the windows onto the the fusible web, I carefully cut out the windows. 

I then fused the window fabrics to the building.  Technically, this would be reverse applique.  I did not want to fuse the window fabric on top of the building because I wanted them to recede as much as possible.

The mill was built in 1902 and closed in 1984.  I used the required challenge fabric Kona Grasshopper in the windows to represent each decade the mill was fully operational.  Gray was used for the decade the mill closed.  For two decades it was totally dark and now with the revitalization going on, there's new light in the last window. 

Can you see that each window was appliqued in two different grays?  I used a darker Aurifil to create shadowing on the right side of each window and later wished I had used black for more contrast.  I used a wider zigzag satin stitch on the largest winder and gradually reduced the width of the zigzag as the windows became smaller. 

After I finished the applique, I thought the quilt needed something else.  There was too much negative space.  I looked back a the photos and found this one with the chain link fence as part of the photo.  Could I really effectively add chain link fencing over the top?  

Needing a better reference, I took this photo of the gate at the bottom of the driveway.  Depending on the angle, notice the color variation in light to dark.

I used two different fabrics for the fencing.  One was a cross weave, I think a peppered cotton and the lighter fabric was a recycled men's chambray shirt.

I added some french knots to the background fabric.

I added a bias binding and because of the color changes, there are four seams in the binding.  Because of the small size, a couple of the joins were a little tight.

One one of the trips out to the Woodside mill, I took a photo of the old signage still in place.

Woodside Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, three years after it closed.  I'm excited to see the revitalization taking place. 

Although it took months to decide what to do, I'm pleased with the results.

My mill challenge quilt and eight others are included in the Modern Design Lab Invitational Online Gallery from June 5th to July 29th.   

The quilts can be viewed in person by appointment at the Greenville Center for Creative Arts in Greenville, SC, starting June 17th and running through July 29, 2020.   

Since making the Mill Challenge was my  One Monthly Goal for May, I'll be linking with Patty at Elm Street Quilts.  You can see all the May OMG finishes right here.

And, linking to TGIFF - Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday hosted Quilting Patchwork Applique


  1. I love the detail of the twist in the fence!!! That's great that they're making it into housing now. I enjoyed your story.

  2. It's so interesting to read how your inspiration photo evolved into your stunning quilt. I love how you represented so many aspects of the buildings history and the chain link fence was the perfect added touch!

  3. This is really fun to see, Paige. I like all of the symbolism, the window colors, the little french knots, and the chainlink fence detail. The quilting is great. This has to be a very satisfying finish for you! Well done!

  4. I appreciate the details of the history that you included in your design inspiration, Paige. That was probably the hardest photo I've ever had to work with for inspiration.

  5. It came out spectacular! Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and congrats on your finish.

  6. Oh my goodness! Paige, you've outdone yourself! Your interpretation is perfect. It couldn't be any better. The perspective is spot on; the window colors are wonderful; and the view through the chain link fence really tells the story. You have created something magnificent - though knowing you, anything less is unthinkable. Truly a work of art. As we say in our family, when hubs makes the perfect meal: "You nailed it!"

  7. I love the detail of the quilt and the many steps you took to complete this project. I have seen several other quilts made for this challenge and find it inspiring that each quilter finds something different to focus on and each quilt is so beautifully executed. Thank you for sharing the history of the mill, the symbolism of the windows in your quilt and the rejuvenation of this mill.

  8. The story and the making behind this is amazing, the skew vision, the changing colours as the old mill is being re-purposed, just like we sometimes use old fabric, one superb tiny quilt.

  9. Paige this piece is beautiful. I love the grey window appliques that add the depth and the colors of each window and your story.

  10. Lovely mini, I love your designing process. And the fence is such a great adding.
    Feel free to link up with TGIFF today, and Patchwork & Quilts link party on Sunday.

  11. Wow. I love the windows, and all the symbolism you took into your design. My favorite element of this is the linked fence--so cool in fabric! Amazing design, Paige!