Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Soul Stealer - A Quilt Made of Dreams

Months and months ago -- meaning more than a year ago -- a friend of mine said she had a dream about a quilt that would steal your soul when you slept under it.  She said it had tentacles and was green and black.  That was how this quilt was born.  That simple idea rolled around in my head for days, weeks and maybe even months.  (Don't worry, no souls were used in the making of this quilt.)
I found that I had some black and white prints from Blank Quilting.  I paired that with some solid cotton in a bright yellow/green and some black and white prints from my stash.  I designed the block size based on that simple beginning.  I had no idea how big the finished quilt would be or how many blocks it should have.  I just sort of went with intuition.  
I used Electric Quilt to design the layout and the simple blocks.  This quilt uses ten different blocks (all based on the same basic block) to give me the space I wanted for embroidery.  The blocks were positioned so I could fit in several different embroidery designs but without making the two sides just mirror images.  
The blocks used different areas of background fabric to give me that embroidery space.  I pieced all of the embroidery blocks so the embroidery machine could do its work while I finished piecing the rest of the blocks.
My embroidery machine showed me the error of my ways when it came to walking away and leaving it without adult supervision.  This isn't even a block I could save.  At this point I wasn't sure I even had enough of that green left over to make another block.  I found the fabric and made another block to replace this one.  I used eight different embroidery designs from Urban Threads to make the different blocks of this quilt.
The blocks spent more time in a pile waiting to be sewn together.  I finally got them stitched together and the border attached.  Then the top waited some more to be quilted.  I still had to find a suitable backing.
I ordered the pre-wound Bottom Line bobbins and Fantastico thread just for this project. This means I still have an insane amount of bright green thread.  The best part is that it is great thread!  
I picked up the backing fabric at the Annapolis Quilt Show hosted by the Annapolis Quilt Guild.  When I saw it I knew it was the perfect backing for this quilt. Maybe not an exact match on the green, but close enough and the three swirling arms of the print are just perfect.  A busy backing and coordinating thread are great when you want people looking at the front of the quilt and not the back.
The backing is pieced, which is not unusual for me.  I don't mind a pieced backing as long as it is done thoughtfully.  I took loads of pictures of this process and plan on sharing another backing tutorial at some point.
This one came out better than I hoped.  I didn't plan this so much as it sort of happened.  I'm likely overly pleased with it.  You can see the join, but it isn't terribly obvious.  
With all that green on the outside, I wanted to stay green on the inside.  I was pleased with how this batting quilted.  It provided some nice body to the quilt and didn't compress as much as I would have expected from a comparable cotton batting.  You can find out more about Quilter's Dream Green batting on their site.  I'm going to use this batting in another project soon.  I'll try to write a better review as I work through that project.
When I loaded the quilt onto the frame I couldn't decide what to quilt onto that surface.  All that embroidery had to be worked around but I had all that amazing thread.  I stood there and just stared at it for a while.  I've been known to sit in my chair and just look at a quilt.  Mostly I'm hoping it will say something to let me know what it wants.   
In the end, I settled on a simple swirl with points.  Not so many points, I suppose.  I like this easy filler.  It gives me freedom to move around and work with both curves and points.
Swirls and spikes.  Swirls and points 
Sometimes they even look like tentacles.  I did all the quilting without the aid of the computer.  This quilt really needed the custom quilting, I think.  Working without the stitch regulator takes some getting used to.  Now that I'm comfortable working without it I absolutely love it.
A quilt this cool needed a special label.  I checked my embroidery library and found that I had picked up this great Inked Alphabet set from Urban Threads. Since all of the embroidery designs in this quilt are from Urban Threads I figured this would be perfect way to finish off this quilt.  The capital letters and the spider web skull are from Urban Threads.  The rest of the lettering is from my embroidery design software. 
The label is huge!  Okay, maybe that is an overstatement.  It measures 7" high by 11" wide finished.  This is the first quilt I have ever sewn a hanging sleeve onto.  What a pain in the backside that was!  I will seriously consider needing a hanging sleeve before I ever do that again.
Here is the final design.  I created this image using both Electric Quilt and The GIMP.  I used EQ for the quilt blocks and the border.  The embroidery designs were added in GIMP.  I'm sure there is an easy way to do it all in EQ, but I was more comfortable with editing in GIMP.
This quilt turned out to be so much more than I expected.  I love the final effect of the quilting, too.  As you can see I decided to go with the green border instead of the original black.  I like how the blocks seem to float on the surface of the green background.

Finished dimensions:  62" wide by 72" long.

The best part about this quilt?  It's going to the AQS QuiltWeek – Des Moines, IA, event on October 1 - 4.

When Maddie at BadAss Quilter's Society asked people to submit their quilts to AQS for AQS QuiltWeek in Chattanooga, TN, I decided to jump on the chance.  It doesn't hurt to try, right?  Much to my surprise, Soul Stealer was selected, but was chosen to attend the Des Moines show.  I'm not picky, though, I want to share this quilt and I don't care how far it has to travel to get there. 
If you're in Des Moines, IA, during the show and manage to snap a picture of Soul Stealer for Instagram please tag me (@beccascrazyprojects) so I can see it at the show.  


  1. It's fantastic! You know I love it! Congrats on the finish and congrats on the show! Very exciting world we live in these days. :)

  2. Yours is now my favorite blog. It is super fun to read your posts, and you always surprise us. The design is cool, and you make every single inch of your quilts count. Way to go Becca! Go BaltimoreMQG!

  3. Fantastic story of your design process and congratulations to you on being selected for the show.

  4. Wow, Becca! This quilt turned out incredibly! Loved reading about your quilt from concept to completion. And it's great to see the design next to the finished quilt. What a fantastic finish!!!

  5. Oh my oh my oh my!!! That's amazing! I'll have to show my husband. Love the greens and blacks. The embroidery is so rich, it's just stunning. I adore this quilt!

  6. WOW!!! :-D Absolutely LOVE it!!! :-D Way to go!!! :-D

  7. Wonderful! I never would have put those colors together but this is amazing and I love the story behind it.

  8. Gorgeous, and INCREDIBLE! Now I wanna make another skull quilt (my 'Til Death Do Us Part is in BAQS Chattanooga). Great job!!

  9. Awesome quilt... love the colors and the theme... I am honored that my quilt will hang in the same exhibition as this one. Great work!

  10. Is there a way to get patterns for this quilt? I know I have most of Urban Threds designs on there. This quilt ROCKS!!!


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