Green Deconstructions

My Pantone color challenge quilt was finished just in time for the guild meeting on Wednesday!  Here it is complete.


It was so much fun seeing how everyone had interpreted the challenge!  Almost thirty members of the guild had made a mini with this same green fabric, and every quilt was so different, reflecting its maker’s interests and unique skill set.  Some were whole-cloth and intricately quilted, others were more traditional or more abstract.  One that I thought was an overhead view of a forest turned out to be a microscopic close-up of algae!  You can see the pictures on CJMQG’s Instagram page.

So I left off last week with the promise of chopkeys, which I used to make the three-dimensional shapes.  I learned the technique in a workshop with the accomplished Rami Kim (whose gallery of exquisite works you can see here).

To make a chopkey, you need templates in two sizes: one for the foundation fabric (which can be muslin, since it won’t show), and a larger one for the fashion fabric.  To make a triangle with one-inch sides, your foundation template should be a triangle with, say, 2″ sides, and the template for the fashion fabric should be a triangle with 3″ sides.  Once your fabric pieces are cut, pin the corners of the fashion fabric piece to the corners of the foundation fabric piece, like so.


You’ll then have some extra fabric between the corners.  Squeeze it together in the middle of each side (approximately), and fold it to the right on each side, and pin.  Then, moosh down the poof in the middle, gently, and it will form a triangle!  Fabric magic, no?  Then press and steam, to make crisp folds.  (More complete instructions (plus templates) can be found in Rami Kim’s excellent book, “Folded Fabric Elegance,” from which you can also learn other cool techniques for fabric manipulation.)*

I figured I could make shapes with as many sides as the fabric would put up with, so I drafted my own templates for each of the regular polygons up to the nonagon.  I had to draw some practice shapes to make sure that the resulting chopkeys would be big enough to baste onto hexagon templates, so I could sew them into the quilt.  Here’s the square one being basted.


Even so, I did need to make some adjustments when it seemed like the resulting shape would be too big or too small, but they all came out, even the nonagon!


The folds around the edges did make it slightly more challenging to sew these pieces to their neighboring hexagons, but since I was working by hand it was only a little fiddly.

Now, if you’re wondering how the blue crevices came into it, here’s what happened.  I had made all my hexagons and demi-hexagons and was sewing them together to make the left side of the design, working inwards.  I got to a point where it was getting a little cumbersome to add a new hexagon to the growing section, so I started making a new section with the rest of the colored hexagons, figuring I could join those together first to make sure they were all in the right place, and then join all the sections together later.  I was thinking as I did this that the upper-right quadrant of my design was kind of boring, and I’d have to do something creative with the quilting to make it interesting, but I wasn’t sure what that should be, and I felt strongly that the design needed another element, but that an intricate quilting motif wasn’t necessarily it.

And then I laid out one of my sections on the blue batik to make sure I did want to use it for the binding.

And suddenly it occurred to me: I had plenty of this fabric, and this whole design was sort of about abstract disintegration already.  Why shouldn’t it disintegrate a little more?

And with a little more thought and a pair of new, smaller hexagon templates, I had this.

And now I didn’t have to sew my sections together!  Or sew on several of the remaining green hexagons for that upper-right corner.  🙂

I removed the templates from each of the crevice-edge pieces one a time, basting the loose edges with cotton thread as I went.  (Nylon thread might have melted under the steaming that was coming next.)  I then removed the rest of the paper templates, steam-pressed each section, and glued it into place on my blue background, just like I’d done with the floating hexagons.  I didn’t appliqué the edges; I just assembled the quilt sandwich and started quilting!


(Sorry these photos are a little dark.)

It ended up being a really simple quilting design, but that worked.  I usually backstitch rather than going to the trouble of burying ends (bad, I know), but for this project I felt a little more finesse was called for, and I knew it would show if I did it every time.  The thread is a variegated green Mettler Silk Finish, which I used in The Garden of Light Green Meditations last year.

So, once the quilting was finished, there were a million ends to bury.


I also ended up adding a small stitch at each corner of the chopkeys.  I had planned to add a little decorative stitching just inside their edges, but in the end decided to let them speak for themselves.  The stitches at the corners were just to make sure they didn’t eventually unfold themselves.  I made them with coordinating thread to keep them unobtrusive.

I’m REALLY  happy with how the whole thing turned out.


This is sort of my first foray into abstract design, and I feel like it ended up even better than my original concept.  It’s my first pieced back, as well!


Coming soon: a long-awaited post about a gift for a friend, and a tutorial for a technique I devised to hang a quilt on the wall with picture-hanging strips.  Stay tuned!


*I am not affiliated with Rami Kim; I recommend her work because it is excellent.


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