Fabric Tour: OBSERVER by April Rhodes

April: “Sarah, would you like to be part of my Observe…”
Me: “YES!”
April: “…r fabric tour?”
Me: “Yes, yes, yes, yes, all things holy, YES!!”

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So, as you can probably tell, I was ready to jump head first into this endeavor! I was the epitome of a horse chomping at the bit for this invitation, and let me tell you…I chomped. Hard! And thus the sketching and design process for my Observer quilt came together fast and effortlessly. I mean, with a fabric palette like THIS, how could it not speak to me?

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If you’ve followed me on social media for any length of time, you’re probably wondering how this muted and softer palette speaks to me so well since I often work with bright, vibrant spectrum collaborations. Believe it or not, April’s collections are probably the best reflection of me personally and of my life and style. I grew up going to the North Woods of Wisconsin every summer. Lac du Flambeau, to be exact. We stayed on an Indian reservation; hiked around the lakes; looked for bear prints in the mud; fished for Muskeye and Walleye; canoed until the sun went down. Even now, I consider Sandia Park, NM (situated in the mountains between Santa Fe and Albuquerque) my “home.” My parents moved there 7ish years ago, and it’s been an integral part of my life since then. It’s also where my heart breathes a sigh of contentment and peace. I feel at home there. (I’m actually there right now typing this!)

Particularly, this Observer collection truly spoke to me. I feel the sun rising over the San Pedro Mountains and setting behind Sandia Mountain. I can actually hear the coyotes singing in the pitch dark night. I see the sought-after rain in this drought heavy area trickling off the adobe roofs and onto the stony dirt ground. I can taste the roasted green chiles. So yes…THIS collection sings to me from start to finish. And I think that’s why I didn’t have any struggles to design and come up with my final piece.

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I quickly started drafting every single inch of my quilt pattern with numerous shapes and styles of flying geese covering the surface. Once again, I am so thankful that I always loved math and angles and geometry. See…you really do use math as an adult! (Maybe I should go back to my high school and thank Mrs. Hensley and Mrs. Fruits for making math classes fun. And yes, I just heard myself…I am a bona fide nerd.)

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And so I started building my quilt section by section. I had no previous plan for where color placement would go, and that made it fun for me to think it out as I went. The only true plan was to incorporate a handful of vintage doilies with the quilt design. Why? I’m not sure exactly. But something about the softness and feminine touch the doilies provide combined with the tribal designs and rough angles within a few of the fabric prints as well as the harder metallic accents just seemed like a match made in heaven to me. A huge thank you to my bestie, Nicole, for scrounging up these doilies for me from her amazing local thrift shop.

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I felt guilty cutting into them, but I just kept reminding myself I was giving them a new purpose in life and would be enjoyed daily by me.

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The tedious process of foundation paper piecing was underway. For a couple weeks straight, I think. But the quilt was coming together quickly and made my heart swell with each added section. img_3417

I tested my own sanity by incorporating sections of doilies as a few of the flying geese as well. If you look closely, you can see a few doilied geese in the above photo. A large downward pointing “goose” is flanked with a beautiful cream doily, and the lower left section has one “goose” using a bright white doily. For every doilied “goose,” I backed the doily with an Art Gallery Fabrics Solid Smooth Denim to blend with the color palette in play.

Once pieced, to my trusty Handi Quilter it went! I opted for a variety of quilting methods on this piece. I couched a few areas with different shades of metallic accented acrylic yarn. The ProStitcher was fun to integrate in a few areas with both a couple pre-programmed blocks as well as with some manipulated areas of “fishnets” casting out. A straight edge ruler helped me navigate around flying geese for outlining, and I also FMQ’d a lot of, what I call, Ornamental Iron on the top. I love implementing that FMQ style to provide movement.

I used Superior Threads #40 Metallic Thread in Antique Gold for all quilting, including the couched areas. This thread is amazing!! It really feels and stitches like a #40 but with all the metallic attributes you could desire. I have had zero breakage or fraying issues with any of the Metallics in this collection. You definitely need to add a spool or two to your thread library! Trust me.

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The backing of the quilt warranted a strip of scrappy Observer pieces running off center from top to bottom.

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Then it was time to bind. What I had originally planned and prepped to do was immediately out the window once I saw the quilted top. I just knew I had to do a flanged binding with, none other, gold metallic flange. Duh.

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This flanging process gave me a real workout of mental strength and physical endurance. Hah! I’m the one who chose to back the quilt with Art Gallery Fabrics‘ new Crosshatch Textured Denim in Rainy Night. It’s a bit beefier of a fabric content than traditional quilting cotton, so I had the extra bulk right there. Add in a flanged binding, which has me stitching in the ditch through double layered flange folds, and I was slowwwwwww to get this piece bound. Thankfully I made a lap quilt and nothing larger like I usually do!

Now for the fun part…pictures, pictures, pictures! Mister and I are on our first “real” vacation together since our belated honeymoon 5 years ago, and we came to, none other, than Sandia Park for our weeklong getaway. (Don’t worry…I have someone staying at our home, so don’t get any ideas. Hah!) We hiked along the crest of Sandia Mountain yesterday at nearly 11,000 for about 5 hours’ worth of foot fun. (Minus a 45min break at the lodge restaurant at the top for a quick lunch and delicious Alaskan Stout!) Mister was once again useful to me in lending his 6’1″ wingspan to hold my quilt in nearly 100 locations along the way. (I think he hates me now… hahaha)

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To give you a geographical idea of where I am…off to the right (west) is the city of Albuquerque, and off to the left side of the crest is Sandia Park and Santa Fe in the distance. And also worth noting, the Aspens were the most amazing they’ve been in 7 autumns! The area received enough rain this summer to give one heck of a color show in the forest and along the mountain!

And here it is…my quilt with Observer and AGF solid smooth denim…

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After the quilt was finished and ready to take its trip with me to New Mexico, I had just enough time to make up a couple coordinating cushions. These were so much fun to create!

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Thank you, all, so much for following along this adventure with me! I can’t begin to say how much this project spoke to my soul and what a joy it was to create from start to finish. Be sure to stick around for my next adventures (more AGF fun, some bright RJR, and a little Libs) coming soon. And make certain you check out the complete Observer Fabric Tour line up and amazing creations by visiting April Rhodes‘ site. The last stop on this tour is tomorrow, 5 October, and being brought to you by Jen Anderson of Little Wife Power House.

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*And if anyone out there is interested in purchasing my HQ Avante with ProStitcher for a great price, then send me an email for info. It’s time for me to get a bigger longarm!

XO,
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