Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Favorite Book Challenge, Part 1

Hi all -

Some of my online friends from TQS are having an informal challenge where we make a quilt inspired by our favorite book. I've been thinking about this for a while and have had a plan in my head for a while, but am just now getting to the actual construction. At first, this was a difficult challenge for me because I read every day and have a long list of "favorite" books. How do I pick just one? But then it came to me -- "Matthew Looney's Voyage to the Earth."

This was my favorite book when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and, for some unknown reason, it has really stuck with me. I mean, this is something like 45 years ago and I still remembered the story and illustrations. So, I looked online, found a copy of the book and ordered it. I had to make sure that my memory was accurate after all of these years. And, yes, I still had most of the details in my head.

This is the story of Matthew Looney, who lives on the moon. The moon people don't believe there is life on the Earth and there is even an organization that wants to blow up the Earth because it is an eyesore. Matthew's uncle, a famous space explorer, puts together an expedition to explore the Earth and Matthew is chosen to act as cabinboy. They decide to land in Antarctica because it's unlikely that they would find life in the blue/green areas where there is all that water. Water is obviously corrosive and dangerous because it causes things to break down and erode (remember that they don't have water on the moon). Matthew smuggles his pet murtle (moon turtle) on the trip and his murtle gets loose on Earth and goes for a little swim. This leads us to the image from this book that has been in my head for 45 years. Here is the illustration from the book:

Matthew has been looking for his murtle and sees his tracks leading into the water. And here is a drawing of his murtle:

And now you have the background for my quilt design. The picture I've had in my head is Matthew's drawing of the murtle tracks heading towards the water, but I've always pictured the murtle in the picture, too. So, my quilt will have icy land on the water's edge with the murtle walking towards the water and his tracks, including the tail track, following behind. In my mind the water was always in the upper right-hand corner.

So, that's the basic design. Now, how do I put this in fabric? I need to start with the background. I've been wanting to do a quilt where the inner portion has wavy edges and I think that'll work well for this quilt so I drew the frame on freezer paper and cut it out:

I don't really know where this idea came from, but I decided to do a combination of the techniques of Noriko Endo, Susan Carlson and Wendy Butler Berns. I would cut up little pieces of batik fabrics and iron them onto the fusible side of a piece of Decor-Bond (a heavy-weight fusible interfacing), gluing in places where the exposed fusible area is too small to hold the fabric. I would then cover it with tulle to hold the pieces in place while I stitch over them. I started by tracing the frame onto the Decor-Bond, including adding the shoreline (sorry the pencil lines are hard to see):

I chopped up some fabric. I picked out some whites, grays and creams for the icy land and blues for the water:

I tried to make soft edges on the pieces, but they ended up being pretty pointy. Oh, well. Then I started laying the pieces on the Decor-Bond:

And periodically ironed them to hold them in place:

I found that I had to step away for a while after each ironing to let things cool off really well before pulling up the teflon sheet or I ended up with glue on the sheet. Here's what it looked like with all of the fabric pieces attached:

Then I put white tulle on the top, stitched over the land areas and trimmed the tulle away over the water. I stitched it with curvy lines approximately parallel to the shoreline to try to represent the drifting snow. Sorry you can't see it well in the picture:

For the water, I used a blue tulle and I used the water background fill that I used in my fish scene, but instead of doing it straight, I kind of followed the shoreline again. I was hoping this would represent waves, but I'm not sure if I succeeded in that. I also put some folds in the blue tulle to make some darker areas like waves. I saw this in a quilt in a magazine and really liked it. Here's what the water looks like:

And the whole thing at this point:

I'm not sure if I like it yet or if it's going to turn out, but I'm happy that I'm pushing my boundaries and trying to dig some creativity out of the analytic brain of mine. I have ideas about how I'm going to do all of the rest of it, but I'll save that for the next post. We're having thunder and lightning right now so I need to publish this before I lose my internet....



  1. Very unique way of doing your background, I like it.

    1. It was a complete experiment so I was worried about how it would look, but I really like it now that it's done. Another technique for my toolbelt.....