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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hen Zen

Update:  I don't think I entered this in the Handmade Parade yet, at least I hope I haven't.  I try to make sure  I add a link, but being organizationally challenged, I sometimes lose track.  Katie and the folks posting on the parade are a real source of inspiration for me!  

I participated in the Mini Art Quilt Swap 5 on Craftster. My partner is the lovely WarpedHooker who made me the New York Foodie quilt I posted a couple weeks ago.

 WH's questionnaire  was intriguing.  She liked birds and tattoos.  She raises chickens.  I searched for images of chicken tattoos.  Most of them were cartoons.  I really liked this running rooster.   I was able to digitize it and stitch it out on the quilt fabric.  (Notice how casually I said I digitized it.  Actually that was quite a challenge and I am sure the professionals will find a number of mistakes. However, I am quite pleased with the fact that it came out as well as it did.)

As for the rest of the quilt, it was based on a scribble I made on some notes from a meeting.  (I doodle in order to stay focused on the discussion.)  I was trying to make some zentangles.   I have been told that they are excellent practice for free motion quilting.

Spud 1 saw my scribbles and said "Make that into a quilt."  I looked at it for quite awhile.  Thought about it for quite awhile longer and finally decided that it just might work.   Spud 1 wanted me to do it all by piecing or appliqueing black and white fabric.  I wasn't that adventurous.  I went to the stash and then to the store and found as many graphic prints as I could muster.

 I made a rough sketch of the large shapes in the doodle on newsprint. I then marked the sides that needed a seam allowance.  I cut that apart and used the pieces as my pattern.  I didn't get it quite right.  There were a few mismatches and funky seams.  I was able keep most of it to the edges where it was trimmed off.  Some if it required a bit of bonus quilting. 

Rather than try to piece the curved seams, I did a raw edge applique.  The circles were also appliqued onto the surface. I had the entire top pieced when I decided to go back and look at my partner's preferences.  That was when I realized that rather than liking neon colors, they are the one thing she really doesn't like.  That blue patch was originally a very bright neon green.  Needless to say the seam ripper came out and I patched in the blue piece. 

The bottom of the quilt called for some half square triangles.  I decided it would be easier to sketch out a paper piecing pattern and make them that way.  I think that it would have been much easier to do the HST's.  I kept at it and finally came up with a strip of triangles long enough.  I did find that after a paper piecing mishaps, I got the hang of it.  The last few went fairly well.  

This piece is entirely hand quilted.  There is a combination of two different sizes of pearl cotton and some quilting cottons.  Quilting this was a real challenge.

I eventually settled on trying to use quilting lines to mimic the zentangle lines.  There are definitely some flaws. I was trying to work quickly. 

Here you can see some more of the paper pieced section and the quilting around those triangles.  There is simple straight line quilting in the chicken wire piece.

I did all of the quilting free hand.  I didn't draw out any of the lines or swirls. It worked really well for the most part, but this one section was a real challenge.  I was trying to stitch in swirly zig zags and the fabric was just plain crazy.

I thought I was done and ready to put the binding on when the circles insisted that they needed beads.  Well, this little one insisted.  Once it had beads, I had to add them to the rest.  Circles weren't too bad, but I also needed to add beads to the polka dot fabric.  That was more of a challenge.  I had to stitch each one separately.

I used a small bit of red in the binding.  It just needed it.  I really love how the quilting worked in this checked fabric. 

I added fast finish triangles for the hangers.  I probably should have put in a sleeve, but the little red squares were sitting on the table and seemed to be the right thing for the quilt.

 I stitched out a label for this, but I completely missed on the size.  The finished label was about 1/3 the size of the whole quilt.  So this one just has some writing on the back. The title Hen Zen comes from it's origins as a zen doodle.

This was a fun quilt to make.  I didn't actually measure it. It is probably about 24 inches on each side.  It is made with quilter's cotton.  The back is muslin.  It is machine pieced and hand quilted. 

Entered in the Aug 3 Handmade Parade


  1. Wow, creative, liberated and fun. I love this little quilt, colors are great, too. I know your swap partner is going to be very pleased.

  2. wow!!! it's beautiful! I've heard about Zentangle before and your's is very inspiring! How big is the mini art? I'm sure your partner will love it!

    1. Thanks. Folks are getting into the zentangle thing as a way to practice for freemotion. This measures between 20 and 24 inches on a side.