Cross Country Quilting

It all started with this print.

 I’ve been interested in color blindness tests for a while and am currently working on a series of screen prints. This reductive screen print has seven colors.

screen printing

screen printing

After interacting with the extremely talented quilting artist Luke Haynes as a MITCH Collective visiting artist, I decided to challenge myself and translate the print into a very large-scale quilt. I set out to make something for my bed, but got carried away and just kept making it bigger and bigger…

16 yards of fabric went into making the background

I sketched out a modified chevron pattern for the back ground and used my geometry skills (yay Math!) to create a pattern.



optical illusion background

I collected a variety of clothes from thrift stores and used a laser cutter at TechShop Pittsburgh to cut them out into a variety of circle sizes. If you haven’t heard of TechShop, check them out! It was recently featured on NPR in a story about the rise of community access maker spaces.

lasers are awesome

After I laid out all the circles into the background, I safety pinned all of them and then meticulously turned all the raw edges under and hand stitched them into place. This was by far the most time-consuming part of the process. I estimated there are 400-500 circles, but I couldn’t bring myself to count them.

hand appliqued circles

The whole reason I was working so large was because I knew I would have access to a long arm quilter at the TechShop San Jose location. After a crash course on how to use the machine, I fired it up to practice my free motion quilting on a test piece. This was my first time doing free motion quilting. Using it on such a precious project was like throwing a baby bird out of the nest and just hoping it would fly.

practicing free motion on the Avante quilting machine

I love drawing with thread! After a short test-run, I loaded up the quilt onto the rollers and set to work. TechShop San Jose was my cozy new home for the four quilt-filled days I spent there.

all three layers loaded onto the rollers

all three layers loaded onto the rollers


I used King Tut Canaan and King Tut Temple thread from Superior Threads for the grey and white areas and a clear monofilament thread to stitch around all the circles. Thank goodness for invisible thread! Machine stitching around circles perfectly is almost as hard (and impossible) as hand stitching them.

stitching detail

stitching detail

The finished piece measures 100″x100″ and I’m super thrilled about it. This lovely portrait was taken by the all-around fantastic San Francisco photographer Alex Huff days after I finished the machine stitching. Calavera will be on view in Pittsburgh, PA at Revision Space gallery in a group show entitled The Enduring Skull opening on October 31, 2014.


About mitchcollective

MITCH Collective is a community-driven catalyst promoting creativity in the Ohio Valley. MITCH Collective enriches Martins Ferry, Ohio and nearby towns by: -inviting artists, writers, and musicians to experience the beauty and creative potential of the area while creating new work and interacting with local residents through the residency program. -inspiring a historically economically depressed area by teaching new skills and ideas that will help foster new problem solving approaches for challenges that face the community. -collaborating with nonprofit and municipal organizations in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania to bring innovative, interdisciplinary projects to life. Facilities include printmaking, screen printing, sewing, quilting, and bookbinding. Visit for more information.
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2 Responses to Cross Country Quilting

  1. Wow. How amazing. I am simply stunned. ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. Pingback: I Left My Heart in San Jose | MITCH Collective

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