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  • Katherine Ferrier

Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge 2015

Umbrella Prints is the beautiful collaborative endeavor of textile designers Amy Prior and graphic designer Carly Schwerdtan. The Australian textile house specializes in organic printed fabrics that feature sweet and simple hand-drawn designs in unusual colorways. As part of their focus on sustainability, they save every bit of their beautiful fabrics, even the smallest pieces (known as "trimmings") that are left over when cutting out patterns for various projects. Every spring, they throw down a challenge to artists, designers, quilters, thinkers and makers of all tpes to create and share something they've made with a Trimmings Pack.

There's a special category for quilters, with Maura Ambrose of Folk Fibers at the helm as the industry judge. I've been in love with Umbrella Prints since I first discovered them at Nido, in Burlington, VT a few years ago. As an improvisational quiltmaker, with a love for juxtaposition and counterpoint, working with their fabric is a dream. Each little piece feels like magic, imbued with secret meaning. When I first heard of the challenge, I knew I wanted to try to make something worthy of these little gems!

Here are some photos of my quilt, Alphabet Path. In addition to the Umbrella Prints Trimmings, I used small fragments of vintage four sacks, some hand-dyed cotton, printed fabric by letterpress artist Erin Sweeney, a bit of denim, and a few of my favorite commercial fabrics including some gorgeous batik by Alison Glass, which I also used for the binding. The wide borders are made with Essex Yarn Dyed linen by Robert Kaufman, that the ever gracious Caitlin from Nido helped me pick out. (Funny, I thought I was getting that linen to make a dress, but if you learn to listen, the fabric will always tell you what it wants to be!)

The quilt measures 49" x 56" and is improvisationally designed and pieced. I hand quilted it with white sashiko thread, while sitting by the edge of Lake Christopher in Bryant Pond, Maine, listening to the sound of peepers and surrounded by the fragrance of lilacs. This just might be my favorite quilt I've ever made.

Looking forward to seeing what everyone came up with!