For my first week of the 5 x 7 Artist Challenge, I completed a little freehand machine-embroidered piece that I’ve been thinking about for some time.

Freehand machine embroidered and quilted by
Christina Fairley Erickson

This zebra was adapted from a photo, drawn onto the fabric with pencil, then stitched on top.  It’s difficult to see in this photo (see enlargement below), but his mane has white stitching between the black parts, although I didn’t stitch the white over the rest of him.

My choice of fabric is all cotton, with an interesting weave (again tough to see in the photo)- nubby- sort of like raw silk.  This proved to be a factor in choosing the background quilting, as when I made some practice samples using different freemotion quilting designs, it seemed to look best with a more geometric style, rather than one that has lots of swirls or undulating pattern.  I think the grid works well to not compete with the main focus of the zebra.

Close-up of stitching.

I think the piece works for me… it was good practice both with the machine embroidery and the small-scale quilting.  The zebra is a natural extension of my equine quilts and passion.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up my story of the quilt show theme: “Fiber Artists Look at Innovation and Civic Action.”

Hopefully we’ll have a few other photos to post on our 5 x 7 Artist Challenge as well.  Remember, you can join at any time.  Post your photos to:

You might also be interested in:
2013 Open 5 x 7″ Challenge
Getting Started May be the Hardest Part
52 Week 5″ x 7″ Challenge to Readers

Other Blogs You might want to check out:
Freemotion by the River – Lovely Traditional Quilts and Projects
QuiltStory – Quilts and Patterns
From My Front Porch to Yours – Beautiful Home Decor Projects

Caverna Magica at SeaTac airport

We had a little snafu when we went to set up our “Journeys” CQA show at the SeaTac International Airport earlier this year.  The schematics for the cases which they had sent to us were wrong!  So, not all of the quilts our jury had picked out fit into the cases.  One of mine, Caverna Magica, was left out of the initial hanging and then switched in half-way through the show.

There are two areas in the airport with our displays.  The first is in a hallway leading from ticketing near the Southwest Airlines ticket counter to security and entrance to the gates.  This section has the large cases pictured here.  Each piece in this exhibit has an accompanying “educational display” which teaches something about either how the piece was made, inspiration, or materials.

The educational display for Caverna Magica reads as follows:

Caverna Magica Educational Display

“The Caves of Nerja (photo 1) are located in Andalusia, in Southern Spain.  Filled with impressive stalactites and stalagmites, these caves were discovered in the modern era in 1959 and stretch over 5 kilometers.  As a major tourist attraction, sections of the caves are lit with colored lights.  Having visited these magnificent caverns in 1996, I immediately thought of them when I completed the first dyeing of the fabric for this quilt.

Starting with a piece of 100% white cotton fabric, I poured several colors liquid Pro MX dyes onto the piece, which lay with numerous ridges and folds on a flat surface.  These folds created the interesting patterns which are reminiscent of stalactites (photo 2).    Much of the white fabric was still showing through, and I wanted to create more crystalline structures within the piece.  This was done with a second dye bath, using a snow-dyeing method. 
Close-up of some of the machine quilting on Caverna Magica
Snow-dyeing is basically like making a snow-cone… you crumble your fabric up in a container, pack snow on top of it, and then pour several colors of dyes over the snow.  As the dye trickles down through the snow, it hits the fabric and slowly starts the color transformation as the temperature rises.  Due to the unusual nature of this process, the results are one-of-a-kind and typically form beautiful crystal-like patterning in the color.  After 24 hours and the snow completely melting, you can wash out the excess dye.  The colors were intensified and additional details representing the rocky caverns came out through this additional dye process.
The final layer of this piece was to add more detail through densely quilting the fabric.  I do my quilting on my Bernina 730 home machine, free-hand guiding the fabric in the directions I want to go.  With this piece, I wanted to emphasize the feeling of stalactites and stalagmites with the stitching lines.  I continued using a wide array of colors of thread, to match the feeling of the wonderful lights shining on these incredible natural structures.
Part of the Contemporary QuiltArt Assocition’s
Journeys show at SeaTac
It’s always exciting to see your work on display.  Since I had to pick my husband up at the airport this week, I finally got to see my piece now included in the exhibit.  If you’d like to see some additional shots of this show, see my post “Designing for a Theme.”
Part of the Contemporary QuiltArt Assocition’s
Journeys show at SeaTac