Thursday, January 11, 2018

Throwback Thursday: My 21st Century Bulls-eye Quilt

Sandra of mmm! Quilts is hosting or as she is calling it "babysitting" the Throwback Thursday Linky Party which I am happy to be participating for the very first time. I've only been blogging since of October, 2016 and may have come across a few posts while scrolling through Blogland but may not have know what this linky party was all about until I read Sandra's posts (you can read about it here) and (here) and thought that this something I could do. After all, one of the reasons why I started blogging was so I could better explain some of my quilts which I couldn't do on Pinterest nor Facebook.  I've been quilting for over twenty years and some of my quilts were made with stories. The quilt I thought I share my first story on Throwback Thursday is my 21st Century Bulls-eye Quilt.
There's a number of reasons why I thought this quilt would make a good story because it was started at almost the end of the 20th Century (1999) and finished right at the almost beginning of the 21st Century (2000) and was made by three quilting friends and myself which at that time we didn't realize this was a QAL.  We were inspired by the cover quilt on the book Quilts by Aunt Amy written by Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene whom I now know personally and I've done some QALs and fabric exchanges, willing and unwilling with them.
At this time, we're talking traditional quilting being the way norm, the Bulls-Eye quilt was so "radical" (I don't think the word "modern" was used then) with the raw edge appliqué and the wonkiness (and I also think "improv" wasn't used too) of the circles, cut freehand not matching up.  I loved this quilt as soon as I saw it and appealed to me as the failed appliquér and somewhat a rebel because I didn't prewash my fabrics.  So, the four of us came up with some ground rules once we decided we wanted to make this quilt and to the best of my recollection this is what we did:
  • we had a fabric exchange party when we swapped squares of light and printed fabrics in a certain size of what we considered "ugly" fabrics which were the calicos, florals, reproductions and the "inexpensive" which also meant no new fabric was suppose to be bought; we had to use stash-- sort of ahead of our quilt time, weren't we?
  • the circles were precut and the different sizes were placed in separate bags and you had to use the one pulled and the only time you could put it back was if it was the same color as the previous circle--fun, right?
  • we agreed that the circles would be sewn with a running stitch and not a fancy stitch like a zig-zag, etc; after all speed was part of the plan
  • we exchanged quarter circle blocks within a certain time frame so the Bulls-eye blocks could be made 
I thought I add a little tidbit about what happened after we exchanged the quarter circle blocks is that the one who complained the most about making this quilt was the first one to complete her top and another one who thought she would be the second one to be done was overtaken by me who rounded the corner and beat her to the finish line.  To this day, these two are still my dearest peeps and we still get together but not very often does it involve quilting.
Here are some close-ups where you can get a better look at the wonderful wonkiness and "ugly" but interesting fabrics used in making the Bulls-eye blocks.  Part of the fun in making this quilt was that the edges of the circles would fray after washing and as you can see, I never washed it because this quilt is a permanent fixture on my quilting rack and doesn't get used.  My quilt was sent to a longarm quilter who was just starting her business and she quilted it with wonderful swirls.  She did mention that the quilting wasn't easy because the edges of the circles would flip over and she would have to pin them down.  I worked with her then at the quilt shop and she may have sent me some daggers with her eyes. I think she may have said she never wanted to quilt another Bulls-eye quilt which may have been hard for her to refuse because these quilts were getting popular to make.
My 21st Century Bulls-eye Quilt is one of the very few quilts I made that I've labeled and the reason for doing this, remember this was made during traditional quilt time and there was a lot of talk about preserving our quilt history,  I envisioned this quilt being one of few of mine which survived in the far future and possibly people wondering what was I thinking when this quilt was made.  I figured I save them some research time and also to let them know I wasn't crazy then when this quilt was made.  Sorry, I blocked out the names of the other quilters in order to protect their sanity.  Looking back now with the modern quilt techniques well into place, this quilt really doesn't need any explanation (modern versions of this quilt are being made) except maybe for the fabrics which are so yesterday, but  I might add, I still love looking at them.
Around ten years after the first Bulls-eye quilt was made, I made a second one with the leftovers from the first one and additional "ugly" fabrics accumulated since then as part of a UFO Challenge which Mary and Connie hosted in 2012 or 2013.  I might mention, making a Bulls-eye quilt is like starter dough for a friendship cake, the circles you cut just keep on going, you'll understand once you know the construction method. The second quilt, laying on the chair, is still not finished and I've been tempted to finished it with simple quilting in the ditch.  It would be too funny if I happened to find the longarm quilter who quilted the first one and jokingly ask her if she would be willing to quilt the second one for me--funny, but not nice.

The 21st Century Bulls-eye Quilt was really a lot of fun to make and it is a great way to use up the stash.  I'm thinking I could make one with "modern" fabrics against gray and low volume fabrics since I've built up quite a stash of these fabrics now.  This definitely would make a great DREAMi project.
To paraphrase a line from the 50's TV Series "Naked City", there are eight million quilt stories out there, this has been one of them.  I'll be linking up with Sandra and hopefully you will join in the Throwback Linky party with one of your stories.


  1. I love that your story was about this quilt...I had always wanted to make one, and never have. I say that I have gone thru the fabric change-of-life, with so many fabrics in my stash that don't appeal to me any more. this would be a perfect kind of project for them!

  2. Love the quilts and especially the story! I made one in 2016 as a sew-a-long with Randy (Barrister's Block Blog), but mine was only red,white and blue. I like the scrappy look much better. So much fun!

  3. Rose you tell the best quilty stories!! "fabric exchanges, willing and unwilling" and "sent me some daggers with her eyes", ROFL or whatever that acronym is, which I did. I started one of these out of my head because I have the book, Stitch 'n Split Appliqué, but of course I didn't have it with me in FL when I was trying to sew a charm square stack, so I did it out of my head...not always a good plan, ha; it's a UFO which wasn't even on my radar until now I see yours. I love the modern fabrics, colours and motifs, but there's just something about these oldies too, and hey, in 100 years when we are no more, they will still be cherished perhaps even more so, right?! I love your rules, and that you exchanged these so they have a bit of everyone's stash in them, even more meaningful. And the race to be done, ha! Thank you for linking up!

  4. There is a foot now that you can use on a longarm that helps the needle go over those raw edges. Raw edge is probably the only way you could get me to do curves! Love your quilt!

  5. Great story! How funny that you guys did a QAL without realizing it at the time. I love that you're a non-prewash, raw edge, improv rebel :) It is a really beautiful quilt!

  6. What a great story, and a beautiful quilt! I love that you and your quilty friends were ahead of your time. A friend in my quilt group made one of these and I have always admired it. Thanks for sharing yours!

  7. What a beautiful quilt and a great story - a QAL and you didn’t even know it. You are two funny 8milluon stories and this one we get to read. Hooray for you.

  8. Haha! So funny, I loved reading about your quilt Rose. The design was way ahead of it's time, you really are a bit of a rebel aren't you?

  9. I love this!! You were so far ahead of your time. Your top picture could be a magazine cover shot. I like how you made rules for your improv—and I think pulling the scraps out of a paper bag is the best kind of random. I once used that technique in a quilt and it was so freeing. As I have looked forlornly at my stash this week wondering if I should just chuck it and start over, you give me hope that there are still some fun quilts in there. It looks like you had a great time quilting with your friends. Any thoughts of reviving that activity when you get together?

  10. Haha!! What's an unwilling fabric exchange? Love this story. Thanks for sharing, and for the idea of how to get some un-loved fabrics used up! I think I'm going to go pull that yardage I do like, to be used as a border, and pull a bunch of neutrals, and then pull a bunch of un-loved fabrics in colors that match, play-nice, or pop well against that yardage, and do one of these. See what happens. :)