Downtown quilt – a challenging journey

Grab a cuppa, this is a long post! This quilt was something of a journey, and I wanted to share it with you. If you follow me on Instagram or facebook, you would have seen lots of posts along the way. When I saw the call out for the Quilters Companion Under 35s quilt competition, I knew I wanted to enter. Hey, I’m under 35, so why not? The theme was ‘outside my window’. I immediately started thinking of trees and birds and a very literal interpretation of the theme. But I wasn’t happy with that. It just seemed to… obvious.

Outside my window; a journey downtown

Downtown, an urban story
Geometry mural by Matt W. Moore

So I thought and I thought, I searched and I searched. I kept coming back to something very urban. And then I came across this graffiti by Matt W. Moore. Isn’t it awesome? I absolutely loved it and thought I could translate this into a quilt.

I set to work and designed a city scape in illustrator, with a silhouette set against the graffiti inspired background. Here is the design I made on illustrator, it look me a long time to decide on how I would complete the buildings, I tried lots of different styles, finally settling on something really simple. I am so glad I decided to go simple! As fate would have it, I ran into Helen Godden (in Perth of all places!) and spoke to her about my idea. I still wasn’t sold on it, but she encouraged me to go for it, so I did. She also pointed me in the direction of some ombre fabrics which were so perfect and would have saved my sanity no end. The rainbow solids were from Polka Dot Tea, what a prefect bundle to use!

Once I had the idea all drawn up and scaled to the right dimensions, I printed it out and set to work foundation piecing  it all back together. Lots of different sections and a few swear words later, the sky was done. And that’s when it all started to fall apart for me. I was divided. On the one hand, it was exactly as I imagined it to be and spend hours drawing. But it just didn’t feel… well… me. I don’t know why, and I still don’t. I think some of it was self doubt combined with not knowing how this represented me as a quilter. I posted my feelings on Instagram and Facebook and so many people gave me such great encouragement, I decided to complete it, whether I really wanted to or not.


The digital mock up of the design
My mini-me helping rip the paper away
My mini-me helping rip the paper away
Progress shot of putting the quilt together
Progress shot of putting the quilt together
Close up of the quilting details
Close up of the quilting detail

And so I persisted. I put on my big girl pants and just kept going.

I applied some heat bond paper to the black fabric, cut the shapes and then the little windows out. I then put the ombre fabrics under the window and attempted to fuse them to the quilt. Annoyingly my heat bond paper must be out of date because the glue wasn’t attaching to the fabric and was becoming all yucky. Ugh, I hate it when that stuff happens. It is so frustrating, but for me it was too late to stop. I just did my best with what I had.

Once the top was all together, I basted it ready for quilting. As I wanted the quilting lines on the building to be really straight, I used my walking foot and just manoeuvred that sucker around. Lucky it’s not a big one! For the sky I put my new found FMQ skills to the test with a metallic thread in a triangular pattern. I didn’t really mean it to be, but they really look like fireworks. Instagram to the rescue again as my friends helped me choose a facing binding to finish it off.

The Under 35s competition has been and gone and I was awarded with third prize for the quilt. I learnt a few things along the way, like creating a pattern design for foundation piecing (which I am going to use in another upcoming quilt) and faced binding, so not a complete loss. I’ll be honest and say, I still don’t know how I feel about the quilt.

Downtown hanging at the Under 35’s quilt exhibit

Quilt Label

Quilt name: Downtown

Made for: Quilters Companion Under 35s quilt competition 2014

Finished size: 29 x 37 inches

Fabrics used: Michael Miller Cotton Couture Solids and Ombre fabrics (sorry I can’t remember the maker)

Pattern: Original design by Crystal McGann

Quilting details: Straight lines with a walking foot on the buildings using a gutermann cotton. FMQ with metallic thread in a triangular design.

10 thoughts on “Downtown quilt – a challenging journey

  1. Well I absolutely love it. Definitely deserved a prize of some sort! Honestly when I first saw it, it took my breath away. That could be the manhattanphike in me, but it just … Sang!


  2. Congrats on 3rd place! The graffiti is a great inspiration piece!

  3. Oh Crystal I love this! congratulations on your prize too. I fully get the mid project doubt thing – so glad you on the big girl pants as it is soooo worth it.

  4. I love this Crystal. its fantastic. Thanks for sharing your process. WOW well done.

  5. This is just such a fabulous quilt! Very inspired for using the graffiti as your starting point. I love how it turned out! The buildings really look so real, but then the sky gives off this sense of discord and “unreality”. Very creative! Maybe it doesn’t represent you specifically, but just your creative abilities?

  6. Fabulous result!

  7. What a gorgeous quilt! You did a great job designing it…inspiring! Thank you for sharing on TGIFF!

  8. I think your quilt is so neat…anyone who can create a design like that is a great artist. Nice job.

  9. […] the editors contacted me from Quilters Companion about submitting a quilt, following my Downtown quilt in the Under 35’s quilt challenge, I put forward a log cabin quilt block I designed for a previous Modern Quilt Guild Challenge. […]

  10. […] fell in love with Michael Millers Cotton Couture solids the moment I first used them completing my Downtown quilt. The fabric is super soft and the colours are so rich. I never feeling like I am scrimping on […]

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