Punk Chicken - or was it the Egg that came first?

Post by Liz Holpin, Director of The Cotton Patch and unexpected Chicken Farm Expert

Starting from the point of view that if you can't beat them, join them, it was with some trepidation that I enrolled on the "Radiance Challenge" through one of our Handi Quilter HQ18 Avante Customers - Annelize Littlefair. Over twenty of us were politely cajolled into doing the challenge using Robert Kaufmann Radiance fabric - a mix of silk and cotton in beautifully intense colours. Each person would have a different colour in an 18" square piece. The aim was to quilt it as a wholecloth quilt using a Handi Quilter Avante or Sweet Sixteen. 

The Sweet Sixteen has a 16" throat - just a bit easier than trying to do it on my little Singer white Featherweight (which just sits on a shelf to be honest because it looks so beautiful!)

Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen and Singer Featherweight!
The Challenge was based on Lisa Calle's challenge in the USA and Annelize got in contact with Lisa to say that she there would be a bunch of us in the UK entering the Radiance Challenge (this was the commitment stage). Then...Annelize suggested that the quilts be exhibited in the UK through Grosvenor Exhibitions and before we knew it it was a done deal (never ever commit to Annelize unless you really intend to do it is the moral of this tale).

Luckily we had had Debby Brown, a Handi Quilter Educator over from the USA in June as well as Kimmy Brunner and Jamie Wallen and for those of us lucky enough to attend those classes the skills we learnt were very useful to this challenge.

My first thought for a wholecloth was to do an Art Nouveau style. I love the trailing leaves and organic shapes and having done some research I did some sketches..

But I felt that the intense bright in your face pink fabric which I had for the challenge would not work and before I knew it my project had morphed (with the help of Joe Bennison in the Longarm Learning Curve Facebook group) from Pink "something" to "Pink Chicken" to "Punk Chicken". 

Chickens have become a big part of my life. I now know more about industrial chicken farming than I ever wanted to know and am Secretary of our local Action Group against having over a million chickens being produced on a greenfield site close to our house (smelly!!!). This is our webpage - No Chicken Farm website!  You see, I need quilting as therapy to stop me thinking about cluck clucks...

Back to the Challenge...I did a few internet searches - I already was going to stick safety pins all over it but the idea for boots and nose ring came from an image I found online which I made my own.

After I'd done a few sketches that I thought I could work with I knew I would have to play with it a bit on a test piece - especially as my aim was to use as many different kinds of threads and effects as I could  (within reason but I did go a bit mad).

So I transfered it onto tracing paper and found a couple of hand-dyed pieces of fabric that I had in my stash. I joined it horizontally so the blue piece I had looked like the sky and the other piece looked like fields. Then I just played!

I was quite happy with how that went and I learnt A LOT about the threads I was using so I pre-washed my Radiance fabric which was the scariest thing because I wasn't confident with the rather exotic mix of silk and cotton. It wasn't a problem though. I then ironed it onto a woven cotton stabiliser which is perfect for when you are working with more challenging or fine fabrics.  so onward....to a practice piece so I could test out my tension throughout using exactly the same bottom, wadding and top fabric as my actual piece.

I used the new baste function on the Sweet Sixteen which was brilliant - it just sews a stitch, pauses for 0.5 to 2.5 seconds or so (you set how long) and so you have time to move the fabric and baste your quilt. Genius.

 So now it was time do the same for the fabric for my pieceand attach the traced chicken.

I altered him a bit from the original - made him a bit more leggy and started sewing.

Tore away the tracing paper and revealed my outline. Just a question of filling it in then!


And here the little fellah is in all his glory in his final form!

Punk Chicken!

Doc Martens - he had to have Doc Martens

Annelize was as good as her word and so you can see this quilt (and much more elegant quilts!) throughout 2015-2016 at the Grosvenor Shows.

Here it is in print - "Radiance Challenge by the Longarm Learning Curve" with pictures of two of the quilts - one by Lynda Jackson our Handi Quilter Educator and the other by Vee Jenkins who has an HQ18 Avante. Longarm Learning Curve is the appropriate name for our Facebook Group which is for Handi Quilter customers where tips, techniques, encouragement and photos are shared and friendships are formed.

So, if you would like to see them, the first one I believe is at Malvern in the Autumn. 

 Oh, and I've put some bling on him since I took these photos as he just seemed a bit dull....


BizzieLizzie said…
You are so right - I would love to be able to encourage everyone in the way that you did us because it is only by pushing a few boundaries that we ever really learn.
BizzieLizzie said…
The postscript - we won! The chicken farm battle was won by the residents of Upton Snodsbury in January 2015 and what a battle it was. Nearly two years of fighting to save our landscape for future generations. Thank goodness for the power of democracy to give us a voice. We are very lucky - there are many people in the world who don't. Liz Holpin, Secretary Wychavon Parishes Action Group (WPAG)

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