Block Challenge - Indigo Salmon

This week I finally did the block for the Sister's Outdoor Quilt Show 2014 block challenge.  For $10 they sent me a packet of fabrics.  The fabrics were selected from the below.

I received 6 of these fabrics - the floral on top, and fabrics 2, 4, 6, 8 and number 7 was my solid.

As soon as I got the packet and saw the 10" solid of this gorgeous salmon pink, I had salmon in my head.  I can be quite literal at times.

However, I knew I did not really want to try to make a realistic looking salmon, esp with the fabrics provided.  Nor did I want to try to make a water background - there simply is not enough fabric to play with TOO much piecing.  

I decided to make a bunch of 1/2 square triangles and see what I could do with them.  The diagonals make a lot of movement and have a great deal of possibility for patterns.  Once I had the background put together I could then focus on the salmon.

I am very fond of the North West totem art out there, and tribal arts.  I find when they are applied to animals of all kinds some gorgeous results occur.  I studied a bunch of samples and sketched out my own.  This in no way demonstrates true native totem art, but I feel it is an interesting representation of the salmon hooked mouth and movement up the river.

Salmon sketch outline
Next task is to put this outline on fusible and then the fabric.  Then get it on my block and ironed down.  Due to the many pieces this actually took almost as long as it did to create the original sketch!

Background done and salmon fused
Then the really fun part.  How to secure the applique to the background.  Fusible is wonderful, but it tends to peel up on edges and should be sewn down.  However, my pieces are very thin - sewing them down might just rip the fabric up.
Green tulle to give it shine and hold it all in

I decided to add a layer of transparent tulle ribbon.  With tulle you can layer and layer it on fabric to add tones and shades.  It is also wonderful for sewing over and securing applique and embellishments that might otherwise be too delicate.

With the tulle layer ready for sewing
For this block I cut a section of the tulle ribbon and layered it, securing it at the corners with pins.  I used a fusible stabilizer on the back as the stitching will be a bit dense.  Then I set the machine up for free motion quilting and used a salmon pink thread almost the same color as my salmon fabric.  I freemotion sewed around the salmon motif right at the edge of the fabric, then again about 1/16" out for additional security.  I then stitched around the edge of all the salmon pieces.

"Indigo Salmon"
Sister's Oregon Outdoor Quilt Show 2014 Block Contest entry
9.5" x 9.5"

Then its a matter of small sharp scissors and cutting away the tulle at the edges of the stitches.  I elected not to cut away the tulle in the negative space of the salmon - I like how it adds a shade of the green to the overall fish shape.

Gives an idea of how it looks 
While I don't expect this block to win or even be mentioned, I really hope whomever gets it enjoys it - it was a fun challenge and I am inspired to work more with the North West totem and tribal art form in quilting.  I would love to have this on a quilt or wallhanging myself!

Stitching close up.  Free motion outline came out well!

The backing with stabilizer - love how the stitching gives an echo of the salmon!


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