Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rosie does well at AQS-Des Moines!

Photo Credit: Bruce Andre Photography
What a surprise when I returned an unknown number to me, phone call on Tuesday, October 1. Andrea from the American Quilter Society answered the other end of the call and told me that "Rosie's BOMb" had won 2nd place in her category (Bed Quilts - Machine Quilted).

I was already scheduled to leave on Wednesday afternoon to go back to the show just because I wanted to experience 'Rosie' getting juried into this big show. NOW, THIS, WAS AMAZING!

This journey started near the end of 2011 when to my surprise I realized the Skill Builder quilt-a-long (QAL) hosted by "Sewn by Leila" was using the iconic 'Rosie the Riveter' poster image as her blog button for the project. Although they were six months into the QAL, I decided I really did have to jump in.

Using my Electric Quilt 7 software to design a layout which included the Rosie poster as a center medallion, I chose colors that would coordinate with the poster and used colors within each block to create a layout to frame and mimic the poster's colors. Blue/white backgrounds in the top area, yellow in the sides and red at the bottom (dark and 'anchoring' to the whole quilt).

Mid-year in 2012 I was away from my long-arm for several weeks while my husband took a job out of state. I worked diligently to catch up on the QAL. Towards the end I drafted the feathered star so no "Y" seams were necessary through a paper piecing technique and was honored to be asked by Leila to draw up the butterfly pattern so that all followers could use the necessary templates through an easy pdf download. The whole idea of this QAL was to start out with basic techniques, building confidence and moving on with more difficult ones. This included doing things improvisationally, creating your own 'crumb' fabric, and designing your own house. I laid them out in the quilt from start to finish, top row to bottom row, left to right. There were typically about 3 blocks per technique.

My personal printing attempt...rinsed.
Now I needed to create the poster on fabric. I tried a couple of times after much planning to print it on an inkjet plotter on self-treated muslin. The 'rinse' process took out all magenta and it looked quite 'antique'. The effect might have been nice, but I had used such brilliant colors in the quilt, I really wanted a brilliant level of color in the poster. I decided to try and got wonderful results.

My sashing details included finding a MODA fabric that had a row of buttons. I fussy cut many yards of it. Finding the red fabric that reads as a polka dot but is actually various buttons was great for the border since it tied in with Rosie's headband so nicely. I then added appliqued rivets to emphasize the original concept of what was going on with 'Rosie' in WW II.

The bottom of the poster needed to be filled in. I had found a fabric with all the different quilt block names and terms printed on it that seemed to be very appropriate.

In designing the quilting I wanted to be able to show my clients in one piece, different types of quilting. For example, one block might have a background fill and the next one doesn't. Some have formal feathers, others open feathers. Edge to Edge design within a block following the piecing as a registration guide or just ignoring the piecing.

The border quilting was designed to look like polished steel and I wanted the rivets themselves to have a movement about them. I used some kitchen tools to help. Thank you Martha Stewart! These are made to put around a rolling pin to get consistent depths to you pie dough.

Quilting Rosie herself was the biggest challenge. So grateful to find Virginia Graeves online who provided me with some advice and gave me the confidence to move forward with Rosie's face, arms and blouse details.


I showed the quilt at a local show in Tri-Cities where it received an "Outstanding in the Field" award from a group of local quilters. Then she went to the Krazy Horse Quilt Show in Pendleton, OR and received the "Best Machine Quilting" award which I believe is given by a local long-arm quilting business there in Pendleton. I then submitted the quilt for jury selection to the Association of Pacific West Quilter's show in Tacoma, WA. I also submitted the quilt for jury selection into AQS-Des Moines. I knew the timing would be tight if she got accepted into both shows, but I'd work it out if that came to fruition. Shortly thereafter, I was asked by the International Association of Professional Quilter's to provide a professional shot of the quilt so they could consider it for their cover of The Professional Quilter --a business journal for the organization. grateful to Bruce Andre Photography (Buggy Barn's photographer!) for being willing that next morning to meet with me and shoot the quilt. She was accepted to APWQ and I got word that Rosie was accepted to AQS-Des Moines...and was excited just to be included in both of these shows. The cover came out on the Professional Quilter journal and I received some very constructive but also many very positive comments from the judges at APWQ. One comment I knew I could fix and proceeded to do so in the day that I had after picking the quilt up before shipping it to AQS-Des Moines.

And so...that is her story so far. I'm excited about the possibilities of where this might lead.


Perhaps you're wondering ...'Rosie' or 'Rosie's BOMb' ??? Well, BOM in quilting lingo commonly refers to Block of the Month. So, get it?? Sometimes the word "bomb" may not have a good connotation, so sometimes I don't use it, and other times in the right setting, I can because it will be appropriately understood when capitalized appropriately.

A local quilt shop last year asked if I would get fabric yardage of Rosie to sell as well as write up a 'technique of the month' type program for them to use as a class. (TOMb ?...felt too negative) Most blocks are public domain, but a few are copyrighted and so I have been working through the process as necessary to either gain permission to use the design within this context or select another block that still demonstrates the technique and writing single page instructions for constructing each block.

Modern block credits:
Breaking Out : Jennie Finch, Canandaigua, NY (generously sharing)
Starry Night : Faith @ Fresh Lemons (only for personal use)
Circle of Geese : Beth McBride @ Piece by Number (see blog for usage details)

With our recent move to Grand Coulee, WA and many asking for classes, I decided to introduce them to quilting through this process and I have just started using this as a curriculum too. Most are not using the whole 'Rosie' theme, but the techniques learned truly are worth it. Their colorings will tell their own story, making it personal to them. I love the idea of making one block at a time ...not 50 of the same thing. This allows the learner to be exposed to a variety of techniques and ultimately find their personal niche in this art world and craft of quilting.

I thank Leila (left) for inspiring so many of us who participated in the quilt-a-long and giving me the launch pad to take it to the next level of incorporating Rosie the icon and honoring those women who did so much for our country during the WWII era. The recent interview with a gal on NBC that was part of that original brigade was exciting. I just hope she will see this and know it is to honor her and her fellow riveters!

Next year the quilt will likely grace the Visitor Center of Grand Coulee Dam along with an exhibit of what women did in the construction and starting operation of the Dam. I'm excited about letting her be seen and inspire, motivate, encourage those who have been there or are trying to make it in the world today.

I forgot that Road2California requires a mail-in entry, so I missed the deadline for that 2014 show. Maybe I'll submit her to some other ones. We'll see. I'd just be happy for her to be exhibited for more people to be inspired.

The connection of what they were doing in WWII to the idea of mastering the skills of quilting is a fun parallel. It takes us all working together, sharing ideas and opportunities to make it happen. Maybe it is my engineering background that has contributed to my personal affection towards this iconic symbol, but regardless of what you put your mind to...We Can Do It!

Thank you for all the love, encouragement and support to all of those who have been a part of my journey.


  1. Congratulations on a fine piece of art work! Rosie would be proud!

  2. I'm returning to Des Moines, IA AQS QuiltWeek October 4-7, 2017. Classes on Wed and Thurs and a lecture on Friday. Hope you'll join me!