WIP Wednesday: 5th Grade Raffle Quilt Continues


School Raffle Quilt On the Design Wall
I've been busy working on the 5th grade raffle quilt and I've made a lot of progress over the last few days!  We had the students' acrylic paintings scanned in at high resolution at the UPS store, and I printed them onto the EQ Printables Inkjet Fabric Sheets without any trouble at all.  I set my Epson inkjet printer to highest resolution, matte photo presentation paper, and completely filled each 8 1/2" x 11" fabric sheet with the students' artwork.  I love how clearly every detail of the artwork transferred to the fabric sheets -- brush strokes, even faint pencil lines and incomplete erasures that were visible on the original paintings. 

Peeling Away the Cellophane Backing After Printing
It was late at night when I finally finished printing all 22 sheets, so although the instructions said to let the ink dry for 15 minutes, I left mine to dry overnight before peeling away the cellophane backing.  The backing came off fairly easily, but I noticed too late that, by starting at a corner and ripping the backing away diagonally, I distorted the grain of my fabric pieces.  Next time, I would loosen the backing all along the top edge of the sheet first and then pull the backing straight down in the direction of the fabric grain to avoid having to straighten all of the fabric afterwards!

After peeling off the backing, the fabric sheets had to be soaked in distilled water for 10 minutes to rinse away any excess printer ink.  To speed this process along, I grouped my fabric sheets according to their predominate color and soaked several sheets at a time. 
Soaking in Distilled Water to Remove Excess Printer Ink
I used a white plastic dish pan, which made it easy to see that ink WAS indeed coming off into the water, so I had to dump it out and refill the dish pan every other batch or so.  I went through three gallons of distilled water by the time all of my sheets were finished.  Then I had to iron them with a bit of steam in order to remove wrinkles and straighten the grain. 

Batiks from the Stash for Framing
Although I'm mostly happy with the results of this process, the printed images on fabric look more muted and pastel than the vibrantly-colored original acrylic paintings.  In order to make sure that the quilt would capture the energy and spirit of the original artwork, I decided to frame each block with a 1" wide strip of complementary batik fabric from my stash.  The printable fabric sheets from EQ have a high thread count and a very tight weave (which enables them to capture such high resolution images) and a similar crisp hand as batiks, which makes them an even better choice for this project.
Framing Artwork Blocks with 1 1/2" CW Batik Strips
Also, since I have 22 blocks to work with, I opted to stagger the blocks with two columns of 5 and two columns of 6 blocks, offset.  This arrangement, along with the low contrast between the art blocks and the batik frames, has the added benefit of minimizing the harsh grid effect that I have seen in other school quilt projects.  The goal is that people viewing the finished quilt will notice the artwork on the fabric blocks without being distracted by my layout.

14 Down, 8 Remaining!
My design wall has been invaluable throughout this process.  First I laid out all of the artwork blocks until I had a nice, balanced arrangement, and then I was able to audition different batik frame options with the blocks before actually sewing strips in place -- which saved me from having to reach for the seam ripper and change anything that I'd actually sewn to a block.  At this point I have 14 of the 22 block frames attached, but I have selected all of the fabrics for the remaining blocks.  It takes me a lot longer to make those decisions than it does to cut the strips and sew them to the blocks.  Hopefully I will finish framing the remaining 8 blocks today and maybe even get started assembling them into columns.  I'm going to need some kind of half rectangle at the top and bottom of the two shorter columns (the ones with 5 blocks rather than 6).  At one point I thought I would use the hand marbled fabric that you see at the bottom left corner of my design wall, but now I'm leaning toward using some of the gray scribbles fabric (which you can see a strip of along the right side of the photo) that I pulled from my stash to use as backing.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to the machine quilting phase.  I'll stitch in the ditch with monofilament between blocks and in the frame seams, but then I'm planning to do some free motion quilting fills within the blocks themselves if time permits.  Finally, I'll bring the quilt to school once it's quilted so the students can sign their blocks with Pigma Micron acid-free permanent archival fabric pens.  Maybe they can even do a little surface embellishment with beading or embroidery.  I know for a fact that they all learned to do some basic embroidery stitches in a different project from last year's art class.  Gotta love a school art teacher who teaches my sons embroidery!  :-)

I'm linking up with Lee's WIP (Works In Progress) Wednesday linky party over at Freshly Pieced as well as Esther's WOW (WIPs on Wednesday), and then I'm getting back to work!

5th Grade Raffle Quilt is On!

Coming Soon to Quilt Fabric: 5th Graders' Abstract Nature Paintings
I know you were all shaking your heads in pity when I told you I had agreed to make a class raffle quilt in three weeks with my son's 5th grade class.  It's not started yet, the kids don't know how to sew, there are no sewing machines at their school, and I have only very minimal class time with them.  Also Spring Break is next week.  But I like a challenge.

So my idea was to print students' original artwork directly onto fabric with those inkjet fabric sheets that go right into the printer.  Since we are in a bit of a time crunch, I talked with their art teacher to see whether they had already created anything for her class that would work for the quilt project.  She showed me these fantastic abstract paintings that our class made earlier in the school year incorporating leaves, flowers, and other items they collected outside the school.  I love the bright, saturated colors and the fact that each one is unique, but they are unified by a common theme and medium.  I think they will look great on fabric, don't you?  Well, I met with the students at lunch today to discuss the project, gave them some options for creating new art versus using the existing abstract paintings, and was DELIGHTED when they voted to use their abstract paintings.  We took them straight to the UPS Store to be scanned in (the paintings are larger than my scanner flat bed at home) and now, as long as I don't run into Unforeseen Difficulties during the printing process, I should be good to go.  Maybe I'll add some sashing strips to frame each block, but other than that, I'm planning to just sew them all together as simply as possible.

Depending on how much time I have when I get to the quilting phase, I might stitch in the ditch around blocks and then add free motion quilting within the blocks, or just quilt an allover grid, or (worst case scenario) tie the quilt with yarn if I'm REALLY running out of time. 

Cross your fingers that all goes well with the printer.  I bought a 25 pack of fabric sheets and I have 22 students, so that leaves me only three extra sheets for oopses and experimentation with printer settings.
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