“Mama Bear” 2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge, Marsala,

Once upon a time, there was a little girl whose mother read her the story of “The Three Bears.” And, she said, “that’s just like us: Mama Bear, Papa Bear and Baby Bear.” That little girl insisted her name was “Baby Bear” and her mother was “Mama Bear” and her father was “Papa Bear.”

A year went by and the little girl insisted her parents call her by her given name and not “Baby Bear,” but her mother and father continued to be “Mama Bear” and “Papa Bear.”

I struggled to find the right design for this quilt challenge.  I had sketched a quilt called “The Three Bears” with three bear’s paw blocks, but settled on a quilt celebrating my love of my name, Mama Bear, and my love for quilting. You can read more about the design process here.

The quilt measures 54 inches by 54 inches. I’m entering it in the 2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge, Marsala, hosted by On the Windy Side and Play Crafts.

Mama Bear

Mama Bear

The Bear’s Paw block is typically made with a square as the paw of the bear and the half-square triangles as the “claws”. I machine quilted “paw” prints, instead of pieced squares adjacent to half-square triangles. I chose prints in paisley, feathers and geometric circles for the “claws”.

The Marsala color was the perfect choice for this quilt.

Mama Bear Marsala close up top left

Close up of the free motion quilting. The bear paw footprints are surrounded by pebbles and pea pods.

I made a one-half inch binding, instead of one-quarter inch. I used scraps of Marsala inspired fabric. Love and Kisses on the binding is just -- serendipity

I made a one-half inch binding, instead of one-quarter inch. I used scraps of Marsala inspired fabric. Love and Kisses on the binding is just — serendipity

Mama Bear back2

On the back of the quilt I used a variety of Marsala-inspired fabrics as well. The quilting really shows up on the back.

Marsala is a great color to wear as well. Check out this site for tips on wearing marsala.

Loving Marsala,

Mama Bear

2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Marsala

2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Marsala

Pantone chose Marsala as the Color of the Year.  The bloggers at Play Crafts and On the Windy Side are hosting a quilt challenge/competition to use this color in a quilt.

I pulled some fabric:

marsala stash

I did some sketching and that didn’t inspire any ideas. I looked through a few quilt books and got the idea to make some paper “snowflakes”, which turned out square:

paper cuts

I cut navy “snowflakes”, 15 by 15 inches, with marsala-inspired blocks as the background and vice versa:

sifter blocks

It seemed heavy. So I ditched the navy and went all out Marsala:


I liked the background but that was it. I started over. I went back to my sketches and found a design called The Three Bears with three Bear’s Paw blocks. I took that idea and created one, oversized, Bear’s Paw block I’m calling, “Mama Bear.”

mama bear block

I made a practice block to see what thread I wanted to use and to practice my free motion. I recently purchased the book, Shape by Shape, by Angela Walters. Using her book as a guide, I tried a few designs:

practice1 practice2 practice5 practice6

I didn’t like the pink thread and chose the wine color, Aurifil No. 2460, Dark Carmine Red, 28 weight, which looks more like the marsala color:

mama bear left paw5

This is the quilt, under construction. I had the idea to create “footprints” with pebbles filled in. So far I’ve quilted one of Mama Bear’s paws. I’m going to need more thread. The 28 weight goes fast, but I really wanted the stitching to stand out. By the way, Angela Walters uses Superior Thread So Fine in 50 weight in most of her quilting.

***My concern is that it won’t be “marsala” enough but too berry wine. I’m also concerned it won’t have the graphic impact I want. I’m too far in now to change Mama Bear’s mind, though.

Now that I recognize Marsala, I see it everywhere. I could see this blouse, seen on FleurBonheur’s site on Etsy.com, interpreted as a Marsala quilt:

Flamenco--romantic embroidered blouse, top, textile collage, wearable art, hand dyed, hand beaded details,


“Aerial” is done.

I finished “Aerial,” a pattern by Carolyn Friedlander.

This was the first time I used the method, low-fat quilting. I had purchased the book, Machine Quilting in Sections. Don’t Finish Another Quilt Until You Read This Book, to learn how to reduce the bulk of the quilt. And I’m happy to report it worked. I was able to quilt the quilt in sections on my sewing machine. The only problem I had was re-assembling the batting. I had to be very careful to get the pieces to join without overlapping. Using the 2-inch strips of fusible tape from Marti Michell, I was able to attach the two pieces without any trouble. You can’t tell the batting is pieced.

As I quilted, my free motion skills improved and my circles started looking much better:

Aerial close-up

I also like the back of the quilt:

Aerial Back

I had added an airplane to the back to go with the aerial theme:

Aerial airplane

My daughter loves the quilt and will be taking it back to college with her. I’m very happy she loves something I have made and wants to use it.