Dia de Muertos (this is a long one)

My apologies for not posting sooner. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to post on, I am just still getting use to my new life in Japan and I was working on a super-duper-shmooper secret project….ok, it wasn’t that secret…whatever, I’m lazy and sorry! I will do my best not to go this long again!!!

Allow me to go on.

Before I left California, Aunt Marie asked me if she could commission me to make her a quilt. She wanted a Day of the Dead quilt to go on her bed and something she could hang up during the Day of the Dead celebration.  I don’t often take commissions. This will sound obnoxious, but I don’t want to work on what people want me to work on. This is why I will never make money from selling my quilts…I just want to do what I want. But I took this commission for three big reasons.

1. I love Aunt Marie. She is one of the many people who are a blessing in my marriage. She is technically Dave’s Aunt, but who cares. She is fun, interesting, and always willing to help us. I can’t say no to someone that important!

2. She gets the creative process. She is an artist herself (her main media would be painting, but she dabbles in others) and she put very few restrictions on me – just the size, a deadline, and a theme. She saw a few glimpses of what I was doing and then said she would rather wait and see the whole thing when it was done(which is why I called it my secret project). It is nice for someone to have that kind of trust in your abilities.

3. Her theme is amazing. I love Day of the Dead. It’s is one of the happiest, morbid holidays out there. Where Halloween is meant to scare, Day of the Dead is about celebrating loved ones who have passed on. It is a nostalgic holiday involving skulls…I don’t need to say anymore. I knew right away that this would be “folksy” quilt with bright colors and frayed edges…my mind almost exploded with ideas!

So I got started by picking out the border fabric first. My goal was to find a border that said festive without being too kitschy or novelty”ish”…does that make sense? The border fabric I found is “sloane”. I pulled the solids from that and stuck with mostly warm and bright solids with a few cool colors.

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I knew I wanted to do sugar skulls, but what else could I include?? Time to do some research!!! In the quilt I included the following:

1. Papel Picados – These are the intricately cut tissue paper banners that decorate everything. I found the templates here.

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2. Hearts and Crosses – This is a holiday about deceased loved ones. I kept seeing hearts on everything. I had to put them in!! The holiday is also linked to the Catholic holiday All Saints Day. The two holidays are not really related at all, but when the Spanish came to convert the Aztecs to a more “civilized” way of life they introduced All Saints Day as an alternative. The result – Day of the Dead has a catholic spin.  Silly Europeans!!!

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3. Marigolds- I went silly with the marigolds. I had to!! The marigold is the “flower of the dead”. People sprinkle them everywhere with the notion that the scent of the flower will lead the dead back to the alters. (sorry about the crappy picture)

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4. SUGAR SKULLS!!! – This is probably my favorite thing about the holiday, the elaborate sugar skulls that are created to decorate the alters. I decided to hand embroider my “icing decorations”. The process was simple.

First,  I found a skull shape I liked and traced it onto a piece of fusible webbing ( I am a wonder under girl myself).

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Next, after fusing the webbing to the fabric I cut out my skull shape and fused it to my background. (yes, I cut out all the teeth individually!)

Then, using the skull shape, I created an embroidery design that I printed on  Transfer-Eze and placed over the fused skull.

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Last, I embroidered the skull using mostly split stitches (which are my favorite) and bright colors! I also blanket stitched around all the skulls. The Transfer-Eze came off with a 5 minute soak in water. I did 6 skulls in all.

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(and yes some of the teeth fell off before I was able to stitch them down…I went with it)

This was my first fused, raw edge applique quilt and the biggest quilt that I have free motion quilted. Talk about stepping out of your comfort zones!!!

I used a wide backing fabric so I didn’t have to piece anything. The quilting on the applique was done with Gutterman thread. The black quilting was done with Aurifil (which is my favorite to quilt with) as well as the lines on the border (except I used a light grey Aurifil so the black lines didn’t compete with the print. I made bias binding with the border material, and embroidered a label using a Sublime Stitch skeleton pattern. I also included a hanging sleeve so Aunt Marie can hang it over an alter if she wants.

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So without further adieu, here it is!!!

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It measures 80″ x 80″. Over time, the edges will fray and create a very cool tattered look to the skulls and other appliqued parts. This just makes Day of the Dead theme pop even more! Here are some close ups…The black is attracting lint like crazy, but since Aunt Marie has no pets or kids…it will be fine.

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I will leave you with this…My husband made the calendar!!!!

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That’s right ladies, this manly piece of beefcake is the new QSMASBC Mr. February 2014….and he is all mine. Seriously…check the link, give these men a bighand for being awesome, and buy the calendar…it makes a great stocking stuffer!!!

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About lhungler

I am a stay at home wife and mother. I love fabric!! View all posts by lhungler

2 responses to “Dia de Muertos (this is a long one)

  • anneandkita

    Wooohoo! Good to “hear” from you!! That quilt is amazing!!! And comes at a great time. I’m about to dip my toe into the appliqué waters, and it’s great to see what can be done with it. 😀

    Also, I may just have to get this calendar!

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