Friday 6 May 2016

Mandala Challenge

Our Guild is running a Mandala Challenge  for the 2016 Festival of Quilts. The quilt must be circular with a diameter of between 50 - 60cm. Any quilting technique is allowed!

Well, how hard could it be to design a Mandala for FMQ?  So I started to consult the internet for ideas and also looked a lots of those popular colouring books and soon was completely overwhelmed with ideas to the point of not being able to get anything much on paper. In the end, I went back to basics...what would I like to do? I had a basic design in my head that had to be in the center, so I started there...

The first attempt was promising, but fell short of any ideas on how to finish it off. Also felt that it needed to be more intricate and creative...
Well, that created another month of utter confusion and inactivity. However, in the end I went back to the original idea and expanded on that and finally finished the design.

Final design...ready for tracing onto fabric
This was incredibly challenging! Not only did you need some sort of idea for design, but you also had to think ahead of how would that play out quilted in terms of areas being flattened or raised. Also, easy enough to do multiple designs in a row when drawing a Mandala, but again, how would that look quilted going from one design to the next. Many a times, I spend more time thinking about this than drawing.
The drawing itself was also tricky as you want symmetry. I used a number of tools for this, starting of with Cindy Needham's Ultimate Circular Stencil. As the stencil is 12.5in, I had to extend it outwards to make it the required size. Now here was the first to make a circle of that size! In the end I used a string attached to a pencil and carefully made my way around it, holding it firmly in place at the exact center.

A few of the other tools I used
June Tailor's petal and heart shapes in 6 sizes...shapes brilliantly aligned themselves into the Ultimate Stencil which has 0.5in markings and allowed me to create the center motif with some precision. Similarly, the bottom of the heart shape gave me that lovely outer ring of petals.

Apart from that I used round and oval templates that we had lying around the house for various things within my Mandala and also used the Anita Shackleford 'Infinite Feather Template' to draw the outside feathers. Looking at the picture now, I feel that they could have been bigger and more lavish (like in the first freehand attempt), however I had run out of room and there was no way  I was going to change this design again. Maybe next time...this feather border will be a bit understated. If anybody asks, then it was meant to be like that:)

I am very curious how this will look stitched out...still not sure whether to use different coloured thread in sections. Again, this seems simple, but if I am going to fill sections or maybe even in-line some feathers, then I will need to backtrack over stitches and doing this with different colours would look messy. The trick would be to think this through and have the stitching you need to backtrack on in the same colour as the filler. Will ponder more on this...



  1. Wow I love your design! I have wanted to do a wholecloth but never had the courage or creativity to design one.

  2. This looks great and a lot of work to get it this far. I hope that the actual stitching of it goes smoothly.

  3. Love where this is going and so Impressed by your design skills.


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