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Kestrel Michaud


Classically-trained Fine Artist and Fabric Illustrator


Steampunk Selfie vs Leap of Faith

Earlier this year, I finished a quilt titled Leap of Faith. This quilt shows a girl bungee-jumping from a steampunk airship while taking a selfie photo. It's very similar, seemingly identical, to a quilt I made last year titled Steampunk Selfie. How is that possible and why would I do such a thing? This post will explain what the deal is with these two quilts.

A Tale of Two Quilts

Let's start by comparing the two quilts in question. There are three major differences between these quilts: Size, Design, and Stitching

Size

These two quilts will never hang side-by-side in person, but fortunately I have photographs of both. I've scaled the photographs I have of each quilt to accurately show a comparisson of their sizes.

Size comparision
Steampunk Selfie (top) vs Leap of Faith (bottom)

It's very clear these two pictures are not the same size. Leap of Faith is substantially larger, 150% larger in fact, than Steampunk Selfie.

Design

Because Leap of Faith would be so much larger than Steampunk Selfie's original design, some of the pieces of fabric designed in Steampunk Selfie were too big to fit on my Cricut sticky mats after enlargement. Breaking those large areas into multiple pieces was a requirement. Since I had to add more pieces of fabric, I took the opportunity to add more detail to the design as well. The end result:

  • Steampunk Selfie: 1269 pieces of fabric, appx. 60 fabrics
  • Leap of Faith: 1508 pieces of fabric, appx. 75 fabrics

The extra detail I added is easier to see when comparing the templates for the two pictures. The templates are shown below at the same size (even though that's not how they were designed) to better emphasize the design differences between the two.

Design comparison

Steampunk Selfie is on the top; Leap of Faith on the bottom. See how much more depth Leap of Faith has, especially in the trees and rocky cliffs? The trees and cliffs were where most of the extra pieces of fabric were added. I designed in a fourth value of fabric to those areas, meaning I could put in the dark, shadowy areas.

The other very large design difference between these two quilts is the use of tulle. After making Steampunk Selfie, I felt that Faith, the bungee-jumper, blended into the rocky background just a bit too much. When looking at the quilt in person, it was just a bit too difficult to discern her hair and arm from the scenery behind her. To fix this problem in Leap of Faith, I added a single layer of light blue tulle across the background.

The tulle is hard to see, so I Photoshopped this dark blue mask over the photograph to show the area covered by tulle in the actual quilt.

Tulle location
The tulle covers the area indicated by dark blue in the above photo.

Here is a close-up of the tulle. It covers the right pine tree, but not the left one, and continues over the rocks to the right.

Detail of Tulle
This close-up shows the tulle on Leap of Faith.

The overall effect of the tulle gives the impression of atmospheric perspective. The trees in the above photo were created from the same three fabrics, but the tulle makes the tree on the right much lighter. The tulle equally lightens and adds a faint bluish tint to the area of background it covers, making that section look like it's a little further away from Faith while also making her hair, arm, and body stand out.

Stitching

The last way the two quilts in this post differ is the stitching. Steampunk Selfie took me around 15 hours to sew. Leap of Faith, on the other hand, took me 86. Some of that extra time can be attributed to Leap of Faith being a bigger quilt. But the vast majority of the difference comes from all of the decorative stitching I added to Leap of Faith that isn't present in Steampunk Selfie.

Other than the concentric cirlces in the sky, Steampunk Selfie is free-motion stitched exclusively in raw-edge appliqué fashion. Every piece of fabric has a straight stich around the outside edge, but there is no decorative or filler stitching anywhere (other than the sky).

Here is a close-up from Steampunk Selfie.

Steampunk Selfie stitching detail

Compare the amount of stitching in the photo above to the same area on Leap of Faith.

Leap of Faith stitching detail

But...why make Leap of Faith?

The short answer is that once Steampunk Selfie was accepted into the SAQA Aloft exhibition, I realized I wouldn't get to send it to any judged competitions. I had the option of making another one, because Steampunk Selfie is part of a stated Limited Edition (it's 01/05 in the series). But Steampunk Selfie was created for a show that had a size requirement of exactly 36" x 24". If I were to make another one, 02/05 in the series, it would have to be the exact size of the first, and I wanted the new quilt to be much bigger. Therefore, I did my best to differentiate Leap of Faith from Steampunk Selfie, by adding additional design details, decorative stitching, and even giving it a new name, so there would be no mistaking it as being separate from Steampunk Selfie's series.

Bonus fun fact

Steampunk Selfie took 165 hours to make. Leap of Faith, on the other hand, took 151. The smaller quilt took more time to make than the larger quilt, despite all the extra re-designing and stitching and overall bigger size. How is that possible, do you ask?

The reason has to do with the design. Of the 165 hours I spent on Steampunk Selfie, 100 of those hours were design time, before I even looked at a piece of fabric. It's a complicated picture, and it took a very long time for me to get the perspective drawn correctly. Even though it's much smaller than Leap of Faith, it has twice as many pieces per square inch as Leap of Faith, and each of those pieces needed to have overlap added and get organized for Cricut cutting.

When I moved on to Leap of Faith, I was able to reuse the vast majority of my design work from Steampunk Sefie, even with adding the extra 250ish pieces of fabric. The time I saved on design was instead put into crafting the quilt (mostly stitching). Even so, it still took 14 hours less to make Leap of Faith than Steampunk Selfie. If I had been designing Leap of Faith from scratch, the time it'd have taken would have been well past 200 hours.