Embrace Change had originally been intended as a submission for a SAQA show for which the theme was "Metamorphosis". My idea was to show two different metamorphoses. The first shows how the pumpkin starts as a flower and grows into a squash from left to right. Starting on the right, the Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar turns into a chrysalis and finally emerges as a beautiful butterfly on the left.
Although I had a show in mind when designing this quilt, I didn't completely read the prospectus and realized after it was complete that although Embrace Change met the width requirement, it was about 30" too short for the height requirement! Lesson learned.
After going to the Gainesville quilt show and realizing there were other people making raw-edge appliqué quilts, I wanted a crash course in all things 'art quilt'. Mom, Dad, and I went to the 2017 International Quilt Festival in Houston — one of the biggest quilt shows in the world — and I joined Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) while we were there. The ladies at the SAQA booth enthusiastically told me my art would count for SAQA's definition of "quilt", even though my work up to that point didn't have stitching.
After that trip to Houston, I was psyched up to start making quilts, but I had one big problem: I did not own a sewing machine. So while I started shopping machines and models, I decided to practice by making a fabric picture wall hanging that was fused but not stitched. This picture has all the components of a standard quilt — 3 layers (top, batting, backing) and finished edges — but it's held together with Wonder Under instead of thread.
I was also getting better with my Cricut, so I decided to really put it to the test: The butterflies in Embrace Change are each made from 20-30 individual pieces of fabric, the most delicate of which are the black veins in the wings. The black veins in each wing are the top layer; all the colors are under the black. This experiment — albeit a successful one — taught me the limits of what I'm capable of cutting with the Cricut. Figuring out the boundaries would be critical to the success of my future quilt designs.
During this time, I took a free-motion quilting class at my local quilt shop. They were kind enough to let me rent a machine to use during the class, and I even paid extra to come in for a few hours the next day to practice on my own. This class was geared toward more traditional quilting, but I still learned enough to get me thinking about how I could incorporate stitching into my art once I had a machine of my own.