Thursday, 31 December 2015

Arctic Fox Mini Quilt

I've been slowly working on a little project with a lot of details over the past few months. It was inspired by Canadian artist Robbie Craig, based in Yellowknife, NT. He captures and creates striking images of the Canadian north in his paintings and photographs. I enjoy travelling around and exploring different parts of Canada, but I haven't visited any of the territories yet. They have always been on my travel list, but seeing his images have made me want to travel north even more. It was one of his paintings, The Silver Fox, posted on his Facebook page that prompted this quilt.

The style of the painting, with the fox's features outlined in white and the way the varying shades remain distinct, rather than blended together, seemed to lend itself well to appliqué. So with the artist's permission, I translated his painting into a quilt design.

I had the perfect fabric for the background, from Robert Kaufman's Sound of the Woods fabric line, designed by Kathrine Lovell. I had lots of scraps from Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics line as well and I thought the crosshatch prints would work particularly well for fur. Some black Kona fabric completed my choices.

I traced my image onto Steam-A-Seam to cut it out and fuse it onto my background. I made the fox and moon from white fabric and fused the other shapes on top to create the effect of the white outline.  I did the same with the grey fabric for the snow. Once all of the pieces were fused on, I used a tiny blanket stitch to appliqué around the edges of every piece. I asked some quilting friends for advice on the appliqué and quilting and got many different ideas to work with. (Thanks Tish, Anja and Anita!) I debated using a straight stitch to do a raw-edge appliqué, but decided I wanted cleaner edges. The coordinating threads blended well with the fabrics and I was happy with the effect.

I really debated about the quilting on this. I almost didn't quilt it as I was afraid of ruining the perfect background. But I've heard that the quilting is like adding a layer of art and I figured I might as well take advantage of my medium. So I echoed around each of the white snow drifts, the fox and the moon. Then I densely quilted the sky with slightly wavy lines to help the images in the foreground stand out. I added a few lines of stitching around the fox's face and around the contours of the moon to add a bit of detail there  as well. I also took the advice to echo quilt inside the snowdrifts, especially when I remembered that the original design included shading in the drifts that I had omitted.

I'm thrilled with the result! I keep touching the quilt, to feel the texture of the sky and how the snow drifts pop out from the background. I took extra care with the binding and I'm pretty pleased about it as well.

I had the opportunity to meet Robbie Craig and purchase some of his prints a month ago, when he held a show in Ontario. I bought prints of Midnight Sun Mountain, Pond Hockey and Reverie. I can't wait to get them up on the walls. I brought my partly finished mini quilt to show him and promised to share the finished piece! I'm grateful for the opportunity to play with his design. Though I contemplated turning the one block into a bigger quilt, I decided to stick with a mini and make this a wall hanging. Who knows, maybe one day two more blocks will join it in a triptych.

Happy creating!

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday.


  1. Amazing!! It turned out beautifully. The quilting highlights everything just so right.

  2. This turned out AMAZING!!! I think you were spot on with the blanket stitch. It did give it such a clean finish and might I add, I don't think I have seen such small applique stitches. I love it. And I'm so glad you decided to add the quilting. All of the little touches just brought this to life. Will you get to show him the finished piece?

  3. This is gorgeus! I love your simple way to crete the beautiful fox, moon and snow! x Teje

  4. This is so cute and your appliqué is so perfect! Wow, great work!! I hope your new year is off to a great start :)