Venus does “Modern”!

by Stephanie on November 26, 2013

in Art Quilts & Wallhangings,Double Wedding Ring,Modern Quilt Guild Challenge,My Design Process

Post image for Venus does “Modern”!

Reveal! This is Anniversary, my entry in the Modern category of the NYC Modern Quilt Guild’s Double Wedding Ring Challenge. (A larger-scale image is available here.)

There’s something of planetary orbits taking shape here, and that big dotted arc reminds me of the minute-marks on a clock face, with the second hand ticking around. There’s a sense of time passing, coming around again to the same mark in a new moment. All of this makes me think about anniversaries, and how a marriage changes and evolves over time, while retaining familiarity and connection between partners. Some years we celebrate, some years we take a deep breath and carry on. We’re a different couple at the five-year mark, at ten years, than we were when we said “I do,” and yet at the core we are the same.


Venus de Hilo original design, 40″x40″. Cut and pieced with freezer paper templates. Includes machine piecing, machine and hand applique, and features hand-sewn bead embellishment. All pieced and machine quilted by me on my BabyLock. Hobbs Thermore poly batting.

The challenge guidelines include the instruction to use this opportunity to “learn a new skill, try new techniques, and let your creative exploration shine through,” so that’s what I did. Also heeded: the “anything goes” prompt specific to the Modern category.


The design is a deconstructed double wedding ring, featuring intersecting circles that isolate arced sections of background, a large-scale pieced arc, and a smaller ring and three very small circles. My “new technique” was using Ricky Tims’s method for inset circles using freezer paper templates (which I learned at his Super Quilt seminar in September, tons of fun and highly recommended).

I drafted the design in Adobe Illustrator (because although I’ve had EQ7 installed on my compter for two years, I still don’t know how to use it, and I’m fairly fluent in Illustrator). This diagram shows the geometry of the pattern, created to fit on one 42″ width of fabric:

modern DWR geometry

  • The stripey red circle is centered, and forms a diagonal line with the smaller circles on either side of it.
  • The outer edge of the orange ring touches the center point of the two circles that intersect it.
  • Two smaller circles form an equilateral triangle with the center of the large orange ring.
  • The large arc is a circle segment that is centered on the dark circle at upper left.

These design elements may not be obvious at a glance, but I feel they contribute significantly to what I hope is the balance and grace of the whole.


Kona Snow, Cyan, Iron, & Champagne; batiks from stash; white/gold Michael Miller “Fairy Frost”, Kaffe Fassett “Jupiter.”

My initial plan, given the challenge to create a “modern” DWR of some kind, was to use all solid fabrics. That’s “modern,” right? Friends, I could not do it! I tend to see solids as a missed opportunity to use a print or batik, and this piece is no exception. As a concession, small bits of solid bright blue (my favorite color) and gray (so drab, so very modern) are included where the rings overlap. For the rings I used batiks (so wrongly maligned by the modern movement, IMO), a Kaffe Fassett print, and a sparkly gold-on-white thing that is both elegant and silly. All of which are very VdeH. These choices — especially the sparkly bits — maybe are pushing it for a “modern” sensibility, but this is how Venus de Hilo does Modern.


Long-time readers will be stunned and baffled to see beige (!!) on the back. (New readers, VdeH has in the past been vociferous and outspoken in her antipathy toward any and all forms of beige.)

Here’s how this happened …


… I didn’t want to use white on the back, so went to the fabric shop in Hilo that carries a decent selection of Kona solids, to peruse available pastels shades. I had in mind a very pale gray, of which there were none. The blue, pink, and yellow all looked too Easter-Egg-ish, and then the Universe intervened by drawing my eye to the label on a bolt of beige. That color is called “champagne,” and even Venus de Hilo couldn’t argue with that as a fitting name for the backing of a Double Wedding Ring quilt-in-progress that had already been named Anniversary.


I chose Thermore poly batting partly because I had some in stash, and also because it is thin and stable. My confidence in being able to complete a white quilt without having to give it at least one emergency trip through the wash with half a carton of OxyClean was low, and  I wanted a batting with minimal loft and no shrinkage, just in case.


Also, Thermore was the only batt in my stash of which I had a large-enough remaining piece for this project, and I’d used up my batting budget on Mango Pickle.

I’ve never made a white quilt before, and neither it nor the batting are as opaque as I’d like. This means the “shadow” of the label arc is subtly visible from the front of the work.


Happily, the ghost arc fits in very well with the other motifs. Let’s pretend that was intentional, rather than a happy accident, shall we?

Fun fact about echo-quilting: if you’ve lost that angled rod thingie that sticks sideways through the back of your walking foot, a piece of plastic drinking straw taped to the front of the foot works like a charm, proving that necessity is indeed the mother of invention.


Overall, I’m delighted with this quilt, mostly because it turned out exactly as I’d envisioned it, and that’s always a nice way to see a finished project. Also, I got it done with only one tiny spot on all that white, and that came off easily with a clean toothbrush and a little bit of damp baking soda.

I’m curious to know whether readers who are familiar with my work think this looks anything at all like a “Venus de Hilo” creation. Let me know in the comments!

Thanks to the NYC Mod Quilters for coming up with such a fun challenge! Creating this modern play on DWR was the perfect quick/fun project when I needed a break from long sessions with the seam ripper on Mango Pickle. I’m only sorry I haven’t had time to make something for the single-block category. (November’s not over yet, though. Maybe I can whip something up while the turkey defrosts…)




1 Kathleen November 26, 2013 at 6:11 am

I can’t love solids either, and I love batiks. This one is lovely. I think the whole modern movement with so much white space, grey and untraditional colors is very interesting, but I can’t follow their rules. I like the whole idea of deconstruction, though. Beautiful work!

2 Stephanie November 26, 2013 at 8:24 am

I did enjoy making this one, but am not in a hurry to work with white again. I have ideas for other “modern” quilts, but they haven’t progressed beyond the sketch stage. There’s always something else more appealing/colorful to play with.

3 Sharon T November 26, 2013 at 6:13 am

Wowzer! You nailed it!! Your double wedding ring is fabulous…and not a Kaffe in sight!

4 Stephanie November 26, 2013 at 8:22 am

Heheh, actually, I did sneak one in: the stripey ring is Kaffe Fassett “Jupiter” in the red colorway.

5 P. November 26, 2013 at 7:16 am

I think it is brilliant!

6 Stephanie November 26, 2013 at 8:21 am


7 Jennifer Eubank November 26, 2013 at 7:46 am

You are awesome!

8 karen@capitolaquilter November 26, 2013 at 11:06 am

Terrific entry, thanks for sharing the details and process. Love the make do straw invention.

9 Heather November 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Thanks so much for the straw tip for echo quilting – I don’t have the necessary rod for my walking foot. Your deconstructed dwr has great visual impact.

10 shelley November 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Wow! So inventive, definitely modern, and so YOU! I love how you’ve incorporated so many fabric types and added the beading. And thanks for all the design details – I really enjoyed seeing the Illustrator diagram (mostly because I don’t know very much about design principles and even less about Illustrator!). But of course you’d need a fabric called “Champagne” for the backing!!

11 Anne November 28, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Anniversary is very cool. I really like the geometry image you included too. Great graphic design.

12 Sally T November 30, 2013 at 1:58 am

What a wonderful interpretation. I love the large broken green ring.

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