2017 Challenge

2017 Challenge Quilt:  “The Dawn Chorus”

The dawn chorus occurs when birds sing at the start of a new day. In temperate countries this is most noticeable in spring when the birds are either defending a breeding territory or trying to attract a mate. In a given location, it is common for different species to do their dawn singing at different times. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_chorus_(birds)

Birds of a feather flock together—and SING LOUDLY at dawn in spring! Let’s celebrate with a variation on the idea of a “slice” quilt! Our challenge is made up of 35 blocks in a 5×7 in. grid.


Each block will FINISH at 8 inches. Use ANY method you want: pieced, appliquéd, fused, felted, embroidered—whatever your heart desires!

You may make one block, or two, three or even four! You can pick blocks next to each other, or all over the place. There are 35 blocks total. Blocks are assigned a code 1A to 7E on the master plan. (If you didn’t already pick a block and want to participate, please ask at the next Coastal Quilters meeting since some people chose more than one and are willing to share.)

You will add ONE bird to your block. You are encouraged to design your own block using these guidelines:

  • Birds can be realistic OR
  • Birds can be totally imaginary.
  • Use the size of the birds on the pattern sheet as a guideline for size—we’d like the birds to be in a scale that works with all the others.
  • One person can make a squirrel (let Sarah know so there’s only one).
  • One person (or maybe two) could do a bat. (They eat mosquitoes! This is good!)

Please keep more-or-less to the background colors. The flow of the piece, once all the blocks are together, depends on blues being some sort of blue, yellows and peaches some sort of yellow or peach, etc. Matches don’t need to be exact, just in the neighborhood.

Branches can be any color: brown, purple, green, blue—whatever inspires you. Please keep to the size on the pattern, especially at the edges, to maintain the flow of the design.

Accurate placement of color and branches on block EDGES is **really** important for this to succeed when we get them all together. Things won’t match perfectly, but close is a good thing.

You’ve got design flexibility in the middle of your block. If you have a twig that is completely contained within your block and it is in the way, delete or move it. Or add a twig. Use the photos of the surrounding blocks to guide your design choices. Place your bird as desired.

Please DO add leaves—at least a couple of them should be some sort of springy green, but they can be magenta, orange, turquoise, whatever you want.

Finish the edges using a facing or pillowcase backing. Click on the PDF below for Sarah’s binding instructions, if you need them. When the challenge is over, you can mount your block(s) on canvases or make a separate “background” quilt to give it a bit more presence.

Sarah Ann Smith


Sarah Ann Smith’s binding instructions: sarahs-bindings-handout