Tuesday, July 17, 2018

How The HaHa Quilt Came to Be

Yay for me! This Solids Challenge quilt is finally, finally, finally at completed quilt top stage. Whew! It only took 2 1/2 years. If you remember, back in June, I mentioned cutting the border triangles a little too large. That promptly took me to the next challenge, what to do for an intermediate border?
The middle border
Somehow I ended up with the idea to sew a HaHa border based on a gorgeous quilt over at Nifty Quilts. That left me with a small coping border in between the HaHa's and the middle of the quilt that had to be addressed.
Contemplating using red...
I auditioned different colors, quickly realizing that it was going to have to be a neutral to play nice. Red was definitely a no go.
Black is too stark
 As was black and gray.
Gray is too 'meh'
And much to my internal resistance, white was the obvious choice. You may think that my instinctive balking is odd, but I'm just not into all those stark 'white' quilts that are so popular. Like the only color that responds wonderfully to COLOR, is a non-color.
And white makes perfect sense....
 So I earnestly set my biases aside and sewed the quilt top together with the white inner coping border. Honestly, I almost just left the entire triangle border completely off! Doesn't the first picture look wonderful 'as is'? But then the quilt would be too small to do anything much with and the thought of all those wasted triangles just made me feel queasy.
Another square quilt!
So I forged ahead and yes, it felt good to have the triangles sewing together nicely. Sometimes I seriously start doubting my math skills and it's good to have a reminder that I can occasionally do something right! lol
It looks positively lovely in some light....
And the more I looked at my quilt, the more it started feeling okay again. Maybe the outside borders weren't a giant mistake after all.
The HaHa border was a good decision
I've changed the name of this quilt to the 'HaHa' quilt. It sorta named itself and seems more appropriate now than ever. Such a challenge all the way through! My family thinks the HaHa blocks are very weird and strange, but then they don't get the connection to an antique quilt or my crazy fumbles and missteps through the entire evolution of the quilt.
I think it might already be growing on me....
I wish the green triangles framed the quilt all the way around as they look best next to the HaHa blocks. That's what happens though when ideas have to be changed and tinkered with halfway through! I'm very excited to fold this quilt up and have it languish a good long while in the quilt top drawers. Maybe when I pull it back out in a few months or a year, I'll have a new found appreciation for it? In the meantime, I'm making a big 'ol check mark next to one of my most prioritized goals for this year. The Solids Challenge quilt top is DONE! Never, ever give up or you'll never get where you're going.....

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Great Summer Finish!

Although I am feeling a bit helpless in the wake of wanting to start so many new projects, my main focus has still been on finishing. Vintage Red was started in 2015 and now, three years later, it is a true blue finish! 
Vintage Red is completed!
I zeroed in on this red solid somewhere in my shopping because I've always, always admired that bold, vintage zing that make so many scrappy quilts shine. My quilt top didn't end up being a scrap bin type of quilt, but I tried to incorporate lots of fabrics into it. My motto has always been, the more fabrics the merrier!
Another 2018 finish
The applique flowers were just a whim, something that I drew up one day and thought, 'Hmmm, this might actually work!' And indeed, in this bright red, they might actually do the heavy lifting.*wink
Nothing like a little applique to make me smile!
I had hoped to be able to put this quilt into this summer's quilt show, but my stitch-in-the-ditch quilting efforts are very marginal. It's a good thing that I added my usual Perle cotton stitching, or I'd be very upset. As it is, you have to be the picky maker of the quilt to even care much. Isn't if funny how much we see our own mistakes and weaknesses? It's like they are blinking at us in neon yellow!
Hand quilting always makes things look a little better....
I'm very happy with the fact that this feels very much like an Audrey quilt. That text fabric, the simple applique flowers, the vintage/mixed modern feel to to it all. Tho I won't subject myself to quilt show perusal, I'm calling it a win.
All washed up and crinkly looking, just the way I like them!
I'm thinking it needs to be the next quilt to grace our bed. Something about it makes me think that it might be making me smile for a good long while....

Monday, July 9, 2018

Maybe I Should Just Make Baby Quilts All the Time

I had to laugh the other day while reading Julie's post. It must be a good time of year for planners and organizers to fall off the wagon en masse! My youngest brother and his wife recently had a little baby girl. And uh... well.., the rest of the story {understandably if you're a quilter}, writes itself.
Starting something new
That only-making-one-baby-quilt per-sibling, {no matter how many children they have} is crumbling quite badly these days. Once glimpse at the latest, but sweetest, niece or nephew and I'm diving head first into the fabric totes, potential fabric flying everywhere. This time I settled on a piece of striped fabric that I bought on a whim a couple years ago. Something about the colors and print resonated very strongly with my impressions of the new mamas tastes.
Potential applique 
Not wanting to make things too complicated, but needing to expand the yard of fabric out to a better baby quilt size, I made a simple, but scrappy flying geese unit. It took a little bit of contemplation to figure out the best place to cut into the stripes and insert the flying geese. Yes! Love that subtle bit of dark pink framing the geese. And wallah! The quilt top is done!

Then, while I was trying to determine where to cut the edge of quilt, {at the gold strip or at the gray?}, I made up my mind that the quilt absolutely had to have a bit of applique. Huh? I thought it was DONE? Out came the applique parts and pieces totes and this is where I really put my foot down. Okay self! Any applique added to this quilt is going to have to be orphaned bits and that's that! Like it would matter one whit if I snipped off some little bits of the stash fabric here and there! Full disclosure for those that are wondering: I am such a weirdo about arbitrary challenges to myself. I get it! Totally recognize the randomness in how/where/when they insert themselves into the quilting journey. In my defense tho, I feel that they sort of liven up the process and give opportunity for unexpected, but fun results. Probably why I continue to gleefully make and attempt to follow through with them...
Two or three flowers? It's so hard not to keep adding....
This time it worked out beautifully. Who knew these pretty bits would shine so brightly on this particular quilt? And so finally, finally the quilt and I were in perfect agreement that it was time to move on. Simple straight line quilting  and then afterwards, some strategic echo quilting with perle cotton. Would more could it ask for?
Ready for machine quilting
The gray and white backing fabric was bought on clearance awhile back for a potential quilt back. Now it's approximately a baby quilt size short for the intended project, but we'll worry about that later!
And it's done!
There was only a fat quarter available of the pretty, pink polka dot on black fabric used for binding. Oh well. Can't have everything fall into place the way we want! I decided to be bold and went to the opposite end of the spectrum, using a light pink for the rest. It washed up very well, with a soft, drapey feel that was a little unexpected but still felt marvelous. I think mama was genuinely happy with her gift, which always feels good. Four days from start to finish! Why can't all quilts be this easy?*wink
Loving the addition of some Perle Cotton stitching
That fast and easy feeling is a bit addictive though, so next up was playing with these abandoned cut-off triangles. I loved the idea of them fading in and out of a similar color background.
The patchwork triangles starting to come together
 And then got all excited about using this sharp, citrusy yellow fabric in long vertical rows.
Hmm...  Is it too stark?
I had just enough of that mermaid green solid to make smaller strips through the yellow, but now I'm wondering if it should have been cut more narrow? The entire color scheme is a bit of a departure for me, but you might recognize the triangle fabrics from this Improv. Wheels quilt.
Such a simple, straightforward layout....
I've been dragging that quilt top out, contemplating whether or not it could/should be the next hand quilting project. Probably why it was so easy to forge ahead on these orphaned triangles. The quilt practically made itself, everything went so smoothly. Well, other than having to precisely cut every single length of fabric and pinning a hundred pins per strip. Okay, maybe only thirty, but it felt like thousands by the time it was all sewn together! I'd say it was done, but honestly, I think it needs a simple red fabric border. Still chewing on that decision.

And yes, I'm putting the Squirrel Club button over on the side of my blog. Total capitulation to what I'm beginning to suspect will be a summer of squirrels.*sigh  Those orphan totes are starting to look very interesting in a arbitrary, challenge-to-myself sort of way....

P.s. Have you read Flossie Teacakes latest post about blogging? She's someone I read in the event EPP suddenly becomes my latest craze, plus she's pretty interesting as most really great quilters are. Some really good points about Instagram scrolling versus settling in for a good chat on a favorite blog!


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Slow, Plodding Progress on the 6in6 in 2018

I only have one applique project on the go at the moment and for some reason I am very resistant to working on it. This past weekend I finally got it out and stitched five more petals. Since there are 80 in all, this didn't even make a dent. But it did serve to remind me of why I started it in the first place--the colors are just yummy...
Melon Patch quilt
You can see that I tend to grab whatever thread that will best match the fabric, regardless of brand. While there are most definitely superior threads that glide through fabric 'like silk', matching color is important too. {For those that want to know, DMC machine embroidery thread is still my absolute fave for hand work. The problem is, local supply is extremely limited!}

Another project which continually gets shoved off at the least provocation is my Solids Color Challenge quilt. As my measurements were way off for the last border addition, I thought to add an in-between border solution. Do you remember the HaHa quilt over at nifty quilts? Such a fabulous quilt. I'm using that as the inspiration to create one row of HaHa blocks. While the original quilt had more somber beginnings, my blocks are a good poke at my seeming inability to get math right lately. I'm hoping the gray background fabrics will serve as a good transition between the center and more colorful triangle border that comes after. Trust me to be the one to work completely backwards!
Another border for the Solids Challenge quilt
This overlarge basket was the third in a series of what was vaguely intended to be four large basket quilts. The first one was Gather Ye Rosebuds and the second one was Woven Basket. This one ended up being just a little larger than I expected it to be. And the chances of there being a fourth largish basket? Probably not happening anymore as I am getting increasingly tired of this series, but we'll see. Stranger things have happened around here!
Auditioning a border for Another Big Basket
 All the border ideas I came up with ended up with a potential freakishly large quilt. You know--in order for everything to be 'in proportion'.  I briefly toyed with the idea of not adding anything to it and finishing it as a wall hanging for my bedroom. Hmm... Not exactly the colors I want to hang on my bedroom wall for the next 20 years. So finally, I did some creative brainstorming with that process that most of us call throwing fabric on the floor next to the quilt. It's a very simplistic way of attacking the problem, but sometimes has surprisingly good results. When you've drawn up a hundred ideas and thrown them all away because they don't 'look right', it often helps to engage a different part of the brain.
A finished quilt top!
Once I got the basic idea/look solidified for the border piecing, then I spent an hour and a half trying to figure out how to add more applique. Of course I did. {Because I can never seem to leave well enough alone.} Eventually I reached the point of complete exasperation and realized that it was all just a little too much. Off came all the applique parts and pieces and when the border was finally sewn on, it proved out to be the very best solution of all. Yes! Simple and sweet was exactly what was needed for my ginormous tipsy basket with the odd side handles. Sometimes we just don't know when to quit until we hit our head against the brick wall enough times to finally wake up.
Sunburst finally moving forward again!
And yes, here's the next quilt to go into the hoop. I have a couple bindings needing attention on others, but can't leave that hoop empty for long! Sunburst was started back in 2014 but didn't reach finished quilt top status until spring of 2016. It was the first quilt that I had ever done with such a large centerpiece sewn completely of applique parts and pieces.
Sunburst in the hoop
As per usual, that much applique earnestly compels me to take the extra time to hand stitch the quilt top. To honor and respect the effort, hehe.... So in the hoop it went, finally reaching the top of the queue. After thinking through many stitching options, I am once again going with a freehand style of Baptist Fan quilting--trying to keep the curves approx. an inch or slightly more apart. I want it to have a 'background' look and feel {thus the black perle cotton}, but also an airiness to it when all the stitching is completed on the quilt {why I'm keeping the curves spread farther apart than usual}.

At this point I am almost finished stitching two rows across the bottom of the quilt, but my oh my, has it been a panicky, nerve-wracking start. Working freehand always feels hairy-scary starting out and I second, third and fourth guessed myself. Now, here at the end of the second row, it's starting to feel like it might, just might be the look that I intended in the first place. 

Of course I'm still drawing the lines prior to stitching {all in a freehand, eyeball-it sort of manner}, but once I get more comfortable and into a good rhythm, then I won't need to mark quite as much. Freehand stitching is not for everyone, but all the quirkiness that results from this sort of quilting still totally melts my heart and makes me feel true sisterhood to quilters from long years ago. Linking up with 6and6in2018. It has been slow, plodding progress, but I've made things happen on three different projects and even crossed of them right off the list! Woohoo!

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Two, Big, Bad Borders For This Round of Progress on The Hst Medallion

So this time I went bold and cut out two hst borders at the same time. The last time any work was accomplished on this quilt was back in February which is pretty pathetic. Time to make some serious forward progress or throw in the towel.
The Hst Medallion quilt
Mostly I've just been slacking from a general apathy in doing the work, not lack of desire to see this quilt grow. These hst borders have been 'easier' overall, it's just that they are quite, quite tedious. Lots of time involved in the cutting and sewing as the size of the quilt increases.

I have been referring to a little list of notes that helps loads in getting me to the point of a hst border that will sew on with minimal adjustments. That's so helpful, especially after a couple months of not working on it at all. Of course that doesn't stop me from making mistakes. Don't think that! The last blue border I sewed on ended up with all the triangles pointing the wrong direction, and no amount of flipping that border around ended up changing anything important. Funny how you can just keep trying and trying. Maybe if I do this, maybe if I do that? But it just won't work unless you take it all apart 'cuz the pieces were sewn together wrong in the first place!
Hst Medallion quilt with 6 hst rows
The ironic thing was, I actually deliberated whether to change the orientation of the triangles on that border {prior to sewing} and thought, 'Nah, that blue is probably distracting enough without anything extra going on.' Hah! Guess it was just meant to be. I always kind of knew that there would be a time when the triangles went wonky on me anyway. It just happened later in the process than I expected.
Now it has 7 hst rows
And so I left the blue triangles as is and left my seam ripper to rest in peace. In the original inspiration quilt, there are various instances where the maker let the triangles do their own thing. Sometimes for only one row on one side of the quilt! It's really interesting but almost impossible to notice unless you look very carefully at the quilt. Just a casual glance at the quilt fools the eye really well and it's easy to assume all the triangles are all positioned in perfect repeats. They're most definitely not.

Love that about antique quilts! Which makes it simple to take it in stride when it happens around here. {Talking to myself. *It's okay. We love that. Throw the seam ripper away. Quirks and mistakes are good stuff. And on and on till I quit beating myself up for making a, sheesh, simple mistake!}
Just makes me smile...
At this point I'm starting to wish {wonder?} if these triangles should have been made smaller. Mine finish out at 1 3/4", but the problem is.....  If I make 11 rows of hsts like the original quilt AND include the 2 larger end borders, my quilt will be well over 100". Yeah. Crazy talk.
Still mostly square....
Back at the beginning, my bumbling math led me to believe that I could make 10 hst rows plus include the 2 larger rows and squeak in around 90". My math was wrong. So wrong. At this point I sit here, absolutely delighted at how this quilt is shaping up, but thinking, Thinking, thinking.... Wowsers! it totally needs more of those hst rows. That's what I keep coming back to. I just can't. Cheat. This. Quilt!
Loving this quilt so much....
Hmm.... Maybe it's time to bite the bullet and just make another king sized quilt. What do I really have to lose? Well, besides time, my remaining patience, and that little bit of hair that I pull out whenever the quilt starts to overwhelm me....

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Enjoying the Improv.

I know some of you readers are not too impressed with improv. but I still find it very interesting. In fact, when I went back and skimmed through old posts, I worked on somewhere around 10 different quilt projects involving improv. just in 2017! It's very exciting to see the start of a new AHIQ blog too. Come join in if you'd like!
Three rows sewn together
That many improv. project tells me that somehow improv. has become a very integral part of my quilting journey. As my mother pointed out recently, I don't always get it right, but occasionally what does happen is a quilt that surpasses anything that I had previously attempted {in the pre-improv. years}. Uh huh, mom's gotten more blunt in her older years and her compliments often come with a sting. But let's be honest. Learning is awkward, messy and uncomfortable at times, but so worth it when the results prove an unmistakable growth.
Auditioning fabric and pieces for the fourth row

 As many of you know, I picked up this book a few years ago and have very slowly been working my way through the scores. Slowly as in the Hare versus the turtle. I'm not even sure the book is on my radar at times and then suddenly I'm deeply immersed in the next score. This particular project is Score #5 and the fabric has been stacked, waiting to go for eons. Just waiting for that inexplicable 'something' to trigger the start button.

This week, like a good girl, I made myself work on the HST Medallion quilt before diving back in again to pick up where I had left off before. Veggies before dessert and all that. Or maybe it was major procrastination, but whatever. It wasn't until I was sitting on the floor unpicking part of a row, that I suddenly realized the stupid grin on my face was absolute and sheer enjoyment. Oh, you better believe that this quilt makes me very uncomfortable and extremely frustrated working through all the design decisions. But funnily enough, it all feels good compared to making a bazillion 'perfect' hst blocks.*uggh  How brilliant to work on the other quilt first, huh?
Overlapping and trimming for sewing the rows together...
I dithered along, first making one long row and then the other, fussing with my four main fabrics {boring, boring, boring} to try and get a good flow going. I was up and down from the floor, over to my sewing machine and then to the iron and then back to do it all over again. After a couple hours of this, I started calling it reactionary. As in, every design decision in this quilt is simply a reaction to what has gone before.  I'm not sure, but methinks the quilt has decided to name itself.
And the middle of the quilt is completed
And this was a good place to stop. The next step will be adding a vertical row onto each side of the quilt, all in different fabrics. That's when I gave myself permission to jump over to my other improv. quilt. The one you didn't even know was started..... Yep, a couple weeks ago, this quilt spontaneously combusted into being. Basically, I have very little control over new starts these days.
Looking at some potential units for the next improv. quilt...
Especially when they are this intriguing and I'm stalling hard core over several open-ended projects that I Don't Wanna work on. And see? This one has lots of hst's too so it's a bit of a head scratcher. What's the difference?
Improv. hst's are more fun....
Well, for one, these hst's are very freeform and there is absolutely zero stress over what size they turn out to be. They will be gleefully chopped into submission however best that needs to happen. And these fabrics are fun. I feel lighter already. Funny how new starts will do that to you. I obviously have no shame....

Feel free to hop on over to the AHIQ post post to read more about these two quilts and other projects our group is working on!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Finally Getting Quilty 365 Finished!

My quilty 365 quilt is finished. Yay for me! Completely hand quilted of course, how could I do otherwise with this particular quilt? It's become a favorite of favorites, representing a year in the life of my long-lived quilting journey. This project was started in October of 2015 and early the next month I invited others to join me in the fun.
The center of Quilty 365
Some eagerly jumped right in and others waited for the new year to start. It was a roller coaster sort of project, but always intriguing to imagine the end result. So many different options when we all considered layout!
A year long journey!
There were so many gorgeous and super unique quilts made from this prompt that it just blew our minds. Creativity should never be surprising, but somehow most of us never expected the many and varied variations. How could such a simple idea explode into so many different interpretations? Too, I was always sort of bemused that as many quilters choosing to play along as did. Many dropped out as the linkup continued on, but there were a few determined gals who made it all the way to the quilt top stage! {And others who finished later or broke it down into smaller blocks and finished more than one!} A dedicated year long project is hard to maintain....
So glad to see the value changes...
My circles started out as offerings from the overflowing scrap bin, but later on, moved into more snazzy choices from the stash totes. There are a few repeats when it comes to the scrap bin circles, but nothing very obvious. Basically, the scrap bin got booooring so it was time to try something different. And then later, I realized that I absolutely adored the scrappy circles, even more so than the solid fabric ones. Huh. How's that for being obstinate....
And the darker border....
Somewhere towards the end of the year, I took a month or so and started choosing greens and blues with a black background. Just for the comfort and serenity of working with greens and blues and also, to limit my choices. I love how that ended up being a focal point of the quilt, adding some excellent value and depth {plus a nifty border look{, but also, creating a space for the center to react to and glow. Don't you just love a good glow in a quilt?

Quilty 365 feels like a good finish!
Who knew my quilt could end up so very happy looking? If you look closely there are definitely circles that are very dull and dreary looking, no doubt representing a day that was quite glum. That was one thing I never worried excessively about, whether or not all the colors and fabrics would play nicely together at the end. Somehow I felt confident that it would end up looking the way it was meant to be. Warts and all, this is real life embedded deeply into my quilt! And yes, it was leap year, so there's actually 366 circles in all. The name 'Quilty 365' was never meant to say anything other than 'this is my quilty year'.
Vintage Red getting close to a finish....
Now I have another quilt {Vintage Red} with the binding sewn on by machine and ready for that final hand stitching. It will be the 8th finish of the year, which does feel pretty good.
Hey Grandma next up in the hoop!
 As all of you know, I can't bear for the hoop to be empty for long. After an annoying session of sandwiching and pinning last week, I'm finally looking down at 'Hey Grandma' in the hoop. I went ahead and stitched in the ditch {with my trusty Bernina} between all the blocks and now I'm coming back and doing some hand quilting around the applique.
A good place for hand stitching...
It's not nearly as exciting a quilt as the previous two, but it does have its own charm and whimsy. Working with color is always extremely fascinating to me, but as usual, using a predominance of greens continues to mystify. I just haven't found the secret of secrets yet. Must be why I keep giving all the quilts heavy on greens away! Once I finally get it right, you can believe that I will melt into a big 'ol squishy marshmallow--probably feel very proprietary and never, ever give that particular quilt away....

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