Thursday, June 14, 2018

At Least I Tried

Awhile back I received an invitation to {apply to} enter quilts into the 2018 Primitive Quilt Show in Houston. At first I brushed it off as something that would be a ridiculous waste of time.
Hills and Valleys
Then later on, decided why not? It's not a bad thing to challenge ourselves occasionally or try and get out of our oh so familiar comfort zone.
A close-up
It took a lot of time to take the crummy pictures that we usually end up with around here. There's never enough time or a good enough set up. And for some reason, that's not where my heart is. My daughter helped tho and points for that.
Fun to see different pics of the quilts
Everyone is busy of course, so you have to understand that help is very limited when it comes to things like taking advantage of the very best daylight hours. We had to squeeze in our one and only photo session at the end of a work day but before dusk.*ugghh  Cue the hysterical laughter. I could tell immediately that the full quilt pics were going to be terribly washed out.
Big Blue or otherwise known as the 'ugly quilt'
We deemed it good enough. Really, what else could be done? These quilts will not hang in the air by themselves! And as expected by moi, both entries were rejected. No big surprise--my quilts aren't ever wholly 'primitive'. Nor do they seem to fit into any other genre of quilting easily or well. I'm still pondering what particular box or genre they might actually fit into....
A close-up

I admit to being a little disappointed when receiving the polite rejection letter, but overall it was probably worth the effort and angst. Just a deep breath out and then, okay. So I tried and failed. No big. It definitely helps that I didn't make either of these quilts specifically for the show. That would have been a bit more demoralizing I think.
Trying to determine the top side of the quilt...
Truly, I try NOT to make quilts specifically for entry into any quilt show. Quilting is my happy place and pressure and deadlines do not make me happy. That said, I think maybe I'd better suck up my comparison anxiety nerves and go ahead and enter a few quilts into the {almost local}, regional quilt show once again. If there are people who regularly click into Quilty Folk to check out my latest makes, then it stands to reason there will be a few people who might enjoy seeing them in person. Variety is the spice of life and we quilters do so enjoy being inspired.*wink

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Always Time For Play

I've been having a hard time keeping up with blogging. Must be that time of year! We finally got our heat and air system fixed so now it's easier to hand quilt in the evenings again. Oooh, it was really warm here in the house for a couple weeks!
Vintage Red getting some hand quilting done!
The Solids Challenge project got a little bit of attention this past week. Just enough to convince me that I don't have a clue about math. Somehow my triangles for the border work were cut out without any thought for the fact that they are much longer on the diagonal than the original square dimension.*meh  I'm blaming the heat. That said, now I need to figure out a extra border for in between the bulk of the quilt and the nifty triangle border I have already sewn together. Or I could take it all apart and start fresh. Nahhh... That sounds like an invitation to chuck the entire project into the darkest corner of the quilt room and give up for a few more years!
The outside border work for Solids Challenge quilt
So of course I went right to work..... on the leftover triangles. You know how it is, just throw them up on the wall for a few minutes.
Just playing....
 That somehow turned into a couple hours....
Maybe some sashing?
 And then, ahem! Maybe one or two evenings?
Too late to rip it out, there's too much time invested!
I do so love playing with colors and the original composition, tho perfectly lovely, felt boring and possibly a bit flat.
'Off On a Tangent' starting to turn into a quilt top!
This actually looks better on the wall than what I've captured here with my camera. I'm already dreaming up some interesting border ideas with, yeah, you guessed it, applique. Whew. Good thing I didn't have a whole list of quilt projects begging for some forward progress! Might have to feel guilty for getting completely sidetracked and disappearing down a rabbit hole. The gal at a local quilt store was telling me just the other day that she has finished up every single one of her UFO's! Wowsers, I can't even imagine that ever happening around here. I think there's a self sabotage button that activates any time I even start thinking about making a serious dent in my UFO's.

Oh, and the new Blogger scenario where the comments don't connect with our email? That is sooo.... frustrating. I've tried the workaround to comment on my own post etc. and that doesn't seem to work. Hopefully they will be fixing this soon, but in the meantime, please have patience with me responding! It all just takes a bit more time and that is in very short supply around here this month. I'm headed to Oregon for my niece and nephews graduation so replies will probably be even later than normal. Yep, I'm a slacker when it comes to computer time. If it comes down to a choice between quilting and cruising the internet, the fabric obsession usually wins....  Linking to Pomegranate and Chintz for the 6in6in2018. Just squeaked in on the final day of linkup!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Patchwork Doodle Is a Done Deal

Had to keep this one back until it was safely delivered to the birthday girl! My oldest daughter said from the moment she saw this quilt on the wall, 'Mom, this one's mine!' I don't think it even had any leaves on the improv. circles yet, and so honestly, I was a bit dubious.
Got it made just in time!
Not having a clue where the quilt was headed myself, how could she be so certain it was going to turn out to be something special? But she never wavered and in fact, always insisted that the quilt needed words too before it would be properly finished. Being the stubborn sort that I am, those words didn't get added until right at the point when the backing fabric was being figured out.
Patchwork Doodle with the new border work
The quilt just looked sadly out of proportion {not that I would have admitted it at the time of supposed quilt top completion} and seemed to be whining for some extra length. Please, pretty please with sugar on top? Well fine. If I was going to add a border top and bottom of the quilt, it might as well include words too! I considered a lot of different phrases like motivational ones, sweet and sappy, biblical etc. and finally settled on the first words to a Billy Joel song. It's something that I knew she would instantly recognize as it was once her very favorite song. Quilts and smiles always make for a winning combination in my book...
Still crushing on the freestyle circles and applique addition...
I stole some of the backing fabric that I had bought for the quilt and dug up the extra log cabin blocks that never made it into the quilt top. They were a smidge more narrow than the ones along the edges of the quilt, but oh well! Improv. leaves room for variation, right? The dark maroon strip was added for extra emphasis when things started looking a little mushy, the letters were hand drawn and then traced onto the chosen fabric. and all in all, I could just feel the energy in the quilt change for the better. It was a great feeling.
Some quilts are better with a song connection...
Except that I was hiding it from her that it was going to be finished for her birthday--was working in odd little bursts of time. Oh the mistakes I made!*sigh  It never ceases to amaze me that the more I hurry, the more 'oops' that happen. Me and that trusty seam ripper definitely became best friends for awhile. Thankfully this quilt is all about freestyle and improv. and so nothing is perfectly square. A little bit more wonkiness just blends in! Oddly enough, that really did help in just shaking off the irritation of getting the math wrong yet again and moving rapidly back to the point of making good forward progress.
Nothing is square or perfect...
It still feels really incredible to look at this completed quilt. It's so not ME and yet somehow it is. I know that this quilt was started on a whim one day {mostly a bad, don't care sort of mood} and that the color scheme was developed around the vintage yellow/purple/green and orange floral proudly displayed in the center of the quilt. It was a challenge. A big, scary, improv. challenge that felt almost unattainable {and a lot overwhelming}. Yet somehow it all came together anyway. I seriously doubt I would have ever attempted something similar without the perfect storm of events and elements that happened and/or were available for my creative mental purging on that specific day. Basically I had received some of the most shake-up-my-world sort of news that day and needed to get deeply immersed in a quilting project. Pronto.
A different sort of look than the usual!
Gotta love quilting as a therapy tool! It was a rough, very unimpressive start as most of my loyal readers know, but somehow turned out to be one of the most playful quilts I've ever finished. How does that even happen? As you can see, it was quilted very simply and then I added the echo hand quilting around the letters just because I adore the look. A stripped down approach and very little big stitch quilting, a little bit of sweating and a whole lot of wondering if the whole thing was ruined forever. How I dread machine quilting!*ughh  But why bother with a massive hand quilting effort when the fabric and funky patchwork were doing all the heavy lifting?
It's not the The Beatles but I think she loved it anyway....
So now you know what I've been working on for the last couple weeks in and around a bit of hand quilting and other odd bits of sewing you've seen. Just couldn't share it with you in case my daughter decided to check in with my quilting blog as she likes to do every couple months!

 Oh. And that annual church campout thing we do every Memorial Day Weekend for about 20 + years of our life? I loved seeing this quilt below every time I walked inside my camper this past weekend. Made me smile inside. Every. Single. Time. Taking a gorgeous quilt along on a dirty, off-in-the-woods camping trip just feels a bit illogical and well, luxurious! Why not?
Be still my heart....
But it's a lovely, lovely place to camp once we get there and get settled in. Especially when the weather was as good as we had it this year. Not a drop of rain! So many memories being made and now we're making them with the next generation. Loved seeing so many of my nieces and nephews having a blast this weekend doing all the things we did when we were their age.
Nieces and nephews at the high mountain lake
I've said it before and I'll say it again--one of the very best things about our campground is that there is zero cell service. NONE. Bye, bye social media! So what do you think the first thing we do once were back in the land of civilization and have had a proper shower? You're reading it right here in real time..... lol

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Diving Back Into Improv.

I've been feeling a little lost without a new AHIQ prompt, but that's just absurdity. There have been several improv. ideas hanging around on the back burner for eons and I never seem to find time to get them started. So this week, instead of doing all the million and one things that I should be doing, one of those ideas finally got going.
2 finished rows for Score #5
I've been looking at Score #5 in Sherri Lynn Woods ' The Improv. Handbook for Modern Quilters' for a very long time. There's just something about the utilitarian look that is very appealing to me. The fabric has been gathered up for ages and it's all stuff that I shouldn't agonize too much about chopping and hacking to bits. The biggest problem has been that I'm a scaredy cat. I've read through the chapter so many times, but after a little bit, my brain just sort of shuts down. I DON'T GET IT. Blah, blah, blah is about all that gets processed. Okay, fine. I decided to start out by copying one of her vertical rows {only in my own colorway of course} and see where it might go from there.
The first row
Aha! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was already a major mistake. If you look at the previous picture, you will see that the dark orange strips don't extend out to the edges of the block on either side. Things would work so much better if at least one of them did! It really makes this {Rhythmic Grid} Score idea a bit problematic.*sigh  That single row remained on the wall while I went downstairs and did normal life things. Apparently I can't even copy correctly....
Considering adding in another fabric
The next day found me diving in and starting to play regardless. Who cares if I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing? Anybody with an quilting eye and a playful spirit can figure out a basic grid, right? I tried to add in some random bits, switching up fabrics from the original four. I don't have a lot of the lighter orange so will run out sooner than I'd like. But no, it's not time to introduce it into the equation yet. More green please!
Going back to the original four
I free cut and sewed, and just pretty much let all the anxiety slip away. The beauty of working with improv. {and something that is destined to have a utilitarian look} is that nothing is 'too precious'. It took awhile, but eventually I started getting a feel for the flow of a 'grid'.
Trying to figure out the grid
Is it going to be what I originally found to be so appealing? I honestly don't know, but it feels like I'm learning something, even if my approach always feels so completely backwards from what the instructions might be. Does anyone else have trouble following quilting instructions like I do?

This sort of play is {still} sometimes amazingly difficult. I find myself wanting to rely on things like, A + B = C, but it's so helpful to occasionally break away from precision and formality, from rules, have-to's and should-do's. There's something very freeing about breaking things down and learning the basics of relying on instincts and our quilting 'eye'. Again. And again and again. And then from a different starting point altogether. Does it feel like stepping out on a very wobbly limb sometimes? You betcha! And posting pictures of my very doubtful progress can make me positively squirm. But learning is such good stuff when we consider the end game. I still maintain that everything we learn {whether it's what we set out to learn or not} is a valuable gem for our quilting toolboxes. I am still so amazed and gratified to see the finished quilts getting richer and warmer, deeper and more complex--in technique, layers, texture and a wonderfully personalized feeling. That never gets old!
Not enough room on the wall
Another improv. project I attacked recently is 'Shattered'. It was way past time to deal with this problem child. This project has often made me scratch my head and wonder what in the world I was thinking. It's been years in the making and I am so very tired of it. The entire middle of the quilt is made out of 'made fabric' squares straight from the scrap bin. That was an awesome idea. Until it got tedious.
Shattered finally a completed quilt top!
The plan was for the whole quilt to be made in that vein, but somewhere I just folded things up and said enough. Then my brain couldn't really find a way forward because nothing else made sense.
Looks better close up...
Finally, emboldened with a long awaited laissez-faire attitude, I just approached the project with an idea to make it large enough to call it a proper quilt. However that happened, I could really care less. Just get it off the UFO lists! Honestly, I was surprised at the fabrics and colors the quilt wanted to include into the quilt--Older than the hills Debbie Mum country blue check? Reproduction yellow gold? But it was an easy fix and also used up most of the remaining scrappy triangles which really gave me a rush. It's kind of an interesting quilt and not one I'm sorry to have tackled. Just wish I could have finished the quilt top back when the interest was running high. For the record, the quilt top is now around 57" square, which should easily translate into a nice comfort type quilt. Linking up with Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #33. Neither of these projects had anything to do with 'playing with scale', but everything to do with improv. I'm gonna say that's good enough.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trying to Move a Couple Quilt Tops Forward

Vintage Red is finally getting its turn in the quilting queue. I found time last Saturday to have my guys get the dining room table moved out of the way and then was able to get this thing sandwiched and pinned.
Vintage Red getting sandwiched and pinned
This quilt top has been waiting in the wings for about 2 years. I have wiffle waffled around about how to quilt it and now have made the decision to do both machine and hand quilting. Pinning took approximately forever, but hopefully, it will do the trick and puckering will not be a problem. And machine quilting a grid first will move the hand quilting along at a slightly faster pace as well. The newbie quilt tops ratio to finished quilts these days? Sadly slipping again.....
A full picture of the quilt top
The red fabric has been causing me a bit of anxiety as to the possibility of bleeding issues. I can't help but worry these days as I've had some bad luck. In looking back, I found the pertinent post where it shows that I had actually soaked the border fabric. What do you know? The question is, did I ever soak the red solid fabric the flowers are made out of?*sigh....  Don't think so. It was definitely washed, but soaked and tested thoroughly for bleeding issues, not likely.
Loving the vintage look of this one....
Oh well. What's done is done and for now, I'm so looking forward to adding some lovely perle cotton stitching to this. Just soaking in the sparky, fun loving vibes of my alien looking flower.
And a closer look....
I've also started playing around with the leftover cream quarter circles that I pulled out of the orphan block totes earlier this year. I adore this dotty cream and black fabric for some reason that is totally illogical. So of course I couldn't just throw these bits away after they were cut from the back of another quilt. At this point I have cut out 64- 7 1/2" mixed print background squares and sewn {by machine} all the cream quarter circles onto the tops. Just a raw edge sort of stitching as I fully intend to do some applique work to cover, similar to what you see being auditioned there in the picture. Too bad that gold and pink print is just a scrap from the overflowing corner scrap basket. It could have found a lovely home with this quilt! Right about now I'd say this is the one quilt project that is definitely making my creative juices sit up and quiver. It just feels free somehow.
Auditioning some ideas...

And back to speaking of the potential of certain fabrics to bleed, I've been soaking some darker pink/raspberry colored fabrics all day. Getting ready to cut out the binding for Quilty 365!
Getting ready for binding
That's it for now. Just plodding along as usual. It's a tough time of year to really get in a good groove with any quilting progress though I try all the time. Our church camp-out is coming up at the end of the month and of course we are nowhere near ready. In fact, our camp trailer ended up with a massive leak in the bathroom area last winter so I can't even go get it cleaned and well stocked yet. We have taken on the t-shirt/sweatshirt orders these past three years as well and it's been more paperwork this year than I expected with all the pre-orders and changes. Fun stuff. So glad I have a permanent check list {for this particular camping trip} on my computer that I print out every single year. Couldn't manage without it.

Today was an off day all the way around. Wound up locking my keys in the car when I went grocery shopping and then later, about ran into a Man when I was trying to find an empty stall in the Ladies room at Walmart. Don't bother talking to me about inclusiveness etc. etc. as I'm not really asking for a political/social opinions rant. Most women would agree that it's very unsettling when it happens unexpectedly {definitely not a normal happening around here}, and leave it at that. Also, to top off the day, my daughter discovered a pretty determined line of little sugar ants invading my kitchen. Ughh.... Seriously? And I just went to town today. Linking up with sew-stitch-snap-SHARE!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Playing With Scale is a Finished Quilt Top!

Well, the Playing With Scale quilt top is done! So labor intensive sewing all the rows together. All those stitched, then cut-to-size strip blocks needing reinforcement along the edges. 
Looking at the centerpiece
I was very intrigued by the January challenge and had all sorts of ideas and intentions. Then as the centerpiece developed, the quilt took on a life of its own. Didn't turn out looking like most of the ideas floating around in my head at all! As per usual when playing with improv., the first thing needing to happen is a gathering of fabrics. This stack of fabric was a direct result of wanting to de-stash some of those older sage greens that had accumulated years and years ago.
Playing With Scale is a finished quilt top!
Working with these mellow greens as the basis of my color palette, all the other colors just sort of fell into place. The blue arrived when I was looking for a 'spark' and didn't work well in the first place it was added in. I really like how it works in the large strips blocks now. There's just a little bit of blue here and there in the quilt--not too bright and distracting--but doing its part to help to keep everything from blending a little too much.

Later on I also added in some darker, brighter pinks and greens as well. Just had to. Things had started looking a bit too mushy and tho I didn't want to lose the subtleties of the 'weave'. I also wanted to emphasize some of the energy and motion going on and thankfully, intensifying the color range seemed to take care of that beautifully. Did you notice that some of the blocks are not adhering to a strict weave {or rail fence} pattern after all? It's something you might not notice right off the bat, but I like it ever so much better for not playing by ALL of the rules. Whatever those 'rules' may be. {Don't think we really had any here for this quilt!} It's a bit of whimsy that we often see in antique utilitarian type quilts and something I love trying to capture in my own quilting efforts.
Not all the blocks follow the proper rail fence look....
The 'playing with scale' part should be obvious. The background of the centerpiece is small coin strips and then the brown/light pink border and subsequent rows are slightly larger with chunkier strips. When I settled on the idea of making large strip blocks for the main background of the quilt, the plan was for even chunkier strips to happen. Turns out, my natural inclination while free cutting is to go more narrow when cutting longer strips. And after awhile, I just quit fighting and cut whatever and however it felt right. Remember, I most often cut from fat quarters or remnants of fat quarters. Wonder if that might make a difference in how I instinctively want to cut into the fabric?
It's a long one....
All along, I was hoping for an old fashioned make-do look. I wanted a very simple repeat of a single element, but something with the ability to take blendy, almost boring printed fabrics and make them shine. Proponents of saturated solid fabrics would say its just not possible and that I was wasting my time! Uh uh. I am such a printed fabric fan! I say there are always hidden depths within a good mix of printed fabrics!

A big thanks to Kaja for her suggestion to consider adding two brown/lt. pink border units at the bottom instead of the one. As soon as I read her suggestion, the idea was practically set in stone. Just made so much sense in regards to how busy the quilt was beginning to look. Those two border units grouped together give the quilt a perfect spot of focus and really, it's much more graphic and impactful this way!
Loving the finish!
The quilt top ended up being about 72 1/2" by 107", a crazy size for a quilt. And tho I tried {more than once}, there was no getting rid of one row of blocks between the centerpiece and the double brown/pink border units. With one row removed, the proportion of the quilt looked really 'off'. So be it!

Overall I really enjoyed this challenge. It's another one of those learning/processing/just-doing parts of the creative journey that should make me a better quilter in the long run. Attempting the making and building of a project from this completely different place makes such an impression. I have many more ideas percolating. Little granules of 'playing with scale' inspiration will no doubt be working their way into future quilts whether I do it consciously or not!
Yay!
In other news, look at my early Mother's Day gift from my kids! A brand new roll of Hobbs 80/20 Heirloom batting. They really love me! And hint, hint, want more quilts from mom.....

Friday, May 4, 2018

Little Bits of Progress This Week

There hasn't been nearly as much hand quilting as I would like lately. Too many interruptions in our normal routine and also, I've been reading a lot more. I'm easily seduced by those 25 cent books from the senior center thrift store...
Quilty 365 in the hoop
Looking ahead to when this quilt is ready to move out of the hoop, I settled on the next quilt top in line. Then I decided that it obviously needed another border on the top and bottom. Of course it has to be applique. Never go the easy route when there's a more complicated option! That's me on the nose, but in my defense, I'm not a huge fan of ignoring the insistent pleas from an unfinished quilt top aspiring for 'more'. If there's work to be done in pursuit of its betterment, so be it. Better to buckle down and do it now than regret the lack forever.
Another border...

Hemming and hawing over the Solids Challenge quilt once again. Finally went with the white printed sashing of which I am not exactly thrilled about. But it's better than any other option I could come up with from the stash. And I like how it helps keep the quilt sweet and happy looking, so that's a bonus.
Getting the middle part of the quilt sewn together
This quilt--oh this crazy quilt. I like it {even love it sometimes}, but it hasn't been easy to move forward at any particular point in the journey. I cut out the white triangles in the same creamy white used with the solid colored {little} triangle sashings. Then I ran out before I could cut enough for the very outside of the quilt. Will have to come up with some sort of solution soon so the sewing can commence and frankly, I'm tired of having to take up the entire living room floor for this sort of thing. Might do what Cathy normally does and just wing it. Her quilts usually turn out to be pretty amazing even without fine-tuning the layout every step of the way!
Auditioning the outer border
I really, really want to get this quilt wrapped up and behind me. Maybe, possibly, hopefully, there will be more time next week. Do you ever feel like the quilts that you most want to work on haven't even been started yet? Linking up with 6and6 in 2018 and sew stitch snap SHARE.

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