Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Making a Random Sampler is Not For the Faint of Heart

I am not entirely a happy camper working on this particular quilt. Mostly because it's a very frustrating way to work. So many options and variables, it just makes my brain spin. And even though it looks all random and casually thrown together, that is so far from the reality. Gah! I've second guessed myself until I'm quite positive brain tissue is melting.
Two sections (mostly) finished up
I had to go back and refresh my memory of WHY I thought this quilt was a good idea. Oh yeah. I actually like these kinds of quilts. Go figure. My heart still likes to have this {naive} idea that random samplers are refreshing and honest looking.*sigh  Having had a (little) experience with these types of quilts, I divided the quilt into five sections to start with--making sure the larger parts were somewhat evenly spread throughout. That decision being made, I try to work solely on one section at a time thereafter. Best to establish boundaries for the chaos right from the start.
Working on another section. Had to stop when I ran into a set-in seam...
Some parts go together very well and I have big smiles on my face and beautiful humming sounds coming from the sewing machine. Other areas are a morass of obstacles. Think quicksand. Chunks of blocks getting sewn together upside down. Or sideways. Times I suddenly run into {dare I even say it?} a set in seam. grrr... Best to look at it like it's just a big puzzle to sort out, starting at one end of a section and sewing down or sideways. Wherever I have empty spaces, the challenge is how to best fill them without making the entire quilt look like a lump of scraps that the baby was playing with. And no I don't have a baby.
If it could all go together this easily...
Here's a pictures of the layout I finally settled on after about two hours of brain cells fizzling and I'm sure, dying. It didn't help that the carpet is so dark underneath, but my design wall is not near large enough to accommodate this quilt. Honestly, if I had that big of a design wall, this quilt would be soooo.... much easier. I could work off and on for days and weeks. And probably years knowing me. This way I feel very motivated to finish up and get it well out of the way.

It isn't going to be exactly like the picture of course. Too many little bits added in and seam allowances getting scrunched into the piecing. That's the beauty of laying it out (ta da! it works!) and then after. Trying to piece it all together like what I imagined. Those lovely disappearing seam allowances... I have a stack of 2 1/2" squares ready to use as filler (experience is good for something), but I've already had to make one little pinwheel block. Chances are I'll make a lot more as the balance of the quilt demands. Love that word 'balance'. It almost makes me laugh like a crazed hyena, but I'm sure the little bit of balance I do establish will help make the quilt look a lot more cohesive in the end.
The original layout
Because I have a family and they like to use the living room too, eventually I had to pick up all the parts and pieces and move them out of the room. I so did not want to do that but already, the youngest son was making long jumps over the right corner of the quilt. First I made myself a quick hen-scratching-type-plan of attack. Less than two hours later, I could barely make out the code and started sewing the right section of the quilt according to the instructions scratchings for the top part of the quilt. Don't even ask me how that happens.
My plan of attack. Sort of.
But things are going better now. I'm definitely getting in the flow of things and taking less time to agonize over the itty bitty details. And as soon as I recover the lost seam ripper, we'll be right back in business.*wink

33 comments:

  1. It looks pretty amazing to me - hang in there. Love that heart block made with HSTs and Flying Geese.

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  2. Fantastic. So complicated, yet it appears ''random''.

    I always have to pick my projects up off the living room floor too. I find my photos such a big help, I print out a full page of what I planned. [waste of ink, but saves my thoughts and sanity,lol.]

    lizzy at gone to the beach

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  3. Looks good to me, Audrey. And I don't normally like these kind of quilts! Probly explains why I usually make my random blocks into small wall hangings or doll q;uilts.

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  4. Your quilt is looking like a designer block of the month.....really. I like the big, big applique block.

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  5. Exquisite!!!
    Nothing is more difficult for me than "random".

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  6. Oh yeah I get that maniacal laugh...lol. You know the quilts that cause us the most bother are the ones we remember. If it were simple we would just be banging out quilt after quilt and being bored, c'mon you know I am right! I don't know why a family insists on space to walk the floor, but it seems they have some say in the house and probably a good thing I dread to see what a house would look like if we were given full rein all the time! Keep going you are nearly there!

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  7. It is great ! Can't wait to see it finished.

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  8. Looks good so far! I think you'll like this quilt for a long time.

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  9. Oh my gosh!!! I have brain cells melting just looking at your process. You go girl!! It will be wonderful when you get it all figured out!

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  10. Everything LOOKS great -- but I know what you mean about arranging this type of quilt - definitely not for the faint of heart!

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  11. Love it! This reminds me that my quilt guild used to collect orphan blocks and they would all be sewn into one quilt top by adding a bit here and there - quite a procedure!

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  12. your sampler is wonderful!!! it is not easy, but your blocks are going together so so well!

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  13. Looks gorgeous! I am certain it will be worth all of the stress once it is quilted. You have such a knack for making things look like they were effortless when we all know that is far from the case! Good for you.

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  14. Your quilt is amazing!! Just think of that quiet swish of needle and thread through the fabric...it will be heavenly!

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  15. Wow! Pretty amazing. What a talent.............

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  16. Beautiful! I would go absolutely nuts trying to do something like that! It appears that you are as well, but you're doing it anyway. :) It's just gorgeous! I love your description of the process! sarah@forrussia.org

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  17. The boundaries you have set for the chaos seems to have worked. I know your brain cells will recover, but it does get harder as we get older. Trust me, I know! Love what you've put together.

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  18. Lol, ah the joys of quilt making, there's those times when it all just works easily and then there are those challenging times. The layout definitely doesn't look as though a baby was playing with the blocks. It looks great !!

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  19. Keep at it, this is going to be fabulous!!!

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  20. It really looks like it flows together. You have lots of movement with the added filler blocks--moves the eye around. Always fun to see what you are working on. I think the creative process makes brain cells more active---you could just follow pattern & it would be less stress!! Lol

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  21. It may be hard work but this is really successful. You've nailed your block placement so far. I too have a design floor and leaping kids but sometimes I just cover everything over with a big blanket and leave it there! Failing that, I take photos and work from those on the piecing. Keep it up!

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  22. Your family has some nerve wanting to use the living room! :)

    Love this quilt...keep suffering along so we can enjoy :)

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  23. I have walked so many miles in these shoes. My evolving method of making my one of a kind quilts has helped me with this kind of chaos. But you will love this and it is gorgeous!!

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  24. Your pain will be our gain... can't wait to see it finished! So sorry this is stressing you!

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  25. It is a challenge but looking great! I love the movement of flying geese going all different directions.

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  26. "Refreshing and honest," lol. But I think you could give yourself a break, because it's looking great already. With an all-over quilting design, I think this is going to be very satisfying.

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  27. It's looking so good - keep going!!

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  28. That is a lot of thinking and planning you have to do on this one, but so worth it!

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  29. Your sampler is coming along beautifully. I wonder if you are going about it the hard way. Did you check out my post http://gaylebong.blogspot.com/2010/11/orphan-block-tutorial-part-1.html. Kinda late for this one but maybe a tip or two for future projects. Then again, maybe not the look you are after.

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  30. A few of us girls have a challenge to use up our orphan blocks to make a quilt like this. Yours looks terrific!

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