Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Long Ramble About My Comfort Quilts and Also Some Improv.

I cut out these flannel strips about the middle of December and have been slowly sewing them together ever since. It's been good mindless sewing for those crazy times when thinking is an impossibility. Sadly, they get quite tedious to work on at times.
A vastly reduced pile of flannel strips
Eventually I'll have enough sets sewn together to make two comfort quilts. Nothing exciting, just very cozy, comfort quilts for two guys {one young, one old} who will very much appreciate a simple lap quilt. After I started in sewing, I had to cut out some extra {more interesting} fabric strips so the blend of prints/colors wouldn't keep putting me to sleep. You know how that is when everything blends a little too well.
Sewing the units into sets of four
And what's the deal with flannel? So much lint. Wowsers! I started having problems with the tension on my regular machine and after three or four go 'rounds with trying to get it back to normal, finally resorted to using my backup machine. She's a sweet, little {used} Bernina and so far is doing an excellent job for me. Yay for having a backup machine {Christmas present last year} as I cannot imagine being without at this particular time of the year!
My backup Bernina
So..., wanting to play, stretch my improv. abilities and well, just work on something a little more interesting, I turned to my Ugly Quilt. I think I threw up a quick picture of this quilt awhile back and was almost embarrassed to even admit to making it. It was one of those 'I'm bored, maybe I'll cut into some fabric I like and do something really off the wall' sort of endeavors. And I promptly decided it would end up on the back of a quilt because, hello? It was a nothing.

Ahem. Maybe I better tell you the back story before we get to the improv. part?

Since the inglorious start of this quilt, I have started playing with it again. Such as adding a small, fussy cut border that mostly blends in with the rest of the quilt. Meh. What did I do that for?
The Ugly Quilt with one border
And then, eyes popping wide open just before going asleep one night 'What if I added an old fashioned oak leaf type applique?' How nice to find exactly what I wanted on the second page of one of my inspiration binders the very next day. So providential. It's from a 2008 Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine--a pattern that I've many times considered making, although never just the one as a centerpiece!
And now some applique
Then, as these things often happen around here, my Ugly Quilt had more to say. Perhaps a scrappy blue sawtooth border? And I've been completely won over ever since. This ugly little quilt has been slowly winning me over and now it positively melts my heart like a squishy, toasted marshmallow. Which I know doesn't happen for everyone because my oldest daughter thinks it looks 'weird mom, just weird, especially the colors.' There's really no accounting for taste is there?
The sawtooth border
So back to the improv. part. Today I decided to attack the next border. It's been awhile coming because I had a dilemma or two to sort out. Sherri Lynn Wood tells us in 'The Improv. Handbook' to cut from the complete width of a piece of fabric {42 inches}, make sets and then cut and sew the new improv. strip lengths. The problem is, I don't have many full widths of fabric pieces. What I have is a whole bunch of fat quarters and most of them have chunks cut out of them! I finally decided to cut out some random strips of pinks, browns and red fabric, all about 8 1/2" long, but varying in widths. We do what we have to do, with what we have. and that's okay. Just had to get things settled in my mind first. Why are simple things so often the hardest to figure out?
Starting with some random cut strips
And another thing--it always worries me to just start cutting pieces of fabric without knowing the ultimate number I might need. I've finally recognized this as part of the very real 'fear' I feel in starting in with an improv. project. I can get so much anxiety going about this {because I do so hate wasting fabric} that it can literally paralyze me and cause me to never even start. It's not the uncertainty about the finished outcome of the quilt, that part I'm perfectly okay with. It's figuring out how much fabric to cut so that I can freely play, without cutting so much that I end up with a mountain of extra. Regardless, I am determined to conquer this fear and forge ahead, one little improv. quilt idea at a time.

So this is what I ended up with. I varied a brown strip with a pink strip and started making sets of six strings. Because I free-cut the strips {no ruler}, there is a slight wonk to them that very much makes me smile. Plus I think the fact that I'm only making a border makes this much more fun. If it were an entire quilt, I'd be stressed, fretting about value changes etc. and leaping ahead to possible design problems. Worrying about things getting boring.
Sewing them into units
I love the idea of making this border a little more complex color-wise, so am also considering adding in a red strip periodically--maybe even every six strips. Would that be too calculated? Is everyone cringing at the idea of mixing red and pink? This has been an odd quilt so I think it calls for something a little offbeat. For now I am just auditioning though, nothing is sewn together or set in stone.
Thinking about adding in some red
And I'm also being run out of my quilting room by a passive aggressive 15 yr. old boy who was very annoyed to be told the Christmas tree needs de-ornamented. What? Be asked to do something on a school vacation? The outrage! Everybody in this family knows that AC/DC and me do not get along, so even though no words were ever spoken, the message has been {literally} very loud and clear.
Trying to see it on the design wall....
So I'll work on my scrappy, improv. border later on when things settle down and the kids have this grave injustice worked out of their system. I might need to cut more strips and maybe I won't, but I am refusing to let that stop me from this particular method of playing. Time to link up to Ann and Kaja for their AHIQ linky party of the month! It's such a great motivator to me, their quiet encouragement to spread our wings, try new things and maybe step outside of our narrow little box once in awhile. Do at least go check out Ann's wonderful new quilt top! Very inspiring!

35 comments:

  1. Dear Audrey,
    great progess and wonderful idea with the applique.
    Greetings,
    Sylvia

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  2. Audrey I think it looked perfect without that last border. The appliqué really makes it pop. Tell your daughter it's a folk art type of quilt.

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  3. The oak leaves and blue triangles took that top from boring to fabulous! I love it!

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  4. Hey love that applique added to the "ugly quilt" it really pops it and then the sawtooth border - it looks great! No what you mean about a back up machine, I use my janome for a back up because I don't know what it is about tension issues but usually I will clean the machine, change the needle, and if the tension still doesn't work I go to the other machine - chances are when I go back to the first one the problem is no longer there - it just disappears!

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  5. Well, your Ugly Quilt is looking pretty awesome! Applique improves everything, I think. And so do sawtooth borders. I know some people don't like piano key borders, but I definitely do, and those red strips tie back into the middle.

    Back in black...it's been so long I'm glad to be back!

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  6. It's great! How about pulling colors from the nine patches in the center, make smaller nine patches, then set on point all the way around? Perhaps more applique for the final border, I love it in the center.

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  7. Mmm, the center motif definitely works, the blue is really nice, and the border with blue also really works!! Can't wait to see this one grow - I'm filing away some of your approaches for future quilts for myself!!

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  8. omigosh you saved it! I couldn t believe my eyes once you got the sawtooth border on. So folky and unique now.

    PS Kids undecorate Xmas trees? Really? News to me, as I look forward to a big solitary job of it this weekend.hahaha.

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  9. Oh good work! I think that originally the brown cross was too dominant, but the applique has totally sorted that out and I love how you picked up the blue from the centre in the triangle border. Pink and red is increasingly something I like (I'm learning from other people's choices), but I have to admit I never, ever cut enough fabric for a whole quilt in one go - I would have just your problem with that idea.

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  10. The Ugly Quilt is turning out quite pretty! Can't wait to see what you come up with next.... I love the way your quilts evolve. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Your center applique and sawtooth border really changed this quilt. I think you made the background first; that's why it looked boring all by itself.
    This is a good system - cut a bit, try it, adjust accordingly. Much better than cutting a bunch with no confidence. That latter simply fills the scrap bin. ;-)
    I love the cheddar/mustard color you chose. Pink and red work well together, too.
    Thanks for linking with AHIQ. It's good to know some other people are quilting the holidays.

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  12. I was really iffy when you pulled the pink, a total surprise how it turned out so well, adding the red finished it. I hadn't noticed the pink until then either. Anxious to see where ends.
    Happy New Years
    Tonia

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  13. Wow that applique and sawtooth border does wonders for that quilt. It no longer qualifies as an ugly quilt! I think the red looks fabulous with the pink and helps tie in the red from the nine patches.

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  14. it's amazing what the applique and sawtooth border did to change the entire look! :)

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  15. it's amazing what the applique and sawtooth border did to change the entire look! :)

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  16. OH my I can’t believe what a difference adding that little bit of applique made to this quilt. Looking forward to following your progress on this one.

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  17. Your ugly quilt is ugly no more! I love it!

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  18. Your quilt is metamorphosising before our eyes. I have a hard time just taking the willy nilly approach to cutting fabric, but you've done a great job!

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  19. Audrey, you made me laugh and smile throughout this post. I love how you just keep ticking along, doing your own thing (unless AC/DC strikes) and follow paths of inspiration. I learned from what you had to say about the fear of wasting fabric... and can see that it has an effect on me too.

    Gosh I can't get over the way your "ugly" quilt is turning into something exciting and beautiful. Wow that's impressive improv! I think the red strips look great mixed in with the pink and brown.

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  20. IT boggles my mind how you can rescue a boring quilt and turn it into such and exciting project - I LOVE the way this one is headed! Pink and red are perfectly fine to mix in my book - I say GO FOR IT!

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  21. All I can say is WOW it looks great! Keep going!!!!

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  22. Ugly (Duckling) Quilt to Swan...
    (and I love the red!)

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  23. I like how the border and applique play together.

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  24. Love the way your creative brain works!!

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  25. What wonderful progression to this project! thanks for sharing!

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  26. Your love of applique saves yet another quilt! That and adding the pop of red in the border strips, makes them sing. It's always so inspiring to read these long posts of yours to see how you get from one point to another in your quilt planning. Now that he has some practice you can send that 15 year old our way, we still have the tree to take down plus lights on the outdoor tree, and there's that big star up on the barn ...

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  27. I love seeing the progress of this little quilt! Brilliant idea to do the applique and then the different borders. This is no ugly quilt but a swan in the making!

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  28. Mt daughters flannel quilt top is what put my machine over the edge and into the clinic!

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  29. Thank you for the wonderful chuckle as I read along and related to your descriptions of how worries can paralyze our creative bursts. I noticed that you snuck some blues into your little problem child. Could you place a sprinkle of blue in that border? Or would that be too matchy-uppy? Loving the looks of those cheddars, too...

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  30. Love where you are going with your improv project. I love the addition of red in the border. Happy New Year!

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  31. Very pretty, I love red with pink and brown. Now following your blog :)

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  32. Creo que cuando uno cose ha de ser absolutamente libre. Si nadie experimentase, no exisitiría una sola obra de arte. Le deseo un feliz año.

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  33. You got me curious about what this quilt would look like with that border so I mocked it up. If I can find your email, I'll send you the pic.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, I can't find how to email you this picture I created to show you your quilt with that border.

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    2. Sorry, I can't find how to email you this picture I created to show you your quilt with that border.

      Delete

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