Thursday, June 13, 2019

Come Take A Look At All My Basket Quilts

It was an interesting exercise to go completely through the blog from beginning to end. All very quickly of course, just looking for anything 'baskets'. The first several years of the blog found me very tentative about posting pictures and I know there are several quilts missing in action. Such a shame.
More modern looking basket wall hanging
And no, I couldn't find pictures of them elsewhere either, because the main reason I started taking pictures of any of my quilts was for the sole purpose of posting them in a blog post. In those first years, it felt very nerve-wracking to throw up a picture and basically say 'Hey! This is my work. Love it or hate it!'.  

The basket wall hanging posted above was finished in perhaps 2011? I just can't remember much about it other than it was made all in a rush one week when I was feeling desperate to have something pretty hanging on a wall in one of our bathrooms. A new shower curtain probably inspired the on-purpose color palette, but it's never been taken down since as I've always found it cheerful. The middle part is very closely based on a quilt out of 'Intuitive Color & Design' by Jean Wells; however, the border was all my own imagining.
Little Prim wall hanging
This primitive little wall hanging with the tiny little basket was the very first wall hanging I had ever made and perhaps the first time baskets were ever attempted either? If so, that would mean that I've only been indulging my love for stitching basket elements since the year 2002. Wowsers. Only 17 years? It's from an ancient American Patchwork and Quilting magazine and I assure you that I felt all the anxiety of the doomed upon starting it. Bear in mind that this little wall hanging was also the very first hand quilting attempt by yours truly as well. My hand quilting mentor was quite, quite dubious about the predictably shaky results, but I showed her. Here I am a million stitching years later, still slogging it out with the hand work. She has thoroughly moved on to bigger and better hobbies, leaving us plebeian quilters quite firmly behind in the proverbial dust. {Btw, do you feel that your quilting hobby is ignoble or unworthy? Nor do I. Her loss, really.}
Vintage Lily in the hoop
Vintage Lily is the latest quilt in the hoop and by chance it has a basket motif in it as well. I know, so very shocking. This quilt was made in response to one I saw hanging in a quilt show back in 2017. It lit a little fire in me and finally, I was able to come up with my very own interpretation.

Baskets still remain extremely inspirational to me, even after so many years of playing with them. There's a timeless beauty and charm to them that easily translates into many different styles. As you can see from comparing the Vintage Lily basket {above} to the original inspiration quilt, simply changing colors and prints can create a completely different look and feel to an entire quilt! Love that!

After considering all the different ways to show you the lineup of basket quilts made here throughout the years, I decided to keep it simple. Here's the link to my brand new Pinterest board: Quilty Folk Baskets. There's about 40 different basket quilts to look at in all. At the very least, the quilt will have a basket represented somewhere. Many of them are my own design, though some are not. Obviously. Baskets are pretty universal so don't expect anything breathtakingly new and different. If you click on a picture, it should take you directly back to a post on my blog where hopefully you can read more about that particular quilt. Please don't be shy about asking questions concerning any of the quilts pictured. Writing about each and every quilt just felt a bit too daunting for this moment in time! 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Monogamous Quilting is Not Really My Thing. I Get Bored So Quickly....

The Bullseye Medallion quilt has been quite shamelessly ignored for a good long time. Obviously something that needed to be rectified! Sometimes I'm just not in the mood and don't want to force anything into the wrong direction. This time, I only pulled it out of the shelf to take a look, remind myself that it had potential. Next thing I knew, the border idea was starting to come together in my minds eye and fabric started flying. You just never know when and why things might spark.....
First Round of Bullseye Medallion quilt
The general idea is for this, and every other border added to the centerpiece, to finish at 5". I don't want a lot of complex piecing going on, but intend to add just a touch of a pieced element here and there. At this particular moment in time {always subject to the whims of change!}, each subsequent border will follow the mock-up shown in the picture below, in regards to color. It would be good if the borders don't end up looking choppy, which is probably the biggest challenge of all moving forward. Most of the fabric I own is in fat quarters or slightly less than. You know how it is when the larger yardage is only bought for specific projects! That could be problematic in the overall flow and unity for each of the following border rounds.
Auditioning the following border colors
Wanting to keep the centerpiece looking bright and happy, black was chosen for the very first border color. Good contrast right? And black always adds a wonderfully folky vibe. Most of these black fabrics used are quite a bit more gray than black, as you can see, something I gravitated toward on purpose. I think it will end up creating a moodier 'look and feel' to the quilt, which might help save the quilt from coming off as too contemporary at time of completion. The goal around here is always 'cozy' versus 'modern', thereby invoking a look/feel that I am unreservedly more comfortable with.
Auditioning possible fabrics for this border
The pictures are terrible as I was working late into the evening. Hopefully you can still see that the very light blues used for the wonky flying geese tie right back to the color of the bird in the centerpiece. Not sure that I will use any more of those fabrics moving forward, but I do love the slight clash taking place in the blue/green family. It doesn't work for every single quilt, but there's something about using potentially clashy colors that can amp up the interest and spark in a quilt.

If you're ever unsure about where the 'going too far' line is, all you have to do is lay your new fabrics out on the quilt {as I did in the previous picture} and take a step back. Close your eyes, and pay attention to what your gut tells you when you quickly open your eyes and take a good hard look. Uggh! Get those hideous fabrics out of here! Or Hmmm..., very interesting. It might take a couple times of laying the fabrics on and taking them off again, perhaps mixing up the specifics of which 'clashing' fabrics work best together as a whole. You'll rarely be able to use only one conflicting color/fabric. It almost always takes a minimum of two or three to make it properly work. And yes, I originally chose the bird fabric precisely because I intended to add a little more of those dissimilar color choice fabrics later on. There are definitely methods to my madness!
All the flying geese sewn, just needing trimmed and arranged 
But of course, you already knew that if you've been following along with my creative journeys for any length of time at all! Rather than jump right into the next border, I also tried to work on the Sweet Tart basket blocks this weekend. Only got this far before I was completely done with working with cheddar and yellows. So bold and happy and well, sunny natured.... I started getting itchy and antsy, gave in and folded it all up for working on at a later date. So crazy because there really wasn't much left to do!
Making slow progress on the Sweet Tart baskets
Most probably I was feeling crabby because I've been longing to start a brand new applique quilt. Or two or three to be perfectly honest. And I had told myself very firmly the last time I started new applique {or maybe it was the time before that?}, that the Melon Patch project absolutely deserved progress before sidelining it once again. Yes, I have zero will power and had managed to sneak in a few little, teesy tiny applique additions such as the I Am a Maker quilt top. Always telling myself that these aren't serious applique commitments and so of course they don't count.
Another layer for the Melon Patch quilt
Poor, poor Melon Patch project. Taking so very long to gain any serious traction. I had almost talked myself out of loving it altogether. What horribly ugly fabrics and was it really going to have any redeeming qualities after digging everything out of the very depths of the stash totes? {I can always be relied upon to work up a very righteous indignation and even loathing to whatever project currently feeling inconvenient!}
Looking at what it might look like with the next layer
We all knew it was going to end this way, but as per usual, after finally making myself take the project in hand, starting to work with needle and thread, I felt curiously relaxed and was quite enjoying the process. So predictable. Look at these sweet fabrics! Why, they actually do look pretty interesting when sewn together in this subtle layering of colors and prints. Hmm... yes, what a good reminder to keep challenging myself to look harder and deeper into the stash totes. Not a waste of time and energy after all. lol  Isn't the entire creative process hilarious? Totally mind boggling at times when we think about how much we enjoy it all, every step of the way!

I started on Friday night and made steady if not amazing progress. If the neighbors hadn't been celebrating the 'after party' for their grand daughters Quinceanera on Sunday, there would no doubt be much more accomplished than these measly little stacks. Only a total of 36 finished out of 80 petals in all. After hours and hours of incessant music and loud drum beats drifting through the walls of our house, I finally retreated. So glad the Quinceanera itself was held somewhere else! They are honestly quite wonderful neighbors and we never complain about their maybe twice-a-year? large family gatherings. But wowsers, not a great environment to peacefully stitch away on the hand work!  

On another note, I counted it up and there have been at least 30 quilts with a basket element made around here in the past 10 years. Gearing up to put together an intense basket post--just for those of you who expressed an interest! lol  Gonna take a big chunk of time though, and crossing my fingers I can still find the pictures as most of these quilts are long gone...

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

A Finish and More Progress on the Applique Baskets

Playing With Scale is totally completed now! It was one of those Adhoc. Improv. challenges that really stretched the brain waves. In a perfectly relaxed sort of way of course....
Playing With Scale a finished quilt!
It's probably not something you see all the time out there on the Net, these colors and prints combined with the free-cut strips, but I find it ridiculously charming all the same. People who stick with solid colors just don't know what they're missing!
So glad I added the flower into the mix
The {oh-so-obvious} different widths of the free-cut strips are especially appealing to me. Must be part of the old fashioned, utility quilt look that consistently seems to melt my heart.
Interesting to have a graphic look with these subdued fabrics.
I had determined that this one was going to be machine quilted and then at the last second, dumped it into the hoop instead. There was this very real fear of massive puckering from those feed dogs pushing and pressing the off grain strips.
Loving the hand quilting texture
I am so, so glad as the hand quilting bumps it up a notch in my opinion. Plus, this one was a breeze to hand quilt which means it's full of all kinds of feel good vibes.
A snugly looking quilt!
The color palette is not one that I'm instantly drawn to or even have to return to again. Nevertheless, it filled the need of helping to empty out the stash totes of some lingering, but very good fabrics.You know how it goes when fabrics aren't being used up fast enough and before you can even blink, there are newer, shinier fabrics flirting with you instead.
So many different shades of green...
I wondered about the amount of hand quilting. Is it enough? Was I cheating the quilt? And then when the quilt was flipped over and I could see all the stitching on the back, it was totally fine. Big sigh. I want the backs to look 'full', not have large pockets of un-stitched areas.
Always interesting to see the back...
It was tough to get really good pictures of this one. The pale pink fabrics sewn next to the black and very dark brown fabrics wanted to wash out and tended to look white in all the pics, no matter which filter I tried. They aren't. Every single fabric in those areas is a very, very pale pink. The lightest colors have been intriguing me lately and it's always such an interesting challenge to try and make the most of their subtlety. Always so much to learn!
When the centerpiece isn't centered at all...
The first thing I did when finally getting back in the quilt room was to make a new stack of fabric. The yellow/gold stash tote has been overflowing for much too long and so I started there. Had myself an amazingly relaxing evening picking and choosing fabrics that tickled my fancy. Big surprise on the colors that ended up being picked to be added in! Somehow I always end up with this particular blend of colors though I find these quilts hard to give away. Not everyone enjoys a predominantly yellow quilt. Why? I need answers to this important questions! lol
A new stack of goodness
Instead of doing much hand quilting this week, I've been working on the applique for these sweet little baskets. They are approximately 7 1/2" inches but will be a 12 1/2" block when the cheddar hsts are added onto them.
Sweet Tart Baskets all lined up...
As you can see, all the baskets are slightly different as far as placement. I don't think it's very obvious and I wouldn't care anyway. The 'eyeball' placement is what I do best and an attempt at anything else just drives me insane. Completely ruins the enjoyment of the quilting process and so then I just quit sewing, which of course interferes with my ability to get anything done!
Hope this works the way I want it too!
The middle fabric is super sweet, but looking a little bit spotty from a distance. Oh well. Most quilts around here are used, not hung up on a wall to be admired. All 126 hst units have been trimmed up now and so hopefully there will be time to get the basket blocks all sewn up and ready to go. It's always a dilemma, isn't it? Catch up on the blog or spend time in the quilting room....

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Always A Busy Time of Year

It's been a whirlwind around here lately. One of our busiest times of the year with the annual church campout we help organize. Normally I pack a small bag of applique to take with me, but though I had good intentions, nothing got gone on that front. Don't know why I bother as that is almost always the way it turns out!
Sweet Tarts basket border
As usual, the very last time I sandwiched and pinned a quilt, I actually pinned two. Thankfully, this one was ready to go a few days before the weekend onslaught arrived. A little bit of hand quilting can be wonderfully therapeutic.
Vintage Lily center
This one was based on one of Sujata Shahs quilt blocks in her book 'Cultural Fusion' and part of an Adhoc. Improv. quilt challenge to myself. It was finished up sometime in April of 2018 and though it's not exactly the 'next in line', for some reason it wanted its turn in the hoop now.
Vintage Lily ready to pin
Honestly, I haven't got very far on that at all, but regardless, it always feels better to have a quilt in the hoop and ready to go. I'm so looking forward to next week when life might, possibly settle down once again!
Love the appliqued centerpiece
It's feeling more and more like a monumental effort to prepare and attend this campout thing that we do. Don't know what will happen when our kids aren't around to help us anymore! They definitely do the heavy lifting when it comes time to loading and unloading the trailer.
My girls with one of their Oklahoma friends {in the middle}
We had a good crowd this year with about 250 people, two thirds of them typically being young adults, teenagers or children. Next year will be the 25th anniversary at this old boyscout camp up in the mountains, though we had years before that at a much smaller campground. It's only about 2 hours from where we live but the elevation is at approx. 3570 ft. Where we live is maybe 800 ft above sea level?
Campout volleyball is the best
There's always a lot of volleyball happening from dawn to dusk, softball, hikes to the 'big tree', walks to the lake and of course all of us adults are kept busy feeding all these hungry kids. The best games are when a team of young marrieds challenges the teenagers. So much determination on the part of the young marrieds, but none of the endurance of the younger and more fit! My husband and I gave up on the volleyball years ago. Let the younger ones have their fun, we prefer the lawn chairs and 'catch-up' visits.

Lots of good times and good memories, but I'm home now and absolutely exhausted. This year we had a group of kids who flew in from Oklahoma so there was the additional time spent before and after involving drive time to the airport {2 1/2 hrs. away}. Now I'm facing a mountain of dirty laundry and senior graduation for our youngest is only three days away.*whee!  Where does the time go?

Friday, May 17, 2019

It's Good to Have the Occasional Challenge Turn Out, Especially When Things are Looking Pretty Ho Hum Along the Way

Let me just say right off the bat, that I am really proud of this quilt. The reason being, it was a total challenge on many different fronts that could of, should have, might have totally defeated me. And it didn't, because I didn't let it happen that way. There are some of you out there who get very weary of the constant stream of finishes. That's okay. We all work at different speeds. Just try to remember that to many of us seemingly 'racing' through the finishes, it's the process, more than any other element, that compels us to jump straight from one project into another. Then another immediately after!
Lattice quilt is a finish!
There's always something more to explore. As most of you know, I love a good play with color. Oh boy, do I ever! This however, was a humdinger. It's terribly hard for me to sew together a quilt in someone else's preferred color ranges. Even more so when they seem muddy or dull, which this color palette had going on in spades. After my very first red fabric pull, I realized this one was going to be extra tough. I oh-so-reluctantly put back the brighter, more cheerful reds and determinedly grabbed fabrics in the proper range of maroon and maroon. Gripe, gripe, grumble....
A little crazy, but a lot interesting...
Oh wow. What do do with a stack of fabrics that inspire zero delight? Ughh! And so I wracked my brain trying to figure out other colors that could be added to 'lift up' the quilt to a point where I could be happy to see it come to fruition. Colors that wouldn't take over the quilt, but add in a little bit of life. Some spontaneity maybe? What's the point in making a quilt that speaks to someone else's preferences, but totally lacks any joy? I just can't work that way. Dig me a black hole and dump me in. If someone is getting a quilt from me, then you better believe there's going to be a tiny, eensy-weensy, part of my soul in it.
So happy with the background effect
Immediately discarding the idea of the traditional {read harsh and cold} additions of black or lots of white, I then surprisingly settled upon adding pieces of lights to med. grays and very light to med. green/blues. The blue/greens were easy, but I tried to be very careful with the pattern and look to the gray fabrics. They can easily read very bleak as well.

There's just a hint of white in the quilt but even that fabric has a blue tint. {Well, until after I soaked and washed the quilt after the finish. Now it has the very faintest of red tints!} Feeling that it lacked depth, I dug around and found some black fabrics that had enough brown in them to feel 'softer'. All those additions helped make the project feel more doable, especially with the few floral prints scattered into the mix. What could possibly read more 'cozy' than a few florals? But what about the design of the quilt?  And there it sat for a long time while I mulled over many, many possibilities. Again, there was really no spark, no compelling desire to dive in and get straight to work.
The white ended up with a very faint tinge of pink.
Don't think most people will ever notice.
It wasn't until the Red is a Neutral invitation was given out that I grabbed onto the beginnings of an idea. Why not start with the premise that red would be used in the place where I would normally be using cream, white or perhaps black? Flipping through the Unexpected and Unconventional book by Roderick Kiracofe further solidified the direction these fabrics would end up taking. I eagerly joined up with the #UANDUQAL as well thinking that a two-way {three-way?} challenge would be a potential way to make the entire project fun, not a chore that had to be done. Bear in mind that this was something I wanted to make. Nobody was making me do it.
So happy with how the blue adds a happy spark.
When the initial foundation of a quilt is all about color, then the pattern becomes secondary. Right? With so many of the quilts in the book having a make-do vibe, I figured there would be lots of room to make adjustments and improvise. Focusing on getting the color palette to gel properly would be the driving force behind most every decision that cropped up. Okay. In no time at all, the lattice quilt was selected and the project was a go.
These ties were more needed than I realized!
You probably remember me posting about the struggles of having to add in even more fabrics from the depths of the stash totes. Oh yes, that totally stressed me out. Not because I hate my stash, but because red fabrics like to squabble and bicker. It's not always immediately obvious which ones belong together for life. But I remained determined and clung to the idea that if this was going to be a make-do look quilt, then whatever was available would have to do. Period. I did lots of squinting and telling the logical side of my brain to just 'shut up for a minute and let me think'!
Machine quilting not perfect but looks exactly right for the quilt.
Focused on colors blending. Letting things gently clash as they so often do in utility and make-do style quilts.. Eliminating fabrics that were too flamboyant in comparison with what it was resting up against and trying to hog all the limelight. Clenching my teeth and ignoring the spotty, more printed fabrics that threatened to give me a headache. Reminding myself of all those things that make these sorts of quilts lovable.... Telling myself, 'not taking the easy road and going to the store for a better selection!' And somehow it all worked out.*whew! It's terribly hard sometimes to envision what's growing in front of our eyes as that perfectly finished product it needs to be. The one with texture and character which it definitely doesn't have until well..., it actually happens!  It's like the difference between cake with frosting and cake without. Which one looks the best?
Only had to rip out a little bit of machine quilting
before finding my groove on this one...
I did sneak in a gorgeous bright, cheery red Kaffe fabric. I know some of you noticed that right off. Isn't it lovely? Like the cherry on top of the sundae. It was already in the stash and the quilt thanks me for it. I like to think that this interpretation of the quilt {pictured below} is a true compliment to the original maker, with the brighter red falling in line with the heart and soul of her wonderful quilt. This color palette ended up being a little more narrow in definition overall, but still, the ebb and flow of the quilt feels quite similar.
The original spark of inspiration for pattern...
My quilt is machine quilted in two organic lines all along the lattice and then yarn tied once in the middle of every square. That connects back to the original inspiration as well. I tried to buy a wool yarn that supposedly would fuzz up a little better after washing, but gave up in despair when it proved too thick of a yarn. Off to Walmart I went, not having the patience to wait on an Internet order or another trip to town {an hour away}. Off topic perhaps, but don't bother buying the nubby look yarn for ties in a quilt. Quite the irritation pulling yarn through fabric and having it hang up on the 'texture'!

Sometimes I don't go back and look at the original inspiration much after starting a quilt, but this time felt the need. So much was out of my comfort zone. I kept feeling that if only somehow I could translate this cozy, comfy, utilization look, then all the red would be a side note. In spite of the fact that I started with red, the entire quilt was about red, I needed that red to be part of the story, not The. Entire. Story. I'm really, really happy with the subtleties, which of course is a nod to the original too. This quilt wouldn't be nearly as interesting without all the background value changes. I can only wish that I had had a few more of the darkest of red fabrics available.

The final detail that helped make the quilt in my opinion, was choosing a very old, dull looking homespun for the binding. I winced, second guessed myself and then finally bit the bullet and cut out the fabric anyway. A stupid, ugly fabric that had almost been thrown away many, many times over the last 10 years! Isn't that part of the growing and maturing process in the process of quilting? Learning when best to ignore that left brain side of our conscious that tells us how untidy things will look or how big of a mistake we'll be making? The more times we ignore that urge and have success, the easier it gets to trust in our instincts.

And so it is. I can't even imagine this quilt without the yarn ties, the homespun look binding, the random, odd, different prints such as the dark grey rodeo? fabric! lol  Where in the world did that one come from? Yep, it has some character for sure. I've said this before about other quilts, but I don't think this quilt would have been possible even 10 years ago. There's something to be said for stepping out of our sad little comfort zones and forcing ourselves to work in a place of uncertainty. What's that quote? 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?" Don't be surprised if you see more of these sorts of quilts in the future. It's all angst and anxiety in the making, but totally worthwhile in the end....

Monday, May 13, 2019

A New Log Cabin Start

There are so many projects that are on the list. Oodles to choose from really. But what do I do? Start in on a brand new project! Of course...
Starting something new!
I've had these fabrics stacked up together for ages. They aren't so incredible together that it makes them hard to resist, but somehow.... I just haven't been able to toss them back into the stash bins either. So this past week found me free cutting strips and sewing quarter log cabin blocks. The loosey goosey plan is to make 18 of them. We'll see. Right now I'm just making it up as I go along!
Soaking a quilt
Also going on behind the scenes is that I sandwiched and machine quilted {very simply}, the Lattice quilt. It's the one that was made as an answer to the #AHIQRED and the #UANDUQAL challenges. While I knew that most of the red fabrics had been soaked prior to starting the quilt, I had this faint memory of running out of fabric and raiding the stash totes for more. So... Into the tub it went today so as to hopefully stop the bleeding in it's tracks and save the lighter white/gray and blue fabrics from total ruin. Isn't this crazy? All the red dye in the tub is from about 15% or less of the red fabrics. It's not as bad as some of the quilts I have soaked previous to today, so unless there is a lighter fabric that ends up being super absorbent to errant dyes {which unfortunately happens a little too often}, it's probably going to end up fine. Fingers crossed!

So glad I got this quilt to the finished stage a few weeks before graduation. It feels like we are practically going in circles lately, so many things happening. We have an extended family member wedding coming up this next weekend, lots of organization and planning involved in our church campout that we help host every Memorial Day weekend, Senior graduation coming up for our youngest and on and on and on. All I really want to do is hole up and quilt for two weeks solid, but tell myself that the hand quilting that happens in the evenings will mostly tide me over....

Monday, May 6, 2019

Working On a Little Bit of Applique

It feels like I have been plod, plod, plodding along. Never getting very far but not falling behind either. Mostly, my time has been spent with hand work lately. 
Seedpod Flower Quilt center
The Seedpod center is finished now. I went ahead and broke the applique shapes into several different pieces instead of letting cutting it out into one single shape. I was afraid that the little skinny stems would fight me and ruin the look of the flower. Sometimes when there are a lot of 'offshoots' it's hard to get things stitched down without little wrinkles somewhere. And of course the base of the flower has a little poochiness from all the stems converging in one place. Nothing to be done about that at this point. The top leaf on the right is bugging me just a little too and I may go back and drop it down some. We'll see. It's all stitched up now and that feels good to have that part behind me.
Little baskets
These baskets and the blocks below are part of the next border for Sweet Tart Baskets quilt. I didn't realize that so much time has passed since I last worked on that quilt. Four months! It seems like just the other day when I finally sewed the four larger baskets together. The idea here, for the next border,  is that there will be nine little baskets {with flowers} and for the every-other-block, nine of what's pictured below.
Border blocks
I didn't want to mess up the look of the striped fabric in the center, and so appliqued the smaller squares over the top. All nine are done now, but as you can see, the center square is not exactly 'square' to the block. They are all like that, but strangely enough, I don't care. The prep work is all done for each of the small basket blocks so that's a step forward. Applique prep always takes more time than it seems that it should, but well worth the time and effort once that magic window of time to applique has presented itself.

You might not have noticed, but the basket block is some smaller than the every-other-block. That's because I intend to add some cheddar/white half square triangles all around the basket block when the applique is done. I'm having a blast working with the zingy cheddar/golds in this quilt and of course, baskets.... swoon! All right up my alley. Crazy as it sounds, the entire time I'm working on these two quilts, my mind is whirring and churning, thinking up ideas for the next couple applique quilts.*sigh  So many wonderfully shiny new ideas and so little time....