Friday, February 22, 2019

I Love Applique. The Round-up Post You Didn't Know You Were Waiting For

Just kidding. You can skip the reading and just skim the pictures. It's no secret that I love applique. If it even comes close to a time where all the applique projects are finished up, then you can be sure that I'm quite, quite busy in the quilt room trying to get yet another one prepped and ready to go! This time of year it is especially nice be doing hand work while enjoying the gorgeous afternoon lighting, a direct result of all the gorgeous snow on the hills and mountains around us.
Just a little ways downriver from where we live....
I can't take credit for that fantastic picture above, but that, my dear friends is often our winter wonderland this time of year. Isn't it beautiful? Though I'm starting to get weary of winter, it's hard to be upset by our views. You can see more of my sisters very talented photography over here if you like, she's really got the skills. In the meantime, I humbly asked to borrow her photo as mine are not proving to be very exciting. Ha! Not telling you anything you didn't already know!
Dried Flowers progress
I went ahead and attacked Dried Flowers {which looks way better than the photo might indicate}, getting the string columns all figured out and attached to the flower blocks. There ended up being a little more of the blue/greens included than I originally thought would be necessary. Still, I'm fairly happy with the results, especially the old time look of the scrappy lighter strips. It took me a couple days to {cut and} sew the large slab blocks together and as always, I was perturbed by all the excess. No matter. I simply drew up a simple baby quilt to use up all the leftover narrow string columns. It just hurts to throw away that much fabric!
An applique addition
Now that the three largest parts of the quilt are sewn together, then it was time to address the horizontal applique strips. I've been envisioning these in my head for quite awhile and was puzzling over how to put it all together. For now, I'm only planning on sewing two of these and placing them between those larger sewn units.When the hand work is finished, they will be stitched onto darker strips and then, possibly? extended into the outer border by a smidge. Still working out the details of that.

I'm pretty sure the original applique design was sparked by a piece of fabric somewhere along the line, but at this point I'm not sure if it was in a quilt or maybe even a shirt that I've worn. It was something that sparked an interest because of the repeating pattern, not because of the specifics of the flowers or leaves. Those elements were drawn and redrawn freehand, until I ended up with something that I feel will work and blend well with the rest of the quilt. Amazing how frustrating it can be to draw simple leaves and/or flowers sometimes! Pretty much the only thing that you can be sure of is when the drawing looks terrible and when the shapes aren't right! Perseverance though, and eventually you end up with something you're originally shooting for. More or less....
Antique Crows before
Speaking of which... Sometimes you just can't get it right no matter how you try! I previously failed to mention that the two bird templates used in this Antique Crow quilt were directly from Cheri Payne Saffiote's 'Wednesday's Best' pattern book. After drawing several different bird fails, I went looking for the person who did the best primitive-look birds ever. She was an incredible Folk Art/Primitive quilt inspiration and always will be. Wouldn't want to deny her any well deserved credit!

Already folded up and put away in the drawers, that quilt just kept nagging at me. Every time I looked at the pics from the last post, the missing leaves on the largest flowers bugged me. Okay, fine. FINE. Have it your way!! And now the largest flowers have their leaves and all is well again. The main reason I left them off in the first place was because all that green felt 'too bright'. Well, now it has more of it and suddenly, it looks more 'right'. Go figure. 
Antique Crows after
Another one of the applique projects lurking in the background is the Melon Patch blocks. They've been around now for a couple years. There are 20 blocks with four stacks of four petals per block. The other day I grabbed the third layer of petals and assigned them to appropriately matching/blending top petals. This means that I am almost ready to start stitching on them. Some day. Do not lose hope. Eventually this forever, slow, mind-numbingly tedious quilt will be seen to be making progress once again. It's really too late to back out now.
Melon Patch petals
And that quilt might be the main reason I have not started on the quilt below, even though I have have fabric picked out and the photo bookmarked for approximately three years.*sigh  One of my aunts {since deceased} bought me this book years and years ago. The Oak Leaf quilt was my favorite quilt in the entire book and I've been quite determined to sew it together one day. Well.... I've recently decided that those particular fabrics stacked up together and simply languishing in a tote {for three years} makes me a little queasy. I could be doing something good with them! There has got to be an answer somewhere for how to accomplish this without marking and cutting out the oak leaves.... and then leaving them languishing in the applique bag for another three to five years.*sigh again

You see my dilemma? I really feel that I want to make this quilt as it will be a lovely reminder of one of my favorite aunts; however, it's also clear that my get-up-and-go is not going anywhere very fast these days. At least as it pertains to this project. So the latest solution I have stumbled upon is to take out the entire center of the quilt and maybe do a centerpiece of sorts. Keep it basic, but intriguing enough so that it will hold my interest, then only sew two rows of those leaf blocks. It might sound crazy to you, but knocking the number of applique blocks down to 40 from 49, sounds a bit more manageable to me. We'll see. This is still in the contemplation stage for sure. I might even do an every other oak leaf block thus cutting the applique down even further! Do I really need more medallion quilts? Sure, why not? And speaking of medallions....
Oak Leaves quilt pondering
When a person loves applique like I do, it's easy to see possibilities everywhere. Do you remember the large cut-out circle from another applique project I posted about back in January?  Well, the other evening when I was hand quilting, this flower shape on the background fabric specifically caught my eye. It's there inside the bottom basket handle, partially cut off if you want to take a look. So my mind starts spinning and I'm thinking about how cool that would look in a quilt. My mind goes to repeating blocks and all those sorts of traditional settings and then, bam! I'm suddenly wondering about taking that large circle cut-out and somehow turning it into one of these gorgeous {similar look} flowers!
Improv. Postage Stamp Basket in the hoop
Can I? Should I? Dare I? Oooh, I just live for these sorts of connections! Once the inspiration was sparked, then I just couldn't hardly wait to get started. But of course, my quilt room is through my sons bedroom and it was late, late in the evening and how rude would that be....  So I had to patiently wait until the next day just to see. And yep! It's going to be a big 'ol seedpod flower for sure. After about 2 hours of drawing and cutting and drawing and cutting, it got to this place.*whew  Those leaves, the proportions of everything.... You certainly didn't expect it to be a walk in the park, now did you?
Seedpod Flower Quilt start
And that's exactly how it works in my crazy, wonderful quilting journey. One thing leads to another and another and then yet another. Lots of work and just 'putting in the time to make things happen', intermixed with wild, fun moments of lightbulb-like inspiration. These squirrel quilts...  So restorative and beneficial to our creative selves when the right one comes along. Too bad we didn't know in advance which ones were most important to pay attention to! Linking up with Wendy's Peacock Party!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

It Finally Has a Real Name Now

We've been having our winter storm weather for the past two weeks. Lots and lots of snow, which makes for gorgeous scenery, and also, whenever it stops snowing, lovely, lovely light shining into the house. Thankfully it looks like it will melt off rather quickly and not stick around for too long. We don't care to drive in those conditions on a regular basis!
Antique Crows a completed quilt top now!
Feeling quite home bound when the snow is doing its worst, I have dedicated myself to finishing up the quilt top for Quarter Circles, hereafter to be called 'Antique Crows'. I'm not sure when this one was officially started, but I think it was sometime in 2017? As all the blocks were applique, it's something that I took time with working on, never making it a top priority. And in fact, this project was more of a 'squirrel' project as the little cream quarter circles were cut-outs from behind the applique on a previous quilt. Waste not, want not!
Looking at the top border....
It always amuses me how one quilt project can so extemporaneously spark yet another idea or even, at times, turn into an unplanned series of quilts created with similar elements. The ideas just keep flowing and with this one in particular, two ideas somehow joined together: the chunky New York Beauty blocks {leftover quarter circles} and the interpretation of the Antique Crows applique. So efficient when it works that way!*wink
These blocks just make me smile
The inspiration photo really made an impression on me when first seeing it. I so wanted to add it into one of my quilts some day! How to do that? Start from scratch and design a quilt around the idea? Like a lot of other great ideas, this one was probably better in theory than in actual practice, but whatever, had to try! And this was the quilt it landed on. If you looked at the photo, the whole design was a little bit short for the top border of a quilt, unless perhaps all the pieces were made really large. Putting the entire design in the center of a quilt? Maybe a better idea, but nah! I wanted these blocks to be a unit. Not every quilt is destined to be a medallion style.

So yeah, that's the real reason this particular design ended up being extended lengthwise. All about where I decided to place these larger birds in my quilt. Rather than absolute repeats of the original, I just determined to add on to the 'story'. I'm sure there are a lot of great ways this design could have tinkered with, but this way makes me smile. Plus it feels right for the fabric choices on hand. Lets not forget how important that is!

And just so you know, originally I wanted the crows to be anything but black {just to try something not as traditional looking?}, but, hmm...,  it just didn't make sense. I already had the blocks made for the base of the quilt. That part was NOT changing! No matter which fabric/color I auditioned with, those birds were determined to be made out of the darkest fabric. Okay, fine, have it your way! Who am I to argue with a quilt! In an effort to make that black look a little less stark, I made the smaller birds out of similar fabrics too. That's kinda the rule of thumb. If something stands out a little too much, then simply add more of it. Easy peasy. It's not like there's a lot of black in the quilt otherwise, right?
A close up
So no, its not identical to the original. I'm not one to worry much about accuracy in interpretation, you know that. Its more about successfully translating the feel of it all--that part that resonates so well in our heads for whatever reason. The green stems and leaves are possibly {I'm still considering} a little too florescent looking for my taste, still, they were the only greens that I could find to properly blend with all the other colors. 

Overall, I'd say this was a good ending, somehow keeping with the primitive look while at the same time leaving off most of the dark and broody elements. There was a time that I adored the darker look of most traditional primitive quilts. Now, however, I tend to want something with that same, lovely, lovely naive look {feel?}, but with perhaps a lighter, happier vibe. You know exactly what I'm talking about.
Strips sewn together for Shimmer Quilt
I also ended up sewing together all the strips for Shimmer, the strip quilt that was started during Diane Knotts book blog hop. As usual, I am looking at my fabric choices and wanting to poke my eyes out with a big stick. How could this have been a good idea? Just kidding! I'm not really that much of an emotional basket case. Mostly I'm just a wee bit concerned that I didn't use enough variation in the color palette.  I seem to have this comfort zone of two colors, an accent, and then lots and lots of neutrals that behave themselves and play very nicely in the background.

This is a common theme with me--getting all excited about my original stacks of fabric, cutting into them and then at some point, having a form of buyers remorse. Questioning myself. Doubting everything. Wanting to turn back the clock and make a small correction. Thankfully, that's usually a very brief stage of the process and honestly, it's not even very stressful anymore because I just figure it comes with the territory! If I was a complete and total control freak, it would be easy enough to reload Electric Quilt 7 on my computer and do a computer generation. They say it can be done in color and with actual look-like-the-fabric swatches. Oh my goodness, how boring would that be? Knowing exactly what our quilts would like like before we ever sewed up a single stitch! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Improv. Woven Basket Overload

This one feels like a good finish. You know how we always seem to have a question or two about things that could have been done different? We ponder, have a little debate with ourselves {and the quilt} and then settle into whatever decision we've come to. At that point we determinedly move forward, crossing our fingers we've followed the right path!
Improv. Woven Basket is completed!
This was one of those quilts that really felt like it could have any number of endings and my mind could never totally grasp the absolute 'best way forward'. Time and again I would make my decision, landing on the side of simplicity. Two-fabric basket. Lollipop flower motif. Utility style inner border done in fabrics that read as a solid. Unassuming border background with high contrast, but very basic leaf shapes. More of those lollipop flowers. And lots and lots of fabric repeats throughout.
2nd finish of the year
It was started back in August of 2016 on sort of a whim, just because I couldn't get the idea of a huge stringy basket out of my head. Once that was done I let it languish for a bit with pretty much zero idea how to fill the center of the basket. Until one weekend in October when I just went nuts with trying to put into place what my brain was telling me was needed!  Wow! That was a crazy weekend. It's a wonderful feeling to feel so much motivation to work on something, but then when it's done, I always sort of deflate and put the project away for a good long rest. It wasn't until February of the next year that I finally attacked the inner and outer borders.
A look at some of the stitching
Not because I was so terribly interested you understand, it was just something to throw up on the wall and contemplate at the moment. Part of my ongoing list of things to eventually check off! But as so often happens, just bringing a project front and center starts usually getting things moving and grooving along again. Fresh eyes can bring new perspective.
Approx. 73" square
I was deeply suspicious of the almost-too-simple inner border, but the more I looked at it, the more I just adored it. Such a wonderfully clean line between the basket and the outside border! And once I added that bit of cherry red there at the top? It didn't matter anymore if something else might look better. I wanted the framing this added to the quilt-- the movement that those blocks of color created by making my eyes do a slow circuit around the entirety of the quilt.
It has captured my heart, I confess...
In the little drawing {that I had doodled at the start of my improv. basket idea}, the outer border was about the only thing that ended up being the same as in the final quilt. The funny thing was, in translation, everything seemed to have a need to be brighter than anything that I had previously envisioned. In auditioning fabric colors and prints, I kept tossing out less vibrant greens and going to scrounge again and again in the stash for some more interesting fabrics for the leaves. Nothing seemed too outrageous for this particular quilt! This is definitely where I am seeing the shift in my quilts from 'before' and the choices I keep making these past couple years.
Gonna be hard to give this one away. May have to keep it!
Over and over again I am choosing brighter, lighter, or busier fabric prints. Not for every fabric in the quilt {obviously}, but most definitely for a chosen few. It's become a quest for me to find those specific fabrics deep in the stash totes! Why am I not buying more of these? My fabrics are so boring!!  I love the layers of interest it creates and the happy, sparky look it can so easily generate. The dull, plain light tan fabric in the outside border fabric was one of those 'crossing my fingers' moments. Would it be too muted and bring the whole quilt down? Or would it be the perfect foil for making those simple flowers look even better than they should be allowed to look?
Nothing like hand quilting texture to get me excited....
When the quilt top was finished, there was a 'flat' quality to the quilt that I didn't like. It troubled me. Should I add words or a date? Should there be another border? All these things were carefully considered until finally I just decided to let it be and see if the quilting stitches would create enough texture to solve my problem. 

Oh the angst in deciding how to quilt the inner and outside border! It honestly wasn't until I had those parts in my hoop and was threading the needle that a definitive plan started forming in my head. And I still had to rip out offending thread colors until I found the ones that made me happy.*sigh  

A quick dig through the stash totes found just enough of two purple fabrics for the binding and then a good long soak in the tub before drying. Just a little bit of the darkest colors bleeding, but when it went through the washer, my color catchers came out white as could be! Yay!

Now that it's done, I am so delighted by all the decisions that resulted in this sweet looking quilt.*whew! You just never know till you know, right? I look at quilts like this and I wonder, why would I ever want to go back to making other peoples patterns full time? In spite of the uncertainty and minor struggles that usually ensue, this process is wonderfully addicting. So exciting and enthralling! Figure out what makes a quilt capture your heart and start doing it! There is NOTHING that compares to looking at a quilt that is totally yours from start to finish. I heartily recommend it to all....

Friday, February 8, 2019

Red Is a Neutral U&U Project and the Bullseye Medallion Centerpiece

A little bit of applique work and I'm finished with the centerpiece for the Bullseye Medallion. I'm rather fond of how the darker blue 'flower's fade into the dark background. None of it is perfectly straight, but that's because I generally use the method called 'eyeballing' it. I just keep moving things until it looks right and then I sew. End of story. If you want rigid formality, you are currently visiting the wrong blog!
Centerpiece is done
I went ahead and dove into the #UandUQAL project as it has been taking over my mind. Haunting me until I broke down and spent some time with it. It's combined with the AHIQ Red is a Neutral challenge and also, to further complicate things, done in colors that are specific to a certain person I'm considering gifting the quilt to. I know, I know, that sort of thing was supposed to be over and done with around here. So difficult to feel truly creative when there are {personal preference} color boundaries boxing us in!
Sewing the blocks
There are 120 blocks in all so this is just a small sampling of what it might look like. I can say with all certainty that I am most definitely at the stage with my hands in my hair wondering what in the world was I thinking!
The first layout audition
LeeAnn made a version of this same U&U Lattice quilt and hers was simply stunning. So light and airy! Mine is a nightmare waiting to happen! lol  Or maybe not. It's really too soon to tell. My son is leaving for the weekend and so I will be taking over his bedroom floor upstairs near the quilt room in an effort to wrestle these blocks into submission. 
Gonna take some reshuffling.....
At first glance I am despairing over my decision to use leftover bits of fatquarters and thus, severely limit the number of repeats that I have per block. On the other hand, limitation is part of what can make these quilts look so charming, right? The only thing that I'm immediately happy with is the different shading of reds in the background. And it looks even better when I stand back and take the long view. This was the part that was really stressing me out. Digging into my stash for these reds the very first time was fine. The second time a bit more difficult. The third time {when I ran out AGAIN} was a joke. Basically I just threw everything that might, possibly, sort of? work together, especially if you were riding by on a very fast horse. There will be NO going to the store and buying new fabric for this one. That would totally defy the reason we are doing UandUQAL quilts in the first place!

Okay, lots to work with here! Time to roll up my sleeves, break out a Pepsi and get to work. Linking up with Wendy at her Peacock Party!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Ready For Big Stitch Quilting

I've been in an odd state this past week. So surreal that 2018 is over and done with and now we're well into February of 2019? We've had some tough challenges in the past couple years and it appears that we are starting to make the transition into better times overall. 2019 definitely looks more promising than I had hoped for and that's a huge relief.
Improv. Postage Stamp Baskets ready for quilting
No doubt we will still be confronted by the issues of our parents failing health and those sorts of concerns, but we'll have to cross that bridge when it gets here. My husband laughs and tells me that if life gets too good then I'll probably lose all my creativity. Hah! What does he know? But in fact, I sort of fell into a funk this past weekend and without any resistance whatsoever, curled up with a trio of books that absolutely riveted me. I know I'm way behind the times, but I picked up 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and subsequent sequel in a $1 a box of books sale. Luckily my daughter had the third book so I didn't have to wait for the library to open! Down the rabbit hole I fell for all of four days, only putting the books down for necessities like making dinner etc.
The new one in the hoop!
But finally I have came back to the land of living and addressed more important things like quilting. There's a new quilt sandwiched and pinned and after the most basic of machine {stitch-in-the-ditch} quilting, it's all ready for the hoop. It's been very cold here and so this quilt feels like a great one to have in my lap. All the blues and greens against the pale backgrounds remind me of early spring. When we're young we think that life just gets more simple as we get older, but in reality, things just change and our challenges are different. Yay for the foundation of a good life and a wonderful family all around me! Just one last thought.... Why is it that women {often} have to deal with so many life challenges at a time when their hormones are whacked? I don't want to be a man in any way shape or form, but wowsers, at least they have the ability to dial back on the emotional roller coaster at a moments notice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

January Progress on Several Projects

So here's my start to the latest AHIQ 'Red is a Neutral' challenge. I had a stack of fabric already pre-selected for making a quilt for a certain someone. The red is not that gorgeous cherry red that looks so wonderful in most quilts, but most are the deeper, darker shades--more maroon. Very, very difficult for me to imagine working beautifully into a quilt, but exactly the shades this particular person prefers.
AHIQ: Red and U&U

I went ahead and combined the AHIQ prompt with the UANDUQAL challenge hoping to end up with something charming rather than flat out ugly! To further the challenge for me personally, I'm using the reds in the background {or neutral} position. I know it's confusing when you look at my practice block, but flip the colors and that's how it will look. All the lattice pieces will be blues and grays with maybe a few in a bright red fabric. Crossing my fingers it will be fast and easy and more importantly, look amazing. hehe  Well, maybe just look good. I have another idea for U&U challenge that feels more 'me' and also, now that I'm thinking about red as a neutral? Lots of things to consider there...

You probably forgot all about these baskets, but I've also been plugging along with the applique work for a long time now. Just little bits of time here and there when I was in the mood. I am positive that there were four identical green print leaves at the beginning, but somewhere along the way, one leaf apparently went missing.
Sweet Tart Baskets
We searched high and low, but never did find it. And of course, as usually happens, that was the very last of that particular fabric so had to find a substitute! The green plaid actually makes me very happy as I always love incorporating plaids and directionals into every quilt possible.  Then, imagine my surprise and dismay when I realized that somehow I had miscalculated the amount needed for the chosen sashing print! If I had a brain, I'd probably take it out and play with it! The closest matching fabric to this one looked very yellow/green and sallow when placed side by side, thus the decision to go with the almost solid green. Some of you might have ditched the original sashing print altogether when coming up short, but I just couldn't. It's absolutely perfect for the look and feel that I was aiming for and that was that.
Working on the center of the quilt...
I did have to take some extra time considering and weighing my options for the little cornerstone squares. Black? Green? Are they needed on the corners? Is this going to look awkward moving forward? Lots of decisions to make and really, it's all about learning to trust our instincts and doing what feels right in the moment.

Another project that I've been playing with lately is my Bullseye Medallion. I've had this stack of fabric sitting on the counters for a very long time and was determined not to let it be one of those projects that never ever gets going.  This blend of colors is quite a bit different for me too, but you know how it is, when something quilty is loudly calling our names! 
Starting the centerpiece for the Bullseye Medallion
This is an idea I drew up after looking at an antique quilt several years ago. Since then, I've looked and looked for that particular quilt and cannot find a picture, so off I go with my own made-up version! I made the mistake of using a lighter weight fabric behind the red circle, but the color is exactly what I was looking for--a charcoal with a blue tinge. It actually does lay flat, contrary to what the picture shows, but I am going to have to be careful when I add the applique stitching. It probably doesn't help that I don't iron and starch to the nth degree and therefore ensure that all my projects are polished and fabulous looking when presented on the blog!
Auditioning a bird
Originally, I had thought to leave the center of the circle bare {like what I remember in the antique quilt}, but the more I considered, it just had to have a bird included. I drew several different options and wound up with something that felt okay. Not great but doable. Then, on impulse, I told my daughter what I wanted and asked her to draw some free hand birds too. After seeing her birds, it became apparent that what I wanted had to be shorter and 'chunkier' looking than what I had settled on as 'okay'. 
Looking at the paper bird folded
Rather than drawing a new bird, I just played around with folding the paper bird until it looked right in my minds eye. Wallah! Applique template all ready for business! After that it was a short time until all the rest fell into place. You can see that all the various parts and pieces are now cut out and waiting on applique stitching. Yes, the centerpiece does look a bit busy at the moment, but should look better after the seam allowance is turned under and out of the way. So funny how any and every idea is completely open to change at any particular phase in a quilt!
Add with applique pieces ready to stitch
And of course, now there is this circular cut-out from behind the applique. Hmm...  It is oh-so intriguing and I find myself very determined to find something interesting to do with it. I'm leaving it on the design wall for the moment just waiting to see if something will spark and yet another quilt will be in the making here shortly. Just can't resist these sorts of challenges!
So many possibilities!
Normally at least part of January is a slow time for us, but wowsers, it feels like we've been on a runaway train. Tonight is Senior Night for our youngest son in his varsity basketball season and later in the week we are having a very delayed 'Christmas' evening with my husbands mother. Sometime in the next month I have to get serious about making a baby quilt too as my next grandchild is due to arrive sometime in March! I have been longing for some quiet weeks but alas, it has not been on the agenda for us at all. Best to keep the applique bag prepped and ready to go and have the hand quilting hoop available at a moments notice....







Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Lots of Things Going On This Month

What have I been up to? Oh the list is so very long! For one thing thing, at the prompting of Ann, I attempted to clean up my blog. That resulted in having to eliminate a few widgets that I rather liked, such as 'LinkWithin', thumbnails at the bottom of each post to previous, but similar subject matter. I don't understand a lot of it, but don't want people to feel unsafe coming to my site.
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The Big Woven Basket quilt in the hoop....
I cleaned up some of the clutter, deciding to keep the 'Current Quilt in the Hoop' at the top of the sidebar. You've probably seen the progression of hand quilting projects there for years and years now. The latest quilt in the hoop happens to be 'Big Woven Basket'. It was one of those improv. projects that also sort of jumped into my Big Basket quilt series. I really love this one so was happy to get this one sandwiched and snug in the hoop awaiting quilting efforts.
Getting it ready for quilting
The hand quilting has been really sporadic on this one though, not an every night sort of thing like I expected. Sometimes I want to hand quilt so badly that's all the quilting that happens of an evening, but with other quilts, it's a different story. I've discovered that it's usually a stitching dilemma most of the time. Decisions, decision! If I can just push through, then it all gets sorted out and I'm back in the groove of wanting to stitch again.With a quilt like this, I often tend to get paralyzed at the thought of 'what' to stitch in those wide open borders. Stencils are just not my thing, so it can take me awhile to make up my mind how to address all that yawning emptiness. It's scary. That's where people can more readily see the stitching...
Always trying to figure out the game plan for stitching!
Being a new year, I've also been diligently trying to trim down the open ended quilt project list. How can I start all these new projects tantalizing me if I have oodles of old projects demanding my time and attention? One of the things that help to make certain projects drag on for so long is the addition of applique. Which is totally fine by me. There are always at least two or three {or more} projects that need applique attention around here and that is completely by design!
Quarter Circles sewn together
Eventually they all need some piecing work done on the machine though. This particular project was started with the leftover quarter circles cut from the back of another project. Rather than throwing them away, I saved them for a rainy day. In my original thinking, these blocks {after the spiky bits were added}, would have been left in the quarter circle presentation and simple joined together in rows. Then sometime during layout auditions, I absolutely fell in love with the look of four quarter circle blocks being joined together and making a sort of 'sun'.
Initial block layout
Okay. So off in that direction we went, having a grand old time. The reality was, unfortunately, that I wasn't truly happy with so much lightness glaring out at from what had become a busy, busy quilt. I played with all sorts of colors and ideas for sashing , alternate blocks,and/or applique in the centers. Finally, I settled on a cream/gray text fabric for the sashing and a basic dark fabric for the cornerstone squares. The text fabric was a last ditch effort to find something, anything and it worked because it adds whimsy, which I love. The center of the larger blocks took quite a bit more time and effort and in the end I just had to sleep on the idea one more night. The final solution just seemed way too easy, which always makes me nervous for some inexplicable reason.
Looking at the applique centers
Can you see that the circle applique is all the same fabric? The pink with white print really did the trick for me. And it's not a great fabric, just a basic two toned floral print! What's funny is that I pulled it directly out of the scrap bin totes, all that was left from the backing fabric on another quilt! Nothing else even came close to giving the feel that I was looking for. Okay then. All the circles were rough cut in different sizes and deliberately placed slightly off center. It's a really subtle thing from a distance, but really gives excellent feel-good vibes. Well, to those of us who like that sort of imperfection....

At least one thing about this project has remained constant from the beginning! Back in 2017, I saw a picture over at Kankerdoodle blog. At that moment, I knew the antique crows would be making their way into a quilt of mine at at later date! Isn't it funny the things that set off a spark of inspiration? I've been fiddling around with the parts and pieces, trying to expand the graphic out to a longer border look. Still have to get the bias stem sewn up of course, but I'm almost at the point of being able to situate the pieces and get them ready for the applique stitching.
Playing with the applique border parts and pieces for antique crows border
And last but not least has been the quilt room re-organization, de-clutter attempt. It started when I took an afternoon and pulled out a few small totes worth of scraps, thinking to use them in my string quilt blocks. The impulse was very strong to get rid of all the rest of the scraps--just toss them into the dumpster!
The larger scrap re-organization attempt....
Being a frugal soul, I resisted and delayed, thinking there had to be a better solution. Then one evening I read through Cheryl's 'KonMari Your Sewing Room Space'. I've heard lots about the book and recent show, but am not much of a trend follower honestly! Cheryl's blog though, is something I generally read. This post was very timely for me as it hit on several of the key things I had been struggling with. 
Getting things organized....
Although I do keep things fairly tidy {else I couldn't ever even function properly}, the scrap bin for sure had gotten completely out of control, my love of quilting books were crowding into every corner of my space and entirely too much 'stuff' had resulted in yes, a feeling of being flooded and overwhelmed.  Cheryl made the case that , 'We are sewers and quilters, arguably everything we have for creating sparks joy - eventually.'  That really made me think. She gets it, us, the whole creators extraordinaire! Maybe I should pay attention and see how it could apply to my lovely mess.

She started from a different angle altogether, and broke things down into simple categories. Then she lined out a plan of attack in a direct and no-nonsense way that totally made sense to me. And part of the good timing was that it happened during those days while I had such a bad head cold so didn't feel like doing much else. Otherwise, I might never have done anything but read through the post and think 'what a good idea that is, maybe I'll get to it sometime later in the year...'
The wall of totes between my sewing room
and my sons bedroom....
It took three very long days, but I went through every single drawer, tote and shelf except for the stash fabric itself. In the end, I tossed out three black garbage bags full of stuff and kept back one box of quilting books, patterns, blocks etc. to give to some quilting friends. I organized ALL of the scraps by color and put them into totes--something I've always scoffed at before. If they don't see a whole lot more use by being organized in this manner, then the goal is to eventually start tossing certain un-used colors at the time of cutting. I keep all the stash fabrics in opaque totes so that the sun doesn't bleach them, but the scraps were put into see-through totes. Hopefully this way they will catch my eye on occasion and inspire me to do a little bit of string play or whatever. It just feels weird to keep so many scraps, but I could NOT ditch them all, though I did dump more than you realize. Part of one black garbage bag was filled with scrap fabric. That's a start!

My quilting space feels so much better now. It's been needing this for several years now. I was brutal in throwing/giving away things that hadn't been looked at for a very long time {other than the scraps}. The books are down to two shelves and a small book caddy on my ironing counter. All the old thread has been discarded and the batting remnants organized by size into two totes or otherwise tossed. All the old applique templates {kept from every project ever attempted}, have been gone through and reduced to a small drawer full. I found things that I didn't even know were lurking in the corners of my quilt room! It felt good though I was exhausted every single evening after. 

The stash fabric itself is still up in the air. As long as it fits into the current totes I use, it feels okay. One of the things I love most about scrappy quilts and flying blindly through quilt making, is the idea that I can somehow manage to use a piece of unloved, deep in the stash totes kind of fabric and make them shine. Tossing every piece of stash fabric that is years old, an odd color or so-dated-as-to-be-ugly might take away from my joy. So I'm calling it good. Brushing my hands together in a 'project finished', 'putting it all behind me' sort of way. The lure of those new projects is starting to sound pretty irresistible....