Saturday, October 2, 2021

The Latest Quilty Progress

Believe it or not, I've been earnestly trying to scratch a couple long-ongoing projects off of the list. That open-ended, not-quite-a-quilt-top-yet list. This Improv. HST Medallion is one of the projects that has been in my sights for this fall. I kinda knew where it needed to go after the applique, just didn't have the heart to do it in the summertime. You know how it is with quilts of a certain color!

A few blocks organized for the border and leftover bits

First I quit fiddle-faddling around with how wonky the outside border should or should not be. It was just so exhausting. I ended up cutting out the hsts with the rotary cutter this time around and then let the 'wonkiness' be in the fact that I didn't square them up or try to match up any points. Turns out I'm more precise than I expected. Whoops!

Trying out the third border!

If you look closely, there's plenty of wonderful mistakes though, so I was happy with that. The quilt top looked so good at this point that I just almost called it a day and stuffed it in the finished quilt top drawers. So tempting.

Improv. HST Medallion quilt top finished up!

But no.....  66 inches just seemed a bit too small for one of my quilts. Onward ho! By this time I really wanted to be done. One more border and it's gonna be moving on regardless! I was running out of options for colors etc. so it was a simple matter to go darker {purple fabric} and a little bit dull {gold fabric} in order to not compete with the bright, sparky middle. 

I tried putting the darker triangles to the outside,
this looked much better

The dark purple was a cut up, recycled tunic shirt I had bought a couple years ago at a Rummage Room sale. It was a hundred percent cotton, but kind of loose weave fabric like linen. Hmm.. Definitely not cutting things too far off grain or everything in the outside border would be waving back and forth like a flag!

So glad the little bright tulips were added!

I'm pretty happy with the way things turned out overall, although I do have to laugh. How does almost everything around here {quilty-wise} end up being boxed in and tidied up eventually? Just can't seem to help myself trying to contain all the wild bits I guess. Still pondering the two purple hst's on the outside corner though. Could be better if those two corner squares were solid gold colored....

Really sparky looking quilt!

It's rapidly turning into fall here in Eastern Washington and so the colors in this quilt have been an absolute delight to work with. I kind of figured it would work out that way! Love it when I start seeing the trees turn yellow and all those other gorgeous fall tones! This quilt may be a limited color palette but it's not the least bit boring. I can totally see this quilt being pulled out in the future just for a Autumn vibes pick-me-up.

Even looks good folded up. Maybe I'll just leave it this way?

The hand quilting has been moving along so well on the 'Patchwork Garden' quilt, that I knew it was time to get another top into the hoop. Or at least ready to be put into the hoop! So not my favorite thing to do these days but you know, it's all part of the progress and at least hand quilting doesn't require very many pins.

A new quilt getting ready for the hoop

You might remember this one, Bullseye Medallion from a couple years ago. I've been really hoping there would be time to slide this one into the line-up for finishing up this year. Wasn't quite sure how to approach the quilting pattern {still don't know!}, but just love, Love the colors on this one so very much! It started out as an ode to making the most of certain fabrics, not cutting them too small and/or losing the effect of the prints.

That little piece of red vintage fabric on the corner!

Letting the fabric make the statement? Whatever. It totally made sense at the time. I played with a small, different element in every border just to break up the monotony of the 5" borders. A few people tried to warn me off the idea of making every border the very same width; however, I was intrigued with the challenge of attempting to make it look good. 

The floral basket handles {leftover from a long ago project} are my favorite part of the quilt. Something about how the printed fabric below sort of fades into the handles really charms me. Or maybe my fave part is the wide, red, retro looking circle in the center? The one that makes me want to do more with circles and applique in the center of a quilt? So many ideas to think about! 

You don't have to iron your quilt backings like a mad-woman
when you're hand quilting. Just get the seams tidy...

While I was totally procrastinating about applique prep {the stuff that needs done for the pear blocks}, I went ahead and sewed several quilt backings together. Yes, all for finished quilt tops waiting patiently in the drawers. I wouldn't sew random quilt backings together and cross my finger they would work! I think I managed to sew 8 or 10 before running out of steam! The one pictured above is probably about the best of the lot, unless you prefer backings made out of a total of one yardage. 

I tend to buy a smallish {yardage} amount of clearance fabric {sometimes the rest of a bolt}, and/or make do with whatever pops up in the stash in complementary colors. Yep. A lot of the larger pieces have been gifted to me and yeah, they're not always pretty prints. In fact, most of these backings are not at all fabulous. I get that! But what can I say? My creative juices are pretty much directed solely towards the fronts of the quilts. The rest of it just sort of ends up being make-do and cheap, and I'm completely on board with that. Usually..., until I see Julie's lovely quilt backings! Then I'm super jealous and think I'll just have to do better next time. But I never do.

I don't really know why I was in the mood to sew quilt backings for almost two straight evenings. Such a weird thing to want to do. Something I've figured out in all my adventuring, is that this sort of thing works out very nicely much later on when I'm actually in the mood to sandwich and pin a quilt. Might as well take advantage of wherever the mojo leads us!

A pieced together batting usually works out well for 
the baby quilts and saves money too!

The latest baby quilt was sandwiched and quilted at the same time as the Bullseye Medallion quilt. I have been dragging my heels so bad about this quilt from the very start of the making. Ughh. Just don't know what the problem is with baby quilts lately! I've already machine quilted 'in-the-ditch' around all the long pink sashing bits. And the shorter pink and/or peachy ones. Will probably go back and do some quick hand quilting {with Perle Cotton of course!} inside the brick blocks. All that can probably be done in one day if I get really diligent about it. Then the binding and yay! Giving it away! Which is the very best part.

Next thing will be cutting the circles in quarters and
sewing in the blue/green strips.

And of course, I had to start another quilt project. It's Fall. This is Me we're talking about. It's the Right Thing To Do. And I couldn't resist, obviously. Checking things off the list can only lead to starting new things, right? I'm making this one along the lines of Quarter Circles Round #2, a quilt that ended well, but didn't behave exactly as originally intended. I was trying to do an interpretation of an antique quilt and somehow hand sewed the circles onto the background squares 'on point' instead of how I wanted them. Or something. Still not sure quite sure what happened with that quilt, however well it managed to rescue itself. I'm going to study the original picture a lot before sewing these so hopefully, hopefully!, the same mistakes are not made as before. And I'm only working with nine crossroads blocks this time around, mostly because these are larger. Should go pretty fast once I get started!

Oh the angst and the frustrations of a quilt that takes a turn in the wrong direction. It's haunted me ever since and I'd really like a do-over. Do you ever feel that way with one of your older quilts? Imagine my pleasure when I stumbled upon some largish gold fabric cut-outs from behind some older applique project. Already cut out in circle shapes? Easy peasy to cut out a few more and even more fun that I left them in the same, not-quite-perfect circular shape. Hmm... This could be loads of fun. It's almost like serendipity!

Don't be surprised if I don't get back to this blog for several weeks. Lots of family stuff  in the works, no doubt to be taking up loads of my time. It's good to have hand quilting waiting in the wings and the applique bag packed up and ready for business. Of course, my good intentions are generally more than the actual output when life gets super busy. We'll see how it all shakes out! By the way, my opened ended quilt project list is now down to five projects, with another two 'gonna-happen-soon' from abandoned bits from the Melon Patch project. That feels like an excellent place to step back and take a short break!

Saturday, September 25, 2021

A Little Bit of Applique and A Brand New Completion!

First things first, right? This past week has been for working on the Crazy Daisy blocks. Finally got the petals totally sewn down.*Whew! Thought that might never happen! Then it was time to cut out the flower centers. The bright citrussy greens just hit all the right notes so here they are, sewn onto the flowers by machine. No reason not to sew them raw edge style as the darker brown arches will be hand sewn down directly over the tops.

Crazy Daisy Blocks almost finished up!

Those arches are already cut out and ready to go. Gotta get the prep work done and out of the way to ever make further progress! This was one of those easy peasy phases that got taken care of while I was waiting in the car for my husband one day. We have to drive either 45 minutes or an hour and 15 minutes for most of our business concerns. Easiest to tag along with him occasionally and combine our shopping needs. Honestly, I think he makes me wait on him a whole lot more than vice versa, but as long as I have the applique bag along, it's hard to complain.

Getting the pears ready to stitch to the background...

Just as soon as the petals were finished up on the Crazy Daisy blocks, I jumped right into the pear blocks. I'm not sure where this 'half pear with applique' look came from, but if you get onto Pinterest, there are many examples. This one is probably my fave though it was too much trouble for this particular quilt. This fabric felt very retro and kinda sweet. Probably helped clarify the look that I wanted. Do you follow Campbell Soup Diary Blog?  She just posted about a shiny new pear project on her Instagram. Simply gorgeous! Mine are a bit more pedestrian but probably suits this project better, plus I already had mine prepped and waiting for the needle work. The background fabrics are currently cut out and when the larger pears are finished, I'll be ready to start hand stitching into place. Will need to get the stems and leaves cut out soon too I suppose!

A little bit of hand quilting soothes the soul

Always a bit of hand quilting going on around here most evenings. This quilt seems to be quietly absorbing the #8 and #12 Perle Cotton that I love to use. I've absolutely fell into a comfortable rhythm minus the occasional marking that has to happen. 

As most of you know, this quilt is NOT my original made-up-out-of-my-head pattern. It's called 'Patchwork Garden' by Jan Patek, an older, stand alone pattern that I've had for eons. A quick search on the Internet showed that it's still available here and there for about $12. As usual, I had to change up a few things to make it feel more me and of course, interpret the whole in an interesting color palette. My days of doing the duller primitive vibe are falling further and further behind. Very sweet quilt to spend time with though if you love baskets and flowers. Which I do. So glad the motivation happened in regards to this pattern, it's a winner!

Patina is a true blue finish!

Ah yes. The completed quilt. I am not churning out the finishes quite like normal {this is is only #9 for the year}. In my defense, it's been a busy, distracting year. I finally snuck in the time to finish up the hand work on the binding for 'Patina', its been ready for awhile now. Binding is not at all difficult to do by hand, I just never want to stop once it gets started! This is the second in an intended series of Quarter Log Cabin quilts. Somehow I've never made it past this second effort, but there are plans in the works! Ideas. Dreams. Intended interpretations. There will be more Log Cabin quilts in my future. Just can't resist.

Looking across the quilt

There's something about an improv. style quarter log cabin block that makes quilting seem like the most fun in the whole wide world. From the cutting out and sewing, to the hand quilting, it's such a relaxing way to enjoy our older fabrics. Who cares about the waste? No worries if it doesn't turn out. It's just a free flow of implementation and almost a 'reset' to our creativity. Though the look is a bit utilitarian on its face, it's almost always a cozy quilt look in the end. Love it! In this one, I even managed to include an off-color shirting fabric. Score!

This one looks/feels extra snuggly

I'm ever so glad to see more of these older, tired-green fabric find a lovely home in this quilt. You probably can't even imagine the satisfaction this quilt brings me! Why I even bother is probably a question for many. There was a few years where I was diligently trying to build up the stash. I didn't pay too much attention at first to which colors were bound to end up with a 'stale date'. It didn't even occur to me that it COULD someday be an issue! lol  And apparently there was going to be a lot of green quilts in my future.*sigh  Okay. What's done is done. I'm evidently enjoying the challenge to make something good and sweet with these oldy moldies now. And rest assured, when it's not fun anymore, it will all come crashing to a halt and you won't be bothered by these weird color palettes anymore. ha!

Improv. cut log cabin blocks

Quick follow-up to the stale date fabrics, I'm quite a bit more cautious in my fabric buying these days. Much, much more frugal overall. I buy fabric I LOVE, find useful or am super intrigued by. Most fabric is bought without a single project in mind because I still believe in making projects from the stash. The shopping is spread out waaay farther between than it used to be, and yeah. I spend less and less every year because I can, now that I have a solid base to work with. And... lets not forget that there is an awful lot of stash fabric around here that has been gifted to me through the years. 

The challenge in using it up {or using it at all}, has absolutely changed the way that I approach many ongoing projects. Personally, I think it's a good thing! With the help of Kaja's influence, I'm not even above adding in cut up shirting fabrics. So interesting once you give it a try! Given the opportunity to go back and do it differently, would I? Well of course! Who wouldn't? I'm pretty sure there will always be fabrics that I just wait around too long to use though. That's just the nature of quilting. Too many ideas, not nearly enough time!
Loving this look!

It's a fact that this beautiful 'Patina' quilt would never even have come into being, if not for that annoying, lid-won't-hardly-shut, overflowing green stash tote. Can't/won't regret that for a minute.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Another Difficult Quilt Top All Wrapped Up!

Here it is! A completed quilt top for the Positive Thinking challenge over at the AHIQ blog. This prompt was introduced in June of 2020, more or less encouraging us to keep going with whatever form our creativity allowed considering the stresses of the year. Doing anything 'positive' based seemed like a reach at the time {and even later}, but turned out to be a really great idea. Most of the intention behind what I do is for a cozy, happy, comfy outcome, and it was a timely reminder to keep on trying.

Positive Thinking quilt top is done!

It was also suggested that we might want to chop some of our clothes up in the getting-started phase. {Begin with the comfortable and familiar.} I cut up about six or seven shirts and used them to determine the base of the color palette moving forward. The cream print fabric behind the raspberry pink letters {and those same pink letters} are from two of my favorite shirts that I wore for years. The blue shirting fabric in the middle of the quilt is from a barely worn shirt from my husbands closet, and then there are two more of his shirting fabrics that made it into the quilt as clamshells. The other shirtings were dumped into the stash totes without being used at all. No worries, one of these days I'll dig them out and introduce them into yet another quilt!

What do you think of the whatchamacallit
at the bottom of the words?

So yes, those specific fabrics being used mean something to me, causing the quilt to feel a little more special. The decision to attempt another 'wordy' quilt was actually quite simple when I thought about trying to project positivity. It's all in the message, right? Coincidently, there was a suitable one that had been pinned up on a board in my quilting room for eons. 

Cutting and sewing letters together doesn't take a tremendous amount of creativity once a person gets started. It's more of a formula and that seemed to be a good thing last summer. Like maybe I could coast through at least part of the process on auto pilot! Ha. Of course there's always the phase {or two or three of them} where everything comes screeching to a halt and Very. Important. Decisions. Have. To. Be. Made. And it's usually in the details that later appear so thoroughly nonessential, but whatever. I made it through and finally got to the puzzle, getting the words and background to fit together in a way that hopefully everyone can read!

Bright, happy flowers

I ended up with the cream/black pinstripe fabric as the background because I loved the way it blended with the one cream shirting fabric especially calling out to me. The old fashioned charm was irresistible and also, there looked to be enough to hopefully take care of the entire background. Generally I'm okay with mixing and matching background fabrics {making-do}, but wanted something more controlled this time around. The stripe made me a bit nervous initially. Stripes?? But after I made the decision to put each word into its own 'box' of sorts, then the rest fell into place and started making more sense. 

No leaves this time

There were plenty of stops and starts getting it all pieced together. Energy would run very thin on the ground occasionally. What am I doing? What am I actually trying to accomplish? If I do this, use that, then where does that leave the emphasis of the message? 'Cuz you know, changing up the value of some of the colors per words, makes a huge difference in how the message could come across!

It's a wrap!

Fabric usage was carefully planned out ahead, but you can only do so much because of the waste involved. You can only imagine how thrilled I was when the cream shirting behind the pink letters was just enough and then later, when I was trying to puzzle piece the entire background into place, having the perfect amount with barely a scrap or two leftover! 

Originally I wanted every single word to have the same exact cream shirting background but it simply wasn't possible. Waahh! That's why I paused part way through the letter making and spent some time considering. How do I move forward in a way that doesn't mess up the whole {imagined} look to the quilt? Eventually I just had to do something and leave it up to chance as to whether or not everything could/would come together. So that's where the blue background shirting came into play. Off on another tangent and we'll just have to see if it makes or breaks the quilt!

Also, the greater background was pieced intentionally with the stripes positioned on the vertical. All except for the very bottom of the quilt where I had no choice but to sew a narrow strip on the horizontal. It was a scary hairy determination to make as I worried it might 'waste' too much fabric and potentially leave me lacking enough to finish. The main reason it seemed important to deliberately choose one direction or the other was to eliminate extra chaos from fabrics being placed into the background willy-nilly. Since the theme was to be 'positive', it felt necessary to at least try to eliminate as much noise as possible. So yeah, that's one more area of this quilt that makes me super happy. It's a very small detail of the quilt, but almost boggles my mind. Lets just say it again.... the stripes are all going in the very same direction!!

The clamshell background is much whiter
than the cream center, but it seems to work.

Once the middle of the quilt was totally pieced, then I let it sit for a good long while. It was tempting to wrap it up and say 'It's a finish!', but honestly, the whole message thing was a bit too much for the totality of the quilt. I almost wanted to say in return, 'Oh yeah? So what?' With nothing but words to look at on the quilt, it seemed to make the quilt feel almost aggressively opinionated and I didn't want that vibe. Besides, I was pretty sure it needed applique. I mean, lets be real. How could there possibly be that much background space on one of my quilts, and not have a flower somewhere? It was always meant to be.

A couple months went by and the quilt decided that it probably needed to have borders. Almost any border would do, but didn't clamshells sound interesting? So I pondered and played with the idea until coming up with the scrappy 6" clamshells plan. Big enough to more easily learn the new-to-me technique, yet not so small as to get buried in the minutia of 'not quite good enough'. Mistakes were made. Things are far from perfect, and yet... I love it! Adds such a wonderful exuberance to the quilt. Definitely helped lift the quilt into a place of confidence and meaning without the overbearing quality it had before.

These strange blue colors are difficult for me to work with...

And then before the clamshells were completely finished and attached to the quilt, I finally settled on the applique flower addition. They are MUCH brighter than I ever intended, so in-your-face happy to be on the quilt. Wowsers. Dial it down a bit, could you? hehe  Why does it take more than just words though? They just aren't enough by themselves sometimes, especially on quilts. In fact, at the very end of adding on all the applique, I felt compelled to add on the little curly-cue or whatchamacallit thing as extra emphasis there on the bottom. Like an underlining of intent that I mean this. I feel this. Does that make sense? Laughing at myself here because the quilt was a little too overbearing without the border and applique and then after? Not quite serious enough. These quilts. They just love to run us in circles, don't they?

I know that not everyone will appreciate this quilt as much as I do {already figured that out by showing it to my mom}, and that's okay. Personally, I'm very, very pleased to have pushed through with this particular challenge. It was a good one in so many ways! There were definitely times that I sincerely thought the quilt had lost its way. What a drab little nothing of a quilt! And then, this. Plus, I finally got over my fear of playing with clamshells! Just goes to show that attempting the occasional challenge can take us on an unexpected, but wonderful adventure! Next AHIQ challenge is Symmetry/Asymmetry. I'm only a little behind on getting started!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Making Time in the Week For the Post is Sometimes the Hardest Part

Well here it is, another go at a baby quilt. After the last disastrous effort, I focused more intensely on gathering a cohesive grouping of fabrics. Something happy and cozy looking and at least a little bit girlish. As the days went by, fabrics were pulled out and other, better fabrics included until the stack had the right vibe.

Blocks for the baby quilt

Since that's where things went wrong last time, I calculated this step to be the most helpful overall. You would think that I {of all people} would never take a good color palette for granted, but hey. We all have our moments! Eventually I reached a spot in my latest hand work frenzy where it became obvious that there needed to be some machine quilting time. For equilibrium. And mixing things up. Okay! Good time to get serious about moving on with the baby quilt! And yeah, it's the strangest thing, but somehow I had lost my confidence with making these quilts for the littles. Everything that I imagined and conjured up just seemed so overblown and complex for the ultimate purpose. 

Starting to consider the fabric in the setting

Finally I managed to get ahold of myself and made the decision to start with a very simple courthouse step {or brick?} block. Just keeping it very basic and see where it leads us. Everything was free cut even though I occasionally used a ruler to avoid the wavy 'hand cut' effect. As you can see I used groups of color for each segment of the blocks, rarely using a repeat. After all the blocks were completed, then I trimmed the width only to the exact same size. 

Making it all work

That gave me a starting place to determine what to do next. As I worked through a period of about three different sessions, I found that it was a simple matter to just 'go with the flow'. First I joined blocks into the longer rows. If I saw that the peachy pink fabrics looked fine in the adjoining areas, then I didn't even bother to try out another option. Decision made, cut the fabric and move along!

Trying to make sure the blocks aren't' an exact
line-up in placement horizontally

As I was working along on this baby quilt, there was also progress being made each evening with the hand quilting on the Patina quilt. The more that I looked at the backing fabric there, the more that I realized some of it needed to go directly into the baby quilt. The green flowers [especially} on the pink print just seemed so perfect for breathing room between the blocks! 

Patina with the binding sewn on by machine,
waiting patiently for the hand stitching time to finish up

Thankfully, I wasn't too far out on the stitching. The push to finish wasn't some herculean task, but just a dedicated effort to make the best use of regular handquilting time. Wallah! It was a finish! And then it was an easy matter to trim all the extras from the backing into long sashing pieces, sewing sections together wherever needed. Yes, some of the trimmings were cut on the horizontal view of the printed fabric and others on the vertical. Does it matter? Altogether, the print worked to pull the blocks into a soft, unified whole. See how it comes off as a great background, helping make those stronger-look blocks 'pop'? Mission accomplished.

Baby quilt top all sewn together, ready for sandwiching 

Even the lighter {fill-in} sections of the lighter peach fabric used at the top and bottom of the quilt were re-used from the backing trim-offs since I often use 2 or 3 fabrics to make up a back. How fun to use up the backing pieces so readily! Really makes my frugal, use-it-up quilter soul want to high five someone.*wink  The only thing that I'm not 100 percent satisfied with, is the very far left sashing strip--its just a little 'off print' and showing lots of solid pink. Overall though, I think this effort can be considered a success. And it restores just a tiny bit of my baby-quilt-making confidence! Will probably try to wait and do the quilting at the same time as the next one in line. It's already late. What difference does another couple weeks make?

Half the Crazy Daisy blocks ready for next phase
of hand stitching

The primary applique project worked on in the last week or so has been Crazy Daisy. It's not a show stopper and in fact, at this stage in the game, it still looks a little sad. I kinda knew that, but it wasn't until a friend stopped by the other day and asked me what I was working on that it really hit home. When I showed her one of the blocks, she had this look. You know the one. It was pretty evident she was trying to figure out how to say something positive and polite, but didn't quite know what to say.... Oh well. You and I both know my quilts are never finished until the binding is put on!

I kept avoiding these blocks until one evening it occurred to me that truly, what I was doing was sabotaging available hand work time. I would take the hand stitching bag into the living room and place it by the couch. Then, you know... I'd have to go check the laundry, pick up in the kitchen, go water the flower pots, etc. etc. until there might be 20-30 minutes left to actually DO something. 
Looking closer at the flower detail and
potential sashing fabric

When that realization finally broke through my consciousness, things got serious. I hate wasting time. My goal was 5 blocks a week and I was waaaay behind. So then I really put my head down until now there are 13 blocks out of 25 ready for the next phase. Whew! So exhausting. But now I can happily do some hand work on the Positive Thinking quilt without any guilt whatsoever. Until next week, which uh... starts tomorrow? Unless I count it as being 3 blocks ahead? Hmmm...

Whatever. There was serious progress made to the point where I could put enough blocks up on the wall to do a quick audition for the side-setting triangle fabric. {The way the flowers are being sewn onto the blcoks pretty much pre-determines the final layout.} Uh huh. This is where it occurred to me that this quilt wasn't going to be happy without sashing. The vague idea I had about just slapping these blocks together and getting a top done lickety-split pretty much crashed and burned. Why do some quilts have to be so demanding? The only fabric/color that made any sense at all is a Tula Pink stripe that was only lacking about 20" from being enough. Of course! You're all going to be shocked, but yes, I ultimately caved and just ordered it online from an Etsy shop. Enough waffling about. When you know, you know.

It turned out that I was also able to get an excellent feel for what needed to happen at the bottom of the flowers too. At least that part was straightforward and almost exactly as imagined! It will most definitely be more of those sharp citrussy greens with a narrow band of the brown/green to help emphasize that it's actually a 'flower'. Super happy about that as I've been wanting to use more of those lately. I'm going to use about 6 of the different greens from the stash, but only that single brown for the narrow arch. That particular print has a lovely, subtle green included which just makes my heart do a little pitter patter of happiness. Love how the quick free-cut arch is so imperfect looking and will probably use it exactly 'as-is' for the final plastic template.

Patchwork Garden ready for the hoop!

Next up for the quilt in the hoop is Patchwork Garden, top all finished up sometime in 2019. All summer long, I was looking forward to getting this one in the hoop and finally, here it is! I totally forgot about taking pictures while it was being sandwiched, so this is 'it', in all its rumpled glory, pinned and ready to go. Things are not always perfectly camera ready around here in case you hadn't already figured that out. I wonder why? 

Alas, the first night of stitching was just wrong. So wrong. I had to pull out all of the stitches and start completely over. The colors, the patterns. Meh! As of last night, I'm finally starting to find the proper groove and rhythm. Always so good to be falling into the sheer enjoyment of being able to sit and happily stitch! 

It's kind of an different color palette for me, not one I've played with much before. Still, I'm having a ball being reintroduced to some favorite fabrics and remembering the many decisions made while putting the top together. I think that's one of the best things about hand quilting, having plenty of time to enjoy the very last moments with a quilt. Unless it's an ugly or unsatisfactory make, then it gets pretty wearisome to have to keep coming back to the hoop!

Thursday, September 2, 2021

One Little Decision at a Time

Lets take a meander through the latest applique work going on around here. For whatever reason, that's what has seemed the most interesting of late. Plus, there are a couple projects that really, really need the attention so they can move on to final quilt top stage!

Positive  Vibes getting the attention

The main project that has been getting my complete and almost total attention is the Positive Thinking one. It's not a super long term project as it's just barely a year old. The clamshell borders ended up being easier than I expected once in the groove of hand sewing.  We won't get into the initial angst and nerves of getting started, but I will say machine sewing two-three stiches at the join of each clamshell helped me out tremendously. Just don't go looking for perfection! The borders lengths were not cut 'exact' as I was quite, quite sure that my measurements would be all over the place, and well.... I was right about that. 

The right side applique templates

That means that I will have to either cut all the clamshells off at the ends of the borders or potentially add a narrow border around the centerpiece of the quilt. Right now my brain just freezes up at the math, but I might try and get that worked up so I can at least make an informed decision. If I do add in the narrow border, it will probably be a cream fabric so as to look like it's part of the centerpiece.

The left side applique templates

What I always did know, is that there needed to be some flower applique to the side of the words. Don't you know those open spaces were meant for applique all long? The shape of the flowers have always been an iris shape in the imaginings of my mind, so that part was easy. Sometimes I grab fabric and start cutting, other times I use the leftover pieces in the applique orphan totes for auditioning and other times, I jump in with the free-style drawn paper shapes that I love to play with.
Auditioning all the wrong fabrics

Most generally, that saves me from ruining lots of pieces of good fabric. Not this time though.*sigh  I worked on the colors and prints of these flowers for almost 2 hours! Then I put it all up and went downstairs for the evening, telling my husband that all my creativity had apparently left me for good. It was all looking and feeling very much like MUSH!

More of those wrong fabrics

The next day I tossed all the lousy looking colors/prints and deliberately went searching for things that might 'pop' more. It was very annoying because in the end, I had to raid a couple marinating project totes for the better colors. Makes me very twitchy when I think those fabric stacks might be losing a very important fabric.

Finally getting it right!

But all for the greater good, right? And my final version here is much, much better than the previous attempts. No doubt about that at all. After cutting, I realized that the floral vase fabric had never been soaked for possible fabric bleeds, so those parts are currently resting in hot water and Dawn dish soap, sure enough, bleeding out a little bit of red/pink dye!

And even more right....

All in all, this quilt is pulling together and projecting a lovely positive vibe. Finally. Those old tired blues are gonna be the death of me though. I just don't know what to do with them to properly wake them up! For the past couple years I've been raiding the stash totes and earnestly trying to deal with some of the older colors that have fallen into utter disfavor. This is my second endeavor with similar looking blues taking over the med-dark blue stash tote. Maybe I'm just biased, but this version of blues, purples, orange, and hot pinks looks a whole lot better to me than the previous attempt! And bonus. I'm using up some older oranges with the blues. That's definitely helping to keep the lid stay on those totes a little bit better--always the real goal.*wink  It's not like I enjoy playing with odd color palettes or anything strange like that...

All starting to come together!

So yeah. There's that. Making good progress here! Also in the works is this other tangent of mine. I'm making pear blocks. Uh huh. There are part of the next border for Big Basket #4, another one of those impulse projects started late last year. I wanted to make a quilt that seems a little bit disconnected with itself, but somehow achieves a common vibe. All the while using up mostly older, less interesting fabrics as a whole. I was really wishing that my green fabrics had more value change-ups than what I'm achieving, but honestly, this is the best that I can do without buying new. Not happening for this particular quilt!

Three sizes of pears for different sized blocks

Okay, prep work accomplished, moving on to something else. I'm not in a huge hurry to get them hand stitched down yet, so I turned my attention to Crazy Daisy. It is one that has received almost zero attention since the original mad dash to get it sorted out and prepped for stitching. I'm thinking that if I can just get five blocks stitched a week?  Can I, can I? There will be more to stitch over the bottom of the flower later, just haven't made up my mind completely about those particular colors. Regardless, I'm tired of it haunting me and making me feel like a slacker! One block down, 24 to go!

A start. That's gotta be worth something!

I also started a brand new project. Ha! I bet you're not even a little bit surprised either! No pattern, just a picture to give me inspiration. One of the things that I did in the weeks immediately after our daughters wedding was to go through each and every simmering fabric stack--all of the dreamy project ideas. During those perusals, it occurred to me that I have an awful lot of good fabric tucked away and 'off limits'. Mostly. Unless there's a desperation search or something! 

Obviously gonna need a trim

So.. I determined that at least a couple of these needed to be initiated soon so as to get the good, yummy fabrics re-circulating back through the stash totes. Where they are currently VERY needed! lol  I spent quite a bit of time here and there trying to match fabric stacks with ideas that seemed logical based on gathered fabric. One stack got completely thrown back into the totes and another two were combined into one. You know how it goes!

Once these {grandma fans?} blocks are cut out, then all the prints, minus the white ones, can be cut loose. I am moving along on the cut-out of these 80 blocks quite slowly, in fits and starts as there's no real rush or intense desire to get right smack in the middle of it. This gold block was the mock-up to see if? how? the construction is going to work out. I'm thinking that I will machine sew the fan tips in an arc, then sew it onto the quarter circle, then, I will hand applique it all to the correct sized background block. At which point it will have to be trimmed down to that block size because I can never do curved piecing without some give and take in the stitching effort! All in good time. It will be great to have these parts ready for machine stitching whenever the handwork gets a bit tedious.

All for me!

And maybe there'll be another one or two similar quilt projects waiting in the wings soon. I do have a LOT of marinating fabric that needs addressed soon or dumped back into the totes for current use. In other news, I celebrated my 51st birthday with a brand new roll of Hobbs batting! Very exciting as I was running much too low for making it through the lean winter months. All of our children went together for the purchase and made this momma extremely happy. Not a boring gift at all no matter what they might think....

Monday, August 23, 2021

It's Always a Pleasure to Switch Out the Old Quilt in the Hoop For a New One

This quilt has been in the hoop for longer than any other quilt in years. So very happy to see it finally come to a good finish and give me an excuse to move on to another quilt! It's an AHIQFlowers prompt where I took great liberty in the interpretation of one of those intriguing Unconventional & Unexpected scrap quilts. 

AHIQFlowers quilt finish!

As you can quickly see when looking at the picture of the original quilt, there were no flower shapes involved in the original make. Somehow though, {to me}, the scrappy mess down on the lower right corner of the quilt always vaguely looked like a Lemoyne star. Which, of course, in my quirky brain, is a very short jump to 'flower' shape!

Turned out to be much more interesting than it should have

And so it was. This project looks like a super easy, dump all the fabric out and zip, zip! All sewn up! But no. It actually has to have a bit of balance in all the mumble jumble of scraps.

Loving the soft colors with the gold

I pushed myself quite a lot in order to bring the entire quilt to a successful conclusion. Almost threw up my hands in defeat a time or two, but eventually managed to figure things out one little decision at a time. Improv. is such an exhilarating way to play, but then, also terribly grueling at times. For me, these U&U interpretations provide an excellent framework of where I might want to start. 

And the scrappy, scrappy vibe

Though they never turn out identical, I adore the similar-but-different feeling when it's all said and done. When I can add a whimsical twist that makes it more of a 'me' quilt, then it's all the more satisfying.

This flower still makes me smile!

The colors in the particular quilt were a puzzle. Lots of blues, yellows and pinks in all shades and tones. It almost has a cold feel to the quilt instead of the more usual warm and cozy vibe that I normal shoot for.

Looks like it's ready for snuggling!

I think that's partly why I went ahead and stitched with a heavier hand than I might normally attempt to do. More stitching equals a cozier look if it's not completely overdone. Right?

Just can't resist looking across a well stitched quilt

The backing fabric was a fun pick from the bottom of the languishing stash totes. This old-timey circus print was given to me years and years ago and it was super entertaining to finally find a perfect quilt top to match up with. Every good quilt should make us smile at the end of the day!

All happiness and feelings of victory in conquering the AHIQFlowers quilt aside, I was absolutely thrilled to be moving another quilt into the hoop.*sigh  

Patina getting sandwiched and quilted!

This log cabin quilt is the perfect thing to switch my attention to. No decision making other than which colors the thread needs to be. Get it in the hoop and just start stitching away. I am in LOVE! So very, very peaceful and satisfying to stitch on the improv. log cabin quilts. I really don't know why there isn't a mile high stack of these tops on demand! Something to think about?

Looking so good in the hoop!

On another note, my youngest daughter went and spent the weekend with our granddaughters {and their parents}. She sent me this sweet picture of one of my late quilts hanging out on one of the granddaughters beds! Makes me so happy to see it put to good use!

Loving this quilt on Reagan's bed

And... then there's the clamshell borders that I am finally, finally attempting to figure out how to do. These will be attached to the Positive Thinking quilt. It's another one of those AHIQ challenges that I enjoy playing around with. The center of the quilt has been done since April and I'd pretty much determined that it needed an interesting border.

We'll see if I can do this!

Color us all shocked that it ended up being an 'applique' design! I decided to go with the clamshells because I've loved the look forever and have never managed to work one into a quilt. 'Cuz well... I'm quite terrified of the entire process. Not to mention, simultaneously outraged that there's anything there for me to actually be terrified of. I know, I know. It's all in my mind as I've made lots and lots of swag applique borders. The general idea of the clamshells should not be the least bit intimidating! So... here goes nothing!

p.s. Here's some links to my previous 'Unconventional & Unexpected' by Roderick Kiracofe interpretation quilts if you'd like to take a look.