Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Thank Goodness For Quilting

I'm going about it all backwards, but the stack of tulip blocks below represent my answer to the #AHIQhourglass prompt over at AHIQ. Yep, I'm diving head first into yet another tulip quilt. The challenge was given out in January and I'm only now getting to it--so many internal questions about where to take this. You'd have to know that I've been mulling it over inside this brain of mine for almost the entire time.
Chunky Tulips
Where's the hourglass you ask? Well, that's going to be in the sashing units between 13 of these tulip blocks set on point. What took the most time is that I wanted the tulips to be red, but had my misgivings about the reds in this particular fabric stack. They tend to lean to the tomato-red side of the spectrum and I just wasn't sure that I was okay with that. But then in these uncertain times, decided why not. Go for it!

And then came the decisions about background fabric etc., which always is a challenge in and of itself. Never have large enough pieces of fabric, thus the blendy strips added to the block. Hideous fabric {so late 90's} but it should fade away to nothing once the quilt is all put together. 

I'm hoping to make the hourglass units in a subtle play-off of the neutrals and keep them very low key. We'll see. The thing that I'm happiest about at the moment is the blue/white print for the stems. Just love the energy it adds! Though the tulips will be similar but different fabrics overall, the stems will all be the same. My default was wanting to go searching for a green fabric for the stems and everything inside of me was rebelling. No! Do something different for a change! You can find the inspiration for these tulips over here. As you can see, my focus is not quite 'there' on the hourglass part of the quilt quite yet....
Coronacrazy Quilt
I've been spending some time in the quilting room here and there, getting some of my lists tidied up and running in and out with all the various pieces of fabric that might need to be soaked before cutting into. If you count the stack of fabric that I gathered together just yesterday, there are now 16 different stacks of wonderfully promising potential quilts. It's a bit over the top, I admit! but so much more rewarding than catching up on all the latest grim and terrible news. I am staying off the computer/phone even more now, but there's just no getting away from it completely.

You can thank me later, I just deleted four paragraphs of ranting about our current state of affairs here in the lovely state of Washington. Frustrations abound and I have questions. Enough said. Moving on....
The lists and inspiration board
Okay, so with that in mind {my general attitude and precarious emotional state of late} it's absolutely not surprising at all that I impulsively started a brand new quilt. Kind of a crazy one so yeah, I'm calling it Coronacrazy. It's the so-pink-it's-almost-red hills and valley's quilt up above. I took Sharon Strouds advice and have already thread basted the bias applique down. Why didn't I think of that? The whole thing is about 41" x 46" so having pins falling out while stitching is not a great plan. Love that its all ready to go whenever I feel the urge to get stitching too. The tentative plan at the moment is to applique some very small flowers in the open areas under the arches. And then from there I will probably add on a border or two or three. Perhaps more applique on them? I really don't know, don't even care. Will decide when I get there! The entire idea came about almost overnight and for some reason it felt right. Notice that I'm prepping lots of applique these days? lol
Hand quilting on Shimmer
I've also been hand quilting like a madwoman the last couple days. First I stitch at with a purple/black thread on the insides of all the purplish rectangles, emphasizing the overall design. Then I come back and echo stitch on the outside of those same purple rectangles, in the cream areas, with a mustard gold thread. Also, there is a double line of stitching in the very middle where 7 colored rectangles meet up. I've finally found my groove with the stitching and while it's not free sailing quilting where the seam allowance is extra thick, the rest is fairly relaxing. Which is good news. The whole thing is starting to take on a little bit of an old fashioned charm which really surprised me but shouldn't have. It's finally, finally coming together as a win, something I've been a little bit dubious about. All that scrappy goodness plus hand stitching, I should have know. It was bound to happen sooner or later! Though I will say it would have probably looked great with machine quilting as well. Not mine! But someone who knows what they're doing.....

Monday, March 23, 2020

Trying To Stay Sane in a Crazy World

I like to keep this blog mostly happy, but these are hard times. As an introvert, I'm someone who tends to pull inward during times of adversity. Regular posting, replying to comments, not to mention interesting new QAL's just seem to take entirely too much energy depending on what we've been dealing with on any specific day. Mentally and emotionally, I just don't seem to have any extra beyond helping to keep our family on an even keel.
Another layer for Ormes Inspired
Hand work has seemed to be the most satisfying lately even though I find myself very easily distracted. All the rest of the applique parts and pieces have been drawn up, cut out and placed {with pins} on the Orme's Inspired piece just in the last several days. Honestly? It's only because all the color decisions were made weeks ago. Otherwise I don't think this quilt would have been touched. And I made myself do it. Thought this quilt would be cheery and lighthearted, a good balance for a world that has gone completely off the rails of late.

There is still quite a lot of work to do in stitching down all those pretty, bright flowers and trees, but there is no deadline. It's only time! What does bother me just a little, is all those pins which will continually be trying to loosen and fall down onto the carpet or deep into the couch. I really, really should have limited myself to ONLY pinning down the trees. Or only the flowers. And then moving forward. But I just couldn't resist and now don't want to take anything off in the event that I forget where to place them. Oh! Don't I have a phone to take pictures and document? Bah. That seemed like more trouble than it was worth at the moment. And that is generally the way that {too} much of my decision making goes these days.
Latest quilt in the hoop
I did get another quilt sandwiched and pinned, all ready for the hoop. Clear up until the moment that I started putting the pins in it, the plan was for machine quilting. Then I pinned it for hand quilting because I got to thinking that the friend for whom it's intended, would greatly prefer the hand work. And I was being lazy. Yep. Every idea for how to machine quilt this top just made my head spin and hand quilting seemed like the easy way out. Bad choice. 

There are oodles of seams in this quilt, which means that it hasn't been quite as relaxing to stitch as others generally are. And I sooo.... need the peace and meditative rhythm right now. It's the first quilt in years that I've been very, very tempted to take out of the hoop and quickly replace with another. The worry is, would I ever actually bring this one back to the hoop and finish? Yeah, that's a real concern. Probably best not to go there.

And even after stitching, it's terribly hard to see the stitches. Which is incredibly annoying. {Not that its difficult to be easily irritated or impatient these days.} The only saving grace is that it feels marvelous after the hand stitching. Hopefully this friend is very tactile and will appreciate the effort involved? I kinda think she might need this quilt more than I need to have a tantrum, though I wouldn't stake anything important on that premise.... So the plan right now is that I'm gonna keep slogging away at it and dangle a super low-key, no pressure quilt top right in front of me as a carrot. It fact, it's already pinned and ready to go. It needs to feel like a tangible goal.
Hand stitching almost impossible to see
In my mind I really want to sew, spend time in the quilting room, cross things off the list, make the most of increased down-time and it all just sort of drifts away so easily. Digging into the stash totes has been a fun diversion, but there's only so much room for new stacks of fabric to sit and marinate. Inspiration has not been keeping up with the fabric potential lately, and that's another thing that has been greatly annoying me. Late last week I had enough! and have started going through every small tote and stacked up pile of fabric. Hm.. What do we have here?
Soaking fabric...
First off, I lay the fabrics out to see if they do the magic thing. My brain might not be working at maximum capacity for creativity right now, but I still know if a color palette is worth hanging onto for future quilt-making endeavors! Most are a YES because its not been very long since I went through them all. But there are new ones and a few that I wasn't 100% sure about but kept just in case. 

If its a NO, then it's time to get them off the counters and back into the stash totes. Surprisingly, I really haven't dithered much about this at all.  If yes? Then I look for anything that might be a potential bleeder, pulling it out and doing a preventative soak. The trick is to remember which fabric stack each piece belongs to and making sure it's returned to the rightful place directly after. Mostly I'm keeping the soaks to 2 groups at a time, and since that takes most of a day, starting on the next couple the very next day. It's been one of my rare, 'spot-on' decisions as I'm not cutting into fabrics and potentially making grave errors with math, wasting valuable fabric and going crazy with even more frustration. Which would be oh-so easy to do while my mind is over in la la land doing its moody, broody thing.

Another benefit to my latest endeavor is that several times a day my hands get an extra good washing while I'm splashing around in the newly warmed water {while simultaneously 'agitating' the fabrics}. It's all very win, win and then I'm returning the fabrics to the totes with a note to remind myself later that yes, I did in fact pre-soak these particular fabrics. 

My husband might be starting to get slightly annoyed with the totes always taking up space in our bathtub, but he'll get over it. He always does, good guy that he is! So wonderful that he totally understands me. And I'm almost done anyway. How many stacks of fabric can you have before you start to realize that some of those stacks look mysteriously similar to another one? hehe  We do get stuck in our ruts familiar, comforting patterns. Hey, we're all just trying to get by the best we can until things return to something resembling 'normal'! As for me, I'm just longing for the good 'ol days when grocery stores actually had a good stock of toilet paper. To all the hoarders out there, some of us get a little grumpy when the important stuff starts getting scarce.... Hopefully back to commenting on other peoples posts sometime this week if I can somehow avoid falling down the rabbit hole of chasing updates and the possibility of good news. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Reconnecting With the Process

 As usual, getting back into routine is harder than it seems. After my initial enthusiasm about getting back into the quilt room, I quickly found myself wasting a whole lot of time with indecision and dillydallying.
Imperfect circles blocks on the wall
Finally, I started tackling an impulse project started back in December. You know, just to have something to focus on! At the time it was started, it seemed like a potential 'Christmas' quilt, but as the project has moved merrily along, many of the more holiday themed fabrics have been left far, far behind. Go figure.
The test block and the drunkards path units ready for trimming
This particular quilt was {surprise, surprise!} based on a quilt in the 'Unconventional and Unexpected' book by Roderick Kiracofe. Circles quilts are a real draw to me and these quirky, imperfect circles were just too much. At some point I made a practice block and then from there, a rough cut template to cut my units. I've worked sporadically on these ever since but never felt any special drive to speed things up.
Initial inspiration
Even with zeroing in on these as 'the current project to finish', it still took awhile. I'd only sew a few sets and be easily distracted again. Eventually though, I got to a place to try and audition some fabric for use in key layout positions. When I came to the set below, I actually thought 'this is it!' and turned off all the lights in the quilting room and went downstairs to do other important things. As you can see, I was so confident, that I even cut out all the wide sashing units to place between the circle blocks. So clever. Using up some of those 'So Tired' fabrics I've been itching to find a place for...
The first layout
Bad move, cutting up those sashing units. The next day when I got a chance to return to the quilting room, all that boring green just made me wince. Uggh.  Talk about dragging a quilt down! It didn't take me very long at all to find a soft dreamy floral to use instead. Everything inside me sort of melted and said, 'Oh yes, this is much, much better'. And then I tore all the fabric down from the sides and decided that I'd worry about that later. Plenty of time for that after the middle part of the quilt was nailed down and properly cooperating! And then I cut out and sewed a couple more circles because the numbers just weren't working out.
The second layout
Moving along, there was the challenge in deciding where and how to balance out all those lovely, imperfect circles. What a nightmare. No matter where I moved the red, the blue would squawk in protest. Or the reds would be too close together. Or whatever. And who's idea was it to make so many rust colored circles? I definitely could have paid more attention when making those last circles and tried to figure out where the need was. After awhile I remembered that the entire premise was based on a very make-do sort of quilt, and that nothing was supposed to balance. In fact, how odd would this particular quilt look if everything ended up perfectly matching and balancing?
Balancing color. Or not.
Oh yeah. So I got that all sorted out {in my head and on the floor}, as best as could be and started sewing the rows together. I saved the decisions on the alternate rows with two {or three?} circles for last, whatever was left over in fact! Gotta use them all, right?!

Sewed the main rows together super quick. Easy peasy, just simple floral sashing joining the circles, but then... it took an evening or two trying to determine whether to use green or cream or brown or what? color in the rows with longer sections between the circles. And how long a section should there be between the circles? Should the measurements be precisely equal? Honestly, I wasn't feeling super creative during most of this process. It was more a case of immersing myself in the process and forcing the brain to wake-up! Most of the final decisions probably came around when I uncrossed my eyes and relaxed a bit.You know how you zone in for so long that you start seeing things in a fog! Which is fine. Every quilt comes with its own set of challenges.
Sewing the rows...
And finally it all started coming together and the circles rows were totally sewn together. Imagine my shock when the fabric choices for the long connecting sashing strips didn't work out so well after all. Oh nos! What was I thinking? And who knew cream fabrics could actually clash? Thankfully I hadn't joined any rows together with the long sashing yet, and was laying them out for one last audition just to 'make sure'.

Without any forethought or really, much deliberation, I grabbed up all those green, pre-cut, wide sashing units and sewed them into a couple of long strips. Laid them out in the rows between and thought, 'Okay! That's good enough! Went on a sewing marathon and got the whole quilt top sewn into submission. And once again, I left the quilting room basically brushing my hands together thinking I had it all in the bag. Picture tomorrow, this quilt top is FINISHED!
It's a quilt top!
But no.... Something was bugging me about the entire thing. While I had basically looking at this entire project as an easy, no brainer sort of bridge between too much time off {brain full of mush} and a good place to dive into something I might actually care about, I had also rediscovered the bane of a creative mind. When something doesn't feel quite 'right', it just sort of haunts you. Good luck moving forward girl. First you gotta figure out WHAT the problem is and then, you have to figure out HOW to address it!

I do my best thinking away well away from a problem project. While doing the dishes by hand {easy since our dishwasher is on the fritz}. While hand quilting late in the evening. That sort of thing. Most of the fabrics used together were giving off this very sweet, subtle vintage feel, but well..., it just came off as too spotty looking when viewing the entire quilt top from a distance. Which we do occasionally. We're not always face down with our head in a pillow, glasses off and only catching a little teensy glimpse of the current, beloved quilt. Don't want to end up with a quilt that gives us a cramp of regret every time we catch a glimpse! 

Over and over I had went with the lighter, softer fabrics over anything with color and now all those funky circles were a little too prominent, screeching and seemingly not altogether happy. This was what I kept coming back to. What to do, what to do? I emphatically did NOT want to tear the entire quilt top apart to get rid of a few circles, though I would if nothing else worked out.
Finished! Calling it Comfortably Quirky
Thankfully, on day two, which feels really fast for the way things usually work around here, my brain had finally kicked into gear. The very next morning, during my shower, a possible solution hit me from out of the blue.  Ahh... yes. All those lovely floral fabrics that I wanting to input into the quilt? The ones the quilt kept kicking out because they were trying to steal all the limelight? Yep. They became the perfect top and bottom border units, pieced together in uneven lengths. Excellent spot of color to sort of pull in and tame the louder color from the circles. Almost surround them and say, 'you're not the only important thing about this quilt'.
Quilt with top and bottom borders....
Not a perfect fix for sure, but an easy one and more importantly, one that felt right. If the border went all the way around the quilt, then the circles would pop more again. It's a different sort of quilt, still a little spotty looking, but I very much enjoyed playing with these fabrics. It was a stack that felt destined to go into a quilt someday and yet, it never felt quite important for any project that I wanted to start. I think the best part about making this quilt was finally getting to incorporate more of these florals into the quilt. Simultaneously softening the overall look while subtlety ramping up the vintage feels.
Just enough red to make its presence known...
I won't try to pretend it's a masterpiece or even an especially striking quilt. In fact, you'd probably have to see it in person to even fully grasp all its quiet charm. Though it's been years since I read the book 'Quilt Me' by Jane Brockett,, I had to go find my copy and take a quick look-through. Yep. Uh huh. Hmmm... Did I finally just make a quilt that was really based primary on 'fabric inspiration'? Loving it? Showing it off? Using it? Me thinks it was just that simple.... haha  Laughing just a little here. Why is it that what should be the most basic of quilt ideas are never, ever EASY?

On another note, my phone died a couple weeks ago and I'm using one of my daughters old phones. Am very unhappy with the quality of the camera, but plan on holding out a couple months till I can more afford the one that I want. {My husband was out of work for a whole month from illness!} Bear with me please. It's either post bad pictures or have the blog go on vacation...

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A Hand Work Update and a Finish

Lots of hand work in the last several weeks. I finally picked the 'Melon Patch' applique back up and just slogged my way through. Why am I doing this? What in the world was I thinking? And then... Oh my, I just love these colors and fabrics. This is gonna be great! And that's generally the gist of this quilt every single time. 
Melon Patch petals all ready to sew onto the background now
There are 20 sets of 4 pieces each and I figured it takes me approximately one hour to stitch the petals for each block. Ouch. That's a lot of time spent on this project alone in the past six weeks or so, not to mention the stitching time taken just to get to this starting point! Absolutely a forever type of quilt project which makes it easy to 'back burner' again after each additional layer gets some needed attention.

The pattern is based on a quilt that I saw in an old quilt book. It was pictured in black and white but the templates were included so I just went with it. Turns out the picture was very deceptive. The melon petals were much wider and shorter in the picture and these ended up being kind of skinny and gangly looking. Plus, they don't leave enough room at the edges for the additional medallions to be stitched  down over the corner seams!
Auditioning the petals on the background. Hm... needs a little more?
I don't know why it took me so long to wise up to the problem, but now I'm a little grumpy about the entire look. So much time and it's not exactly turning out as planned! I'll probably just stitch these down to the main block and see if adding some little red buds to the center will help with the overall look. Not exactly wanting to dump all this effort just because there will probably have to be a detour from initial plans. What a waste that would be!
Prepping for some new basket blocks
For this newest project, I've had these fabrics pulled for almost three years and just could not figure out how to start. Lots of colors There's also some blues and deep violet reds included in the mix and initially it seemed like the obvious choice was to use blue fabrics for the baskets.
Looking very traditional!
But no matter how much I played with the fabrics, it always got stalled. This was the year that the project was going to move forward or all the fabrics were going straight back into the totes. After much deliberation one day last week, I finally, finally knuckled down and to my surprise, decided all the baskets need to be green and the backgrounds were going to be yellow. Okay then. That's that. Eventually these four basket blocks will be the center of a medallion style quilt just because it's time. Love playing around with potential borders!
Ormes Inspired ready for the next layer!
I also found the time to finish stitching down all the leaves on the upper right corner of the 'Ormes Inspired' quilt. I've mostly determined the colors/fabrics for the next layer of applique and just need to finish getting it cut out and ready to go. Which means that my applique projects are down to the measly number of three! No worries though. I have another one or two or three? applique projects anxiously awaiting their turn to be started too. Of course. Regular readers know good and well that it never really ends around here....
Home Sweet Home is finished!
In other hand work news, my Home Sweet Home quilt is all finished up and ready for a label. I machine sewed some straight lines across the quilt in strategic places and then hand quilted everywhere else. At first I was annoyed to be spending my 'quality' hand quilting time working on this impulse, came-from-out-of-the-blue quilt, but then I settled down and just enjoyed the process. Hand quilting is never, ever about the time. Not really. It it was, no-one would ever finish anything!
Lots of impulse and leftover applique pieces...
So very glad now that this quilt spent the time in the hoop because it's a much, much better quilt now. I adore hand quilting with homespun fabrics as they are amazingly receptive to the texture achieved from stitching. They just soak it up like a sponge and then wrinkle up so nicely after being washed and dried.
So simple
It's an odd, ugly duckling sort of quilt and I definitely don't expect everyone to join in my love for it. My girls are my greatest fans and they're still very ambivalent about the use of the green/gold color in the background position, though they do appreciate that the quilt has some good qualities now. It's not a show quilt whatsoever, and I'm very okay with that.
Very happy with the range of purples used....
I scrounged around and found some great purple fabrics that had just a touch of pink in them for use as binding. So happy with how it boxes the quilt in and gives it a sweet little spark. One of my favorite things about this quilt is the very wide range of purples used. They go from royal purple to a deep blue-purple to a lovely violet then to a brownish purple and then clear back again to a pink-purple {orchid?}. Yes! Pushing the boundaries of color and creating depth. Makes it ever so much more fun!
Finally a good use for the cream/pink/green petal fabric!
Because I'm not entirely sure what colors the recipient of this quilt prefers {other than purple}, I decided to use a girly, peachy-pink fabric on the back. When the backing is folded over against the top of the quilt, it definitely elevates the overall feeling to a more light-hearted and happy vibe.
Crossing my fingers this one will be loved too!
Hopefully she will appreciate all the love that went into this quilt and smile at the {six} birdies. With the recent addition of her sixth{!} child, I decided that the momma needed a new quilt probably more than the newest baby did. Some quilts are not at all about impactful design, but strive merely to convey love and comfort. As experienced quilters, we should all be able recognize that important difference and not make light of the fact when/if have the skills to make it happen. I can so make a better comfort quilt these days than I could have 10-15 years ago! Though I wouldn't want to make comfort quilts ALL of the time, it feels pretty wonderful to touch a heart here or there in the course of my journey. So far we have had enough family and friends to not have to start making/gifting comfort type quilts to complete strangers though I applaud the ones who do that. Giving is good...

Monday, February 24, 2020

Moving Things Along

Directions From a Local is a true blue finish! The hand quilting went very quickly and then it was just a matter of getting the binding properly attached. A quick look through the stash totes, and no worries, plenty of fabric to choose from for binding possibilities. 
Directions From a Local is finished!
Not surprisingly, I ended up sewing scrappy pieces of odd blue fabric together for the binding as that color seemed to have the very best effect. Some of the fabrics had been in the totes for a very long time and I had begun to question why they were ever acquired. But that's exactly why we buy the odd/interesting/unusual fabrics as our instincts nudge us to. So they are there waiting for us when the perfect opportunity crops up!
Love the feel of this quilt
Most of the fabrics used in this quilt are not solids, but a very subtle print or tone on tone. One fabric in particular, the brown and white gingham, is not 100% cotton and seemed to want to warple and wave at the slightest provocation. Still, I absolutely love the vintage look of it mixed in with the quilt.
So happy with the fix-it corners in the middle...
The choppy, cut up corners of the log cabin are a result of sewing the first part of the quilt together without ever measuring strip lengths. Just sewing them on and cutting the excess off at the corners. Eventually there came a time when the quilt began to misbehave entirely too much and it just had to be addressed. I am so in love with how that turned out, there is absolutely nothing to regret!
Hard to see, but some of these fabrics are very sweet...
This quilt was started as an attempt to recreate or rather, interepret, one of the lovely quilts in 'Unconventional and Unexpected' by Roderick Kiracofe. You are probably so very tired of hearing me talk about this book, but it is one of the best buys that I have ever made, quilting-wise. Still finding lots and lots of inspiration within the covers of this book, sometimes just enough to pull me out of a slight mojo slump.
Probably could have added more stitching, but I wanted
to keep it loose and drapey....
I am still kind of in awe that these colors came out of my quilting room, much less, that they all came together in such a successful manner. Playing with color is one of my very favorite things about quilting. Building a different 'to us' color palette often feels easier when trying to base it off an already finished quilt and using it as the ultimate guide.
Whimsical touch to add the 'white line' piecing
Creating a 'mood' in quilting just feels ridiculously fun too. 'Cuz of course, that's exactly what we're doing. Oh sure, it can be a bit anxiety inducing during the attempt {so many decisions}, but after? If it turns out well? High fives all around!
So happy with the Turn Right arrow effect
The next quilt in the hoop will be Vintage Coxcombs. It's been a finished quilt top for a couple years now and one that lately I've been itching to get into the hoop.
Vintage Coxcombs getting sandwiched and pinned
I actually took the time to pin it between all the rows for machine, stitch-in-the-ditch sewing. Ughh! Takes so very long and it was while I was feeling pretty rotten too. Totally underestimated how much energy I had and how much time it always takes. My general optimism about how easy it would be to get it all ready was probably rooted in the idea that it is completely unacceptable to have an empty hoop. My goodness, however would I survive without a hand quilting project warmed up and ready to go?
Still happy with the pieced backgrounds
The unfortunate saga continues as I discovered when eventually getting back into the sewing room to actually sew. Somehow I totally forgot to engage the dual feed with my special Stitch-in-the-Ditch foot, which basically eliminated the entire walking foot effect as hello? There was no 'walking foot' apparatus engaged. Oh yes. You guessed it. I ended up having to rip out some of my machine stitching and start over. Fun stuff.
Going to keep the hand quilting very simple on this one...
Thankfully I didn't have to rip everything out. Apparently the benefit to quilting with low ebb energy is that I was moving the quilt slower through the machine than normal. Wonder of wonders, that helped everything behave better than it should have/could have. While the stitching didn't end up looking fabulous by any means, the quilt is in the hoop now and there's no looking back. I refuse to be a slave to perfection and choose instead to just pick my battles. Stitching lines meandering a bit over the top of seams? Fine and Dandy. Wavy outside sashing? Time to pull out the seam ripper!

My husband and I are both feeling loads better these days and even got to see our grandkids over the weekend. He will be taking a bit longer to recover to absolute full health, but if spending time with the granddaughters doesn't help accelerate the feel-good endorphins, I don't know what could! Still working on some hand applique when time allows and feeling very optimistic that this is the week we mostly return to a 'normal' routine....

Monday, February 17, 2020

Love Seeing the Abandoned Bits Come Together

So the Scrapbin Improv. {Wing and a Prayer} quilt top is completed. It ended up being 51" x 57" after I decided to throw on the black print border.
Scrapbin Improv. quilt top is finished
That's barely up to a size that seems properly useful, but I had started running out of anything except itty bitty pieces. Ughh.. Not in the mood to work with those right now at all!
Just trying to see what can be done with the scrappy bits...
The black border is the remains of leftover strips cut off from a backing on some other quilt. Love that it carried on the use-it-up mentality of this particular effort! I'm thinking these were good colors/fabric to use for my first time attempting this style of freewheeling scrapbin sort of quilt. All the bright, happy colors just seemed more than ready to match up to each other with little to no fuss. Eventually I hope to try something similar in a much more subtle or muted colorway. This may be the start of another series, we shall see...
Love all the different pieces that ended up being included
On another note, the last three weeks have been brutal. When I posted last, I was just finishing up with a nasty flu and then promptly relapsed. Probably because I've been having to take care of my husband who had the flu, recovered, worked one day and then started having other health problems. He isn't always a particularly healthy person and has some ongoing issues which this flu has seemed to exacerbate. February has been going by in a blur of coughing, hacking, tending, and oh yes, little pockets of hand work. Not getting a lot accomplished in the quilting room, but it sure feels good to have a needle in my hand elsewhere. So very grateful for a well stocked hand work bag! We are definitely on the mend finally, but I just cannot find time to connect better. Will return when things settle down...

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Getting Caught Up On the Big Basket Series

Gather Ye Roses is the first finish of the year! Yay! This quilt is the first in my big basket series, but somehow the last to be a true blue finish. For some reason, I was intimidated at the thought of quilting all that 'blank' cream space around the basket. After stitching on the other two though, then it all felt so much easier. Amazingly enough, procrastination does occasionally pay off...
These quilting lines are 'eyeballed', not carefully
measured out for accuracy and precision....
And though I liked this quilt, it had become the least favorite of the three. Why in the world? It looks ever so better with the hand quilting than it did as a quilt top! Not sure why that continues to be a problem for me after so many years, under-appreciating the effect that quilting texture can just generally bring to the table. A quilt top can look so well..., lifeless before the quilting. There's just no comparison and really, no possible way to imagine the entirety of the final results.
Gather Ye Rosebuds the first finish of 2020!
Big Basket #1
The whiter areas of the basket handle continue to amuse me. Should there have been an extra stitch or two down the middle of the basket handle in order to dull all that brighter area? I decided not to, time and again. Second guessing just gets tiresome. I decided that it makes for an extra interesting element, having the basket handle fade in and out of the background. In years to come, it will no doubt become another one of those 'what-was-the-quilter-thinking?' questions we all love to ponder.
Gather Ye Roses. Or whatever else flower you might love...
I quickly figured out that making large baskets for a centerpiece would create all sorts of problems in the border areas. Proportion, proportion, proportion! I emphatically did not want these quilts to all be king sized! In the first quilt, I kept to a simple, much smaller basket block repeat on two sides. The purposeful asymmetrical look resulted from adding 1. a different color border on two sides, 2. a larger border width on those two sides, 3. a distinctively different design application in the break from blocks to applique vines. Easy peasy, but yes, involving a lot of different design decisions.  Should do this more often. Love, love a good asymmetrical border application....
A few little flowers in the baskets...
Working with an asymmetrical design idea also totally ended the dilemma of what to do about a long gawky basket surrounded by too-narrow borders. Which just made the basket look even more awkward and weird. So what to do? More borders? One fabric add ons? Ugghh.. I just wanted it to look interesting and somehow maximize the effect of the super large basket. Seriously though, all along I was hinging the entire success of the quilt on the hope that the final quilting stitching would create important depth and texture there in the centerpiece. So, so happy when that came to fruition....

It's hard to tell from the pictures, but all the brown in the applique area is made up of several different brown fabrics. Very subtle difference, but something that I find much more compelling than using all the same fabric. From a distance, the change from medium to darker brown creates depth and movement in the quilt, and close up, it just gives it that utility 'make-do look'. In my opinion, that adds to the sneaky charm of this quilt, the overall coziness, not having everything come off as matchy-matchy.
Possible rosebuds on the vine?
Of course, the fact that I didn't actually have enough brown fabric in any one piece of yardage helped make those decisions come about more easily. However, if it was a truly awful idea {after carefully auditioning whatever there was available from the stash}, I do know where the fabric store is. Rare though it may be, I have taken that option once or twice before in my life! How much more rewarding {for me, can't speak for you!} to find a good use for fabrics languishing away in the stash totes. 

Mixing several different blendy-type, printed fabrics that have a similar color feel to them is a puzzle, but being able to totally use them up and maybe even have to search out more feels great. I love it! I mean, it's not like you'd actually consciously build a quilt around these fabrics, right? Ahem, yeah. Quick disclaimer, I might actually starting to do this very thing, just for fun? lol  For example though,  the brown fabric with the tiny white flower on the corner of the quilt was a 90's look print that I had been trying to use up for years. Why toss the idea of finally getting to use it, when it's an absolutely perfect match for this particular quilt? Oh, there's obviously not enough, bummer. Guess we'll give that idea up. No! Find some fabrics that play reasonably well with that one wonderful print  and make it work
Nothing helps out a red, white a blue quilt better
than the perfect amount of brown...
The sweetest thing about this quilt might be the words with the red flowers nearby. Not all the flowers are rosebuds of course, but the sentiment still makes me happy. Words to live by! The binding is several random lengths from the leftovers binding tote and a couple other scrappy pieces of red fabric that blended well. So easy to go scrappy on a quilt like this. Although it never really, truly reduces the sheer amount of leftover binding lengths does it?  Not in the long run. No matter how much I kid myself, there always seems to be just a little bit leftover to dump straight back into the tote.*sigh  Maybe it's like sourdough starter....
That soft, striped homespun was a bear to work with
but looks so good in the background position!
So there you go. That's the sum total of the Big Basket Series {thus far}. Gather Ye Rosebuds was the first Big Basket in the series to be a completed quilt top, but the last one totally finished up. Improv. Woven Basket, below, was the second quilt top and the first one totally finished up.
Improv. Woven Basket, Big Basket #2
Big Tipsy Basket was the third in the series and the second one to be completely quilted. It's interesting to see the overall comparison at a quick glance. The first quilt was started in 2016 on an impulse {really had no idea that I even wanted to make big baskets}, and that quickly led to the idea of series work. Kind of impossible to stop at one! There was supposed to be a fourth quilt, but somehow that particular idea never got off the ground floor. 
Big Tipsy Basket, Big Basket #3
Never say never! When Jolene shared her beautiful Tribute To Gwen Marston basket quilt earlier this year, it definitely got me thinking again. Hmm... Maybe. Maybe? I might just one more big basket quilt in me. Or two. The series is only over when I say it is.....