Wednesday, January 19, 2022

January Stitching

I've been spending a lot of time doing hand work this past week or so. After ignoring Coronacrazy for much too long, once again, I have found the motivation to do a little hand stitching. Which sorta morphed into a LOT of hand stitching, but who's complaining?

Coronacrazy border work
This picture {above} as taken several days ago when I thought there might be time to post, but then the opportunity vanished. As of last evening, I can happily state that border #3 and #4 are either finished or getting loads of stitching as well. Funny how I don't want to work on this quilt project at all and then something clicks and it's really all that I want to do. Just can't work in more than a couple hours a day of hand applique or my elbow starts feeling it sooo I usually switch to hand quilting and then I'm okay.
Petra's quilt
This is my sisters quilt top that I agreed to hand quilt for her. I made the top back in the winter of 2006 or 2007. She had bought all the fabric in a period of about two or three years and just didn't think she had the skills or mojo to make 'what she wanted'. Which was ironic, because she couldn't really even articulate what that might be. Eventually we reached an agreement. If she showed me three pictures of quilts that she liked, gave me free reign with her fabric, allowed me to add a few fabrics of my own choice, then I would put together a quilt top for her to have quilted in her own way, on her own dime.

Fabrics are all close to 15 plus years old
And yes. She paid me a small amount to piece the quilt top together, mostly so it would get done and not languish behind all the other projects that I always seem to have on the go! Anyway... I took those three quilt pictures and her fabrics--started playing with ideas, finally drawing up this particular plan.

Basic blocks
Her fabric was a mind boggling mixture to me at the time, with such a wide range of bubblegum pinks to orangey corals, lots of creams, taupes and that mushy paisley print I finally settled on using in the setting triangles. In the end, I only added a couple cream fabrics for the center, and then went and bought the cream text fabric for the outside border. I remember deliberating on whether or not to add a brighter color for the border, but fell down on the side of letting the 'glow' work its magic from the 16 patches alone. 

I've always felt that if she had made her own design, it would have ended up being much wilder and sharp looking instead of the soft, cozy thing that I tend to gravitate towards. But here we are and it ended up being a huge learning curve for me in being bolder in using fabrics that don't necessarily look like they belong together! We had a little sit down just before I started cutting fabric and I made her tell me, 'Are you SURE you want all these fabrics in the same quilt?' lol

Marking the quilt top
It's been an interesting experience to come back to it so many years later. Wowsers, has my piecing improved! Who wouldn't thunk it when I continually cut off points on purpose? The corners of the quilt were very warpled which makes me think that I could not have properly trimmed each block to size. Hmm... I managed to get it sandwiched and pinned regardless and now all the machine quilting part is behind me.*whew! Haven't ruined it yet! Just stitch in the ditch around the blocks so maybe the quilt will hold up when her two year old mauls it on her bed. I'm expecting this quilt to be very well used...

My daughter snagged a picture of me while the quilt was in the process of getting marked, and we both agreed that I'm much more smiley when quilting. Even when doing a part of it that I don't particularly care for! We had just gotten through a long day attending a funeral of an older friend, and I had mentioned that when I died, don't bother wasting money on a floral casket piece as they could just throw a quilt over the casket and be done. She argued that one needed to go inside the casket with me otherwise I might be mortally offended. And on and on we went with me telling her 'Don't you dare waste a quilt by putting it in the ground with me!' 

Black humor. It's what our family has always done and seems to be good for getting us through. It's been a tough month as one of her co-workers suddenly dropped at work the other day, having a heart attack and dying right after the ambulance got her to the hospital, and now a family friend dying unexpectedly while home alone. Just makes you think. And stitch a lot if you are a quilter like me....

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The New Improv. Quilt and Taking Stock of the Completed Quilt Tops

I've been working on this Improv. strip quilt, trying to get the top finished up for my first quilt meeting. It was started with the idea of it being a baby quilt for one of my nieces, and then I changed plans midway through and went a different direction.

The new Improv. Quilt Top
Sometimes there are certain pieces of fabric that just seem to be shouting for their chance in a quilt. For this fabric pull, the demanding fabric was a mauve solid {you can see it buried there in the middle between the darkest pink and the purples}. I've been trying to use it for eons and it never gained much traction. Possibly because it was a moody tone?

Starting with a fabric pull
Finally, this specific color palette hit all the right notes and we were off and running! The mauve in question had more lavender in it than pink, but because it was so light colored compared to the purples, it easily slid in with the light pink fabrics. Okay. That'll work too! I love finding areas in a quilt to sneak in a slight blend, so this made me super happy.

Strips all ready for sewing...
All the strips were free-cut, very fast and easy to do. As you can see, the basic formula was first: determining the color pairings, then secondly, determining which color in each pair to cut in the wider or more narrow strip. Cut, cut, cut, then sewing pairs of strips and on and on till here we are at the individual rows being sewn. Very organic looking until it came time to put parts and pieces into proper rows. Then it's time for some measuring and squaring up so that everything lays flat.

13 rows all sewn
For the strips, I {mostly} started with chunks of 10" x 18" fabric and then further cut the strips from there. Generally, 2 chunks from fat quarters, but as always, some were already slightly depleted and on occasion, the piece was more like a half yard. Basically, for a baby quilt, you'd probably need 20 full fat quarters {5 each color} and for a throw quilt, 28-32 fatquarters {7-8 each color}, or the equivalent amount of fabric of course. 

For the purposes of the quilt meetings, I'm definitely figuring 20 FQ's for the baby quilt. That feels like the bare minimum for a scrappy result and too, I really want extra sets. People tend to get so frustrated by awkward looking repeats and it always helps to have enough to play. There are tricks and tips. Hopefully I'll be able to convey them adequately!

The full quilt top. Might gain a border before I'm through.
The first two meetings have been postponed for various reasons and now we're set for Thursday evening. It's so nice to have everything ready to go and now, I can concentrate on other things in the quilt room that already seem more interesting! Had to laugh when I glanced over at the wall the other day and then really looked again. How funny that I just unintentionally made a quilt project based on the color theory in the bottom right hand corner! The poster is from one of my daughters so then of course I had to let her know how she's subconsciously influencing me!

The poster in my quilt room
And for Quilting Babcia {Pat}, here's the post with all the completed quilt tops. They're a bit wrinkled from being folded up, mushed and shoved into a drawer. The Improv. one that was previously shown will probably get a border before I'm through, so that one isn't included and... the Christmas Stars in the hoop isn't included because it's well on its way to a finish. 

Completed quilt tops
The first two quilt tops {above}, red, white and blues, are the ones that my sister was going to throw away. Uh huh. They are not fantastic, but I couldn't bear for them to end up in the trash, especially because the bow-tie one is hand pieced.*sigh  The other two quilt tops are probably some of my least favorite so all of these usually reside in the very bottom of the quilt drawers. Very hard to get to and I don't care. They probably won't see any stitching until I find a good recipient or need a camping quilt.

More completed quilt tops
The first quilt, {above}, Moody 9-Patch is actually the next one that I'm hankering to get into the hoop, but alas, I don't have any backing fabric for it right now. {I've got the sads about that in case you were interested.} The next two feel too 'new' to jump the quilt top queue {plus I don't have backing fabric for them}, and the last top, Roman stripes will probably not get quilted until I'm certain of the recipient. So boring 'cuz I've already finished one that is nearly identical. Which always feels like a good idea until it doesn't anymore.

And more
These quilt tops {above} are: a Christmas quilt--not getting quilted until the 2022 holiday season, the Melon Patch Jubilee quilt--too new, HaHa quilt --needs to be next, definitely first in line and well... I just don't wanna. Too much white I think. I'm always squeamish when I think about it so yeah... I just tend to avoid it. And the last one--Crazy Daisy is too new. Obviously. Needs to marinate awhile yet. 

And more
Okay, Ormes Inspired {above}--gearing myself up for that one. Trying to subconsciously figure out the stitching pattern because consciously thinking about it isn't working. Next is Big Kiss--Probably gonna happen here pretty soon, but I did something dumb and sewed up the backing already--it's batik. Ughh. Always a bit more difficult to hand quilt! Then there's Love Apples which could be quilted soonish. I'm thinking about it. And last is the Seedpod Flower quilt which I love, love looking at. Saving it for when I need an extra dose of quilting love in my lap.

And still more
Then there's the Pink Tulip quilt. Yaasss! Gonna happen this year for sure. Crossroads which is entirely too new, The 16-Patch pink quilt top that I made for my sister {years and years and years ago} and somehow found its way back into my stack of 'To-Do's'? Yeah. It's 100% Next-Up-In-The-Hoop. I want it done and moving on so I can get back to mine, all mine. Which just might be Spring Flowers, the blue /cream one at the end. It looks very easy and might be the right quilt to soak up the leftover irritations of not getting to work on WHAT I Want to work on.

The last of the lot!
And last but not least is the 4-block Tulip Basket quilt, backing ready to go and just waiting for the right time, Ode To Joy--too new just yet and then there's the last one... Glory Be. Everything ready to go for that one too. Probably be in the mood around 4th of July or sometime like that. We'll see! Can only hand quilt so many in a year and the machine quilting is getting sparser and sparser around here as time goes on. How many finished quilt tops do you have hanging around your quilt room? If I have an exceptionally good year, I might finish half to three quarters of these....

Monday, January 3, 2022

All the 2021 Finish-It-Up Details and Looking Ahead At What's Next

It was a strange, bewildering year. A lot of us yo-yoed between depression and keeping our head down, just trying to get through. Why even bother with anger when the energy could be much better spent stitching our way to some sort of tranquility? Once again, I have been ever so grateful for this colorful, fascinating, soul-soothing hobby of mine. Though I often felt like the days were aimlessly drifting by, the 2021 finished quilts tell the real story. These hands of mine were busy, busy, busy....

I've been feeling a wee bit guilty about one particular quilt that never made it out of the quilting queue, but hey! What about that HST Medallion quilt? Huh? It finished at 102" square and the whole thing is hand quilted. Woohoo! And then I made up for all that effort by continually choosing out quilt tops that seemed easy as pie to hand stitch. Hmm... 

The baby quilts kinda took precedence this year as one of my nieces, my sister-in-law and also our daughter-in-law all had new additions to their families. The other baby quilt finished this year was the boy quilt. Of course, everyone decided to have girls this one teensy moment when I was actually on the ball and thinking ahead.

Another quilt that somehow insinuated itself into the line-up was Rhi's quilt. It was the lap quilt my oldest daughter asked me to make, starting from a cut up sundress she wore in her middle school years. It's one of the few quilts I've made with a large-ish amount of green included. One that actually turned out to be relatively successful. Yay me! Given another half dozen or so of 'green quilt attempts' and the dial might eventually be turned up to 'amazing looking'. lol  Working with green can be hard!

Okay, Details please!:

If you're wondering, the past year saw me bring a grand total of 16 quilts, plus a slew of doll quilts to fruition. Slightly less than in years past, but not too shabby considering that our family hosted a wedding and also had a new grandchild! I hoped to bring down the number of quilt tops languishing in the quilting queue, but alas, that number stayed fairly stable at 23. Apparently I reliably alternate the act of finishing up, with all kinds of excuses to start anew. See my worried face? Yeah. Neither do I.

Here's the 'finished' quilt statistics that I'm always looking for at this time of year:
  • 11 Doll quilts 
  • 4 Baby quilts
  • 5 Lap-sized quilts
  • 7 Bed-sized quilts
  • 13 of the quilts were hand quilted
  • 2 of the quilts were mixed hand and machine quilted
  • Only 1 quilt was totally machine quilted {plus all the doll quilts}

Another number I generally keep track of is how many quilts are given away. This year saw me gifting 12 quilts, either gently used or new. As usual, there were/are mixed emotions in giving away so many of the quilts that I've poured myself into, and no doubt, spent countless hours working on. Some people are easier to gift quilts to than others and I'd never suggest it's a mandatory thing. I'll just link to an article written in 2013 by Mary Fons where she makes the point that 'Quilts are love, manifested.' When we find the perfect person {or reason} for one of our quilts, it's truly a beautiful thing.

As for what's on board for the new year? 

  • More from-the-stash quilting for sure. I'm sincerely hooked--line and sinker. It's beginning to get more and more challenging as certain colors and tones are starting to be depleted. Still, I rather enjoy the adventure of make-do-till-you-can-make-it-work. 
  • Absolutely more focus on specific colors where the stash tote lids don't close as well as they should. Gonna have to bite the bullet and attack browns and tans at the minimum. {Whether I want to or not.} Grr.. How oh how to make that seem fun?
  • There is still an ever-growing list of applique projects that I'm yearning to dive into. Most are very simplistic with lots of repeats. Yawn.... I don't know why this is so appealing to me, but who cares? If it drives me forward, then I say it's probably worth the effort and needs to happen.
  • I don't think there was a single project started from the scrap bin last year. That needs to change. Scrap bin quilts are just too interesting to write off completely. The main thing holding me back is the sheer amount of work involved in the doing.
  • The Adhoc. Improv. Quilting party is still ongoing, and in fact, there is a brand new challenge issued for the new year. Definitely one that I intend to dive into, especially as this one pertains to playing with color. Should probably {deliberately} choose a color palette that includes brown...
  • As usual around here, squirrel projects tend to beget other squirrels. 2021 will undoubtedly see me continuing on in some form of series work, whether it be playing with the cut-outs from behind my circle quilts or adding appliqued tulips in a slightly different style and shape than used before. Probably gonna see another basket quilt or two, and maybe even another log cabin quilt. The world can always use yet another log cabin quilt, right?
  • More hand quilting with perle cotton thread is a given, at least until the outside world settles down into something more 'normal' and truck-loads less stressful. Oh, who's kidding who? I'm gonna hand quilt until my hands give out or I get too old too see. The thing is, I'm not going to worry about trying to push myself into more and more finishes with that faster method of machine quilting. Especially during this particular season of my life. The only time I don't crave snacky things is when my hands are busy with a quilt in the hoop. Can you imagine how large a person I'd be but for this craft? Uh huh. Bet you thought we all got the extra padding from the extra quilting time....

On a different note, after deliberately shedding a few minor responsibilities this past year, I have now allowed myself to be talked into doing a short series of quilt meetings with our church group. We will be making a simple, scrappy, improv. sort of baby {or sm. lap sized} quilt from start to finish, with yours truly as the teacher. Ahhhh... What a muddle that will be. Part of me doesn't want to do this at all. Period. End of story. But the other part of me thinks that it's important for women to have connections. Interactions. Community. Doing that while creating can be enormously nourishing to the body and soul, which obviously, might be a boon after the past two years?

I thought we'd have three or four women at most who were interested, but as of yesterday, we're up to ten.*sigh  All ages and states in life and involving all levels of quilting and/or sewing experience. The only stipulation I made is that everyone need know how to competently sew a straight stitch and be able take care of their own sewing machine issues. Yikes! So far out of my comfort zone with this. Though I'm not 100 percent an introvert, I'm way more of an introvert than an extrovert which makes this feel a little painful. And I personally hate to be told what to do in quilting. How can I 'teach' a method without doing that? So many questions. Am currently trying to walk through the entire quilt project and make notes; emphasis on the basics and trying to leave room for flexibility wherever possible. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 30, 2021

About Ready To Turn the Page To the New Year!

Got the Christmas Stars quilt into the hoop. Finally! I've been running so far behind on where the quilt line-up 'should be' this year that I just wanna shake my head. Not making a lot of progress on plowing through the completed quilt tops 'cuz I'm too busy making new.

Christmas Stars next up in the hoop
No matter. Christmas Day might be behind us, but I'm still very much in the mood to work on a quilt that looks like this. I made a total of four Christmas-look quilt tops within the last year and a half. Just to hand quilt during the holidays! This was one of the first two attempted and probably the most obviously holiday looking.

Almost ready to pin...
Very poor planning for fitting the individual blocks inside the quilting hoop though.*wink  How inefficient is this? Mostly I just get a larger background square into the hoop and then pull off the side clamps whenever they get in the way of stitching on the stars. So annoying to move the hoop every half an hour or so.

Keeping the stitching simple on this one!
And it always feels wonderful to have a true blue, absolutely finished quilt to finish out the year. This one has such a cozy vibe, it could have happily been laying across my lap for another week or two and I wouldn't even have cared. Love all the scrappy feels.
Strippy Triangles is a finish!
It was tricky to get try and get a good pic of the full quilt, so this will have to do. I'm sure it would be soo much better if I managed to get the quilt properly arranged during that 20 minutes of perfect lighting we seem to have this time of year!

Lots and lots of triangles
It took me almost three evenings to finally figure out exactly how those long skinny gray strips were going to have to be hand quilted. I tried vines with leaves, vines with berries, straight lines, and then finally ended up with a double stitched wavy vine without any extras at all. Still wasn't 100% sure until there was several stitched frames to look at. Okay. That should do it!

Hand quilting for the win!
All along I thought the binding would have to be black, but then.... Nope! The quilt wanted red for some reason. Good thing there was enough of the right colors hanging around in the stash totes or this would have had to be delayed for quite awhile. Fabric shopping is not exactly on the priority list right after the holidays, though of course I wish it was. No gift cards for Christmas this year, but I really can't complain. My youngest daughter gifted me with a box of Valdani perle cotton thread.*sigh  I'm so in love.... Would it be silly to design an entire quilt around a variegated thread color?

All ready for cuddling
Also included in this end-of-the-year post is the very last completed quilt top, Crossroads. Once I got the applique out of the way, then it was only a matter of cutting out the sashing strips and finding time to sew the rows.

Just a little underwhelming
As you can see, I was trying to stick fairly close to the antique quilt inspiration this time. Not ever exactly, but hopefully my interpretation rings true for the overall spirit of the quilt! How boring if it was a spitting image! This quilt has been in a couple different books I believe, but where I found it is: 'Quilts. An American Heritage' by Terri Zegart, a book published in 1994. I literally paid a dollar for at a quilt show guild booth a couple years ago. 

Taking another look at the original Inspiration
At first, I was just a little disappointed with the wispy, fade-away look it had {see first picture}. If you remember, I had a little play at this very same inspiration with this previous quilt, and somewhere along the way, the vibe of that particular quilt had went sideways on me too. In that case, I just shrugged and went with it. Basically, I was thinking 'Wow, here we go again! Just cannot seem to get this quilt figured out!'

Playing with border ideas
Since border additions are like my secret little addiction, I almost instantly talked myself into adding a blue/peachy pink triangle border. I mean really, before I even gave it any other serious thought, there I was doing the math and auditioning for the most likely scenario. Then I sorta stepped back from it all and thought, 'What am I doing?' A pieced border was going to blow this whole quilt vibe into a million pieces!

So much better with the subtle-y scrappy but plain border
So I folded the quilt top up and purposefully left it on a slow simmer for awhile. Sometime just before I fell asleep that night {the subconscious can work so fast!}, it occurred to me that maybe, maybe? the quilt might welcome a slightly larger, but definitely darker surround of fabric. Hmmm... And something like that probably wouldn't ruin the lovely feeling the original maker had so successfully ended up with. Of course I wanted to immediately run upstairs and check the idea out, but decided that was a very poor idea. Would probably freak everybody in the house out if mama got busy in the quilt room at 1:30 in the morning...

Ahh.. Surely you can see that this make-do, pieced but plain, border looks so much better already. You'll never believe how ugly the darker, almost dingy peachy pinks {mauve?} looked all by their lonesome! It was almost scary to even properly audition them. But attached to the quilt? They are Beea-utiful! Such a wonderful, lovely complement to the rest of the quilt. So very glad that I hit pause and took a few extra minutes to think it all through.

Still trying to learn what the secret really is!
It's always so exciting when the perfect solution makes itself known and all the cranky quilt problems can just drift away. I totally have a soft spot for these antique quilt interpretations that I've been dabbling with now for several years. I always think that if I can just successfully interpret a few of these fabulously unpretentious quilts {unpack their secrets}, then in some mysterious way, the look/feel/spirit of these quilts will somehow rub off onto mine. I'm earnestly trying because these are the best of best quilts to me. 

Now I'm dreaming up ideas for the cream fabric cut-outs from behind these gold circles. Which absolutely needs to be a series, right? Because there's definitely gonna be a quilt from those cut-out circles next. I mean, why not? Happy Happy New Year to All! We'll probably be having a quiet evening at home this year by ourselves, just me and the husband. Sounds good to me!

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Catching Up With the Last AHIQ Prompt of the Year

 *Remember! The Christmas Giveaway is still open through December 25th!* All year long I've felt like I'm back in junior high, always the last one to finish up the 5K run. Here I am though, finally running across the finish line! The last AHIQ prompt had to do with symmetry or asymmetry, whichever felt least comfortable to us.

The new baby quilt
So I've been thinking and thinking, wondering, 'Am I actually uncomfortable with either?' And yes, while symmetry comes very natural to me, attempting an asymmetrical design usually comes about as a last resort. Sometimes it happens by accident, other times I'm attempting to fix a problem, or perhaps it's another persons pattern. You can see from some of the finished quilts around here that it does happen, though not as often as the symmetry thing. Patchwork GardenAHIQFlowersRhi's QuiltComfortably QuirkySeedpod Flower, and Glory Be are just a few recent examples of asymmetry happening in my quilts. Most generally though, it's a gently asymmetrical look, nothing terribly modern, bold or overwhelming.

After much contemplation {and even a bit of anxiety}, I eventually had to completely leave off the idea of trying to start a project with the intention of using asymmetry as the ultimate destination. While it felt like a worthy goal, there was just too much going on in our life to set about attempting something 'off balance' and perhaps even a bit chaotic as the seed of the entire design. I need serenity and balance right now!! So I shrugged off the deliberate pursuit and decided to just write about it when and if it happened.

All fabrics from the stash....
This baby quilt {for a great-niece} needed to happen fast if I wanted to send it off with the grandma and avoid shipping costs! Digging through my stash as always, I stumbled upon the peachy pink mouse fabric {background fabric} and decided to base the entire quilt right there. It was cute, girly, and more importantly, needed used up! I gathered all the rest of the fabric together and quickly fleshed out an easy pattern, 4-patch units with alternating background squares. Honestly, this baby quilt came together--design idea to implementation--so quickly. This time I didn't slow down long enough to let doubts get in the way!

So sweet!
The background fabric is where I ran into a dilemma though. Not quite enough mouse fabric. Oh well. And that's when the 'asymmetry' just sort of happened. Why not go with a wildly different color fabric for those seven remaining background squares? It would have been quite simple to find a similar look/color of fabric and let it all blend, but no... So much more interesting to add a blast of energy to the quilt, which the unequal amount of darker fabric accomplishes in a heartbeat. 

After making that particular decision, then I ended up rearranging the pink/yellow 4-patch blocks into a more obvious 'chain' pattern, rather than placing them willy-nilly around the quilt like intended. With those blocks now providing a certain amount of directional 'flow', it made it easy to randomly place the large dark squares within the boundary of the missing background fabric squares. It was a fast, simple quilt to sew together and then machine quilt in a basic crosshatch. Altogether, it took maybe three days start to finish. Yay! All it needs now is a label and we're good to go. Crossing my fingers the new mama likes yellow 'cuz I think it looks super sweet!

Finishing up Ode to Joy, Big Basket #4
This Big Basket #4 project has been floating around the quilt room for a long time. It was started impulsively, late in the day as an addendum to my Big Basket Series. All along I had this vague idea of trying to play with a bit of asymmetry in the final applique touches. However, it seemed problematic to announce it on the blog as part of the AHIQ challenge. What if I boldly asserted that THIS quilt was going to go a little off the rails as per 'perfect' balance {one side of the quilt to the other}, and then the quilt decided it didn't want to cooperate? lol Wouldn't be the first time!

This quilt is having a great time

All along the way, this quilt had a mind of its own. I thought the flowers in the basket were going to be lush looking tulips, but nooooo. They wanted to be spare and more Scandinavian in look, mimicking the print on the darkest blue fabric in the basket. Several times throughout the making of this top, I almost ripped them off and started over. Seriously, they made me nervous. Originally, I attempted to make the basket surround sashing a red fabric, then maybe a blue fabric? Not having it. Had to be the charcoal text print. Which ultimately made for the perfect framing for the heart flower applique, but at the time? Woo! Totally feeling boxed in and a bit limited as per addressing the potential applique block border.
Loving the scrappy, low-key strip additions
One of the absolutes, I thought, was that the log cabin-like strips {puzzle piecing the pear blocks together} were going to have to be mixed greens. You know, in order to make those pear blocks pop? Uh huh. So appalling to see those colors in that position in the quilt. Ughh! So then I started trying to use up all the remnants of light gray fabric that was leftover from the pear backgrounds. I was loving how soft and light hearted it looked while still being scrappy, but what about the overall look to the quilt??? My bold and bright quilt that I previously imagined was turning into a shadow of itself...

The bird is feeling pretty good about things too
Nothing else appeared as a better solution though, so onward progression continued. Might as well go with what seems to be working even if I didn't understand the how and why. When I stumbled on the idea of throwing in those patchwork, scrappy-look cornerstone squares {with the hint of red?}, everything just started making perfect sense. Ahhhh... I could suddenly see where the pear blocks needed to be part of the background symphony, not have a starring role in the overall impact. 

In my opinion, the little square fabric pops of color were needed to gently lead the eye around the edges of the quilt and then back to that fun center again. Well, I was hoping it was going to be a fun looking center! Anyway,.... So very glad that to find that specific bit of fabric and I can tell you that every bit of it was used up! Basically, the initial auditioning was showing that because of the light, light gray fabrics used, if there was absolutely no color at all between all the pear blocks, then everything at the outside border would come off as choppy and disorienting to the eye. And adding darker gray, except in a very few areas, just made everything look dingy and dull. Gotta love finding those unexpectedly good, problem-solving-fabrics in the totes!

Just had to use one darker square in the upper corner
From there, it was easy, peasy to attack the asymmetry idea, in a bold, red, applique sort of way. Those heart-flowers that I had doodled onto my rough draft drawing? Why not try and make them as-is? So many times the doodle is a general representation of a flower etc. and really, anything works. 

This time I studied the drawing and then earnestly tried to replicate that naïve style to the best of my ability. I carefully drew them out on paper in the scale needed, one after another, then trimmed or fussy cut as needed. They were traced and cut out in fabric and after that, placed onto the quilt in appropriate areas. I played and played, trying to get the look just right. Tipped the flowers this way, that way, a little bit of space here, more there and so on. Maybe if I add one more? It took a bit of time, but it was completely worthwhile. So happy to see the heart flowers cheerfully dancing off the edge of the quilt now. Whew! Love it when a plan {hair-brained idea?} starts coming together!

This part makes me smile!
A bird had been drawn onto the rough draft and placed high on the right side of the quilt. It was a bigger bird than what I would normally think was necessary. Though I knew the bird needed to be a bright, solid blue, the template I made looked terrible on that specific side of the quilt. Okay, leave it off. Nope. It definitely needs a bird, but where??? And it all fell into place when I determined that what it really needed was a bird with something in its mouth. Aha. Well, that changes everything! It took a little finagling and yep, wasted bits of cut outs of stems, flowers etc. until the little heart finally, finally made itself known. Hmm... So very sappy.... Sometimes I am just scratching my head at what the quilts finally end up looking like! 

The 'Joy' word was the final wrap up to totally finish things off. I had originally cut it out in a white/gray fabric and while I loved the word on the quilt, the coloring was way too cold. After figuring out the bird, it was simple to see that the same, exact fabric was perfect for the lower part of the basket. I don't know why this quilt needed a word added, but somehow this quilt has renamed itself 'Ode to Joy'. Maybe that's why. Whatever. The quilt needs what it needs! 

Such a good vibe!
So yeah, that's why I've been hiding most of the ongoing progress of this particular quilt. Some of you were gonna love it and some were gonna go 'Meh!', and probably want to hate it. I wanted so badly for this to fall into the AHIQ Symmetry/Asymmetry prompt, that I didn't want to jinx it by letting you get a peek. Sometimes, rarely, the constructive criticism, advice and/or fond comments of affirmation can make me second guess the entire creative flow. Then I have to let things sit and stew until it's all properly sorted out in my brain. Not usually much of an issue, and as you know, I'm generally all about sharing the process. That's what I do! In this case I hesitated simply because this quilt was on the finish-up-before-the-end-of-the-year list and I am resolutely trying to clear the decks!

There is much, much satisfaction in checking this one off the list. It seemed a little tricky at times. My own family is still a little doubtful about how cool this quilt is, but I'm immensely pleased with it. You know how difficult the color green is for me.... and then there is that weird pink background color..... It's got the pear blocks I've been wistfully dreaming about forever.... But I didn't let it end up being a PEAR quilt per se., it's still a BASKET quilt! Just wait till the hand quilting joins in.....*sigh It might just prod me to make yet another big basket quilt for the series. These are just too much fun!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

It's That Time of Year! Quilty Folk Applique Template Giveaway!

I cannot believe we are this close to Christmas again! Where did the year go? Fed-Ex finally delivered our tree today, so maybe we can get into the proper holiday spirits after the tree lights start twinkling. Last year I gifted an applique template during this time of year and it seemed to be well received. Well over a hundred 'Yes, please! I want that!' comments plus emails, which really, is the best sort of compliment. Cozy quilts seem to be the thing we most want to work on during the holidays.

The older {Happy Flowers} Love Apple blocks
So this year, much in the same vein, I am doing another Very Merry Christmas giveaway to all my loyal readers! *This offer is good through December 25th!* Most everyone who responded the other day wanted the older Happy Flowers template, but I just couldn't resist offering the newer, funkier looking flower too. They are just so sweet! Everyone should have at at least one Love Apple quilt hanging around, right?
The newer 2021 Love Apple Blocks
If you are interested in obtaining the gift of these simple, folksy applique templates, all you have to do is leave a request in the comments or drop me an email. It's that easy! Both templates will be included in the PDF that will be attached in the return email. Depending on how many requests that I receive, it may take me until January 1st to get completely caught up. Please be patient! If you haven't received anything by that date, it will be because I can't find your return email. Then you can get grumpy {hopefully reach out again}, we can talk more, and then, probably, the PDF will finally be zinging your way.

A few things to consider:

  • Please leave your email address in the comment or you might very well get lost in the Blogger quagmire of privacy issues. Can leave it in this form: 'audkateaster at gmail dot com'  if you are nervous about throwing it out into the universe {use your email address not mine of course} . Or you can just email me directly if that works better. 
  • If you don't request the template, I won't be sending it to you. I'll just assume you stopped by to say 'Hi'!
  • This is a limited time offer, good only through Christmas Day, 2021. Last year I randomly got requests throughout the entire year! Which occasionally kind of drives me nuts, just saying. After December 25th, 2021 you will only get this giveaway PDF if you physically mail me a fat quarter or two through the postal service: Audrey Easter, PO Box 2251, Pateros, WA 98846. That tells me you're seriously in the mood to make this and not just trying to scoop up a freebie. It doesn't even have to be brand new fabric, just make sure it's suitable for quilting! And I'm dead serious about this unless maybe you live overseas and the shipping would be astronomical. Then we'll talk. Call me a meanie, but a giveaway needs to have an end date! Be sure your email is included with the fabric so I can get the PDF sent to the right person. 
  • Just to be clear, this giveaway is for applique templates ONLY, not quilt patterns. You'll probably want to trace the designs onto template plastic or freezer paper before you get started. 
  • When cutting the background fabric, 9" x 9" squares of fabric work fine for both motifs, even though one is on point and the other straight up and down. Feel free to make your background whatever size looks best to you though!
  • Both templates include a skinny rectangle shape that can be traced and used for the flower stem. I prefer to make long {bias or not} vines and cut into proper lengths. In the case of the Happy Flower block, you'll want to start with 2" strips and sew the really scant seam and then iron the seam to the back. For the newer Love Apple block, start with 1 1/2" strips and proceed like the previous block. So much easier hand stitching straight edges when all the raw edge is clear out of the way!
  • For all you stressy peoples out there, I need to tell you that it's highly unlikely these motifs will line up exactly even steven. Ha! Remember that the preferred look around here at Quilty Folk is cozy and hand touched, not precise and rigidly straight!
  • Please do not copy, redistribute or try to sell these templates. It might make me shut down my blog and go cry in a corner.
Okay, that's it. Any questions? Shoot me an email! Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Bullseye Medallion is Finished Up!

Loving this latest finish! When the last stitches went into the binding I thought to put it immediately on our bed. Alas, too many blue markings that needed washing out.

Love how the center turned out!
Thankfully it washed up very well and though there was a bit of dye in the Color Catchers, nothing seemed to make its way into the lighter colored fabrics. 

The colors seem so intense, it's hard to see it in the pictures
I'm obviously very drawn to the look of circles in my quilts. This center motif was such a simple look to pull off, though you'll probably notice the circle is not exactly perfect. What is around here? That red and white print has been in the stash totes for years. Not even sure now where it came from {or from whom?} but I love the impact it makes on this particular quilt.

Enjoying the look of the hand quilting
I saved the circle template and will try something else with it some day in the future. Mostly, I wanted to experiment with a wide, stripped down piecing look for the borders on this quilt and thought an applique center would help give the quilt some pizazz. Focus. A place to establish the overall vibe. Plus I wanted to play with an element I saw in an antique quilt years ago. You know how it is!

A different pieced or applique element for each border
The border width exact repeats was an interesting challenge. Having the colors change so dramatically each border helped give the quilt energy for sure. I really enjoyed trying to achieve a bit of a 'blend' from one border to the next in that area where the basket handles landed. Things like that always make me smile!

A couple pieces of vintage fabric!
As always, I started with a stack of fabrics that had been simmering and ready to go forever. These were pretty much chomping at the bit for their place in line! As each border developed, I tried to figure out ways to incorporate the most interesting fabrics into each border. It didn't take long before I realized that some fabrics needed a solid break between them as they didn't transition as smoothly as others. Simple to insert a rectangle of a completely different fabric and try to make that rough transition seem more 'purposeful'.

So fun to use up difficult fabrics....
The entire quilt is hand quilted with Perle Cotton #8 and #12 as per usual around here. When I ran out of the first variegated red Perle Cotton ball, I switched to the other similar red that I had available. Same brand, number etc., but this ball of thread went from red fading to white, instead of red fading into light pink. At first I was dismayed, but then quickly started preferring the more dramatic escalation of color and then lack of. So lovely to see it helping to 'pop' the texture on the black background! I can only assume the dye lots were different or perhaps I bought them at separate times?

The variegated threads are the best!
Obviously this isn't a super complex top, but I feel that I learned a lot making this quilt. It's always a bit of a thrill when a personal challenge project ends up working out so well. This was started in the month of January 2019 and took most of a year to plow through all the details, often involving a pep talk or two on the merits of keeping to the stated boundaries. There were definitely times that I wasn't at all in the mood to put the time in, push myself, or think outside my comfort zone. But that fabric!!! It just kept demanding that it needed to be used!

Finally got the last border on Crazy Daisy this week too. After cutting the strips out, there was just over an inch wide x 42" of fabric plus another small piece leftover from the border width. So close! This was one border fabric that clearly didn't need another fabric involved to spoil the look.

The floral fabric was a one yard piece that I had picked up on a clearance sale where you had to buy the minimum to get the 'deal'. So fascinating to see it finish off this Crazy Daisy quilt in the best possible way.

I love how the extra bit of pink saturation at the border helps make the blue background fabrics shine, which of course, is what I always intended from the start, sort of fallen short of the goal along the way, and then wallah! found my way once again.*sigh  Some quilts just wanna take the hard road! This is a busy, loud, bossy sort of quilt and I can't wait to see what the quilting texture will do for it later on.

Right when I was sewing on the final 12" or so of the last border, I found a frayed hole in the border fabric. Just a little smaller than the size of an eraser on a pencil, nevertheless, it was a  big problem. After a moment of contemplation, I admitted utter defeat and just spliced in the little tiny chunk of border fabric that had been leftover from the yardage. I hate, hate, hate doing that! So tacky looking! The fabric is so busy that it's not immediately obvious, but it does annoy me that it was necessary. So thankful that I caught it NOW and not while I was attempting to quilt it! One of the good things about pre-washing fabric!

A corner fix. Don't worry, everything lays
nice and flat after it's ironed properly...
There is a couple more projects that I'm trying to bring to 'completed quilt top stage' by the end of the year and hopefully one more true blue quilt finish as well. Since we had most of our Christmas with the immediate family at Thanksgiving, there should be a bit more time available for quilting during this holiday than what I normally end up with. Still have one more Christmas shopping trip to work into the schedule, but the husband is self employed and it seems that we're always waiting on the next check. Also, we gave in and bought a fake Christmas tree this year and then ended up with one with a cracked base. Had to send it back and now we're waiting on the replacement. Hmm... That's a little scary with all the supply chain issues these days but what do you do? Hope the new one arrives next week like it's supposed to!!