Thursday, June 17, 2021

Plodding Along

 There's not going to be a lot going on here quilty-wise in the next month or so, but hopefully I won't go completely dark! No matter what else is happening around me, I can usually squeeze in a bit of hand quilting, so there's that.

Sweet Hospitality is done!

The latest quilt finish is Sweet Hospitality. It's been in the quilt top stage since late in 2018. I loved the old fashioned pineapple blocks when I first started them, but somehow, somewhere, the quilt lost its pizazz for me and then, more or less became a problem child.

Still liking this pineapple block

As per my new normal, I was trying to use up fabrics from the stash and well, yeah. This was probably one quilt where I should have went out and bought special. Why am I so stubborn about this? Whatever! It ended up coming together better than I expected, but somewhere a bit below the standard that I tend to set for myself. 

Definitely looks better washed and dried...

Like I had hoped, the quilting texture really helped lift the look of the quilt. It's so funny that I oftentimes have wishful thinking when it comes to that hand quilting stuff. Surely, surely, it will cover a multitude of sins! Right? And that bright binding... Nothing like what I was expecting, but nevertheless, a very good save. After finally settling on it, I had to wonder why I ever expected anything else to work out? It was just so obvious....

Can a quilt be too scrappy?

I struggled mightily with how to quilt this one. Mostly because I get so tired of echo quilting all my applique efforts. Or do I actually do that? Maybe I'm just tired.*wink  Regardless, it all because so much clearer when I finally decided to put yet another quilt top on the back side of the quilt. Such a rare decision, but it seemed right for a 'just for play' quilt.



The improv. quilt back

It sent my brain into a tizzy at first wondering how not to end up with a complete and total disaster on one side or the other, then it all made sense. The only solution was to stitch some type of endless repeat. Of course! And I love the fact that it didn't even really matter whether it was a Baptist Fan or whatever else I chose. And don't let people dissuade you from extra piecing in the backing when it comes to hand quilting. With a curved stitching pattern, you rarely ever run into long stretches of 'too much seam allowance' to stitch through. A couple tough stitches here and there, and otherwise, it's all good to go!

Just had to see what this side looked like!

So I gleefully dove in with the idea of stitching simple looking 'Hills'. It's been a year and a half since I've done this, but I remember making a mental note to do this again some day. And it turned out to be such a good decision! Always rough to stick it out through the first row or two, but once it starts showing more, then it's time to relax and just enjoy the stitching. So crazy, I love the back of the quilt almost more than the front!

Looks cozy enough to use!

In fact, if my daughter-in-law hadn't chosen it for her next quilt, I'd probably be trying to hoard this one for a couple more years. Just for the improv. side. 'Cuz more and more, that's what I want to work on, even if I don't have a clue as to what I'm actually trying to accomplish! 

AHIQFlowers next up in the hoop!

And that leads me to the 'next up in the hoop' quilt top, #ahiqflowers. This one was a response to an AHIQ prompt and also, an interpretation of an 'Unconventional and Unexpected' quilt. There are many quilt tops that should be in the front of this particular quilt top, but you know how it is. Gotta grab the one that's actually making us WANT to pick up a needle and thread....

The sunflowers totally make it...

There are entirely too many have too's in our life at the moment, better to have a little bit of simple pleasure when I pull out the hoop in the evenings. At the moment it does feels like I'm trying to 'over-quilt' this one. Trying not to get too worked up about that though. One hoop at a time and the details will sort themselves out at the end. What is the worst case scenerio? I'll have a Kantha type look for my improv. quilt? Oooh... wouldn't that be terrible....


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Applique Adventures Continue

It seems like a good time for an applique project update. Anyone who's followed me for any length of time knows that there is always a stack of hand work lurking behind the scenes, or at the very least, in the corners of my mind.

Applique done on Improv. HST Medallion border

The impulse tulips have been all sewn down onto the Improv. HST Medallion quilt. They were surprisingly quite a lot of fun to stitch, so simple and joyful! I'm leaning very hard toward adding on a very large surround of much larger improv. half square triangles. Still trying to figure it out in my head as I don't want a huge mess of bias and wonkiness to have to iron flat and attempt to square up. Will probably attack it in 9-patch units {or larger}, similar to the center of the quilt. All very 'fallish' colors, so not a huge urge to dive in just yet.

Crazy Daisy ready for stitching motivation

After the Improv. HST Medallion applique was finished, then I realized that whoa.... there was only one project actually prepped, Crazy Daisy. All the flowers were drawn onto the fabric pieces {since last October!}, but nothing was cut out. While cutting out the flowers though, I kept thinking about a project that has been haunting me for well..., forever! 

Starting the freehand lettering for the Jubilee quilt

I've drawn up so many different variations of this particular quilt through the years. Insanity. Or Yearning. You decide! My wastebasket should be full to overflowing if all the wadded up papers were put into it at once. Finally, in sheer frustration at where this other quilt {Melon Patch Rows} was going, Nowhere! 

I desperately cautiously combined the two ideas. It's not like I have anything to lose at this point. Really, Melon Patch Rows is clearly a quilt who doesn't know anything about who she wants to be! Then, after literally hours of prep work getting the first three rows of letters ready to stitch {some of it very grim and determined sort of effort}, it's suddenly the only project that I want to work on. Go figure.
Three rows of letters cut out and stitching started.
Last two rows of letters drawn and ready to go.

Oh yeah. We so.. do NOT want to ignore the muse, do we? This is an 'Augusten Burroughs' quote that resonates deeply with me of late and these stitched words, offset with the Melon Patch Rows, might just end up being a huge mangled mess. Deliberately so if my instincts are steering me aright.*sigh  And... just for the record, this quilt has now become, possibly by default, my Jubilee quilt. Yay me. Instead of the complex and intensely beautiful applique effort I had been imagining, I'll be doing a wordy, utility look quilt that most probably will reveal just a little too much about my eccentric quilting attitude. Ugh! I'm squirming. How is it that solving this meandering, problematic quilt idea ends up being the only answer that feels right for the Jubilee question too? 

Border work on Positive Thinking

Moving on to something a little more interesting, I attempted to work on the border for Positive Thinking. Because of course! It has to have a border! Somehow the ideas have kept coming back around to an attempt at clamshells, something I've dreamed about for a very long time, but kept swatting away as entirely too much work. They are just so yummy though! And why not? It's not like this is a quilt that will only look good with ONE specific border idea. It's fairly open to all sorts of grand ideas.

This time I caved and ultimately gave in to the one impulse that made me smile the most. I think there were about 11 clamshells cut out before I realized that the template needed adjusting just a bit. The bottom of the clamshell is not exactly centered and I'm already nervous about the handwork! It doesn't help that one side of the quilt is already not going to match up 'math-wise' with the clamshells. Yeah. One of those problems that will work itself out one way or another after we actually get there....

Initial phase of the border work for Coronacrazy

Then there's the Coronacrazy quilt which has all the vine stitched down on the border pieces. It's 100% ready for moving and grooving on, and my brain acts like it's stuffed with cotton. What? Huh? Can't even figure out where or how to start on the leaves. I have vague ideas, things drawn out and a fairly good doodle to riff off of, but yeah. Nothing happening here in la la land! So frustrating as there are at least three or four other good applique ideas impatiently waiting their turn for the big start.

It just feels like something needs to happen with Coronacrazy before investing too much creative energy into something brand spanking new. Which is why I will continue working on other things already in the works, all the while letting my mind ponder and mull things over until something breaks. Or maybe I should say 'sparks?' And if it doesn't? Then I will get all the various parts and pieces out sometime here very soon and force something. I know it's all there if only there was this one thing called focus....


Friday, June 4, 2021

Starting the Summer Out With a Finish!

 Lots going on here as usual, just not much in the quilting department. I've spent the last two weeks either getting ready to go camping, actually camping, or cleaning up from camping. Whew! So much work, especially after a year off and kind of losing sight of the tips and tricks that make things more efficient.

Rhi's dress quilt is done!

I'm talking about the annual church campout thing we do clear up in the mountains. It takes place at an old Boy Scout camp and most every structure is somewhat primitive. That's why it's so incredibly important that we take our RV, so that at the very least, we have a decent nights sleep!

Started the spiral stitching at the center of the sunflowers...

Yah, I'm not much of a camper, I admit. This year I didn't even bother to take my quilting, 'cuz it just never happens. But I walked miles and breathed in lots of fresh mountain air, got to see my grandkids and fed lots of teenagers. No cell service so of course everyone HAD to unplug. 

Really enjoying the overlay of texture

I was hoping to have this quilt done for my daughters birthday on May 28th, but alas, there was just too much going on. It's the one that I started just for her earlier in the year, based around a pretty sunflower print sundress she wore as a very young teen. 

This is probably the only area I don't like...

I started with a pile of fabrics that I thought would look good with the sunflowers and then worked up a rough draft of an improv. style quilt. {Does anyone else find the absurdity in having a rough draft of an improv. quilt?} I didn't succeed in using all of the print, though it feels like enough was used to create the happy, summer vibe feel that I was aiming for!

Love seeing the back. It's a poly/cotton
piece of fabric and feels so light!

The design of the quilt is very free flow with most fabrics cut into larger chunks wherever possible. Mostly I just cut them and then started placing them here and there, until things looked alright. The coin border was added after it became obvious that there needed to be a better transition in certain areas. Though not a super stressful project, it didn't need to look ugly!

Just a fun, cheerful looking quilt. Hope my daughter
loves it as much as I do!

So glad my daughter bought me the compass to experiment with on her quilt. All along I was crossing my fingers, hoping and praying that the spiral quilting lines would help camouflage wherever the design of the quilt lacked! I have to say that this improv. thing is quite addictive, especially when using up some of the older fabrics that don't feel particularly impressive all on their own! And yes. In the event you were wondering, all of the fabrics minus the sunflower dress fabric and the backing fabric, came straight out of the totes. Some are old, some are newish, and many have felt hopeless auditioned anywhere else. Love using them up!


Finally, a quilt with lots of green that feels 
like a success!

I thoroughly enjoyed how in-the-moment the process was and how very, very forgiving it is too. There are a couple baby quilts coming up on my horizon and I'm so very tempted to throw caution to the winds and just chunk the fabric up and then start trying to piece them back together! It's been such an odd year.I find myself making way too many cutting errors and/or finding problems with all the math. Short term memory and stress overload probably, but it is what it is.

Roman Stripes in the hoop

I wasn't getting any help moving the dining room table and so the next up 'in-the-hoop' is this smallish lap quilt from a couple years ago. All I had room on the floor for! It's kind of a boring quilt and the stitching isn't going to be impressive either. Oh well! Just need to have something in the hoop to relax my mind at the end of each day. Someday I'll get caught up again and probably end up turning to wholecloth quilting or something equally ridiculous!*wink


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Still Quilting

 Yes, I have been almost completely out of the loop. Life has been full of unexpected happenings, many appointments, a funeral for a family friend, taxes being finalized, Google Chrome crashing on me, and on and on until I wanted to scream. Just let me quilt, please.....??

Sweet Hospitality ready for the last phase of binding!

But then I catch myself and think, honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. Life with family is the good life! If it's messy and busy, so be it. All the busyness does a number on my creativity though, and then it's good to have those fallback projects that are either hand work based or more formulaic in nature. And I mean that in terms of the end 'goal'. 

The Centerpiece of the quilt

Like this string tulip AHIQ prompt. There was a certain expectation of what this quilt might include, whether I chose to follow all the perimeters or not. It didn't take quite as many twists and turns as Kaja's marvelous version, but since my brain has felt sort of wooly lately, it wasn't quite as straightforward as it could have been! In fact, for a bit, I worried that 'my voice' had almost got lost in the shuffle. 

AHIQ String Tulips quilt top is completed!

So many times, the only thing that matters around here is what the fabric, centerpiece, or perhaps vibe of the quilt wants to convey. I'm on a journey to do what the quilt seems to want and need! This time, I kept being pulled back into the spirit of the challenge and what that might possibly mean. How that was important. What things could be done to complete the challenge without making something that was just a hurry-up-and-get-this-done sort of effort.

Everything placed via the 'eyeball' method....

Could I/Should I sew together a string challenge without any strings included whatsoever? Hmm.. While I loved the idea of using the bolder fabrics for the main part of the tulips, it didn't quite right to say that the main theme of the prompt was completely unnecessary. How lame would that be? So I took a bunch of the leftover bits and at least made the centers of the tulips out of strings. Ahh.. that feels much better.

Moody colors

Frankly, the secondary challenge--the one where I determined to play with a slightly uncomfortable mixture of colors?--was where all the difficulties stemmed from. If I would have just went to the scrap bin originally and started out from that specific place, then the design decisions probably wouldn't have been such a headache. As it was, I was a little too boxed in. Surprise, surprise, the color palette started falling apart almost immediately!

The very first thing I did was throw out all of the funky greens that looked so good in the marinating stack. {I know, you probably never even saw them.} Yuck. They were positively hideous in the improv. units! Then I arranged and rearranged, over and over, the outside units until they stopped making my eyes cross. Well, I'm not sure they ever did. There was just something about the color blend that didn't sit right with me until I finally got the centerpiece sorted out. So basically I ended up working backwards. And that's the real story of why those tulips ended up being less string pieced and more of a one-piece fabric look.

Not quite what I was expecting

Notice how I finally settled on two rows all around with primarily blue backgrounds and then one more surround with the converse?  It's a subtle medallion look, which of course I love, but more importantly, it somehow suckers you into staring at the centerpiece again. Over the course of my very distracted, much-too-interrupted ponderings, I eventually realized where the drama had be. Uh huh, those tulips, where I could have so easily taken the cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater route. They aren't my most amazing tulips ever, but somehow the combination of busy, bold fabric prints, the look at me flowy lines, a little bit of mellow, utility looking string centers, and then.... the bullseye center at the midpoint of the orange {so weird, I know!} stems? Yep! It all works to say something good. So yeah, overall, I'm fairly satisfied with the results from this prompt. I didn't go so very far off script that it feels ridiculous. Bonus! I got to use up quite a few oddball fabrics that have been languishing forever in the bottoms of the totes. AND.... I didn't let this color palette completely throw me. Truly, it almost did.  

Playing with a woodworkers compass

In other quilty news, I have been experimenting with a large woodworking compass. It's a cheaply made ball bearing one that allows me to attach a fabric marking pen. It's supposed to stretch out to something like 48" or so, but I quickly found out that the farther you spread the compass arms, the harder it is to get good consistent lines.

Burned through 2+ quilt markers

My husband tried to give me some very good tips, but alas, I was not in the mood to listen. Just wanted to do my thing and who cares if the lines aren't precisely spaced around the initial circle? He finally went to bed early out of sheer frustration and I might have felt a little sorry for him.

Loving the results...

The fact is, I'm pretty happy getting a lovely radiating effect {lines approximately 2" apart}, and didn't want to spend any excess time getting everything absolutely perfect. In fact, perfection would have quite possibly ruined the look for me. Am I just being contrary? It feel like part of what I've focused in on for the past 10 years or so is the ability to convey a special look that most definitely features 'the human touch'. Not sloppiness or ignorance as to method, but one that feels more organic and genuine than absolute mastery of technique . I'm sure there are better compasses available, but wowsers, I'm having fun watching these flawed quilting lines transform the quilt! 


Thursday, May 6, 2021

Finally Getting Started on The January AHIQ Prompt

I'm super late getting started on the most recent AHIQ prompt, the String Tulip QAL. I've had all sorts of ideas but did not want to jump in before getting finished up {at at least somewhere positive} with the previous two prompts. 

A new project

The funny thing was, by the time I had given myself permission to start cutting, there was nothing more interesting than simply seeing the outline come together. Yep, no strings at all in the outer blocks, it's all just 'representative' as per shape and effect.

Blocks on the wall

Mostly, I was fascinated with playing with the very different-to-me color palette. So intriguing to see these blues, orange, pinks and reds come together in a background of sorts! You can see that I completely lost the point of what the actual challenge was. Oh well. I'm a little out of step with lots of things these days!

A very make-do look that doesn't work

When I came to the part where a decision was needed for the background of the centerpiece, I was stumped. Until I threw this strange cornflower blue on the wall. Hmm.. Why do I like it so much? Whatever. Everything else looked ridiculous, and I don't plan on going out to buy brand new.

Too distracting...

I've had this fabric around for at least 15 years and never thought it looked particularly inspiring. So interesting to see it eventually find purpose here in this random project! Can anyone tell me why it's in three long rectangles though? Must have been used as a border or perhaps backing fabric at some point to be cut so oddly.

Possible but probably not the best

I played and played with other blues, trying to figure out how to make-do, make it large enough to work in that specific area. Then I finally sewed the outside blocks together, thus giving me the exact length needed for the inside measurements. Uh huh. I actually have enough of the blue with a little bit of extra piecing effort. Too bad I didn't know that beforehand!

Looking at a potential tulip idea

So yeah, all that effort with the darker blue working into a utility make-do look was totally pointless. But that's kind of the story of my life of late, lots of busy work that ultimately turns out to be a waste of energy in some areas. I just can't stay properly focused with so many different things going on here at the home front.  I did get a better idea of how to do the tulips for the centerpiece, but that's a story for another day. And I haven't been back to the quilt room since, so who knows? They might or might not have strings. Call me a miserable failure for this particular prompt. Sometimes it really doesn't pay to delay overly long!

Granddaughters are the best

In the case you were wondering where I've been for the past couple weeks, look no further than these two adorable munchkins! Having them come visit and stay for well over a week has been the highlight of our year so far. Quilting can wait. It'll still be here tomorrow...


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Hand Quilting Time

It seems to be all that I can do to work in a just a little bit of hand quilting time lately. Life is just busy, busy for us right now! My brain is missing the relaxation of hand work so much, but what do you do?

Sweet Hospitality in the hoop

I couldn't decide how to stitch the pineapple quilt until one day it occurred to me to try the freehand 'hills' look again. Really takes the pressure off to do something amazing with it, but as usual, I was on pins and needles until finishing up the third or fourth rows across. Ahhh... now I can finally see it....

Lil' Baby Boy quilt

Finally got the binding on the little baby quilt that I threw in the hoop shortly after finishing up the HST Medallion quilt. Just had hankering to do straight line stitching, but absolutely no desire to start a wholecloth quilting adventure this year!

Changes color in different lighting

This was a little quilt that I put together about two years ago and then ended up gifting another instead. I had tried to applique an extra panda onto the corner of the center square and then, ripped it all off in disgust.*meh  Boy quilts can be hard.
Loving the texture on this one....

The entire pattern idea came from this beautiful quilt, though of course I had to cutesy it up with the print fabrics. The quilt itself didn't need hand quilting, but I DID, so that's all that matters. Yeah, you guessed it, I fell in love all over again and think it's the sweetest boys quilt ever! There's just something about homespun fabrics {the two blue background fabrics} that work so well with hand quilting. Will have to see how the year shakes out, but as of right now, I'm already on track to make at least two baby quilts this year. Next one will have to be a girls quilt. I think. Maybe I should wait until after the babies are born to be sure? Nah. There's always another baby eventually in this big 'ol family of ours. Not like it's gonna go to waste!


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Extra Time Just to Get it Right

Do you remember the Big Kiss quilt? Over the winter I decided that it probably needed more attention and pulled it out of the finished quilt top drawers for further scrutiny. {Or maybe it wouldn't quit haunting me?} After much pondering, I finally decided to go for it. The applique that I decided on has been prepped and waiting for quite awhile, just patiently waiting their turn in the queue!

Big Kiss quilt top is finished! 

It's kind of a bold looking border, but very simple in terms of hand work. Then of course,  I made it more complicated by deciding to put a little crown on the top of the center flowers {for the pomegrante effect}, and then later, eight leaves on each border instead of four. Just can't leave well enough alone!

Close-up of the border work

I did something that rarely happens around here, with the fussy cut flowers on the ends of the vines. There was only a fat quarter of that particular fabric, so there wasn't a lot of cutting options to choose from. Some of the flowers look better than the others! It seemed like they needed to be cut out larger, but that wasn't possible either.

Fussy cut flowers

In the end, I just made that specific fabric work {regardless of its limitations} because it really looked to be the best option for the overall look I was aiming for! In the case of the flower below, I actually pieced four different pieces of fabric together from that same fat quarter. Super obvious up close, but not at all noticeable from a distance. Whatever. It works, right?

Very pieced flower

Though the border fabric looks quite black in some of these pics, the previous color is probably closest to reality, more of a dark gray. That charcoal-ish gray really makes the colors pop and lift up the entire quilt. On another note, I knew there was a bit of bias stretch in this quilt and wowsers! Adding the borders made that even more obvious. As I was sewing, that is. 

The Whole quilt

I carefully measured and pinned so that I didn't make things worse and in fact, it looks quite a bit better overall. Crossing my fingers that the hand quilting {which will happen later on} will ease out the worst of the rumples. It usually does! 

 So glad that I went with my instincts and tapered the vines down in a slight curve instead of keeping them in that straight line that I originally intended. Looks loads better this way! The only thing that I seriously regret at this point, is that I wish the little pomegranate crowns would have been pushed down further behind the flower. Oh well. What's done is done! The quilt top definitely has a cozier, more personal vibe than it did before and really, that's all that matters. We are all very happy campers now and this top is going straight back into quilt top drawers for a good long nap....

Loving the brighter colors!

Moving on to a different project, here's a few pics of the 1991 quilt that somehow snuck into the hand quilting line-up. It was never, ever my intention to hand quilt this one, but since the HST Medallion has been finished up, I've been gravitating to really basic hand quilting efforts.

An old project

Sometimes it doesn't even matter what is in the hoop, it just matters that the stitching can be done with a minimal amount of thinking, marking and effort! Call me crazy, but I just adore hand stitching through strips and log cabin type quilts are an easy pick-me-up.

30 years married in June!

This is such an oldy moldy quilt start, I almost don't even like the color palette anymore. Most of the blocks are from the early 2000's and all the house blocks were finished up by 2007. They represent the first seven homes my husband and I lived in after we were married, one of those 'good idea quilts' that never really gained enough traction to flourish.

Very soft colors

At some point, I did a Marie Kondo thing to the quilt room and purposefully got rid of many of the parts. This top is what happened when I decided to make a few comfort quilts from various orphan blocks here in the quilt room. Whether or not this ends up being given away though, remains to be seen. This quilt finish would have positively delighted me even ten years ago. Today, I'm working on much more exciting things, though of course, I'm happy to bring it to a proper finish.

Interesting to see it without the words...

Speaking of which .... Here's Coronacrazy, back for another day in the sun! It's trimmed down now, with a strong looking sashing added on. I loved the look of the edges before the sashing was sewn on, but alas, there's no way to finish up a quilt without adding fabric onto the sides, be it sashing, border or even a binding!

Working on the border

As per usual these days, I had to make-do the border, as most of the yardage I have is in too small of a piece for the entire surround. That's okay though, as the look is very appealing to me in it's rough form. Add a little bit of applique over the top, and I'm practically swooning!

All prepped and ready for hand work

See? There's always a silver lining if you care to look for it! I ended up using a striped green fabric for the vine and what you see in the previous picture is where I determined to sew it onto the border. All prepped and ready to go! One large applique flower is cut out and ready for hand work too. It had to be figured out before moving forward as the vine will be tucked underneath at both sides of the flower. 

The vine will actually only be sewn down within a couple inches of each border length {for now} as several parts of it will need to 'flow' from one border to the next. A little bit of extra time and effort trying to get this all figured out 'prior' to sewing the borders onto the centerpiece, but very worthwhile in the long run. Though it might not be obvious to the casual reader, I do actually expend quite a bit of effort trying to sew as much of the applique onto smaller pieces of the quilt, rather than try and work with a whole big quilt! If I wasn't such a make-it-up-as-I-go sort of quilter, things would probably go along much more smoothly. Hmm... maybe not.