Friday, July 10, 2020

This Quilt Top is Done and I'm Calling it 'Glory Be'!

This was a great quilt project to work on the past week or two. The colors are perfect, the applique fairly simple, and this time around, I didn't even worry too much about getting the placement just right. A couple blocks ended up a touch more wonky than anticipated, but somehow I never could muster the enthusiasm to do the un-stitching and start over. Oh, who cares!
Name changed to 'Glory Be'
Once all the blocks were ready to roll, then it was time to decide layout. The original plan was for the 13 blocks to be set in three rows of three, with four other blocks in the in-between rows.Uh huh. Good plan. Except it looked terrible. Sort of squat and functional, but not at all exciting.
Another quilt top finish!
Can't be having that! You know me, I have to fiddle and fiddle until finally finding a solution that makes me all the way happy, if that's even possible. I considered making the quilt longer, but that would involve making five more blocks! Ugghh... What about dividing the blocks into two smaller quilts? And so on and so forth until the idea of working towards an asymmetrical layout began to appeal.
Loving the look of this quilt!
It totally makes some of you wince {and grumble}, but sometimes, part of a block just has to be sacrificed for the greater good. Once this decision was reached, there was no looking back! Then it was just a matter of puzzling the pieces and rows together. 
Solid color sashing working hard in this quilt
There are so many things to consider when adding sashing into a quilt, especially when the layout is 'on-point'. My brain has been so foggy lately, that I measured and then tripled measured before cutting out the setting triangles. I really wanted to ensure that all of the cornerstone pieces were included in the edges of the quilt, not cut in half like I would generally do. That was important partly due to the fact that I love the energy they add to this quilt, but also, it helped made sure that more of the chopped of tulip blocks were left intact.

Like always, just before cutting, I marked the potential outside edge, across the face of the blocks, with a fabric pen. {Use a washable one in the event you get the marking wrong!} After which, I stay stitched a seam {with the sewing machine} very close on the inside of that. Then, I laid everything perfectly flat on a mat, and using the rotary cutter, cut the straight edge of the quilt, leaving the stay stitching just to the inside intact. Don't want to cut that seam off! Does that make sense? The stay stitching is super important for stability both in cutting and then later, keeping everything from moving too much and/or fraying between now and total completion stage. Back in the day, I would try to do the stay stitching after the cutting was done. Uh uh. Much, much better to do it before! Makes for a significantly cleaner, less rippled looking edge of the quilt.
This tip corner was a bit tricky to get cut square

This red textured background fabric has been a lifesaver now on two different quilts. I love it! If it looks familiar to you, it was a fabric previously bought for a quilt backing and then the color ended up clashing horribly with the top side of the quilt. The first time using it, was for the Christmas Stars quilt where it added a lovely, velvety look to the quilt. This time around, it blends and plays off perfectly with the blue tones in the quilt and also seems to add a subtle richness to the quilt. I started this quilt without having the faintest idea what would happen in the setting triangles, so I'm thrilled with how wonderfully this fabric worked out!
The original sashing plan

Many of you have probably forgotten, but from the very start this quilt was supposed to have hourglass unit sashing. After getting all the pieces cut out, I took a few triangles, sewed up a set, and did a quick audition. I talked about my foggy brain earlier?  Yep! These were all cut way too small and once sewn together into a longer unit, will be too short! A few moments of the sads, but what do you do? Not going to spend forever cutting them all down to a smaller size and then having to make even more! My heart definitely wasn't in it.


So the hourglass plan was ditched in a hurry and on to the idea of a blue sashing? Okay. That should work. Thankfully I had enough of a couple different fabrics that blended quite well together. A little bit of wiffle waffling around about the width of sashing, but nothing time consuming at all. I quickly moved on to the setting triangle fabrics which was all decided in a jiffy too. Wowsers! That went so fast it almost made my head spin.! Ahh... Not going to mention cutting the corner setting triangles a little too small. Nope, almost like it never happened.*wink  But then there was this little cornerstone square dilemma. Important to get it just right!

I tried a much lighter blue, the white and red stripe in the top picture, then moved on to perky red print fabrics. No, no and more 'no'. Then I saw this red/white/blue fabric in one of the totes and started feeling that super interested buzz of excitement. Hmm... Lets try a different direction!

When I dug slightly deeper, this vintage-look floral fabric in the below pic caught my eye. After I got it up on the wall, I thought for sure it was THE ONE! Ooh, how it made my heart race with good vibes!

And it really was almost ' the one'. But.... me, being me, I had to dig all the way through to the bottom of the tote, just in case there was something incredible being overlooked.

Wallah! Wouldn't you know it was at the very bottom! If I would have had more time earlier in the week, these would have been posted for all of you to throw in your 32 cents too. I did actually spend a little bit of time contemplating between these last two before cutting into the fabric. Put one fabric up on the wall and step back. Then the other one. Then back to the first one. Pros and cons to both of course and I'm sure many of you would have chosen something altogether different! Isn't it amazing how all the little choices eventually add up to an end result like this? The very beginning of this quilt started out with not having enough of the right background fabric and having to come up with a make-do solution. And on and on till we come to this particular point. I like it a lot! It feels patriotic and spunky and maybe a little bit sweet too. Good stuff! 
The abandoned hourglass unit triangles

Speaking of which.... These hourglass pieces were completely heartbroken at the idea of going to waste. While working on the tulip quilt, these weighed heavily on my subconscious. I was thinking about them, but not really. It was all very background.
A color palette for the new quilt
Until finally it started to gel. Of course I had to nail it all down properly while the ideas were fresh! Still going to attempt an hourglass unit sashing in yet another tulip quilt. Are you just SO shocked? Gonna back up and take another run at that hill! hehe  This time around I'm going to use this tulip shape below, which was one of the mock-ups back when I was working on ideas for Autumnal Tulips. It just seemed meant to be, like maybe there was a series involved here all along.
The shape of tulip for the next quilt

Don't know whether this is inspired or boring, but I guess we'll find out eventually. Tulips are definitely my thing so I'm willing to try! For now, the applique list is very long and these are decidedly not at the front of that line. There is plenty of time to work on chain piecing the hourglass blocks here and there, and.... maybe even change my mind if so desired? As most of you are well aware, there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING set in stone in regards to any of the quilting projects around here.... 

Linking up to Wendy's Peacock Party. On a side note, what do you think is the right thing to do in regards to linky party etiquette? Should we comment on everybody's post who bothers to link up? Or only the ones we really admire? Or the ones that are loaded at the time when we link up? Do any of you go back and check out the new links the next day or two after your own post is linked? I usually forget to do that. Love that Wendy seems very relaxed about the commenting herself. Helps take the pressure off ! I know what I like to do when it's my own Linky party, but I'm curious what the standard is for linking up to others. Never felt very clear about the 'rules'!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Starting and Finishing

Finally brought out the Chunky Tulips for hand work. It feels like a great project for July and I definitely need to get moving on the applique list. These four represent 30% of the blocks being finished so that's a good start!
Chunky Tulip blocks
I've been thinking and thinking and then, thinking some more about the latest AHIQ challenge. It's called 'Positive Thinking' which isn't always my strong suit. I'm more the glass half empty gal, generally expecting things to get worse before they get better! Probably why I tend to veer towards making happy looking quilts, always wanting my surroundings to be more hopeful than I am on the inside. I live with an incredibly optimistic guy which is a blessing and honestly, sometimes a little, tiny bit of hardship. He's Sunny Sam to my Pragmatic Pam and well..., you can only envision how that turns out on occasion! We have learned to avoid mornings. That's where everything falls apart if it's going to.*wink

So lots of ideas have been swirling around in my brain, but nothing very concrete coming together except of course that it needed to be improv. Then, last Friday, I walked past a saying {verse} I had stuck up on my inspiration board in the quilting room. It's something that I've had vague ideas about incorporating into a quilt some day, but never could quite conjure up the details. All of a sudden, the Positive Thinking challenge clicked into place.
The start of a new AHIQ challenge
Instead of starting yet another super, labor intensive applique quilt, why not go with improv. letters? And by deliberately choosing this verse, perhaps I can focus on 'positivity' in a more personal way. I just don't wanna get sucked down into the mire of Covid-19 emotional ups and downs in regards to a quilt. If I worked exclusively with those feelings, I might have a very bleak quilt indeed. Ughh...  There's actually a meme going around that says this, 'Stop complaining about your life. There are literally people who live in Washington State.' Ha! 'Nuff said.

Anyway, this is the start of whatever it will be. I'm not sure beyond finishing the verse. So far it's all been going very well, lots of intuitive cutting and sewing on the letters. Definitely more free-style than I've ever accomplished before! I know it's been mentioned before, but here it is again. The book you want to reference for making custom pieced letters is 'Word Play Quilts' by Tonya Ricucci. The method she explains easily translates/incorporates your personal 'voice' through the style of letters you personally choose to make. This is the third time around for me and it's absolutely getting easier each and every time I attempt this!

The cream print, softer purple and blue fabrics are all cut up shirts, straight out of the closet. The cream print is running out fast which is a shame, because I wanted all the background of the letters to be the same. Waah...
Had to fix a letter or two
That's default thinking though. Mixing up the backgrounds will probably make the quilt more interesting in the long run, right? I've already went back and fixed the second 'o' in Wool and also, had to fix the 'n' in the second And. When I sewed the pieces together, it ended up looking like an 'r' next to an 'i'. The third 'W' was sewn, redefined, and then finally tossed out altogether and restarted. While there's no reason to get terribly fussy with this quilt, it's important that it reads well overall. It's a subtle thing, the attitude that develops alongside the message. Trying to get it right....
Completed baby quilt!
The baby quit is finished up now, just needs a label! It was hard to get a good picture of it because the light kept washing out the lighter pinks. The plaid border reads green or yellow depending on the light, but regardless, it seems to help keep the quilt from looking too moody.
Still happy with the floral sashing...
I'm very happy with this sweet little quilt, but it obviously will read as too 'traditional' for some people. One of the few people who have seen this already, told me that she probably wouldn't like it for a baby quilt for herself, but nevertheless, assured me that my sister-in-law will undoubtedly appreciate the old-fashioned theme. Crossing my fingers the little bit of added hand quilting will up the appeal factor!
A feminine, old fashioned look
Sometimes I wonder. What exactly are the important variables of our lives that make up our intensely personal likes and dislikes? Apparently these preferences can change somewhat with the times, trends and life experiences. And too, there are those of us who can more more easily overlook qualities that don't necessarily appeal, if the item in question is home-made. Thankfully, that is something that still matters in our huge, extended family. There's only been one time in all these years of gifting where I had a quilt basically discarded as worthless {that I'm aware of!}. Lesson learned. When we gift something, it's not longer ours. Gift generously as our hearts dictate, but preferably with no strings {expectations} attached.
A little bit of machine and hand quilting....
It's hard to see, but if you look closely, you can see that this backing fabric has little mice on it. I don't often give a shout out to designers, but this is a Cotton & Steel fabric that I bought special for this little quilt. It just felt like it needed something to 'baby' it up. This particular fabric caught my eye because it was a subtle pink, with fun, discreetly babyish elements,. More, because it feels amazing. Then after being washed up, it gets even better! So,so soft. Sort of a cross between a muslin and a linen fabric which drapes wonderfully. Love it!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Another Baby Quilt Getting in the Way

Lots of stuff going on around here what with Father's Day, my moms birthday and now, a new little niece to admire. You know how it is with a big family, everyone tries to step up and help out the new parents! So very thankful we don't have to entertain the older munchkins every day though. Wowsers, I am totally, completely out of the habit of running herd on kids aged seven and under!
Sweet Tart Baskets
Regardless of all the distractions, hand quilting did get accomplished, and finally.... it was time to pin the next quilt for the hoop. This one {Sweet Tart}, definitely wasn't anywhere near the top of the queue, but it's basically the only one that I looked forward to working on, at least for this moment in time. How do you argue with that?
Getting ready to pin the quilt...
Mostly, I think the next-up-in-the-hoop needed to be happy, convey positive vibes or at the very least, trick me into thinking I am happy with my world! I'm so very weary with the roller coaster of emotions these days. But here we are and it's only June. I don't think I'm alone in wistfully looking forward to the year 2021? Which is so sad. Wishing away our days is rarely an uplifting feeling!
Never enough baskets in my quilts....
So I just keep pushing off the news of the day and end up making my world a little bit smaller. Though our quilting stores are now open {even if with limited hours}, it's become a habit to shop in the quilting room first. Antique Crows already has the first round of binding stitched down. Most of the it came from the binding scraps tote, which of course, is something that never fails to impress me. Whether or not it looks very good is probably open to interpretation, but somehow it's almost become a signature look around here! The fabrics that actually come straight out of the totes for binding purposes are rarely magnificent, hard-to-cut-into specimens either. I generally shoot for a certain color range and then settle on the fabric bits that seem most reluctant to incorporate themselves into any one of my quilts.
Binding ready for the hand stitching
The new niece warrants a new baby quilt being made. Absolutely! Can't leave the littlest sister feeling left out! Since mama likes the old fashioned look just fine, I went ahead and challenged myself to work with more of those 'So-Tired greens' I've been trying to get rid of all year. The stack is surprisingly getting much reduced, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Love seeing a good plan come together!
Ohio Star blocks on the wall
A simple color palette, non-flashy fabrics and an easy, oldish style block all came together very fast with almost zero dithering about the details. I couldn't resist adding a floral sashing {cut-offs from the back of another quilt!}, and at the last moment when cutting out, I impulsively added an extra 1/2" to the width. It just seemed like the right thing to do. That skinny little sashing 'look'  didn't seem nearly as much fun after the flowers were cut down to nothing. The corner stones were potentially going to be a bolder green than used in the blocks, and then looked so tame and 'flat', I ended up going in an entirely different direction color-wise.
Getting ready to sew the rows together
In the event you are interested, the Ohio Star blocks are 9" finished and sashing strips a finished 1 1/2", all adding up to a 40 1/2" quilt. Should have been fine and dandy at that size, but no.... You know me, big fan of the border addition! So I played around with several different options including this floral in the picture below, a deep green and then various pinks etc. Blah, blah, blah. Quickly decided that pieced borders were a 'no-go', and then finally settled on a random fabric that caught the corner of my eye.
Auditioning border fabrics
It was a really pretty {though odd} yellow-green plaid hanging out in one of the simmering stacks of fabric. I don't know what it is about raiding the stacks of fabric lately, but sooner or later I'm bound to regret all this indiscriminate pillaging! It perfectly lightened up the whole quilt though and made me a happy camper as to overall look and vibe. These things are important even if this is just a baby quilt! It was sandwiched and pinned late last night after running an errand with my husband, and this afternoon I was able to machine stitch-in-the-ditch around the sashing. Now the plan is for it to receive a little bit of hand quilting in the star blocks areas. 
A little binding prep
Yep, after only one evening of stitching on Sweet Tarts, that quilt gets to be shoved out of the way for the new kid on the block. I wrestled mightily with myself while machine quilting, because the baby quilt could have been finished off so very quickly and then been done. Why do I do this to myself? I suppose it all boils down to being truly satisfied with the end results. That's probably just as important as 'gifting' the quilt, knowing we did our best work within the perimeters of what the project is and how important it is in our creative journey. If I gift a quilt that feels 'less than' and it's for my precious little niece, well.... How precious is that niece exactly? One or two nights of having it in a hoop in my lap is nothing in the long term! And we all know the limits of my machine stitching skills. They are most definitely 'less than'.....

While hunting through the binding tote, I went ahead and pulled pieces for Sweet Tart and also one other quilt that's quickly coming up in the queue. The baby quilt binding ended up being yet another of the 'So-Tired' green fabrics and the only thing that would have made me happier, is if that binding would have needed ALL of it. Wonderful to having these bindings prepped and ready to go. While it feels like I'm just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere really fast, in reality, there are two quilts here almost on the verge of being totally, completely finished! Ahh... you know I'm just itching to dive into another fun quilt start. Something a whole lot more open ended than making a baby quilt! Just have to tidy up the quilt room and decide which particular fabric stack is calling out to me the loudest....

Linking up to Wendy's Peacock Party. She's got some really great advice on how to write the little blurb that ends up hanging with your quilt in a show. Interesting to think about though I don't have to worry about it for at least another year. Maybe you're lucky and actually have some quilt shows to look forward to this year?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

'Cuz Applique Never Gets Boring

Here I go, once again. trying to gain some ground on all the applique that seems to have exploded around here. Coronacrazy is the most recent one to get some love. My plan of attack was to stitch the underside of every single arch, and then decide how to move forward from there. The stitching does gets fairly tedious, but I've found it's an excellent project for working on while visiting.
Coronacrazy Quilt
I was approximately 2 1/2 arches from that part being fulfilled when I impulsively decided to drag the quilt back into the quilt room and do a little auditioning. If you've followed me for very long at all, you would know that I have a couple small totes of applique parts and pieces. These are the orphaned bits from previous projects, along with anything cut out of the scrap bin 'in the moment' {but then deemed undesirable because of imperfect fabric color match, size etc.}. I keep it all for future use of course. Saves me boatloads of time and generally provides a great starting place!

At first I was looking through the totes for auditioning purposes, not paying attention to good color matches in regard to this specific project!  A funny thing happened when I started laying random pieces onto the background. I started falling in love with the unexpected-ness of having a total mismatch in applique shapes across the quilt. It feels so folky and old fashioned! Very make-do, which of course is my sweet spot. It's terribly hard for me to plan this level of mismatch out beforehand though. You have to understand that I generally adore the look, but my brain just doesn't seem to allow for this much planned chaos if/when I'm in the middle of actual designing, planning out MY quilts. It's just not logical enough!

Obviously there are some similarities to many of the elements as I definitely have a preference for tulip shapes and, what are they called? Lollypop flowers? So that helps a lot. Those repeats are probably the key to getting the uncertainty boosted over the hump of feeling like the entire idea is positively doomed to failure. What? You honestly think that I don't feel all the doom and gloom and apprehension that many of you regularly experience too? The difference, as we all know, is that certain moment when the excitement generated becomes so much more than we should ever possibly ignore! I like to think of it as the cumulative affect of years of experience in 'playing'. Serious, intentional, purposeful PLAY TIME. The urge is louder and surely more recognizable for all the times you actually do dare to pay attention! Ignore this only if your purpose in life is to turn out dreadfully boring quilts.*wink
Playing with the applique bits and pieces....
So now the question is, how many of these flowers will actually need stems? If I place a green stem on every single flower, then this busy, busy quilt gets almost psychedelic looking! Hhmm... So many things to consider! For now I had to take everything off just to finish up those last couple arches. I really don't plan very well! Next I intend to stitch smaller circles onto the larger circles until I have a good little stack of lollypop flowers ready to go. There's also a decent amount of the brighter green bias that could probably work very well for this quilt, but first, some of it needs sewed to a more narrow width. And I'll probably make more just to have it on hand. Potentially {hopefully?} help the creativity flow better when it's time to play again? Even if the answer proves elusive for the time being, it's amazing what the mind comes up when the subconscious has plenty of time to whir through the details far, far away in the background. 
Seeing progress on Spring Flowers!
These circles were supposed to wait until other things were stitched, but my typical carrot and stick approach sadly failed this time. Totally crashed and burned actually! I know the colors look very uninspiring in the pictures, but do not be deceived, they are so very yummy to work with!
Trying to draw the templates for the leaves
I just love a serene look/feel project every once in awhile, and these Spring Flowers totally fit the bill! The circles went together so fast that I went ahead and planned out the background fabric and got the stem and leaf configuration decided on too. All is cut out, the bias stem is sewn and cut to approx. length and the leaves are just waiting for proper motivation. For those, I went digging through the scrap bin and found a bunch of blue/green fabrics that should work well. So fun to find scrap fabrics for the littlest pieces of applique work. Some of those fabrics have a very sentimental value and it's always lovely to use up the last tiny bits!
Finally getting these blocks finished up!
Only four blocks needed for the 4-Block Tulip Medallion, but they proved difficult to work on. Just couldn't quite ever muster up the energy to make much progress, until finally, it happened. So simple, but so difficult. There's always a tipping point where it makes more sense to knuckle down and work your way through, than to keep procrastinating for a better day! Now I can start addressing the sashing work that I intend to do between and around these blocks. It's going to be small, pieced tumbler shapes and I've already got the fabric lined out. Still not 100% convinced that I've chosen the best colors, but that will sort itself out with one more session of 'auditioning', something that I'm very attached to. Ha. Like that's not readily apparent! You will never know how many times I change my mind at the very last minute and ultimately decide that everything previously decided is utter rubbish! It's a wonder anything ever gets started, much less finished around here....
One of the inspiration pages on my calendar!
I've also spent about four hours this past week on fixing a bridesmaid dress for one of my daughters. So lovely to work on slippery polyester fabric, NOT! It's only because I love her very much and don't want her to spend another dime on this wedding. Wowsers! What with the bridal shower, the drive to another state, motel costs, food, dress, shoes & undergarments, bridal party mani-pedi session, time off work, etc, etc, etc, this is getting exorbitant! Is it just me, or is this 'honor' becoming more and more elaborate and/or expensive throughout the years? I don't recall asking any of my bridesmaids to cough up quite so much denero, you know... 30 years ago? lol  And this isn't even a destination wedding!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

I Did it! Finished the Big Kiss Quilt Top!

So... about a month ago, I mentioned the possibility of starting a brand new project. You know me. Can't possibly keep the volume turned down on open ended projects! Anyway, this lovely quilt is what convinced me to go ahead. I just love it to pieces.
Big Kiss quilt
It took awhile because I actually ended up having to raid three different stacks of beautifully simmering fabric. That's a little painful for me. Now some of those stacks of fabric feel like they're lacking something important. The decision had to be made whether or not it was worth it {several of those individual fabrics are now all used up}. Obviously I decided that it was, but this is now. I kind of want my cake and want to eat it too... 
From a different angle
The other thing is that my brain seems to be malfunctioning a bit right now. Stress overload probably. I pulled fabrics and sat on the idea. Checked fabrics again, rearranging and changing the sequence of how they might line up per block. Had to ditch several very good options because there wasn't enough fabric available. Then I checked the cutting directions and decided to let them sit overnight one more time. Okay. Time to start cutting. Whoops! Don't have enough of  one piece of fabric overall. Panic attack 'cuz I'd already started cutting! {Kind of saw that one coming, didn't we?}
The center is just fine...
But, yeah. That's how this entire quilt project has went. Day by day slowly working on a few things, always double checking that it was being done properly. Hoping. Crossing my fingers and plowing ahead. Don't blame Clare, her tutorial is excellent! Very clearly written and easy to understand though I did question her suggestion to iron the seams open. So not my preference, though it proved to be good in the end.

Just so you know, five of these fabrics had to be pieced just so there was enough overall length to make the expected cuts. I used the same fabric in the piecing for four of them, but look at the bottom right block in the first pic. Yep, sure enough, that middle orangey-cantaloupe fabric had to have an extra special addition to makes things work. Just couldn't make myself ditch the already cut fabric and start over fresh! I almost put it smack in the middle of the quilt 'just because'! And the center didn't line up super duper perfectly either. I tried twice and gave up. So not at the top of my priority lists these days. I'm sure you'll do better!

Whatever, it's done now. Not going back! Gotta say that I'm really happy with this little quilt. It should be a fast finish whenever it hits the top of the quilting queue some day. Not saying that it will NEVER get a border, but right now I'm leaning real hard to the side of 'no'....
A brand new ironing board cover!
On another note, I've been looking for for a cover to my counter top ironing board for quite some time. So very hard to find these little covers, and frankly, I didn't want anything flashy. Eventually I realized that it was basically cheaper to buy a brand new ironing board with cover included {then throw the board away}, than it was to buy a cover by itself. Nope. Not happening. So I ended up using a large ironing board cover someone had given me years ago. I had this vague memory of someone gifting me one, and at the time, wondering why they would think I wanted one? Finally found it hiding away in a closet somewhere, still in the packaging!

I placed it over the little board and did a rough estimate of how much was needed, chopped off the extra length and then pinned the underneath side with some large quilting pins. Was going to sew it up all proper like and then decided it didn't really matter. Who's going to be looking underneath the board? All I did was zigzag stitch along the cut cloth and then take in some of the length on the elastics attached to the clips that help tighten the cover. Easy peasy. Seriously, I think it might have taken 15 minutes from start to finish and that includes the cutting and taking it out of the package!

Why didn't I make my own pattern and sew a new one out of pretty quilting fabric you ask? Bah humbug. The purpose of an ironing board is for functionality around here. A good ironing board cover has fabric that has been specially treated to withstand extra heat. Not paying boo koo bucks for that kind of fabric when I can buy a cheapo one from Walmart! And then in the end, I found one in my closet, didn't have to wrangle a quilt pattern or spend any extra time. Win, win.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Crossing My Fingers New Blogger Cooperates

So pleased with the way this little quilt finished up. Wowsers! Why don't I just give up and make improv. orphan block quilts all of the time? Somehow this ended up being such a joyful, unpretentious little quilt, all quite by happy accident. Maybe because I didn't sweat the details?
Finished quilt!
Hmm.. Just one little problem. Gotta have the leftover bits and pieces around in the first place! This project was thrown together last March really as an exercise in escapism. Ha! What did I know then? I really, really hope you've been saving all your orphan bits too. You just never know when they'll be most needed!
Love all the texture
Adding the applique was done kind of on a whim {a very compelling whim?}, but it serves a good purpose here. Upping the 'oomph' in the overall messaging is never a bad idea. If you even have a message. It's perfectly okay not to.*wink  I know a lot of you grimace a little at needle turn applique, but I can't even imagine my quilting adventures without having the option. It's not nearly as scary as some people make it out to be. Like everything else, it DOES get a lot easier with experience. Promise!
Love the applique additions...
Though I'm mostly just using this quilt as the excuse for trying out the New Blogger today, I have to smile at this quilt message. So timely. I am many, many things, but good at computer techy stuff, I am most emphatically not. Ugghh.. Hate having to deal with change in this arena of life.
Good place for these leftover wordss!
I did not enjoy hand quilting the area around the letters. So many seams! But it's done now. Thankful I didn't try to do anything more complicated there. Oh, who are we kidding? Do I ever do anything complicated in regards to hand quilting?
Loving the washed and crinkly goodness.
Not so much. When I finally get the quilting hoop arranged in my lap, all I want to do is relax into the quilt. Stitch, stitch, stitch and it's like magic. If people aren't playing weird little videos on their phones in the same room {just saying!}, my troubles can just drift away. I guess we all have our ways! I'm sure the videos are much more interesting with context. Hmm.. Yeah. Pretty sure.... Have you ever thought about implementing a noise curfew in your own living room of an evening? 

Two good pieces of news for today. Our county was approved to move forward to phase #2. Finally! Minimum of 3 weeks between phases here in our state, so its still gonna be the end of July till anything resembling 'before'. And after a stressful day yesterday, {my youngest daughter had to be tested for Coronavirus along with a group of co-workers} we found out we don't have to quarantine for two weeks after all!*sigh  And Yay!? I was about to run screaming from the house and everybody I know. So, so grumpy these days without my second handing, library and quilting store fixes especially. Can't wait till this whole 2020 health issue/state lock down is firmly in the rear view mirror. Now if I can just avoid the news long enough to truly relax and unwind.... More quilting please! But no, need to go to the bank and do some grocery shopping. It's still a jungle out there.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Making It Up As I Go Along

The hardest part of blogging lately is actually making the effort to write the post. I usually don't wanna these days! Then, deciding what to touch on, what to highlight and even more importantly, what to leave alone. Ughh. Does anyone even care about quilting these days? Such crazy, crazy days indeed. Oh well. Quilting is what makes me happy, so here goes!
Strippy Triangles
This is the quilt that was started impulsively back at the first of May. Mostly I just wanted to chain piece and not think about design. It's now a completed quilt top, so yeah. Really fast finish for me! I've had the fabric stacked up together and simmering though, for well over a year. That was during a time when I purposefully dove very deep into the red stash tote in response to the Red is a Neutral AHIQ challenge. The first two fabric pulls of red didn't end up quite making the grade {here's the challenge quilt with the fabrics that won out} but I couldn't just dump these straight back in. Oh no. There was just something about them that pulled on my heartstrings.
A completed quilt top!
Maybe it was because there was a small piece of a leftover plaid from my youngest sons baby years {do you know how little fabric is in a long sleeved toddler shirt?}. Regardless, it was the 'go-to' fabric stack when I recently wanted something simple and low-key to immerse myself in.
Loving the soft, mellow look to this one
I am so very satisfied how successfully the lighter areas of the quilt turned out! I consider this quilt a victory because... one of my worst default decisions is usually to pick a whole stack of fabric in a similar color with very little variation in tone or pattern. Something I'm working on changing, little by little! This time, I deliberately stretched and made sure to have better range of colors, albeit in the light to very light spectrum. There are creams, lighter pinks, light grays and in addition, very light blues. If you look closely, you will also see that on the rare occasion, medium-dark pink fabrics from the darker areas were purposefully used in place of a light triangle. But overall? The lighter area definitely reads 'light' {without being choppy}, even though up close there's more going on than perhaps is normal with my efforts.
Definitely got an old fashioned look and vibe!
I kind of love the energy and depth it adds to this sweet looking quilt! Those unexpectedly placed pink triangles really aren't dark enough to fully stop the eye from perusing the quilt. None of that, 'Hey! Those are in the wrong spot!' moments, it just adds an amusing utilitarian touch. I like to think of it as whimsical, unstudied, and kind of old fashioned looking! Basically, I just divvied the cut triangles up into 18 stacks of half light and half dark and started sewing, one light triangle to one dark triangle, one after another. And then once in a great while, threw a darker pink over into the 'light' pile just for the fun of it!
Don't what I'd do without the railing to hang my rows on
and keep them sorted! 
After I got the initial pairs sewn up and ironed, then I started joining those pairs together. Then four with four, until a whole row was able to be sewn together. The most important thing being that there was no repeat of fabric sewn closely together. Otherwise I just grabbed and sewed. Once I got larger sets together then I quickly laid them out of the floor to see if the row looked okay, then sewed it up and moved on to the next row!

The page you see pictured below has been in one of my inspiration binders for close to a decade. Though I didn't closely follow the pattern directions  {my triangles are larger for one}, it's from the 2009 July/Aug. issue of  'Fons and Porter' Love of Quilting magazine. For a rough idea of how to make a similar quilt to mine, cut out approx. 100-5" squares of dark fabrics and 100-5" squares of lighter fabrics. {I think I had to go back and cut just out just a few more when I decided to add extra rows!}. Cut them on the diagonal and then cut on the diagonal again. Sew light triangles to dark triangles in sets {iron with a light touch!}, until you have 16 rows measuring 85" plus. Sew 2 rows measuring approx. 65" for the top and bottom of quilt.

Cut 15 strips @ 2 1/2" x 82" in whatever alternate strip fabric/color you like. The fabric that worked best for me was a woven so I intentionally cut my strips on the lengthwise grain for better stability. Since I had slightly less than 2 1/4" yards available, this meant that I had to cut an extra strip and sew length to length, then later measuring and cutting each strip at the desired 82".

Lay out all the pieced rows in the configuration shown below {light triangles to the outside} or perhaps like I did, {dark triangles to the outside}. Though the quilt is very scrappy, I did try my best not to have identical fabrics lined up in rows exactly side by side. This meant of course, that I had to change out pieced rows here and there until the color flow to the quilt worked the best.
Seeds of inspiration
As most of you know, my piecing isn't ever strictly precise, and so I took the {deliberately} extra long pieced rows and fiddled with them a bit at this placement stage. Moved them a little up or down so as to further distract from the fact that they were never going to match up in straight lines at the point of the triangles all across the width of the quilt. That meant that I cut a little off the top of some and a little off the bottom of others, whatever it took to make them all 82", but still have a good 'mismatched' flow overall. The one thing that I did NOT want to see happen was for them all to start out with an intact triangle at the top of the row, and then end up cut off willy-nilly across the bottom of the quilt! Then it would be altogether too obvious that I was a failure!

The top and bottom pieced rows ended up being cut at 62 1/4", but really, it's best if you measure the width of your quilt in three places, and then take the average before cutting. One thing that you might like to know too, is that I did not trim all the pieced rows to an exact width of 2 1/2". What I did do is take a ruler and trim a straight edge alongside both sides, just eyeballing things as I went. After all, it is a utilitarian look quilt, so who really cares? The original quilt in the picture dates back to the late 1800's. What do you want to bet that it isn't perfectly square either!
Cutting up shirts from the closet
On a different note, the new AHIQ challenge has been issued! For the first time in a long time I haven't even finished up the last challenge, but that won't stop me from thinking about the new one. This one is called 'Positive Thinking' and one of the ideas is raiding our closets for the start of a new quilt. Making do is something I love so of course I promptly went looking to see which shirts of mine and my husbands could be spared. Shh... hopefully he won't notice the empty spot in his side of the closet...
Positive Thinking in the works
Then I looked sown at my choices and had to smile. Me thinks this latest quilt top has greatly influenced these particular choices! {Not that I had very much to choose from as we do need to have things to wear} Whatever, I went ahead and ditched the darkest fabric {for now} thinking to uplift the color mood {positive thinking?}, and went looking in the stash totes for another spark. I guess that's going to be orange. Instead of putting the cream stripe {used in the Strippy Triangles quilt} back into the totes, I added it into the stack too. Grabbed a white/clue/orange/pink vintage fabric that never seems to find a good home and just kept flitting around in the stash totes till I felt that little hum of satisfaction. Okay. That's a good start. Will leave it there to marinate until some more definite ideas for a design gels! Will probably end up calling this quilt 'My Happy Place', but only time will tell how it turns out....