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. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

It's a Wrap!

Last week found me taking pictures in anticipation of another blog post and then life just got way too crazy. Still running very behind with household chores, errands, bookwork etc., so I'm doing this as quickly as possible.

Wing and a Prayer is done!

Wing and a Prayer is now completely finished up, including being washed and achieving that wonderfully crinkle goodness! Don't know why, but it's suddenly in the 'favorites' group!

Scraps a few plus a few orphan geese

Not exactly springlike, but still, very bright and cheery! This improv. quilt was a great project, start to finish. I look at it now and wonder, why don't I do this more often?

Lots of good color

And yes, it was challenging, in its own way. All the best ones are. The fact that this one ended up being so cozy looking {in spite of the black fabric use} makes me very happy. Scrapbin quilts need to make the scraps look irresistible. That's just their sneaky super power.

Hand quilting for the texture...

Finally got the Positive Thinking words all wrangled into a quilt top too. Once I found the time, it wasn't nearly as daunting as I supposed it would be. And despite anything you might think looking at the pic, it does actually lay fairly flat.

'Center' of Positive Thinking quilt

So, so happy with the pinstripe fabric used for the background. It's subtle, sure. But wowsers, up close? It's just makes me sigh with pleasure! I'm a little stuck from the overwhelming This-Is-The-Message look to the quilt, but there are a few ideas competing for the next step.

Had to use every scrap of the backing fabric in order
to properly float the words...

Next up will probably be an applique border of some sort. Color us all SHOCKED! Still pondering the messy details of what that might entail. And well, it might take awhile to unwind all the strings. Don't want to ruin the vibe of this particular quilt just because I'm in la la land with oodles of applique ideas right now!

A completed quilt top!

Speaking of which.... The 4-Block Tulip Basket Medallion quilt top is all finished up now! Yay!! Love it! Lots and lots of hand stitching time involved in making this happen of course. Never you fear, there's much more of this stuff on the list these days!

Making it up as I go along

So glad I kept the applique motif relatively simple. The curve of the flowers are very basic and I didn't bother to make deep, sharp cuts down into the flowers. Did you notice that every flower {other than the matching  3 tulips shapes in the center} are different? That was just too much fun trying to make the borders have a more organic and 'flowing' look than what I would more generally do. It's something that interests me more and more as time goes on and quilt projects tend to proliferate. 

A few more leaves than I intended, but 
gotta do what the quilt demands

And those smooth lines! Keeps the hand stitching part down to a much more doable time frame with very naive and simple shapes happening. Not an accident my friends....  And those corner 'wheels'? Leftover blue wedges to the rescue! Just had to fiddle around a bit to figure out how to get the specific look that I wanted. Or not! There's a bit less of the quarter circle thing that I was shooting for, but same impact and yeah, who's complaining?  I adore how easily they give a bit of interest to the corners of the quilt..

Had to applique a few of the flowers
on after the borders were sewn onto the center

The most complicated part of the applique was the addition of the year. I totally admit to dithering back and forth with that idea. Yes, no, maybe so.... I LOVE seeing a year on certain kinds of quilts, but we all know this won't be a complete and total quilt finish until at least 2022 and it will probably be closer to 2023. Which might annoy me when reading 2021 on the quilt? Or it might remind me that 2021 was right after we survived '20.... 

Too much yellow?

This quilt is basically the manifestation of a feeling that there are just some projects that don't need to be given up on. This speficic quilt idea has been haunting my quilt room for a LOT of years! Maybe it really is worthy of whatever time it takes?

Inspiration never gets too old for use...

My kids are united in thinking it's sort of a 'meh' quilt because it has a lot of yellow and looks kind of oldish. In my mind, it's soft and sweet with a bit of old fashioned charm. Like antique quilt sort of charm? Who knows, that's definitely all in the eye of the beholder. They did NOT hurt my feelers the least little bit. The pattern page pictured above is the original inspiration for the quilt, though of course I took many, many liberties with the pattern. Including changing the way the tulips themselves were pieced. Picture me shrugging. My way was easier! 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

So Much Fun to Finish up a Forever Project!

Well, all good things must come to an end. The HST Medallion quilt is completely finished up! All 102 inches! One of those projects started sort of by impulse, but not really. I'd looked and looked and LOOKED at a picture of an antique quilt, wistfully thinking about how cool it would be to own one.

HST Medallion is done!!!!

Then one day, it just happened. I found myself putting together the centerpiece of a four year long project! It happened in fits and starts of course. Things this complicated always do around here. 

A lot going on with this one...

How in the world could I possibly make myself work on one quilt and one quilt only? Yeah. Not happening. I folded HST Medallion in half and laid it where I normally take the quilty pictures. Just so you could see the scope of how large this one is. She's a big 'ol beauty! When I moved the table out of the way {with the help of one of my daughters}, and tried to take a picture of the entire thing? It was basically a fail. It really needs to be hung up on a line and a pic. taken from a good distance. The light wasn't very friendly in that area of the room either. C'est la vie.

Trying to get a picture of the full quilt

I'd say that I don't know what possessed me to make this particular quilt, but that wouldn't be true. For some rather peculiar reason, I'm happiest when there is one forever type quilt project lurking about in the quilt room, be it all piecing, or all applique, or even a mix of the two. Call me crazy. It's almost definitely gonna be happening again some day!

All hand quilted

For one thing, I don't like feeling inadequate or incapable of making any sort of quilt that I put my mind to. Even terribly difficult quilts can be accomplished one little baby step at a time! Another thing that has occurred to me is that I might possibly relish? having an {almost} impossible task so that everything else seems quite doable by comparison. So silly, but it works.

The lighter blue hsts are facing the opposite
direction, on purpose....

You'd be amazed at how much I've accomplished through the years avoiding these super challenging quilts of mine! Or maybe you wouldn't. I've been pretty transparent about my love/hate relationship with the taking-forever, entirely too tedious, horribly intimidating quilt projects that crop up every four or five years.
My favorite view of a quilt

This quilt wasn't the most complex in the world, but it does have an awful lot of half square triangles in it. And precision sewing is not exactly my forte! If you look closely, there's just a little tiny bit of wave happening on the outside border in a couple places.*sigh  I haven't washed the quilt either, like I love to do. Though I love the crinkly look, I'm terrified some of the blue fabric might have a bleeding issue. Once it's washed up some day in the future, I'm pretty sure that slight waving issue will be less obvious, but for now we're all good. Totally content to wait!

Three impossible tasks that somehow 
made it to a finish!

Not that I'm ashamed of the issue at all. This quilt is way beyond what I ever hoped to accomplish back in my early days of quilting! If you'd have told me 20 years ago that I'd be making any one of the three stacked quilts {in the previous photo}? I'd have laughed in total disbelief!

For a quick trip down memory lane, I pulled the two other {very labor intensive} quilts that seemed to take forever and a day. I mean, there are lots of time consuming quilts around here, but these are the grand poobah's of sheer grit and determination getting me through! All three quilts are ones that I most definitely despaired over at different times and had to really push myself to get in another hour or two of work done here and there. Just to say that I hadn't given up on them! And I've got a sneaky suspicion that Melon Patch might be trying to join the list. But that's a story for another day.

You can read about the Pickle Dish quilt here and Worry Baskets here. All three quilts take me right back to a certain day years and years ago in a small town grocery store, impulsively buying a quilt magazine. I was completely mesmerized by a specific quilt in it, though I didn't have a single clue how to get started on making my own. And no, I never did make that particular quilt! It took a lot of years, many ups and downs, trial and error, learning, learning, learning, but now? I darn well will make whatever quilt I put my mind to. And you can guarantee, they'll be a whole lot better than anything pictured in that long ago quilt magazine.... 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Still Attacking the UFO list

Well, I finally did it. After ignoring this project forever and continually finding any excuse possible to run away, it's on the design wall. Cracking myself up over the 'willingly' part of this saying!

AHIQ Positive Thinking project

All the words are pieced into their own blocks and now I'm trying to puzzle the background fabric into place. Amazingly enough, I decided to use a subtle stripe for that. Oh my, am I a glutton for punishment or what? Will see where it goes from here. I'm quite, quite determined to at least get this part finished before starting on the next prompt. Will worry about borders and such later on or move on immediately if the mojo starts working better. Otherwise, I'm settling happily into my corner of the couch and doing lots of hand applique or hand quilting. Much more soothing, I can tell you that!

On another note, I have been trying to add quilting blogs to my Feedly reader. Very slow process as I have to add most of them by typing in the entire address. Bloglovin' had been giving me fits for weeks {back in January} until finally I uninstalled it and then tried to re-install. Oops! My I-phone doesn't support the Bloglovin' reader app anymore! So frustrating. Been missing all the random blogs I love to lurk on so Feedly it is. Still not 100% thrilled with the way the feed works, but I suppose it will do till till I find something better. Bloglovin' definitely had its issues, but I really enjoyed the look and navigation of the feed.

Friday, March 12, 2021

It Doesn't Feel Like Much

Got a busy weekend ahead so I wanted to throw some progress pics at you before things spiral out of control. It doesn't feel like much, but every bit of prep is another step forward! First up is the HST Medallion quilt, all quilted, first phase of binding sewn on and ready for the hand work. Woohoo! I didn't get it out of the hoop by the end of February like I hoped, but let me tell you, my fingers were burning up trying to finish things up!

HST Medallion ready for binding stitching

Next up in the hoop is the Scrapbin Improv. quilt, otherwise known as Wing and a Prayer. It's exactly what the name implies, a lot of scrappy scraps coming together in an earnest appeal for it to mesh and look right.

Wing and a Prayer

It most definitely appeals to me! And it's exactly what I need in the hoop right now. Having so much fun stitching on this quilt after the monstrosity that took up the past six weeks or so!

Loving having this one in the hoop!

Once I put my mind to it, the last border of Rhi's dress quilt came together relatively quickly. Simple, minimal and understated was what I was thinking, and of course, using up as much of the sunflower fabric as possible. 

The last border

I tried to add in several other small cut-off bits of the floral fabric, but it just made things look really busy. The bright floral yellow on the bottom was extremely hard to cut into. Been saving that for something special for a very long time. Then I thought, if my daughters quilt isn't special, what is? I am loving the black and white drawing-like motifs in this sunflower fabric though. Isn't it gorgeous? There's just something about it that melts me!

Such a good idea to rescue this fabric!

The backing is already cut out and sewn together for when I'm ready to sandwich the quilt. Probably gonna happen sometime in May? Have to take a short break first and focus on some other finishes though! These Melon Patch petals {below} have been sewn into four rows now, all ready for the next phase of the quilt. This quilt just keeps changing its mind about what it wants and now I'm leaning quite heavily towards making it a wordy quilt, intermixed between the petal rows. Been looking at available fabrics and pondering deep thoughts. So ready to move this quilt off the current UFO list, but ahem! So many appliqued pieces, it's somehow morphed into three quilts by now. I know. All will be explained in due time....

Figured out that I only need 4 borders, not 5!!

So easy to get going on the applique prep for 4-block Tulip Medallion. I've only been thinking about it for years! This quilt is starting to feel like an old and very comfy friend. Everything that I do to it just settles in like it was always meant to be. Wish they were all that easy, but then I suppose things would get terribly boring!
Getting these borders ready for the flowers

And then there is the squirrel quilt. I don't know what there is about this particular quilt, but I just can't seem to stay away. It's not even the right colors for the season, nothing springy about this on at all!

How bout some more tulips?

I've played with some quick drawings and doodles for potential ideas for this one, and occasionally I've even drew in a bit of applique. I mean, we're talking about me and my specific brain waves. Applique might possibly be part of how I'm hardwired? Anyway, always, without fail, I toss those ideas and go back to the idea of a medallion quilt in increasingly larger sizes of hst units. NO APPLIQUE. And then this happened. Seriously. Do I look like I need more applique projects waiting on me right about now?

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Staying Focused

It feels so good to check a couple more projects off of the open-ended projects list. Gives me just a little bit of breathing room for the brand new starts. 'Cuz there's always gonna be new projects here, there and maybe every where!

Once again, it's a finish!

It was a relatively quick finish for the Ormes Inspired quilt once I put my mind to it. Just had to grit my teeth and plow through the last little bit of hand work on the batik fabric lettering. After that, there was a very small amount of effort to sew the block back into the border. Once that was done, then it was super simple to sew the white tulip over the top of the 'I' and wallah! the whole thing was back to being a true blue finish. I am so much happier with the final result now,  than ever before. Love how the appliqued word makes it feel more special.

AHIQHourglass/Tulip quilt

The AHIQHourglass challenge quilt/#3 in the tulip series quilt top is finished up too. I am so amazed and happy with the overall vibe to this quilt! All the hourglass units were sewed together in sets of four and then chopped off willy nilly at the ends. This makes for less-than-perfect economy block {look} cornerstones at the sashing, but I don't see that detracting from this utility style, improv. quilt at all.

The full quilt

Using the raspberry pink background fabric really amped up the cozy, almost romantic look and feel to this quilt. That was a bit unexpected, but so much fun to just 'roll' with! As always, I tried to push with certain fabric combinations, trying for blendy prints as well as throwing in a few larger print fabrics too. My default ever seems to be for using 'safe' fabric combo's and I've tried and tried and tried to break that habit throughout the years. Quilts tend to have a much more interesting feel when the fabric group as a whole takes on a personality! When all the prints are exactly the same scale, then the vibe tends toward boring. At least in my opinion. You're welcome to feel differently! 

All the leaves are blue in better lighting....

This same scale thing is sometimes a very good idea in certain areas of a quilt. You can't deny that some places will benefit greatly from this application! It helps give off a uniformity of spirit that seems a bit more peppy than simply using 4 yards of the same exact fabric and of course, enables all of us 'use-up-the-stash' lovers to really excel. 

In this quilt, I used very similar prints for the sashing {with both the creams and the gray-browns}, thus giving more room to push on the value in the gray-browns. Would it have looked fine with all the gray-browns being the same exact value? I think so, but mixing them up helps {subtly} to bring energy and movement to the quilt. If there would have been larger contrast used in the scale of the sashing prints, then there would have been less movement throughout, and undoubtedly, a  much choppier look.

For the eye popping 'look at me' prints {go ahead, pretend with me here!}, I definitely focused in on the tulip shapes and the stems. With the stems, it was easy. The same fabric is on repeat for every single block, but feels more engaging than one solid or blendy-type fabric combined with this particular background. If they become a little less noteworthy and more mundane due to repeats, meh. You probably like more chaotic looking quilts than I prefer! 

In a quilt like this, every single tulip could have been a busy, cool looking print. Alas, that's not my quilt stash. So, then it's time to make-do. Basically, I just play with a stack of fabrics, trying to mix and match interesting prints with change-ups in the color and value of blander looking fabrics until I get to 20 magic fabric pairings--the number of blocks needed here. If I have to toss out fabrics here and there, then that's exactly what happens. 

It's pretty obvious what I did for the leaves, mixing up both the color value and the print scale. In every quilt, there are decisions that inform the next move or phase of a quilt. With scrappy quilts, most of us are never quite sure what we intend to do until we are actually doing it. Experience makes it far easier to find the right opportunities to change up scale or value or when it's probably best to rely on a similar look/feel fabric mixture.

This one might be hard to get rid of some day!

It was difficult to feel comfortable using the med. pink for the tulips, but in the end, I really had no choice. What is contrast really, but what you make it to be? They couldn't all be red, white or black, either and the lighter pink had to go somewhere! Plus, I adored the sassy sweetness of adding slightly lighter pink over the darker pink. After all the applique was stitched,  I even threw out one fairly interesting printed white fabric tulip and substituted one more pink fabric tulip. Just because

Did you notice the orange tulip clear up in the far left corner of the quilt? I like how it ties back in with the larger print pink and orange floral fabric down towards the bottom of the quilt. Sometimes it pays to echo a cuckoo color in some other area of the quilt and since I wanted to use that scrap of larger floral? Super easy decision even though a part of me, that left brain, 'don't be a crazy' side, wanted to scrap it all. When I say that it was easy, that's because experience has taught me the importance of taking these sorts of chance in order to make a true 'me' quilt. You would take an entirely different risk and achieve a much better outcome--for you!

Always have to add something that
fades into the background!

So yeah. Blah, blah, blah, blah. This is me telling you why I love and adore this particular quilt. Yes, it was an impulse make. Yes, I was trying to use up the hourglass units. The thing is, successful scrappy don't generally happen entirely by accident. I don't care what people tell you, throwing a big pile of fabric in a bag and grabbing whichever pops up next, rarely works out wonderfully! 

Loving this quilt!

In most cases, there needs to be a measure of controls set into place. The when, where and how? That is entirely up to you and YOUR vision. Try to make your color palette, print scale and values WORK, but don't work exceedingly hard making it happen. Does that make any sense? Have a little fun and take chances and gradually {so gradually you might not even notice at first},  you'll be going with whatever flow the quilt quite organically generates. 

Do you think I wasn't the teensiest bit concerned about sewing all the leaves in blue? My mantra through the years has basically distilled into this one pragmatic thought: If a set of fabrics look good together in a stack, then they'll look great together in a quilt. Just pick a spot for each color and make it happen! As you struggle through the process time and again, you'll naturally get better at sorting out the proportions and pesky {but quite specific} details that take it to the next level. 

Rhi's quilt

Okay, time to get off my soapbox. After last weeks improv. adventure, it seemed like an excellent time to tackle the rest of my daughters dress quilt. Scrappy, improv. coins sounded fun and quite a good distraction from all the hand work currently filling up my evenings.  

No need to overthink it!

Though green is actually a challenging color for me to use as a predominant color in a quilt, it was the only way forward for the next round of this quilt. Try as I might, the blue fabrics {that I really, really wanted to use}, look completely uninterested in happily responding. Too much black and white bumped the quilt up to formal looking, instead of 'charming' {not a suitable look for those sunflowers} and yellow made the celery green center look like puce. I was doomed. Green it was! Next round will bring the quilt up to a good lap quilt size and feature more of the large floral. Trying like mad to keep this one as uncomplicated as the quilt will allow!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Here a Little, There a Little...

This is kind of a catch-up post. There's been a lot going on at the home front which made it seem like I didn't have time to blog. Then I had too much to post about so it really felt like there wasn't proper time and well, yeah. Vicious cycle. 

Adhoc. Hourglass project about ready for takeoff

All the applique is finished up on the latest tulip blocks. They are trimmed as are the hourglass sashing units. Things are ready to roll in terms of layout if I could find available floor space. Should I just make an appointment? 

Next up for applique was the 'quick' word addition to Ormes Inspired. It is progressing at a very plodding rate. Who's idea was it to cut the letters out of Batik fabric? Huh? Such a difficult fabric to work with when doing needle-turn applique. The fabric is a very tough weave which always destroys my fingers at the point where I'm sewing the corners of letters. Trying to ram the needle through the extra layers is killer. And really, it's very slow overall because the needle doesn't properly glide through the weave like is optimum. You constantly have to make an effort, push, push, pushing which absolutely takes away from the enjoyable aspect of applique! As you can see, it is very close to being finished, but alas, I abandoned it once again in disgust and frustration. Bah! Beautiful fabric or no, this was a bad idea from the get-go. Please don't give me wonderful advice about using a thimble. I've tried. Believe me I've tried. Yes it saves my fingers a little tiny bit. But it's awkward and even more time consuming, not to mention extremely annoying

Getting there, slowly but surely....

No surprise that once again I sabotaged the get-through-the-ufo-list and jumped into a brand new project. So nonsensical {and unrealistic} to think I won't be running full speed ahead into something brand new when there is crushing mental fatigue from difficult projects.*wink  Plus, Sharon mentioned that she had 125!! ufo's so now I'm feeling pretty awesome about my own list! Finishing up the tulip blocks felt like a finish, okay? That's pretty much all the justification needed. This particular fabric has been sitting on the counters for wow, almost three years now? Not really sure, but whenever I think they are well past their inspiration prime, I get to feeling this little bit of longing to make another cheddar quilt. Okey dokey. The fabric has spoken.

The start of new project

One random night while I was casting about for something to chain piece {knowing I didn't have the mental fortitude to properly measure things}, this project struck my fancy. It's been the plan to use these cheddar and purple fabrics for an hst improv. medallion for a very long time. Ridiculously easy to dive right into free-cutting strips and then cross cutting them into little-ish squares. I really, really wanted to cut little bitty squares for the hsts but occasionally, even I know my limits!

Breaking it down into workable units

It was easy peasy and not at all scary to make sets of purple/cheddar squares and do the diagonal sewing, never marking a single thing. Isn't it wonderful to recognize our growth as a quilter? Improv. is so liberating when you could care less about the points or anything matching up. Every now and then for about a week I sewed sets, cut them in between the sew lines and then ironed them open. Occasionally I scissor cut the edges to make them more square, but not too much! When that part was accomplished, I just slapped them up on the wall, sometimes kind of fussily moving things around, but mostly just making rows and trying to find positive energy.

Trying to bring it all together

After I had about enough for the intended centerpiece {Oh yeah, did I tell you this was going to eventually be a medallion quilt?}, then I started sewing the hsts into 9-patch units or maybe 6-patch units if that seemed better and sometimes even a 12-patch unit. Whatever felt right. All the cheddar fabric used in the hsts was either a dark tone on tone or the brighter gold cheddar solid, keeping the background very cohesive. For the purposes of evening up the larger hst units, I deliberately introduced one busier cheddar print. Same color family, still ALL cheddar, but more tension. At first I used it quite a bit, then slowly realized that I didn't like the vibe of that print used in excess. You'll be hard pressed to see where, but I eventually went back and replaced that print in just a few areas with the original tone on tone cheddar. Balance. It's always comes down to that doesn't it?

Touching up the outside edges

I didn't mind the look of '9-patch' hsts, but I also wanted a couple areas to kind of flow into others. Fuss, fuss, fuss. Do I like this? Or that? How could I make this work? Also, I was trying to make sure the centerpiece didn't have an obvious seam directly down the middle. Ughh. Wouldn't that just look stupid? This is the part that stressed me out a little and where I had to take a lot more breaks. Eventually I got one large piece that seemed to lay relatively flat. Yay for curved piecing techniques! Though I'm not a pro, it definitely helps ease improv. blocks into submission when you don't want to tidy up {chop} every single unit as you're going along. 

At the outside edges, I simply added long strips here and there and then trimmed the whole to an approx. 30 inches. It was never going to be perfect with me at the helm. I could have easily added in more strips of hsts and then whacked them off {and in fact I diligently considered that}, but I rather thought the breathing space of more background fabric would be good. Yes, I did have to rip a seam out occasionally to add smaller pieces of fabric back into the original unit before sewing on a long strip. There are always details ready and willing to trip us up in our mad dash to the finish!

Making it square-ish

Overall I was pleased and happy and then abruptly, I wasn't. What was that curved thing on the bottom sticking out like a sore thumb? Part of me wanted to leave it be and just let it disappear into the larger quilt plan. The other part of me knew it would knaw away at me until I'd probably find myself ripping it out at a very inopportune moment. Been there done that doing that right now with Ormes Inspired! So... I fiddled around thinking I would have to re-work the entire bottom of the centerpiece, grumbling all the while. Then I remembered that there was just a couple leftover hsts that had been thrown out. Aha! Slapped them up on the wall, played a little with adjustment and wallah! Simple fix and it was done! More colors will be introduced moving forward, but for now, it's feeling pretty good! One thing I've unquestionably learned through the years about {me and} improv., is to take advantage of the mood. Finish it out to a good stopping place and then more easily pack it away for a short time.

Looking better!

As most of you know, I am still dedicated to hand quilting on this more traditional HST Medallion quilt. I'm sure it's quite obvious where I got the impetuous for making a much more free looking hst medallion quilt at this particular moment in time! hehe  All these tidy little rows are starting to drive me crazy!

Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel

I have been pushing myself very hard with the quilting on this one, stitching for up to three hours many, many evenings. No need to wonder at all why improv. has been especially alluring to me at the moment! The need to rest my hands, my brain and probably my resolution too? I finally took a couple days off over this past weekend and didn't feel guilty at all. 

It's a big quilt....

I have two more corners of stitching and then all that remains will be the flying geese border on the far outside of the quilt. I have been boot, scoot and boogying right along! For that border, I will probably switch to my q-snap frame that is just as long as the current one, though only about 7 inches wide. No need to have this huge frame for such a narrow width of stitching. It's time to think about the next quilt top to go in the hoop, but all I can think is that it better be an easy one. It I have learned one thing with hand quilting this quilt, it's to always end the thread somewhere besides at the top corner of an hst! You don't even want to know how many pieces of thread that I've had snap off right at the knot....


Just for fun the other night, I had to pull another stack and bury myself in fabric love! I tell myself that you can never really have too many of these and then I realized, there are three stacks in these approximate colors! Ahem! I'm sensing a theme? Must pull them all out and compare, then ditch the less-worthy stacks. Gotta save room on the counters and in the little totes for plenty of variety!