Thursday, August 4, 2022

Flower Power is a Completed Quilt Top!

One of the things that I was determined to accomplish in the past week, was to get to completed quilt top stage with 'Flower Power'. There was an idea or two from the initial scribblings, but in the end, as usual, the quilt made all the decisions.

Improv. strip sets
First up, there needed to be some space between at least some of the applique blocks. It was easy to decide on some easy, breezy improv. strip rows. As you can see, I made short little stacks of sewn together, free cut strips. Not too off kilter, but just enough to give a bit of character.

The reason you cut strips longer than needed
The wonkiness can usually be increased or decreased depending on how the strip set is lined up for cutting. For these rows, I decided to let it be a subtle thing. In determining the colors for those rows, I have to say, it was mostly about percentages. Less than 10% of the darker blue and darker pink/reds and lots and lots of the very light pinks and blue/white shirting stripe. I wanted a very light, airy feel to that part of the quilt in order to help make the moody blues look richer, and hopefully, *fingers crossed!, make the tulips pop even more. Mission accomplished!

Not quite done it says.....
The entire color palette was based off of the floral fabric pictured below. Here I was auditioning the fabrics for a possible outer border. Such a bad idea. Uggh! The quilt practically screamed in agony. It was so sad. I seriously longed for a scrappy sawtooth border before adding the floral 'cuz it just seemed meant to be, but yeah. Sometimes you just have to move on.

This is not a good look
There was not going to be any floral anywhere and the sawtooth border idea flamed out quickly too. Name a single color that might possibly work well in the pieced border position without seriously challenging the tulips preeminence? Uh huh. I couldn't do it either.

Keeping the borders intersting
So there you have it. Super simple border addition or nothing at all. You know me, the gotta-love-a-good-border-gal. I had to do something! In the final ruminations, I impulsively started cutting up all the leftover blue fabric pieces. Anything that was 4 1/2" wide or better was cut and eventually joined into long pieces for the outer border. 

Feels good to use up the scraps
I like the subtle detail in piecing of the blue solids verses the one dark striped shirting. Just makes it a little bit more interesting than if it was cut and sewn on out of a single yardage. And I basically used up all of the leftover shirting too! Score!

Love the look of the improv. strips
In fact, there was a total of three upcycled shirting fabrics used in this quilt, which felt kind of awesome. The darkest stripe had to be soaked for close to three days prior to cutting anything out as it bled and bled and bled. Gotta watch out for that with the darker hues!

Looking cozy
In the end, this quilt ended up looking similar, but different, to the original inspiration. My border {almost not a border} makes the tulips float a little. It gives them space to breathe and feel comfy. I love how Flower Power definitely also looks like a sibling to LeAnn's lovely quilt. So sweet! We each took elements of the original to make up our own version, while striving to keep a lot of the first quilts joy and charm intact. Obviously, the strings in my quilt are in the sashing rows rather than the tulips, but the scrappy vibe still remains true. And no, we didn't come up with this idea together. We just both happen to have a great love for antique/vintage quilts and often use these as a jump start for our own projects.

Flower Power quilt top is finished!
53 1/2" x 68 1/2"
Another item checked off the list is the Lillabelle applique blocks. Only nine blocks total, so it didn't really take an enormous amount of time. Very happy to have them moved on to the next phase though, 'cuz I really am soaking up the yummy color palette on this one!

All ready for the next step!
Next up for a quilt top finish is the Roman Stripe quilt after the spontaneous applique renovations. I have been feeling so very blah about this top. No ambition whatsoever to get it in the hoop and bring it to a true blue finish. Now that this applique has jumped on, all of a sudden I'm thinking it might could be next in line?

Looking so much happier!
What? The applique is over the top, silly and really kind of awkwardly primitive looking. Still, it fills my heart with gladness and makes me smile just looking at it. Will others feel the same? Who knows. The important thing is, I feel lots better about getting it to a finish someday and potentially gifting it. Yay! 'Chrysalis' is starting to come into it's own!
Chrysalis applique detail
The current quilt in the hoop is actually Love Apples. I know. It's only been in the drawers for a year or so! I just wanted needed something virtually decision-free in regards to the hand quilting. This definitely does the trick. Free-style Baptist fans are such a good over-all texture to any quilt that won't necessarily soak up detailed, fussy looking quilting stitches. 

Latest quilt in the hoop
This is one of those quilts started in an attempt to use up something abandoned by another quilt. In this case, it was the peachy pink scrappy rows that didn't have a home any longer. Many of you would have probably dumped them entirely, but I just didn't feel right about that. Too many good fabrics involved! Before the hoop, the overall effect is a fairly gawky looking quilt, but wow! Look at how quickly things change with the Baptist Fans emerging. Now, all of a sudden, it's looking like it could be one of your best friends snuggled up for a good coze!

Love Apples getting sandwiched and pinned
Okay, on to those Individual Quilting History questions I'm trying to answer with every post this summer.

2. At what age did you begin to learn to sew? Do you remember at what age you began to piece? When did you learn to quilt? How old were you when you made your first quilt? Why did you learn at this particular time? Were there any special difficulties?

I learned to sew from my mother somewhere around the age of 10, perhaps younger. For sure, I learned to sew on buttons etc. before she ever introduced me to the sewing machine work. By the time I was a teenager, I could competently sew my own dresses etc. It was mostly due to her endless patience in answering my questions and always encouraging me to try every more complicated patterns! As explained in the previous question, I first started quilting when I was in my early 20's. The absolute first quilt was a baby coverlet and the very first, full sized real quilt, a rail fence style quilt. Then I promptly returned to making very simple baby coverlets.

I didn't truly learn to 'piece' until later on. In the late 90's, when I was 28 years old, a few ladies that I spent time with asked for pieced blocks for a wedding quilt. That effort mostly baffled and frustrated me, as I was still using scissors to cut things out. It did lead to making a couple small children sized quilts, mostly with big squares of denim, corduroy and/or flannel!  Then, when I was 29, there was a group of ladies in our church who started gathering to swap quilt blocks and/or make 'challenge' blocks in the winter months. 

Home Sweet Home
My mother promptly bought me a rotary cutter and rotary mat for Christmas. Woohoo!! Quilt piecing horizons were flung wide open! Except that I was a fraidy cat and kept all piecing efforts very basic for the longest time. So dumb. Squares and rectangles for me, thank you very much! 

The quilt in the picture above, was probably the fourth full sized quilt I had ever finished. This was 2001 when I was 31 years old. It was the first time for making the effort to piece blocks to join in with any swap or challenge blocks that I had won. And.... this was my first real attempt at making blocks that included triangle shapes. Well, I had to use a triangle shape to make my Home Sweet Home challenge block didn't I? And then, notice the house blocks in the borders? Yep! I was inspired to add little town houses and cottages along the edges of the quilt. Uh huh. The border stuff happened early on too. 

This is also when I started seriously dabbling in my love for applique. Playing with different techniques. Along with the little stars and heart block, every single house 'challenge' block has a little applique addition {or two} done by yours truly. Some people had already added a bit of applique, but I didn't let that stop me from adding more where I thought needed! I had to do it on the down-low too, 'cuz some of those gals would have been offended. My thinking was, 'The blocks are mine now. I can do with them what I want!'

I'm super glad that this quilt is still hanging around as it ended up being a showcase for everything that was being learned up to this point. Making and swapping blocks with others definitely pushed me to learn good coping strategies in regards to ending up with equal sized blocks. Also, it quickly pushed me into learning how to make individual block colors play nice with all the other tricky colors in a group setting. Getting those blocks wrangled into an interesting looking quilt pushed and shoved me to get the whole finished-quilt thing properly figured out.*whew!  No more sewing three sides of a quilt and turning it inside out and putting ties in to hold things down! How to make things lay flat and square. What batting to use. How to make and sew on binding! Things like that. Good times!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Getting Through Summer

There is so little time to write posts these days! When and where that I do find the time, it ends up being ridiculously long and I have to keep coming back to proofread and/or add stuff that I've forgotten. Don't really love this cycle, but at least I haven't totally quit! Here is the latest quilt finish, 'Seedpod Flower'. It was started back in 2019 when I had that yellow/gold circle cut out from behind another quilt motif. 

All the crumpled goodness!
You know how it goes around here. That mixed print circle sat on my design wall for days, tempting me with interesting ideas for a brand new quilt start! One evening it starting clicking, all from a piece of fabric I saw that had an interesting flower in the print design. Anxiously awaiting the morning and a more courteous time to get into my quilt room only intensified the desire to see where this idea would go!

Seedpod Flower quilt
Once morning arrived and my son had vacated his upstairs bedroom, I was able to head into the quilt room. With the cutout circle as the starting point, I was able to rough draw the Seedpod flower onto paper and essentially set up the 'center' of the quilt. After a bit of thought, I decided to grab an already marinating stack of fabric from the countertops {something that went really well with the gold circle} and dive right in. It was an easy enough jump {after sewing that specific part} to decide that maybe it was time to try and recreate a lovely utility quilt from Pinterest. You know, to make up the rest of the quilt! There was just something about the carefree layout and simplicity of that particular quilt that called to me. Also, it looked like it had excellent potential to nicely frame and showcase the seedpod flower. Win, win.

Looking across
Mine doesn't have quite as much energy and fluidity as the original, but I am charmed by the structure and the blend where the colors tie back into each other. Believe it or not, figuring this part of the quilt out was by far the most stressful part of the entire Seedpod quilt. Measurements! Row perimeters! Total improv. or not! All the little details that have to be figured out if you want a good flow.

Probably could have used some thicker strips
Once I made the determination to make all the economy blocks the same size and only leave the strip widths up to chance and improv., then it really starting moving forward. Many things that make those older utility quilts shine sort of get lost in translation if you can't find the key. For this quilt I decided that must be the imperfectly staggered rows? If I could just get that one part right, then the rest would hopefully fall into place.

Still loving the flower!
One thing after another till I finally worked my way through the details. Just puzzling it out as usual and crossing my fingers the end result would reflect something that looked interesting. If I remember correctly, the zingy yellow and blue scalloped edge on the centerpiece border was hand sewn on just before putting the entire quilt together. That solid blue border strip just wasn't quite enough if you know what I mean, but now it looks like it was always meant to be. It's these sort of details that you have to really pay attention to because that wasn't part of any of the original inspiration--the seedpod flower or the old utility quilt picture! Somehow it brings everything together in a positive way though. Can you even imagine the quilt without it?

All finished up!
Though I don't get nearly as excited about finishing a quilt these days as I did 20 or more years ago, there is still a very deep feeling of satisfaction. My daughter caught the look just after I put the final binding stitches in. Yep! Still feeling all the feels 'cuz it never gets old to look at our hand-made creations. This quilt has a very strong, warm, cozy vibe. Wish so much that the pictures would have shown that better!

Improv. Strips--Blue #2
Also managed to bring this to quilt top stage, Blue #2! I wasn't 100 percent sure about adding the formal looking flower until it was all stitched down. Why does it have to happen that way occasionally?  Now I can see that it definitely lifts the quilt to a better place and if that place happens to be heavily feminine in nature? Oh well. I just can't seem to help myself from doing the flower thing these days.

Good place for some of that older fabric
Here's a quick pic of the HST Medallion quilt finished up last year. I had gifted it to my daughter and her new husband for a wedding present with the stipulation that they let me keep it for another year so it could hang in the regional quilt show. As she ended up with three quilts instead of one {2 older quilts to take immediately in compensation for having to wait}, my daughter was fine with the plan. Then the quilt show didn't happen again this year and cue the dismay. Keep it another year and hope the show eventually gets going again? Yeah. I wasn't feeling good about that after a three year pause. Soooo, I let them take the quilt home after this latest visit. Told them it had to go on the plane in a carry-on, not checked, or no go. Just don't trust the airlines these days! So sad that I won't ever see it hanging in a show, but I know they are thrilled with getting to use this quilt. This is absolutely a quilt that feels particularly hard to let go. Some are just like that I guess because they are special in some way or another.

Still amazed by this finish
We had so many good visits and it was especially fun to let my daughter raid the perle cotton thread for doing a visible mending project. It's amazing how addictive that chunky, colorful thread is! I keep telling her, she needs to get her own stash going! I often wonder how it is that I can even afford to quilt, but honestly, I'll buy quilting supplies over almost anything else on the list if given half a chance. Thank goodness you can't buy good thread at the grocery store or we'd never have enough food!

Good times!
The applique blocks there on the couch beside me are the ones hanging up on the design wall right now. There are nine blocks in all, with five of them currently finished up. I love, love, love, seeing them on the wall when I step around the corner into my quilt room. Ooh, the mixed print backgrounds just add to the charm and character for me! 

These are the 2rd set of cut-out circles that I'm putting into a brand new quilt, part of a series that I'm calling 'The Circle Game'. The first top in the series was completed in December of last year, called Gold Crossroads. It coincidently had about four cut-out circles from a older quilt top called the Rising Sun. All those larger circles had been put into the stash totes and I've slowly been whittling away at them for various and assorted quilts. After seeing a brand new stack of large circle cut-aways from behind the Crossroads quilt it made me think. Hmm... What if I keep this circle play going? Uh huh. Gotta take advantage of the fresh inspiration while it lasts! 

Lillabelle--#2 in the Circle Game series
Okay, that's all for the July catch up. I've been thinking quite a bit about the fact that as of  July 19th, I've been doing this quilty blog thing for 12 years now! Woohoo! Obviously my posts have decreased substantially from the years back regularity of three or four times a week.*sigh  Just don't have time like before and that's that. Not even gonna apologize for it anymore 'cuz I'm here and that's all that matters!

My first full sized quilt finish
In celebration of the 12 years of quilt blogging I've decided to answer a question or two every new post from here until I run out of either the energy or inclination. The questions have been gathered from here and I have to say that that list is very comprehensive. Definitely not going to answer every one, but I'm game to get started. Hope some of you will be interested in following along!

1. How long have you been making quilts? Would you describe your learning process?

I started making a few baby quilts at the end of 1992 or early 1993 so I guess it's been close to 30 years? They were very simply done in the coverlet style with very poofy batting and were made primarily to lay inside a crib. The first full size quilt that I made and finished {pictured above} was completed in 1995. Probably. So hard to remember now! At that time I would reliably check out Marsha McCloskey or Judy Martin quilting books from the Eugene, Oregon library and dream of having the courage to make a beautiful quilt just for me. There were a lot of artsy quilt books there, but I kept gravitating toward the old time, more classic, 'usable' looking quilts. Those two quilters in specific made me think it might be possible to be a 'quilter', so after a couple years of just dreaming, I finally got serious. I can't overstate how hard it was to actually say, 'I'm going to do this regardless of how little I know!'

When I finally found the grit and planned out how to proceed, I went to JoAnn Fabrics for the fabric. Of course! That's all that I could afford! Didn't tell anyone of my family or friends because I was sooo afraid of failure. The fabric buying was extremely stressful 'cuz nothing matched very well. Little did I know that was actually a good thing! Whatever. With only five fabrics needed, I eventually figured something out that I thought I could live with. 

I drew paper templates and pinned and then cut all the shapes with scissors. Just like I used to cut out my clothing pattern pieces! Finally ended up with a 'top' and absolutely no idea how to sandwich and quilt the thing. Yeah. It was brutal. And we were fairly poor too. One day I decided to take the comforter from our bed and just attach the quilt top to that. Turned the edges over for a wide, rolled hem and then machine sewed it into place. Then I came back and put in yarn quilt ties about every 10-12 inches or so! Total victory of course because it was FINISHED! This is one quilt that I've never, ever given up, even when one of my kids practically begged me for it. It's been used half to death and I'm still crazy proud of it. Always good to remember where we started and how it was that we committed ourselves to the craft. It would be a few years before I used a rotary cutter and started learning in earnest, but this quilt. Yeah, this quilt!! This is was what did it for me....

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Sometimes the Applique Just Sort of Gets Out of Control Around Here

 I finished up all the Flower Power blocks so you know what that means.  'Next up' in the applique queue! I don't know if it was technically next, but I've been hankering to work on this add-on to the 2nd improv. strip quilt made during the quilt meetings last winter.

Added a quiet little bird on impulse
It wasn't strictly necessary to add applique to this 'Blue #2' and some people definitely urged me to leave it as-is. Which would have been fine, really, in the scheme of things as I don't have a major attachment to this particular project. The problem is when it comes time to do the quilting. If the quilt top doesn't speak somewhat fondly to me, then it keeps being pushed to the very back of the line. 

Gotta get the underside stitched down first
Why are we pushing ourselves to keep taking part in this quilting adventure if the end result doesn't tug on our heart strings? So yeah, it's ridiculously easy to talk myself into doing just a little bit of applique here and there. 'Cuz like it or not {the work entailed}, that's what usually does it for me. It doesn't take that long I tell myself. It's easy to drift off into all the unexplored what ifs? that might possibly make a quilt top shine just a little brighter. Or, maybe I'd like to experiment with this, or that, or the other motif... And on and on it goes till everyone is totally shocked {except me} when there's a finished quilt with zero applique included. It's not like I set out thinking that's the way it always and forever has to be.

I'm really happy with how quickly this particular applique is coming along. Always so helpful to have the prep work done and out of the way so when you're ready to do the stitching, it's right there waiting. Preaching to the choir I know, but all the stitching with the flower, leaves, the birds and even half of the scallops were done in one day. If I would have been having to do the prep work still? I'd have probably moved on to another project. 

Which brings us to one of my 'surprise' applique additions. Well, more like a border addition with applique touches. To be clear, I was NOT looking to purposely add more applique to this quilt at all. Uh uh. In fact, I honestly thought it was one of those magical, marvelous quilt tops that are actually completed. Truly, it has been cheerfully resting in the quilt top drawers for close to a year. No problems whatsoever with haunting or nagging at me for more! 
Loving this already
It was nearing the top of the quilting list so, as happens commonly around here, I found myself casually admiring it laying on the guest bed upstairs one day. Just for a few moments while I pondered potentials for quilting design. Hmm... And the more that I looked at it, the more that I realized that the quilt actually felt a little cheated. It was gonna need one more border to feel well and truly finished and that was that. 

So the short story is that I found this dark, midnight blue fabric in the stash totes. It works perfectly well to do what this quilt needs a border needs to do. The long story is that I wasted a couple hours online looking for a more perfect fabric because the first glance through the stash totes had me instantly discounting this fabric completely. I mean seriously, it was obviously intended to be a superior binding fabric choice some day! {Does anyone else have a mind that works this way or it is just me?}

Then there was the partially sleepless night thinking about how dumb a solid blue fabric was going to look framing this spunky looking quilt and was I really going to go for it? How about these other choices in the stash totes? and Oh NO's they are all the wrong color and/or much too little amounts to be of any use. How dull and traditional this was going to look with that almost solid look, blah, blah, blah. 

It all abruptly clicked into place the very next day when the little basket-handle-applique popped into my brain. Of course, problem solved! But you see how my brain works sometimes doing the applique end run on me! When looking at the quilt top right after pulling it out of the drawer, it didn't instantly scream out to me that it needed or even wanted applique. No sirreee, it was much, much sneakier than that, simply insisting that a dark blue border would be very nice thank you. Ah! Not so quick! Are you really not going to give us more attention to detail than that? Come on, just think of all the possibilities? Whereupon, we have currently arrived HERE. Right in this spot where I precipitously cannot even imagine this specific quilt without the immediate application of a pink, lacy-like applique border. It practically boggles the mind how quickly it went from thinking about the possible stitching texture clear to a brand new border with hours of hand work needed. 

Looking a little more perky
But wait. The drama continues. Somehow this churned up thoughts about yet another quilt top that was bugging me. Because I just can't leave well enough alone, here is the Roman Stripe quilt for your viewing pleasure. If you remember, there was two of these tops, with the smaller one being completed in July of last year. Though satisfying on a certain level, these quilt tops just haven't really resonated with me like I prefer that they do. Call me a snob, but they don't seem to have any extra redeeming qualities that would make them special. Initially I thought to give them away as comfort quilts, but now I'm rethinking that plan for the case of the 2nd quilt.

In this latest little burst of unexpected creativity, the larger Roman Stripe quilt found itself being experimented on too.*sigh  Do you recall the Ode to Joy quilt top? There's just something incredibly endearing about these heart shaped flower {or leaf or whatever they are} elements, and I want/wanted to make more of them some day. They've been calling me. Seducing me. Enticing me. Yep. A couple hours of mad, crazy drawing, cutting out and then the subsequent auditioning, now there's a strange yellow flower with larger-than-life pink leaves on top of this quilt top. And it feels so very right. It's quite bold and a little sassy. A bit of folk with that sunny, happy vibe that says, 'Don't take me seriously'. Now I can only think that his quilt was not meant to be merely comforting, but something a little bit more perhaps? Not to mention, it definitely needs a new name now. I'm thinking 'Chrysalis' in honor of the new look and feel!

Ready for the next step
The machine stitching for the brown binding on Seedpod Flower quilt is all done now. I'm thinking this could be a good project for when the kids are here later this week and next week. Hard to make a mistake from distraction if all you're doing is hand stitching a binding down. If I even find time to quilt, sometimes I don't ever bother!

Glory Be next up in the hoop
Next up for the hand quilting hoop is Glory Be. This top was completed two years ago and I've been crossing my fingers it could be in the hoop in time for this years 4th. Nope. Just too much taking up time and energy around here and the hand quilting has been sloooower than usual. Oh well. That's what happens when your husband tells one of his customers that, 'Oh, did you know that my wife sews?' And next thing you know he's bringing home pants for me to hem. Groan....  

Looking across the quilt
Anyway. I am already enjoying this quilt tremendously. Still in love with the asymmetrical layout and all the different fabric print play. Spent one evening marking the sashing with a white fabric pencil for a basic grid and yeah... It's already disappearing into the ether. So frustrating, but I should have known. Much better to mark each frame as I go!  

In the hoop
There's just enough residue left on the blue sashing that I can see little wispy bits of it here and there so I've decided to 'wing it'. Which will make the grid a little funky and off the precisely marked measurements. And you know me, that is making me smile and enjoy the quilt even more. Why didn't I think of that in the first place? 

Trying new needles
When ordering new applique needles off-line the other day, I impulsively added some Size 9 Straw Needles by Jeana Kimball's Foxglove Cottage. I've seen them recommended by Jen Kingwell I believe, and thought to give them a go. After about 3 or 4 stitches, I promptly decided that I do NOT like them and put the needle back in the container. I don't know why I even bothered, straw needles are not and have never been something that feels 'right' to me. Anyone wanting a free container of these? Will mail them to the very first person who requests them IF and only IF I can access your email so as to learn your mailing address. Otherwise, they will have to go to the second person etc. I'm sure they are wonderful, just not my style and you know how that is! 

Okay, that's it. Will probably be missing in action for a couple weeks here. Gonna enjoy our kids and grandkids and then when they leave, will have to rest, recoup and relax. Oh. And clean. Never can get out of that part for some reason!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Orphan Annie Gets a Border

So this is Orphan Annie with the first border. From the start, I kept thinking that Dogtooth borders might be a good design, especially using the lightning design. That just sort of seemed like the thing to do and I haven't used that layout in forever! If I was thinking more about black or pink for the borders, well, that idea quickly got shut down.

First border on Orphan Annie
When it became evident that the quilt wanted more of those lighter shades of green, I didn't really know what to do. So many of them have been used up at this point! I scrambled around and eventually found some strips of the green batik, leftovers from a recent quilt backing. Thankfully, I had enough yardage of the blue fabric for the relief/contrast color.

Auditioning the borders
I picked a size of quarter triangle that looked 'about right' and just started cutting. Didn't worry about measurements to exactly fit to the quilt at all. After sewing several long lengths of triangles together, then it was time to audition.  To my disappointment, in the initial layout, nothing looked right except for the arrangement in the previous picture. Perhaps I was going to need to add coping strips all the way around to get the proper look?  It was almost enough for me to throw up my hands and try and start over, but you know how it goes. This was an orphan block quilt. Why does it have to look incredible? That gave me just enough impetuous to sew on the first border surround--all in a log cabin style, one border after another.

Orphan Annie is a completed quilt top!
When it came time to sew on the second border, I went ahead and did another 'layout', mostly just checking to see where each border might need to start--with a blue triangle or maybe a green? That's when I tried the 'lightning' dogtooth border look once again, and to my surprise...., it looked really good at the sides of the quilt. Like, amazingly good! Not all the way around the quilt, which is kinda odd, but still. Then I fiddled and fiddled and fiddled, trying to get the corners to look okay. Soooo frustrating. 

Loving the crazy pieced corners
It was only after a couple times of leaving and coming back that I realized the problem. I was attempting to get the corners to come together in perfect pairings and/or the lightning layout in perfect repeats. This quilt was actually wanting a more disordered and make-do look. When I let go and started cutting the edges and sewing the rows with that specific idea in mind, the last rows went together swimmingly. 

Looking across the quilt
And yes, there are definitely areas where the borders fall in a more precise arrangement. That's okay. But believe me, when I say it is totally by accident {and perhaps the fact that my triangles were all cut to the same size}. The thing that really struck me was how much I LOVE the make-do look and yet, over and over and over, I continually fight against that very look in my own quilts. Now, you might see something different in what I turn out, but never think that it just comes naturally. Oh no. It's all very much a work in progress around here!

Looking very cozy
My youngest brother and his wife recently sold their home by the river {hard to raise little kids by a whitewater river}and bought a small cattle farm. During the big move, they had to decide what to take, what to keep as the farmhouse there is fairly small. Anyway, long story short, they called me and asked if I would like to have this brand new sewing table {still in the box}. Yessss!!!

A new sewing table!
Since my sewing machine is slightly larger than the standard size, my husband had to cut a little bit more room in the opening. It's been interesting getting used to having my sewing machine flush with the sewing table and honestly, I'm still not 100% sure that I love that part. It sure looks good though! Always fun to get something new to try out, especially when there's no money involved!

Trying out the new sewing machine position
I finally went ahead and started chain piecing the wedges for the Grandma's Fan blocks, cut out sometime during the winter. There's a lot of blocks in the quilt {over 90?} and so I haven't been in a huge hurry. I'll probably sew the fans onto the background by hand, but now I'm dithering over which color to use in the background position. Lots of white in this quilt and mehh... you know how I feel about that!

Starting to sew the Grandma Fan blocks together
Got all the leaves cut out for the Flower Power blocks. Love the punchy vibe! It's a vintage floral I picked up at a quilt show many moons ago. The last time I used a chunk of this fabric, it was probably in 2018. Very good fabric, but the purple in it goes a very long ways. Wish I could get better pictures of these tulip blocks, but to date, they have been extremely uncooperative.

Flower Power blocks looking better with the leaves
In other news, we have had a rather rough couple of weeks. Some friends in our church were involved in a dispute of sorts and were killed in their home. During Covid, they got more and more interested in going off-grid and getting away from people, resulting in them buying property in a fairly remote area. It was all very shocking and so very, very sad as they were 'salt of the earth' sort of people and the least likely people you could imagine this happening to. 

Only one frame left to go!
Our church members took food, for over a week, to the daughter & husband in the home where she was housing the surviving grandmother and other grieving family members. The grandmother was also living at the remote location at the time of the tragedy, and had thankfully managed to run away and hide. She was severely traumatized as you can only imagine. It's surreal and mind blowing this could happen to such good people. There was lots to be done as to relocating animals and plants etc. and much more needed in the weeks ahead. Obviously the grandmother will not be comfortable living there now and the house will have to be cleaned up and sold. My husband was asked to officiate the memorial services and our church members rallied around and provided a dinner afterward, all on the Saturday of a holiday weekend. So much love and really, so very little we can do for them. It's hard when tragedy strikes close to home with people we genuinely care about. I cannot even imagine how devastating it would be to be the daughter, mother, father, grandparents in this situation. 

As usual, when times are hard and there is lots of heavy thinking to do, I tend to pick up the hoop and put in the hand quilting time. Many times through the years we've been married, my husband thinks longingly about living off grid and 'getting away from it all'. If nothing else, this event proved to us that when the world is in such a state of apprehension and turmoil, there is not a lot of safer places to be. I wasn't even going to mention any of this, but it has made me feel very sad, lethargic, helpless, moody--you name it. So yeah. Don't feel sorry for us. We're not the ones who got our lives upended in a brutal, senseless manner. We are absolutely, positively looking forward to getting to spend a week with our kids and grandkids here in a couple weeks. I'd say it's a very good time to bring on the hugs!

Thursday, June 23, 2022

I'd Say There's Never Too Much Applique, But of Course That's Not True!

I started on these flower blocks a couple months ago. Didn't get very far, very fast as I was really supposed to be finishing up other applique blocks. I might get spread thin with all the quilting projects, but I don't like a lot of opened ended applique. Just stresses me out.

Starting on the next round of applique
Anyway, right about the time that I was doing the prep work for these blocks, LeAnn over at Nifty Quilts posted her new tulip quilt. As I was looking at it, the style of flowers and the general layout really jumped out at me. Just too funny! I don't have the book 'Georgia Quilts' where she got her original inspiration, but I have looked at that quilt many times before. Pinterest? One of my other old quilt books? Not sure, but looky, looky, my doodling for this 'Flower Power' quilt obviously comes from the same exact inspiration! LeAnn's quilt is exciting and fresh, such a joy to look at. I'm a big fan of her work in case you couldn't tell!

Unlike her, I'm starting with mostly upcycled shirts for the backgrounds of my flowers, then digging in the stash for everything else. There is a piece of floral that I intend to use for the border or perhaps the inside strip sashing bits. We'll see. I do lots of pondering and turning things over and over in my head before even getting to the auditioning stage. Thus far, I am loving working with these bright pops of color. Simple applique plus bright, happy colors and it feels like an instant mood lifter! p.s. Don't be dismayed, there will be leaves attached at some point....

The loosey goosey notes & ideas
Sooo... this Ring Around project was the applique project getting in the way of Flower Power. Lots and lots and lots of time involved in the hand stitching and with 20 blocks? It can get a little boring at times. I piled the blocks up in an obvious spot in the quilt room just to help keep me motivated.

Looks so much better like this than hiding inside a tote...
Then there came the day when I had all the blocks done and tada! four rows sewn together too! Still not feeling especially pushed to plow through all the work to bring it to a quilt top, but eventually it all came together.

Waiting for a little more sewing time
During the original auditioning, I fiddled around with the sashing fabric {and even the cornerstones} probably more than I should of. It just didn't seem right that the quilt needed something so unassuming. There's a point sometimes where you wonder if your heart just isn't in it at that particular time of auditioning and then you realize.... This quilt really doesn't want something with a big, clever statement in that exact spot of the quilt. Ooookay. Message received!

The off-bacgrounds help make it interesting
In the end, to get the result needed, I actually flipped the sashing fabric over and used the backside. Uh huh. You can do that. I loved the nuanced stripey look to the fabric, but it needed to be toned down and let the applique blocks do their thing. The wonderful thing about the backside of the fabric {besides fading completely away} is the fact that it comes across more blue than green in those super subtle striped bits. With that, now the quilt has a lovely glow that somehow helps ease the aggressive bite to some of those rings. 

What is it about the color coral with blue?
Originally, I figured the cornerstones would need to be a black fabric, but that looked absolutely hideous. Coral and gray were also a non starter, and then I was left with some form of green or blue. Thankfully I had a couple pieces of teal fabric that fit the bill. The print was a little iffy on some of the pieces that I auditioned, but eventually I found the two fabrics that made the quilt do a little nod of appreciation. Yes, it could have been been one fabric instead of two, but I didn't have enough of the piece that ended up in the middle of the quilt. And that was the favorite, hands down. Had to be used somewhere! Which, interestingly enough, also helped add to the cozy glow of the quilt. Funny how sometimes all our little choices add up to something we don't even realize is building!

The second quilt in the Melon Patch series
It feels really good to finally get the abandoned background blocks from Melon Patch into something that helps make those center medallions shine. That sweet plaid fabric was from one of my youngest sons shirts that he wore quite a bit. One that I loved on him. Didn't want to just toss it away! There was a quilt in the book 'Mixing Quilt Elements' by Kathy Doughty that served as the impetuous for moving forward with these backgrounds, and though this quilt isn't exactly the same, many elements are very similar! Instead of her wedge templates, I cut my own from an acrylic template bought at JoAnns. Much easier and also, the wedges were a better size for these specific blocks.

Doesn't appear to need a border
Overall, I am very pleased with the look and feel to this low-key, but bursting with character, quilt top. At first I tried very hard to get the wedge quarter rings to match up exactly, but then I just gave it up completely. What am I doing? Why even bother? The sashing space helps transition  the 'Ring Around' effect tremendously and I'm certainly not someone to squawk if it's not perfectly perfect. Yeah. Not. Very. Important. At. All.

Original fabric pull
Another thing that I've done this week is something that happens pretty much all year long. It happens when I'm in the mood. When I'm stalling. When I'm down in the dumps about pretty much anything. When I can't get the motor started to put in the real effort and work of quilting. Whenever. You know how it is. You pull a couple stacks of marinating fabric stacks and attempt to fine tune. Let your subconscious  do its thing and just try to stay out of the way.

Adding a bit of spark
In the first picture is a stack of fabrics all chosen with the intention of trying to use up some of those bitter, brick reds that feel so very hard to get used up. Funnily enough, I actually liked the original stack almost enough to get started on a brand new quilt project during the winter. Then I dithered, second guessed, felt queasy in my gut and thought, 'no.... there's something not quite right about the blend'. I've approached it at least twice since then and had zero luck changing things up. It seemed content to be stuck.

Filling in the details
Earlier this week I pulled the stack out again and immediately decided that it needed some of those lighter blue/greens. Hmmm... could it be because I was just knee deep in those precise colors finishing up a quilt top? Hum, hum, humming along, I quickly added the salmon pink upcycled shirt {recently acquired from a thrifting excursion}. Perfection! Then it was obvious that there needed to be more of those super light pinks for a better transition. 

Maybe a tiny bit more depth with the green
And then some yellow gold hopped on for a ride. Not just any yellow mind you, but the exact perfect shade. So important to have a tiny bit of spark! And then it was a step back to peruse the effect. Hop on a chair and look down at the fabric on the counter. Hmm... Yep. Needs just a little bit more of the darkish shades of greens for impact. 

So yeah, that's pretty much how I work with the fabric stacks. As I'd said before, they rarely come out of the stash totes ready and raring to go directly into a new project. A little bit of fiddling here and there over several months {or a year} until finally, a day comes when the combination seems wholly complete. A big oops that I didn't use to recognize in my fabric gathering, is the tendency to dull things down and go for the soft, overly muted look. And then rush it directly into a quilt! The colors this happens with most often is usually a lot of the same colors that I wear. I don't even think to deeply about it in the moment! Quilt-making requires a bit more finesse though. Thankfully, I've learned to take the time {however much that is} to get things right. This stack seems good now. Belated it may be, but finally starting to see some cozy vibes happening!