Monday, July 27, 2020

Working Through the Steps

It was great to see Antique Crows finally come together for a true blue finish! The hand quilting wasn't always the most fun as I was stitching on the inside of each of the 'points'. That's what I wanted for the look and texture though, so just kept slogging along regardless of extra layers of fabric. 
Antique Crows for the finish!

The backing is a bought-on-clearance, Kaffe, woven, stripe fabric. Makes for a great drape and feel and especially wonderful for summer! I'm already using this on our bed although it's a bit girly compared to the colors I usually prefer in our bedroom. Just. Could. Not. Resist.

Full view

This was a quilt where I really pushed myself to use busier prints than normal. It's a little frustrating to see fabrics stacking up in the totes and never quite feel comfortable enough to use them. I'd been wanting to make a New York Beauty quilt for years and that has always been just a little beyond my comfort zone as well. 

Love the mismatched circles....

Finally, in the year 2017, I admitted to myself that the New York Beauty was probably never gonna happen and instead decided to draft this more simplistic, chunkier-look block. Hey, why not? I started with cream quarter circle cut-outs from behind some other {previous} quilt and that was it, I was charmed into following my curiosity. This particular stack of fabric caught my eye and I was off and running. Catch me if you can!

Such a happy, fun look!

Like most everything else, it was a lot harder in my imagination than it was in reality. I'm so very glad that I made up my own block and ended up with this folksy, happy looking quilt! The colors may be a tad modern looking, but overall the vibe seems fairly cozy which of course is always my end goal. The added whimsy of the blocks coming together into a mismatched circle totally makes me smile. How could it get any better?

Spring Flowers

Lots of jumping around from project to project this past week. There are other things that I should be working on, but these flowers went ahead and pulled me in instead. At this point, I have all the stems and flowers stitched down and now just need to attack the leaves.

Seedpod Flower quilt

Uh huh. That seemed rather boring and so I changed directions altogether. This is an oldish project that I last worked on around this time last year. Well, that's not entirely true because I'm pretty sure that I cut some of the blocks out in December. It just never gained any real traction because of that border around the Seedpod flower. It has always been just a little bit wrong and thus, made the whole project rather confusing.

Starting to put the parts together

So I totally ignored this project in the hopes that it would somehow fix itself. But it didn't. Of course not! Why do some quilts always have to be so unreasonable? Having a rare, relatively empty house over the weekend tipped me over into the red zone as far as guilt goes, though. The centerpiece is just too good to abandon forever. Best get crack-a-lackin' and figure something out! 

The little blocks were oh-so-tedious to sew together. I think there's over 150 of them? I knew they needed to be available for auditioning purposes before making any serious decisions about moving forward. And I was right about needing to have the border attached, whether it was exactly how/what I envisioned or not. That's the point where I had stopped last August. More like froze in total indecision! The way this scrappy block {look} goes together, it seemed critical to have the width measurement for those little blocks in order to feel perfectly okay about moving forward. I do so hate to have an excess of wasted parts and too, I only have a finite amount of appropriate colored fabric to use in this quilt. What's a girl to do?

Why couldn't I just wing it like I do with everything else you ask? I don't know! Everything within resisted so strongly, there seemed to be no other option. If there's one thing I've learned through the years, it's to trust the quilt. Just had to keep tamping down the panic trying to rise up and take it one step at a time. By the time the quilt was at the stage you can see in the last picture, ideas were finally, finally starting to well up in my brain. There's something very palpable about the energy that builds when chain piecing and 'thinking' without really 'thinking' about a specific problem in a quilt. Then, when trying to lay different colored blocks out and balance appropriately with the various fabric strips? It all just sort of gelled. Thank goodness! What about this? How about that? Until all the working parts started making sense as a unit.

So that's where my time and attention has been for several days. I've finally got everything sewed up into rows and a serious applique plan for dealing with the blue border. It isn't very complicated after all, just fussy cutting from a rather small hunk of what used to be a fat quarter. And the width of the border remains exactly the same. No lost time and effort there after all!*sigh  Don't you love it when a difficult quilt starts cooperating?

Sunday, July 19, 2020

10 Years of Quilty Blogging

Well, it's been 10 years of quilty blogging! Funny how the very first post still holds true. Probably still be trying to talk to myself if it wasn't for all my blogging friends! Here's one of the first quilts that actually made it onto a post. I was super selective back in the early days, terrified of posting too many pics. It's an American Patchwork pattern that seemed pretty intimidating at the time. You know what that means, right? Yep. I was thrilled and feeling proud. Still hangs in my living room today!

I seriously debated whether or not to forge ahead on the anniversary of that first year. There were definitely things that I was struggling with, such as being able to respond easily to comments. {Which thankfully took eons to start rolling in.} They were so wonderfully scary. Hey! Someone commented on my post! People get me!

I've pretty much figured out how to handle that particular dilemma, but others {run on sentences?}, I've completely given up on. Laughing, laughing, laughing.... In fact, it's become a feature, not a bug. How else to write in a conversational tone? After a little bit of trial and error, I think I've finally found my writers voice...

Another thing that I worried about, just a little, was my exuberant quilting process. Transferring all the quilty journal-ling to the blog meant that I had choices to make. Would I continue to simply do an end-of-the-journey wrap up for each quilt?  Or would it be more interesting to write about process all along the way?

Uh huh. I leaned in. Over time, this blog has become even more about the process. Always with the goal of helping me to better understand how to get from A to Z, even if 'Z' isn't really all that clear at the onset. Taking pictures and writing about the creative journey absolutely helps to clarify important details. I tell myself that it helps some of you occasionally too. Maybe that's just justification for endlessly long posts? Whatever. The thing is, for the most part I've gotten way away from using patterns and find great joy in going my own direction. Letting the quilt tell me what it needs/wants, and trying to figure out how to best make that happen.

There has unquestionably been growing pains in the past 10 years. How could there not be? We're literally talking about a decade of quilty blogging adventures! One thing that is very sneaky, but oh-so-real, is the tendency for most of us to want to please others. It can make the most self confident among us want to self edit or try to make everything look good and shiny. 'Here's my amazing masterpiece. Don't you love how it came to be without any hiccups whatsoever?' Or perhaps we start making quilts in the same style that generate the most comments and likes. People are generally very kind, but criticism IS criticism. Bloggers who show the 'warts and all' need to develop a thick skin and learn not second guess every creative decision.

It's a trap, and will only steal our joy. It also leads to paralysis and excruciatingly boring quilts. You know that's the truth! Best to make quilts to please us first, and and then in doing so, we more regularly fill up the well. There starts to be an organic sort of 'flow' from quilt to quilt as we continue in our quest for answers. So much more fun and satisfying in the long term!

And if a few friends come along for the ride? All the better! My very favorite blogs are the ones where the quilters are generous, open and honest about how and where they got to where they were going. Or even more interesting, to where they ended up. Lets hear about the rough starts and missteps along with the cool moments of triumph and victory! Recognizing myself in others 'process' has undoubtedly helped me to become the quilter that I am today. Today's blog posts can be liken to yesteryear's quilting bees where it's easy to help others out just by being real.

Some 'aha' moments were unquestionably monumental in terms of my growth as a serious quilter. So valuable to read about things that didn't make sense in the beginning, but became clear when reading about them through the lens of another quilter. There were things that unnerved me or seemed time wasting. Other things that made me feel inadequate or especially unskilled, even lacking if I didn't share the enthusiasm to 'better' some specific area of my quilting. 

Sharing back and forth with other quilters has enormously helped in clearing up many of those unrealistic expectations and unreasonable 'rules' many of us start out with. Do you know how cheering it was when I realized that there are actually other quilters out there who honestly work better on shhh...., eight or ten open ended projects rather than only one? Huh? This doesn't have to be a guilty little secret?

The virtuous, feel-good crowd {less a problem today than ten years ago} would have you to believe that 'start one, finish one' is the absolute, number one, most rewarding way to do things. Good for you if that is your special zen, but that doesn't work so well for each and every one of us! I get bored almost into a coma and instead of finishing a dozen plus quilts a year, the outcome drops to a pitiful few. 

The funny thing is, many of these ideas have been rendered meaningless simply by admitting to them here on the blog. Or unexpectedly reading a quilter admit that perhaps she doesn't bury her threads. What??? When a few quilters react positively to these confessions, taking the time to say, 'Oh, I do that too', well... then we can shrug off the garbage and get down to the business of making our wonderfully amazing quilts in earnest. 

After a decade of copious {quilty} oversharing here at Quilty Folk, I'm can't say that I'm particularly immune to disagreements and general unhappiness concerning my creative choices. People do tell me once in a blue moon that they personally disagree with a point or two, and oh yeah, that they fear for my sanity. Well, maybe not the sanity part, but you know that is probably implied! 

If I truly want to succeed at making original looking quilts, then I am going to have to take a different path than others once in awhile. It might be hard to understand. It might even make you uncomfortable as to the direction my quilting journey is taking me these days. You might think that what I'm doing is flat out ugly or that I'm wasting my time trying to figure out the color green. That's just the way that it works and I need not take offense. I've stopped following many quilters myself through the years due to diverging interests, and I'm sure others have stopped coming to here for much the same reason. In that same vein, I've started following completely different quilters who maybe didn't resonate with me so much, many years before, but now they do. 

I've learned that the diligent pursuit of individual passions, obsessions and yes, even the rabbit trails of all these various quilting adventures are vital. They are important because they are the very things that lead to finding our true quilting voice. This time I'm speaking to the style, elements, vibe, personality and feel of our quilts. That voice. That almost magical thing that so definitively says, 'This quilt was made by me'. It's truly special and I doubt that I'll ever be able to take it for granted. It's just too hard earned.

It's amazing to look back 10 years and see so much progress. I can't even hardly put it into words! Starting out, it seemed like an almost unfathomable, practically unattainable goal! I'm not 100 percent satisfied, not in the least. Don't think that. There is still lots to learn and explore! I might not be in the 'It' crowd of quilting {some of us sort of float between the most popular genres}, but it has never been my intended destination, that popularity.

Over and over, I have self corrected by reminding myself that a great, robust creative process is absolutely about the DOING. Being present in the quilting room. Pursuing as many ideas that intrigue as possible. Participating in self-made challenges {and also, the occasional community challenge}. Definitely chasing after unique incorporation of many personally beloved quilting elements, whatever they may be. I intend to keep doing exactly that. AND, I want to keep encouraging others to gain confidence in their own creativity and originality. 

Ironically, this moment in time comes with a faint feeling of blogging fatigue. I'm not saying that I want to stop blogging. I think there's just too much crazy in the world for an introvert like me not to get overwhelmed once in awhile. It wears on me. Taking the time for quilty blogging these days feels like a luxury I can ill afford, and yet I thoroughly enjoy reading through other quilters posts every chance that I get. It's like taking a 'time out of time' in terms of current events. Yes, lets do continue to talk quilts and all the things that make us happy. And lets make good quilts. The more the merrier!

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!