Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Improv. Wheels My Pick for 2018 Bloggers Quilt Festival

Oh my, how the time does fly. I've been working on this quilt for over 2 years now! It was a project started in order to play with an improv. method from Sujata Shah's 'Cultural Fusion' book. Finishing it up at the time of the Bloggers Quilt Festival made it a shoe-in for entering!
A closer look at the blocks
I liked funky pinwheel look to the blocks, but it just seemed like they needed a bit more focus. Thus the idea of trimming the edges and giving them more of a 'wheel' look. I do tend to veer toward a more circular look at the slightest provocation.
All washed up and crinkly looking
Then of course, the centers appeared to be in need of a brighter, more unifying color, of which I was happy to oblige them with. But what to do about those white, vacant looking connecting squares?  That yawning emptiness?
The birds are little but I like the whimsical touch
It only seemed right to add a busy little bird and on and on like that, it just happened. This quilt seemed determined to tell its own story and it was my job to figure it out and narrate it properly.
Improv. Wheels finally a finish!
Looking back, I'm not sure the flower border was the right element for finishing off the quilt. It does give it a rather dated look! Oh well, I fell in love with the way that floral motif blended in so well with the rest of the fabrics in the quilt and all along, I was rooting for a vintage vibe. Just might have to wait another 10-15 years for the 'vintage' to kick in. lol
It looks good for snuggling
The entire quilt was hand quilted in perle cotton #8 and #12, my go-to threads for the last couple years. It's part and parcel of what tipped the scales in the direction of being happy with the ultimate finish. Hand quilting texture in a quilt is just so very yummy. I'm quite the addict by now and still have to grin when I think of those years when I was so vocal about never, ever hand quilting anything!

I'm also very pleased with the recycled mens shirts included in the quilt and the one vintage piece of fabric I bought special at a quilt show a few years ago. I don't do much of that, but it always feels good. Plus, as an added bonus, there are many oldy, moldy fabrics in this quilt that have been languishing in the bottom of the stash totes for sooo many years that it feels quite ridiculous at times.
Not my normal colors, but it all came together in the end...
There is a very real resistance to throwing out fabrics on the basis of 'Well, I haven't used them thus far, so I probably never will!'. Oh no. That's just like waving a red cape. Throw a few beautiful new fabrics in with the lot and just wait and see what I can come up with. Challenge thrown down, challenge accepted!*wink  Now to find times to peruse all the wonderful quilts over at Fall 2018 Bloggers Quilt Festival. Always a good time to find new inspiration!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What's Happening in the Quilt Room Today

It's been nice to spend some time in the quilting room and take stock. A couple days saw me sewing together quilt backings, something I don't generally enjoy. However, I have discovered that sewn together in batches, one after another, then it's not really quite as tedious as normal. I just use a couple big pieces of yardage and then scrap together the rest with something that blends from straight out of the stash totes. Saving myself time for that day when there's actually time to sandwich and pin means a lot in the long term.
Quilts tops next up for quilting
I won't bore you with pics of the backings as they aren't the prettiest things in the world {I tend to use fabrics that would never merit prime time on the front of the quilts}, but I try to make sure they won't embarrass or cost a boat load of money. All my quilting pennies go toward beautiful fabric for the quilt itself and the backings are leftovers, fabrics donated by others or clearance stuff that 'will do'. Basket Love {below} is the next quilt up for getting some attention in the hoop.
Basket Love moving into the hoop
For some reason, this particular quilt has been calling my name rather loudly. Maybe it's because I've been working with light, bright quilts lately and needed the moodiness this quilt presents.
A closer look
Whatever. I have been absolutely relishing getting started with the hand quilting on this one. Wowsa. Does it ever make me happy having it in my lap! The only thing I might would change is if I had a deeper variety of thread color to work with, but no matter. I'm not taking the time to order anything extra online.
Soaking up the stitches
Another thing I have done lately is very deliberately pull out every single, lurking, fabric stack and try to take a good picture of it. Check it out for positive feel goods. You know what I'm talking about, that glimmer of excitement that a particular blend of fabrics helps generate in our creative consciousness. These are fabrics that have somehow managed to pull together and sit marinating somewhere on the counters or in little totes throughout the quilt room, almost as if a magnetic force is keeping them anchored together!
Stack #1
To my surprise and yes, a little consternation, I seemed to have collected 12 such stacks. Oh my goodness gracious, it seems that I have become a hoarder! lol  Don't guilt me for my obvious fabric love. I'm confident that it is much, much cheaper than therapy...
Stack #2
This year in particular has been one for tamping down on the new starts. Just a little. Trying to narrow down the open-ended quilt projects has been challenging to say the least and honestly, I'm not sure it's a beneficial thing to keep doing that to my creativity.
Stack #3
There's something about getting started on a new project that signifies giving a measure of importance to a creative idea that might possibly disappear into the ether otherwise. Once started, it rarely gets completely lost or completely abandoned. Might take a while to see it through, but the idea that I have committed fabric and space makes it worthwhile.
Stack #4
Writing and doodling ideas on paper is a good way to ensure that the idea is not completely lost for eternity, but still, real enthusiasm and spark tend to wane and lose strength in time and the busyness of life. Might have to work on balance again in regards to this.
Stack #5
There are lots of ideas floating around for many of these stacks of fabrics. For example, the previous two stacks were compiled in direct response to the idea that I might make a quilt for a specific person. This lovely person adores dark, dark reds such as maroon and are quite adamant about it. Ughh. So difficult to work with! So I started with the brighter, happier reds and added green. Nahh... They would hate that for sure. But it's so, so  pretty! Can't get rid of it now when there is such potential. hehe  So I eventually started the Stack #5 and have piddled around with it for months trying to fine tune the look. Adding the lighter red stripe with the blue floral is finally, finally starting to make sense to me. No matter what anyone else might or might not like, if the fabrics/colors don't work for me? The quilt isn't going to sing and that's just fact.
Stack #6
Several of these stacks have a pretty concrete design idea that all I'm trying to nail down now is certain, specific details before I start cutting and sewing. Proportions of color usage in particular tend to get me bogged down prior to a quilt start. I hate the idea of making a lifeless looking quilt. What, pray tell, is the point of making a boring quilt?
Stack #7
You probably already know that I have ideas for a couple basket quilts {shock shock}, a medallion style quilt, a log cabin, a vertical, strippy sawtooth, a couple detailed applique quilts, maybe an alphabet quilt?, a traditional, repeated block layout and of course I'm being opened minded about something for improv. as well. These are things that might be as predictable as the sun coming up in the morning, but still manage to keep me very engaged, quilty-wise. And of course, I'm rarely adverse to hopping onto a new challenge if the right one happens along....
Stack #8
It was interesting to see how many of these fabric stacks look very familiar one to another. As Ann mentioned in her latest post, 'we all have different color combinations and values we prefer'. So, so true!
Stack #9
Oftentimes, we unintentionally find ourselves perfecting the use of a specific color palette. I used to shy away from this as it felt a slippery slope towards making quilts that seemed to copy-cat another. Now I just look at is as 'series' work. Sometimes we work on certain design elements over and over and other times we zero in on a specific color blend. We don't feel free to give up until we've learned about all that we can from it! Why are we so quick to brush off the direction into which our instincts are trying to guide us in?
Stack #10
One thing I've learned through the years, is that any of these fabric stacks will end up making a far better looking quilt than anything that can be dug out of the stash totes in a single setting. Or started up lickety split. Or bought altogether in a shopping trip. Take a closer look at the fabrics stacks that might look similar one to another with just a quick glance. The fabric print will probably read completely different which means the look/feel to a quilt will automatically read as unique. For instance, Stack #12 has a lot of reproduction look fabrics which hopefully will translate as a more antique/vintage look/feel quilt.
Stack #11
Although, in the interest of true transparency, that stack below is working on it's third year of quietly simmering on the back burner.*groan...  Might have to fish or cut bait there?
Stack #12
And because I was so taken aback at all the bright, happy tones in most of the fabric stacks, I just had to make up a slightly moodier selection of fabrics. My goodness, it's an interesting exercise to make these sorts of comparisons and really SEE the seeds of evolution and change! Which meant Fabric stack #13.... Yep. That happened. Funny how timely that was with this great idea that popped into my head though, just before falling asleep last night. Uh huh. That's what I'm talking about. The fun just never ends.
Stack #13
Will some of these fabric stacks be tossed back or possibly combined at some later date? You betcha. That's the way it works. And I don't know about you, but when I'm looking for a particular color or value, I have no problem with raiding one of these fabric stack for the much needed element in a current quilt. That always, always takes precedence and nothing, no fabric stack or design idea is sacrosanct around here. My projects are very fluid and as always, very adaptable to the whims and fancies of change.  

Sorry for the long post, but a reader or two had previously asked for inspiration pics in the form of my long-time simmering {by now, probably infamous} fabric stacks. Here there are, the whole glorious lineup! But yeah, it's just how things roll around here and I'm not gonna pretend otherwise. Also in the general tidying up/taking stock in the quilt room, I remade a couple lists. It was time. There are currently 23 quilt tops ready for quilting and 6 open ended quilt projects. Plus, 2 or 3 squirrelly sets of orphan blocks gleefully gravitating toward one another for those days where I'm bored, a little antsy and well, most probably procrastinating about having to make major design decisions....  You did come here to read about a quilters crazy life, right?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The Finished Sunburst Pictures and Another Improv. Quilt Top Joins the Quilting Queue

So I'm diving back into blogging after a short, two week hiatus. It feels a little awkward and ungainly after removing oneself from the rhythm of it all but I really find myself {unexpectedly} missing the musings about the journey. Quilting, stitching, posting, reading and/or commenting--it's all part and parcel.
Sunburst is finished!
Sunburst is the quilt that was finished up in time for the last quilt show. It's been the forever project for longer than I like to admit to. There was never the right time to post proper finish-it-up pictures, but overall, I am extremely happy with the results.

After a bit of agonizing, I ended up stitching a free-style Baptist Fan pattern over the entire quilt. This was one where I never got comfortable to 'just go for it', but continued free-hand marking throughout the entirety of the stitching. If you were to get very picky and critical, you would find areas with 5 arcs instead of 4 and in at least one spot, there is only 3. Love, truly, truly love how that ends up happening with this sort of stitching. Kind of ironic because the continued marking instead of 'eyeballing' only highlights my ongoing insecurity with complete and total abandon to freestyle!
Looking at Sunburst
Generally I would be feeling contented with the look of stitching by one completed row, two at the most, but this quilt left me second guessing until almost half of the stitching was completed. It left me feeling a little frustrated and antsy. Not that I could imagine anything that might look better, but I had this fear that using a Baptist fan pattern was not good enough, perhaps I was cheating the quilt. I know, so irrational! But you know how protective we feel about our babies.
Really love those trees
It was wonderful to pull the quilt out one evening and just smile at the relaxed and almost joyful look to the stitched arcs. Oh yes! That's what I was hoping to see! And then it was all totally fine. The perfectly spaced arcs of traditional fans look marvelous, but I'm a huge 'fan' of the human touch, and slightly-off perfect is what usually gets my motor running these days.
Looking perfectly snuggable!
And I also wanted to show a picture of one of the Adhoc Improv. quilts that I've been working on. It's the Score #5 from 'The Improv. Handbook for Modern Quilters' by Sherri Lynn Wood. I'm very happy to report that the quilt top is now finished! If you want more details on the progress of this particular quilt, you can check out my latest post over here.
Score #5
Now I just need to find time to work on that other Adhoc. Improv. project I started a couple months ago. So many things have been taking up our time lately and quilting happens in odd moments and random bits of free time. Honestly, it's been wonderful to feel and see the season start to change. Fall usually ends up being a more peaceful time for our family and believe me, I'm more than ready for the return to the slightly more normal around here...

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Few 2018 NCW Quilt Show Pics

It's always interesting to see which quilts catch our fancy at these shows isn't it? Two people rarely end up with the same favorites that's for sure. I love things like scrappiness, playing with value, hand quilting or threadwork, an antique or vintage vibe, applique work, and words on quilts.

I was really intrigued by the simple yet compelling look to the mini quilt above. Lovely play with color.

This quilt was one of my favorites. Such a happy looking quilt! Really like how the flying geese break up the strings and add energy to the quilt.

Honestly I'm not a huge fan of butterfly quilts, but once in awhile they really do seem pretty amazing. This one had a lovely mix of colors/fabrics. Very gentle looking without disappearing into the woodwork. And lets just put this out there--I love cream as a background color....

Being a country girl, cow quilts tend to amuse me. Love the scrappy look to this one even though its a mass produced pattern and no doubt easier to do than it might first appear.

Antique lone star quilt. Need I say more???

I have a lot of admiration for anyone attempting to do a Hawaiian shaped applique pc. Did that one time {small block} and wowsers, lots of tricky stuff. Love the echo quilting too.

This was gorgeous, all that texture from the perle cotton stitching. Makes me think that I need to step up my game, but seriously? Would I really want to spend that much time on a much larger quilt?

Love bow tie quilts, love plaid, love value play. This was just something that pulled me in almost against my will.

Who doesn't love a good selvage quilt? Did you know that I cut mine as close as possible to the words in order to save precious bits of fabric? Then I throw them away. Ooh, call the selvage strip police....

This was flat out gorgeous. The colors, value play, threadwork--all of it. Probably my fave in the whole show. Really great quilt. I tried years ago to make something similar so I know how hard it is to end up with this kind of glow and warmth. Mine was pitiful compared to this one!

Love this quilt for its antique charm. Really heart melting quilt in my eyes.

Another one of my faves in the entire show. Lots of admiration for the lady who did all that hand quilting on silky fabric! Probably the best tie quilt I've ever seen in person. That blue and aqua combo.was a wonderful base for showing off those ties.

Hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the entries! Sorry about the woman in the lone star quilt pic. That was a vendor booth and never seemed to be lacking customers. If you were hoping to see all the intricate longarmed masterpieces, you came to the wrong blog. I saw plenty of those, but much as I salute the time and effort involved,  they don't tend to 'move' me. There was a few wonderful looking Blackbird Design quilts too that at one time would have had me drooling. Now I'm less satisfied with the kitted up look and don't find as much inspiration there. Of course, if they were done in completely different, maybe surprising color/fabric selections, that would be a different story!

One intriguing element that I meant to take a picture of was a couple quilts that had {scrappy?} bias pieced sashing. I try to walk through the quilt shows one time without taking pictures and just sort of soak in the details. Then I go back and take pictures of things that seem most interesting. Guess it slipped my mind when I walked past the second time. In case you missed it, the quilts that I entered into the show are in a previous post with all the usual blathering on about the experience....

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Just Thinking Out Loud

I can't believe I'm staying up late to write this post, but here they are. All five of the quilts that I ended up putting in the NCW Quilt Show. I'll post later next week with pics of other quilts that caught my eye.
Scrappy Tulips
First of all, I went with a quiet but clearer mind this year. No 'comparison is the thief of joy' type of thoughts, 'not gonna nitpick the details', just a solid determination to enjoy. I'm a confident but filled with insecurities sort of gal and quilt shows can be difficult. The reason to do this is because nothing beats going to a quilt show and being inspired. By little ideas or big ones. Wonderful color and out of the box thinking. A saturation of the senses that is almost impossible to get strictly from pictures on the Net {especially when you're dealing with a camera-handicapped person like me!}.
Vintage Red
No ribbons this year which inexplicably made it all so much better. Wacko that I am, it was refreshing to know that none of my quilts stood out over any of the other ones I brought.*sigh  It's hard when people play favorites with our quilts! Scrappy Tulips {the first pic} almost didn't make the cut. The colors don't play nice in some lighting and it worried me. Turns out it was the one that absolutely shown under the lights at the quilt show. Totally melted my heart and I went back and stared at it several times. It looked sort of old timey, but sweet. Really, really sweet and dreamy. Why weren't more people staring at this quilt? lol

Vintage Red was one that I emphatically was not going to enter. Turns out I just couldn't resist seeing how it would look hanging up where I could see it full on. Oh my, did I love turning the corner and seeing that one. Totally vintage vibe going on which just made me smile so big. I totally nailed this idea! And well, I went ahead and looked at some of the other sewing details in others quilts. Uh huh. Maybe my mistakes aren't quite as horrible and blatantly obvious as I thought. Might have to rethink that one.
Quilty 365
I got a little jolt seeing Quilty 365 hanging up for the first time. That quiet looking stitching around every other block is a secret weapon. Can't see it in this pic at all, but all my concern over there not being enough stitching in this quilt were totally put to rest. I really, really loved seeing this one hanging out for others to peruse. I wished so hard it would have been where I could have stood back a long ways and looked at it from different distances. The colors/values do the dance thing. They really do. It wasn't just my imagination or wishful thinking.
I think Sunburst was in the poorest lighting overall. Yes, it's the brand new finish and looks so much better in proper lighting. I'll give it a post all its own next week so you can see how good the Baptist Fan stitching looks and sigh with me over the sweet look to it. Am I on a sweet kick? It seems to be so. There are lurking questions about this quilt, things I might have done different, but overall, it was a good one to umm, not compare to others. Not quite as complex as it appeared all the while I was hand sewing it. Funny how time and 'distance' change our perspectives.
Hills and Valleys
And Hills and Valleys was the other one that I wiffle, waffled about entering into the show. Turns out the lighting was fine for it, just not for me, the picture taker. Mostly I just wanted to look at the texture of this quilt in a hanging up presentation. Great idea as I just stood in front and sort of soaked it all in. Honestly, I'm super happy with this quilt, and yes, it looks tremendously better in person. It's kind of crazy that this quilt was made by me. 5 years ago, this wasn't in my wheelhouse at all--something to feel very good about today as I considered my growth as a quilter.

Don't worry if you're scratching your head over my enthusiasm, I can't see you and won't get my feelings hurt a bit. The thing I learned today is that I am completely, unabashedly making the sort of quilts that make my heart go pitter patter. Sometimes I worry at some of the squirrels that crop up, but a lot of these tangents lead to wonderful surprises and fabulous interpretations--things we might never have explored if we stick to the plan.  Every single time I turned the corner and saw one of my quilts, it was like 'Well, hello old friend'. Makes the effort and anxiety totally worthwhile. It's so good to get validation once in awhile that we do have a style, a look, or even a muse that is personal and custom fitted to us. And you know what?

This year being in the minority with that sort of thing didn't even bother me one little bit. So my quilts are softer, more simplistic, scrappy and naive looking. So what! I enjoyed the entire quilt show! All those sharp looking, fancy machine quilted quilts just got a different part of my attention. Maybe I'm finally reaching adulthood in my quilting journey? Please don't answer that. Thanks to NCW Quilty Guild for being so welcoming! I'll probably be back next year with another stack....


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