Tuesday, February 27, 2018

February Adhoc. Improv. Play

The next AHIQ challenge is an interesting one. It's all about playing with scale--in whatever manner we'd like to interpret. I've been contemplating the idea of making a quilt with rows of simple blocks and/or shapes. Something in subdued colors and just playing with value changes to see if I could make something with an antique 'utility' look.
Playing with Scale--The start
It was an obvious choice for incorporating scale changes as I already had the fabric pull and rows can be easily tweaked for size. As I went digging for inspiration, I kept coming back to the idea of having a centerpiece though. There's something about the idea of a pretty center with radiating piecework that just appeals to me. So of course it had to be applique. Everything lit up when I saw this on my Pinterest boards {sorry Lori for not linking directly to the pertinent post}.
Sewing together the foundation piece
So as things go when we're making things up as we go along, I doodled some quick ideas until one looked about right. Not an exact copy, but something with similar vibes! Then it was time to start making the drawing happen in fabric. I started with rows of small strings or coins for the background. Just a mellow blend of sagey greens and a piece of cream/black toile. I deliberately left the middle of the foundation free of pieced units as I didn't want to cut any of that fabric out of the back of my applique. It's really not large enough, but I also needed enough foundation to securely sew the applique 'circles' to.

To get the appropriate sizes for the applique, I re-drew my doodle drawing onto a perfectly sized piece of freezer paper. Then I carefully cut out each circle, ironed it onto the chosen fabrics and cut out with plenty of seam allowance--especially the inside brown circle as it's easy to move overlay applique a little too far in one direction or another. At that point, I sewed the outside seam of the brown applique with a quick straight stitch on the sewing machine. Who cares. Nobodys ever gonna see that seam! I trimmed the pink circle a little bit, especially at the bottom where it was too flat looking and hand stitched the outside edge of the circle. I cut the cream {applique foundation} circle out and carefully slipped it inside and underneath the brown circle. And yes, I deliberately chose a fabric with a smaller scale of print! Ooh... gotta love layers of interest!

And so I stitched the brown circle to the cream applique background and then the pink circle to the brown circle. On and on until it was time to cut out my flower pieces, still from that same freezer paper drawing! {So efficient!} It was tough on my fingers stitching over areas with seamed rows, but like I said, NOT going to cut the background out on this one. Too much fear of raveling. It's a good start to my 'playing with scale' quilt and for now I'm mentally calling it 'The Quiet Quilt', the centerpiece notwithstanding.  Lots of the fabric pull are soft, quiet and a little blendy. We'll see where it goes from here. At some point I definitely intend to start with some vertical rows, but just had to establish the beginnings to get a feel for the rest!
Adding some applique details
I was hoping to be farther along with the Vintage Lily quilt, but these snowball blocks have been soooo tedious to sew. Easy as pie, but just yawn inducing. All are sewn now, but next up is the ironing and trimming.*ughh  Not my favorite part of the quilting process! Robin is doing something similar with her scale challenge, so it should be interesting to see both of our quilts progress. My snowballs are a little different than hers as I wanted the corners on mine to end up looking very scrappy and a bit messy. You might remember the look from my Scrappy Tulips finish?
Improv. Snowball blocks for Vintage Lily
So the other adhoc. improv. work in progress are these postage stamp baskets. Originally I had plans to mix them with my pineapple applique, but that flew out the window in a hurry. These baskets are just a little too strong to mix with sweet looking applique shapes. First I laid them out next to each other and tried every which way to be happy with the look. I'm certainly intrigued at the intersection where each basket joins up, but it's so not me. It just feels like a waste of all that time I spent stitching on the basket handles!
Improv. Postage Stamp Baskets
On to other plans! There's not much I can do to make these look more like basket blocks and less like loops with stripey corner units. I contemplated adding 'feet' to the basket like someone suggested the other day, but it just made a muddle at the point where the baskets met. There's probably oodles of different things that could be done with these basket blocks, but what appeals to me right now is giving them lots of breathing room.
Auditioning a layout
So yep. The're going to get the good old, classic sashing treatment. Kind of a fall back around here, but when you like something, there's not point in trying to reinvent the wheel! I cut up all the rest of the pale background fabrics {had barely enough} and started auditioning placement. Two brighter blocks got tossed out immediately and the rest seem to be cooperating. For now, I'm using little fussy cut roses I cut out of a fat quarter for all those inside sashing squares. There's not enough for the outside squares, so that and the setting triangle fabric still remain a mystery. 

Overall, I'm quite pleased with where this quilt is headed though I admit to being a wee bit disappointed when the original plain went south. It's not a bad thing to be surprised by a quilts independence though. Just makes us more determined to try and get it right! Linking with Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #30. Are you having fun yet? 'Cuz I certainly am.....


  1. I like these projects, very different and the colours in the Improv Postage Stamps quilt is perfect - my favourite colour!

  2. What a varied collection of projects. I like your appliqué centre block on the "coins" background, but what a work to put it together. Thanks for the tip though regarding avoiding cutting away the coins behind the appliqué.

  3. Mixing the large scale print with several olive fabrics both blends and contrasts the Coin background. Always admire your oversized flower appliques. Thanks so much for explaining your process.
    You and Robin have some exciting snowballs building - just in time for spring. Not only do we get to watch you build yours but we also get to see how you both work with them.
    Your baskets are the perfect lesson in letting the quilt speak rather than forcing the original idea.
    Thanks for linking another insightful post with AHIQ.

  4. Audrey, I love your blog, though I do not think I have ever taken the time to write and tell you. I enjoy your style, your words, your photos, your attention to detail to share the path with us. I can still tear up when I recall the post about the fire quilt and it hanging in the back of the show. Your style is beautiful, distinct and speaks to me. I love quilt reference books and bring home all that I find. Do you have New Discoveries in American Quilts, Robert Bishop? (1975) I just picked it up and there is a quilt in there from 1865 (est.), it has your name written all over it. It could have just come out of your hoop. I immediately said "Audrey"! I'd love to share a photo of this page with you but I couldn't find your email address anywhere.
    Fondly, Rondi

    1. I want to see the picture too. Maybe Audrey will post it for us all.

  5. I like the shape of the "oval" that your applique flower is sitting on. Freeform. You have such a way with doing that. The neutral rectangles is a good backdrop for the bright oval shape.

  6. I like your thinking! The combination of the sage greens and the toile is lovely: restful but still interesting, and it makes a great background for the applique. It can be disappointing when a quilt won't let you do what you wanted, but the sashing works beautifully - I like that you are using more than one fabric for it too. And for me it feels like that mix of improv and something very traditional makes a perfect Audrey quilt.

  7. I am intrigued by your snowball blocks. Had you posted about these before? If so, I missed them. And I appreciate your dilemma with the baskets. I would be tempted to try a straight set column layout with vertical sashings just to see how it looks. Or maybe incorporate the word baskets in the borders ...

  8. Love your description of the basket blocks as "loops with stripey corner units"! I like the sashy setting - especially all the different pale background fabrics!

  9. I love the toile with the sage greens. It is just so soothing and would be pretty even if it didn't get to frame something. But, you've come up with a lovely focal point. I think the sashing is the perfect solution. Using the soft beige colors makes the baskets do what you intended them to - sparkle!

  10. Your mind must be swirling. Lots of fun things to work on and to figure out. That's the fun part of the journey.

  11. So interesting the way you approached building your "cameo" quilt center - cameo is the first thing that came to mind when I saw the first photo. The sashings add coherence to the postage stamp baskets and let each of the blocks shine on its own. They look happy now ;-)

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  13. corrected comment: Hi! I am so glad you separated the Baskets from the Pineapples. To make the Baskets look baskety I still am with my original butt in advice to cut each set of 4 baskets apart and mix them all up, reassemble with narrow sashing, no cornerstones.

    lizzy lizzzz.d@gmail.com


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