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?


  1. Now I feel good about your 'feel goods'. Love them all - I couldn't pick a favourite.

  2. I loved this post. Your piles of fabric are lovely color studies. Occasionally I make stacks like that too. Maroon - ack! I have trouble finishing projects that are in colors/patterns I don't like. I hope you make marvellous quilts out of each one of your stacks.

  3. Such an enjoyable read Audrey! Love your fabric stacks, and yes as I was reading, I thought that a few stacks did look similer, but knowing you the quilts will be very different from each other! It's also how I tend to work too. It's a fun way to spend time and is all part of getting the right mix! And it feels so good to end up making something from some of my hoarded prints.

  4. My favorite stacks are 4 and 8..but they are all so rich with possibilities...I think your "stack" idea is very creative...doing preparatory fabric pulls is a super way to spark ideas...
    (I love maroon with blues lol)hugs, Julierose

  5. What a glorious post! I felt like we were right there in your quilt space, enjoying everything you were throwing at us!

  6. To misquote Oliver Twist - "Please, ma'am, I want some more." Posts like these explaining the nuts and bolts of your design process are food for the creative soul. I always started with a pattern or idea and then tried to make my stash pulls fit in. Too often the results are disappointing, and I'm definitely going to try your way Pulling from stash first and letting the combos lead the way make perfect sense.

  7. Your right. These delicious fabric stacks would not have come together in a single moment in time. You have 13 stacks of beautiful colors and textures and patterns waiting for their turn to send you down the happy road of creativity.

  8. Once again, you have me whirling and itching to start something new! I so enjoy reading about your creative process. I tried to pick a favorite stack, but I just couldn't. I know something fantastic will come out of each and every one. One of my goals for the coming year is to be more reckless with fabrics I might not like on their own, but scream to be added to the mix. Thanks for inspiring me to try!

  9. Oh my goodness! What a glorious post! I, too, create fabric pulls from the stash and revisit them every so often to see if I'm still in love with the mixes (with lots of written notes, photos, etc. tucked in my online photo album AND in the hard-copy paper folder I create for each hare-brained idea I come up with. And then, like this past few weeks, the files get sorted, the stacks of fabrics are edited, some potential projects stay, others are combined into a different approach, and some are scuttled entirely and sent back to the stash. SO much fun, so liberating to be able to shop and work from the stash without having to shop, and it's all free (cost and calories). Loving some of your fabric groups -- the ancient one and a couple of the others set my heart to pitter-pattering. Thank you for sharing these - so good to know there are kindred spirits alive and well in blog-land! ( and I DO adore your basket quilt in the hoop!! )

  10. I always enjoy reading your post and seeing your photos. You have a lovely way with color. Thank you for showing how you create stacks and work from there!

  11. Your basket print is so pretty. I learned a lot in this post. I like the idea of making backings ahead of time, since that is the stage where some of my quilts are stuck. Also, I have fabric stacks too and don't like the idea of putting them away by color, which is how I store my fabrics officially. I like the idea of taking pictures of them before I break them apart, because the combination of the fabrics in the stack gets lost when they are sorted by color.

  12. I'm SO looking forward to seeing what you turn these stacks into! Such a variety of colorplays, and they all say 'Audrey'!
    You work so differently than I do - it's always fascinating to me to watch your process. Thank you for all that you share - so eye-opening and inspirational!

  13. Wow that was fun seeing how you stack things up! Thanks for letting us peak over your shoulder! So glad to hear that your hoop quilting makes you *happy*.... that's what it's all about!

  14. We all do it, don't we? This morning I was making small star blocks to finish up the lower border for the Sweet Land of Liberty SAL quilt. I found a deep blue piece of fabric that had been hidden in the bottom of the bin of pulled material. I immediately thought,"Oh, this will go with that stack of fabric I'm accumulating (for some unknown project). It has that vintagey (SP) feel." So I carefully made the star block using as little of that fabric as I could. I love the mood of your #10 stack. Your post makes me want to go pull everything out to see how many stacks I have and to revisit those lovely fabrics.

  15. Audrey, thank you for this informative look inside how you make choices about the quilts you make. It helped me!

  16. Be still my heart! Wishes DO come true! This will be one post that I keep coming back to for inspiration. Thank you.

  17. Thanks for the update. I've been out of blog-reading for several days, but today I thought, "I need some Audrey." And there you were!

  18. Oh goodness what a post!!! I'm not surprised Basket Love is calling out to you, it certainly is to me, those colours are stunning.
    Your photos of the fabric stacks have gotten me all excited, what a good idea to photograph them, they are beauties and your thoughts and reasonings are such interesting reading. I'll be going over this post again!!

  19. Interesting! Especially since I don't use the stack method to start a quilt. (Maybe I should from the looks of some of my kitchen sink quilts). I'll take stacks six and eight if you get sick of looking at them! I'm looking forward to what is created from each stack.

  20. Also I wanted to say, I like working with a variety of colors and combinations, but I also enjoy working "in series." Early last year I made a pink and brown Delectable Mountains medallion quilt, wasn't satisfied with the balance (way too pink!) so followed it up with a pink and brown 6-sided star medallion. I was much happier with the color balance and was still enjoying working with the colors, so I made 120 or more flying geese with fabric that was still out, intending to make a strip quilt. That supposed strip quilt turned into my old schoolhouse quilt, having added in a lot of red and a bit of teal. And the rest of the flying geese, along with red borders, became a lap quilt. So 4 "pink and brown" quilts in a couple of years. Now I've worked with that enough for a while, but it won't surprise me if I cycle back through it someday.

  21. I never see that basket quilt as dark; to me it's always gloriously bright.
    What fun to see all your stacks. I used to make those but found I had so much fabric in stacks, it constrained new ideas. I didn't "borrow" from the stacks like you. A couple of years ago I put them all back in the stash. Perhaps that's why I start with the scrap bag now - I can pull all I want and don't feel there's too much out.
    Beautiful fabric groups. I'll look at these again and again when I start the next few.

  22. This was fun to read. Thanks for sharing your photos and processes. Very inspirational to hear your in progress and unquilted project count, also, as I only have 6 unquilted tops right now. I thought that was a lot.

  23. Aren't the colours on Basket Love stunning, they combine the best of summer ending and the beginning of autumn. My favourite stacks were #2 and #6.

  24. What a fun scroll through your fabric stacks, Audrey. I have to say, I'm in awe of all the different fabrics you have. It seems like a huge selection with great variety. I better keep buying....

  25. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I haven't found a way to organize my fabrics that works. Putting stacks together sounds interesting. I do buy similar colors of fabrics. Then there are the odd ones that really caught my eye. They don't fit my usual palette but could really spice up a dull group. I can see that "Stacks" can be a path towards interesting quilts and be ready to cut when inspiration "ripens". Lots to think about.

  26. Like you, I start with a fabric pull, but my method is slightly different, in that I make two, maybe three pulls, decide which one to go with but don't save the others. Now you have me thinking that maybe I should. It's always interesting to get nuts and bolts posts and I hope it's been useful for you too. I'm a big fan of your moody baskets!

  27. What a great post, Audrey, an interesting take on organizing the stash. You have so much beautiful fabric...I am envious. My someday list includes the same quilts, btw.

  28. Upon perusing this post for the 3rd (4th?) time, I am beginning to wonder how you have any fabric left in your totes?! Also, I smile to myself as I pick out a few fabrics that we both own...I Must have good taste if we are using the same fabrics!


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