Monday, August 5, 2019

Start With the Foundation and Then I'll Work My Way Into the Details

I finally dove into applique prep like I've been threatening to do for weeks now. The brand new project, inspired by the fabulously creative Jane Ormes, was a dig-deep-and-see-how-seriously-you-want-to-do-this type of project. Jane had responded very kindly to my request, to try and interpret one of her prints into a quilt, which honestly kind of shocked me.
Freezer paper templates ready to go
I figured it would be an 'Absolutely Not! How about a restraining order?', but no, she was very, very nice about it and even thanked me for asking! This particular print, 'Elephantjunglematissetypething!' might seem like an odd choice, but I'm so in love with the leaves and flowers. Wonderfully whimsical. It feels like something that would continually result in feel-good endorphins while working through the stitching. Ha! Not at the start though. I spent almost 3 hours just on drawing the leaves. Erasing and drawing and erasing some more. They will not be exact, but I wanted the vibe to be very, very similar. 
Still wondering if I have what it takes to include the elephant!
Once again I don't intend to go out and buy any fabric but will try and make-do from the stash totes. Luckily I had a piece of white fabric that seemed plenty large enough. Unbelievably, it still worked when I had to throw all of my painstaking measurements out the window and start over. Yep. Just had to piece every iota of the yardage together and try to make it as large as possible. Yikes! Now my stomach is feeling a bit queasy as I never, ever intended for the background to be 68".*sigh  Plus, there's a seam right through the middle-ish of the quilt. After spending that much time on the leaves, I knew there would be no going back and trying to re-draw them in a smaller size. And, I love, love, love the larger size. They just look amazing already!
Getting started with placement for reverse applique
Many of you are probably squirming just from looking at all the rumpled fabric, but this is the wrong blog to be coming to for immaculate quilting projects or stunningly arranged quilt pictures.I slog away at the details and iron when I have to. Take pictures only when it seems necessary to keep up with the blog.

The background above? I was in a hurry and pushed for time. Ended up sewing the two large pieces of yardage together without measuring, cutting and pinning. Just sewed them together and then... just sat and looked at the rippled seam. Gag. Ughh. Agghh! How does that even happen after 20+ years of sewing? So out came the seam ripper and of course a little pity party. {Again, how badly do I want to make this quilt?} So yes, it does and will lay flat. NOW. But go ahead and judge me if it makes you feel better.*wink
All the rows are ready for initial applique stitching
The baskets are all ready to go for the Patchwork Garden quilt too. They are all some shade of navy and though this isn't the best picture, I am enthralled with the color palette thus far. A couple of the baskets are folded down at the top as everything possible will be appliqued into place per row before starting to join a couple rows. Step by step is how it goes and as always, I will be adding more of the applique details as each phase progresses. So very difficult to do hand work on a large background. Which is exactly why the previous quilt is a bit of a problem even before getting started!
Failed flower block #1
Another project that has been seeing a little bit of attention is the AHIQflowers invitational. I had this flower applique quilt in mind that for some reason made me think that all the flowers could be machine pieced. After playing around with several ideas, using scraps from the scrap bin, I ditched all the potential flowers. I don't want to spend a hundred hours making something 'not quite good enough'.
Failed flower block #2
I give up. The only look that will truly make me happy is if they are all appliqued. Do I really need another major applique project right now?  Plus, none of it seemed very improv.-y to me which feels strange knowing that the AHIQ is usually all about improv.  What really interests me right now is recreating old utility style quilts.
Failed flower block #3
So I just chucked all the previous play, ideas and assumptions and went straight to my favorite book 'Unconventional and Unexpected' by Roderick Kiracofe. What say? Anything there to make me start thinking about flowers in an intriguing way?
The new stack of fabric! Kind of a weird blue
for me to be working with....
Oh yeah. The quilt below, which is just a jumbled up mix of shapes and cast-off fabrics jumped right out at me. See the lemoyne star shape in the far right bottom corner? That's gonna be my flower right there, some how, some way. The entire quilt will be a huge improv. puzzle of sorts and that easily, the decision was made!
Unconventional and Unexpected quilt
I have friends who definitely don't understand my desire to recreate weird, scrap bin style, utility quilts. They might even worry about me a little. It's perfectly okay. Us quilters know good and well that the time to make a quilt is the time when it lights all of our fuses on fire. Not tomorrow or the next day. Does anyone understand the entirety of how inspiration works? There's a lot of books out there, but nothing definitive.
Closer look at the future flower inspiration
What I do know is this, whatever we make today, undeniably informs what we make tomorrow. In the process of [happily} following our muse, we can make something very personally compelling and then that can and will usually help generate enthusiasm for whatever the next project might be. See how this works? We don't have to understand all the whys and wherefores. We just have to make sure that the logical side of our brain doesn't succeed in drowning out our muse and stifling new growth. 

This quilt won't be an exact duplicate either. Close perhaps. Is an exact replica even possible? And more importantly, what are the benefits to stressing ourselves out attempting to? Mostly I just intend to eyeball things {skip the math} and try to make a single row before moving on the next. At most I hope to create a quilt that gives off the same kind of spunky 'I am good enough', 'I am not ashamed of being humble', or 'I am worthy' vibe. Wish me luck!


  1. Omigosh - you are SO singing my song! (What really interests me right now is recreating old utility style quilts.) I just went through all of my projects and figured out which one will be what (at least for the next 10 minutes) and so many of them are vintage and/or utility inspired! Love your plan for AHIQ Flowers -- looking forward to watching ALL of these unfold.

  2. WOW! Your Jane Ormes print looks like something you would have designed - no wonder you love it. You are off to a great start - can't wait for the next installation.

  3. We just have to make sure that the logical side of our brain doesn't succeed in drowning out our muse and stifling new growth.

    I'm going to print this and hang it on my design wall! So much truth here, and I absolutely love the quilt from the print but may have laughed out loud at the mention of a restraining order.

    Thanks for being so wonderfully you!

  4. Love the quirky quilt in the UandU book, looking forward to seeing your take on it. Actually, I'm looking forward to seeing how all these develop! The inspirational matisse type of fabric is too cute!

  5. So much to like here. What fun to recreate these Matisse-y leaves/flowers in reverse applique. And the size is perfect. In your patchwork garden, I love the way you offset your rows and make the baskets so many different sizes.
    Then I laughed at your flowers. I start with applique ideas and then toss them in disgust to return to piecing. Mirror image twins... except your work is so exciting.

  6. Interesting new projects, and love to see them develop.

  7. go or it and you will do it. row by row I like that. I had found a photo of a quilt I like and it gave me ideas, I didn't want it to be the same and it isn't -- love how your ideas develop

  8. Once again, you have my creative juices flowing! It is refreshing to hear Jane's response to you and if it helps at all, I had never heard of her and probably wouldn't have if it weren't for you and now she has a new fan. Her work is amazing! Can't wait to watch this one progress. And as for that last one, I am in love with all things scrappy and weird and I know you will nail this one! Have fun!

  9. I love your elephantjungle... idea and what you've done so far. And what a nice response from Jane Orme. And, yes, you do have what it takes to include the elephant.

    I'd have to include those pieced flowers in the made fabric for the U&U quilt.

    You are working on some winners! (as usual).

  10. Wahoo! The quilting motivation train is in the station. This is going to be a fun improv quilt! Love your fern-like leaves. I hope you don't get discouraged appliqueing on that big piece. I've done applique on a finished quilt top before and while awkward, it wasn't terrible. The basket quilt colors are charming. I appliqued a flower block last night thinking it might work for the current improv. It's my flower block fail #1. I'm in the rethinking stage. It was fun to read your blog today (as usual).

  11. Beautiful post as always and very inspiring. I've made myself a note to go back and read it again tomorrow. I had never heard of Jane Ormes, I can see why you are enamored with her work. What a kind response to your request.


  12. Audrey, this is exactly why I get excited when I see a new post from you. So much substance as you share your inspirations and creative attempts with fabric. I just love it.

  13. Your blog posts are so fun to read. Your thought processes are so uniquely your own and not the same thing everybody else is doing. I am FINALLY shipping off your box of fabric. I was kind of hesitating because although I tried to put fabrics that you told me you were on the lookout for, I didn't very much care for a lot of them. But then looking at the fabrics you use to create your improv creations, some of those fabrics on their own are pretty darn ugly but when part of a whole become something special! So I am hoping that you will find a use for some of what I am sending you.

  14. I can easily see why you chose that print to inspire your quilt. It is a wonderful whimsical design and it will make a great quilt too! And I love the last quilt! I love a the little surprises in those kinds of quilts! I have that book I need to get it out and look through it again! Thanks!

  15. Your creative style and imagination help many of us to spark our own creativity and imagination. Thank you.

  16. Oh goodness, you are just as busy as ever Audrey!! I adore your new project and am so looking forward to seeing you develop this beauty. The Unconventional and Unexpected
    quilt is beautiful and a great idea to take inspiration from one of the components.

  17. This year I started playing around with a huge (to me) stash of leftover pieces of fabric some quilting friends gave me over the years. I use a lot of white or off white in my quilts, and found that I love to be creative without a pattern. I found my style, I just never knew that it has a name, Improv! Thanks for your inspiration!!


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