Monday, December 30, 2019

Last Project for 2019

In June of 2019 we were issued an #ahiqflowers prompt that basically said, 'Make a flowery quilt--all design perimeters are up to you'. Well, since I make a lot of quilts with flowers popping up here and there, it actually felt like a pretty tough challenge. It took a long time to get started and then only progressed in fits and starts. So good to wrap up the year having this quilt top out of the way!
#ahiqflowers
I love to over analyze things and then unintentionally wade into really deep waters. It's a particular charm of Virgos. After envisioning all sorts of super complex ideas, I ditched all the crazy and settled onto making an interpretation of this scrappy, make-do quilt pictured below. As mentioned before, it's from the Kiracofe book, 'Unconventional and Unexpected'. Anytime I had ever flipped through the book, this quilt would catch my eye and that jumbled up LeMoyne star block in the bottom right {do you see it?} would want to stand out as a flower. Only it wasn't. But it could be with a little work, right? Easy, peasy.
#Unexpected&Unconventional quilt
Though the quilt looks deceptively simple with it's pour-out-the-scraps-from-the-scrap bin look, there's really nothing simple about it at all. Oh no. The color palette for one thing, is just all over the place. So many yellows and golds, clashing merrily with each other, muddy tans, strange gray fabrics and lots of murky blue/greens. And if that's not a strange enough combination, the obvious blues in the quilt are bright baby blues all the way to country blues. It's just odd. The pinks range from bubblegum to coral and then back to mauve. There's some lavender in to shake things up even more, and don't forget the in-your-face reds and then those greens and bright whites.

This was HARD for me to get a handle on until I finally started going through the stash totes color by color, pulling out anything and everything seemed likely for the quilt. Honestly, I didn't even really like the combination all that well. But whether they matched, clashed or sat in a big sulky pout, the fabrics needed to be settled in, nice and tight together, ready for me to reach in and say, 'eenie, meenie, miney, moe!' And boy, oh boy did it help to have that part out of the way. Sometimes it was a choice of 'this is better than that', but most of the fabrics ended up finding an important place in the quilt.
Starting to come together
During the first part of December, I had most of the left side of the quilt sewn together, and from the gray vertical divider strip over, was playing with a basic outline for the remaining vertical, pieced units. Up to that point, the picture in the book had been open for constant referencing. Though I didn't stick to the design 100%, it felt important to stick closely to it, in order to retain the look and feel of the original. When I got to that busy area around and above the LeMoyne Star, things got really hairy. Just too cluttered and well, ugly. Couldn't handle it at all.

Finally, I closed the book up and set it firmly aside. It was getting in the way of me truly 'seeing' the quilt which meant all decisions were becoming abnormally dissatisfying. I really had to take a big step back. Leave the quilt up on the wall and play with other things while 'thinking' about it. It only took a couple days, but helped enormously when I came back to fiddle again. And believe me, I didn't include the book from that point on unless I wanted to compare what was already sewn together with what the original maker had done. Then there was no 'Well, I should have done that.' It was more like, 'Hmm... that was an interesting difference.'
Finally seeing the foundation for the first flower
Back to the top I went and replaced fabrics here and there, cleaning things up, sewing unit by unit until I finally got down to the Star area again. All the darker greens were tossed, brighter pinks were included. The black and white piano key strip was moved up and changed to a vertical, rather than abutting horizontally into the Star area. {You can barely see it in the original photo, but it felt like important energy.} The base of the Star area was majorly cleaned up, but the area below needed a little more going on than the original photo indicated. I tried more piecing and another hst. It was painstaking, relentless, focus-till-your-eyes-burn sort of work. Late, late into the evenings.
The full finished quilt
The yellow flower ended up being appliqued onto red star background, with the extra red triangles appliqued onto the middle edges of the square after the entire vertical strip was sewn together. It felt kind of like cheating not to figure out a way to piece it, but finally I just threw up my hands and went with what felt obvious. And easy, lets not kid ourselves. But who really, truly cares how it goes together, the important thing is to bring it to the point of being together

The flower 'stem' was a random piece of fabric I had picked up off the floor. Yep, straight out of the junk pieces, a very thin cut-off from when I used the fabric earlier in the quilt. The curved edge {a remnant from some other completely different project} was absolutely perfect for the look I wanted. It sang to me in all it's unpretentious glory. Thankfully there was enough of that same exact fabric left to copy the cut-off and add the necessary seam allowance, as well as cut out a leaf and the flower center too. I was so, so glad, because nothing else would have worked nearly as well as that odd blue fabric with the yellow flowers. Perfect! How does that even happen with a quilt like this? 

All of that was stitched onto the quilt before the long pieced units were sewn together side by side. The bottom dark red fabric had to be ripped out and replaced with a longer piece of the same fabric later, when I ran into trouble finishing up the left side of the quilt. Just piece by piece, puzzling things out until it all made sense and flowed well together. If I stood back, looked, and something bothered me, I would go back and fiddle and fiddle until something looked better or yeah, it all looked a lot worse. lol  From a place of a lot worse, it had to start looking better eventually, right?
The extra flower
At some point after getting the yellow and red flower on the right figured out, I decided to play with some of the floral yellow diamonds abandoned for being too small. When I threw them over on the big gray chunk of fabric {a place that sucked up all the light in the quilt and annoyed me}, things started coming together very quickly. I mean seriously, it was like billboard shouting at me, 'Find the best eclectic mix of yellows and make it SCRAPPY!' And then it was hilarious, because I cut out the blue center fabric three times until I finally got it large enough to make the impression it was demanding. It was exhilarating, exacting. So very much fun. Yes! This quilt finally started making sense as regards to a 'Flower Challenge' too!
I think this flower is better than the other one...
I'll say it again. So much fun. I just love when incubation stops being stubborn and turns directly into illumination. It's the best part. The crazy thing is, sometimes you have to be DOING in order for it to happen properly. Which all just feels so silly, because how do we know what to do? Well, sometimes we won't actually know until it's happening and it's really just that simple and really just that complicated. Like getting to use more of that yellow texty fabric. I threw it out of the quilt, decided not to use it 'cuz it didn't look right. Yes, I had the sads about it. Then, in a blink of an eye, it was the only fabric that would work because it needed to be in the FLOWER. All of a sudden, it had a purpose.
Very scrappy
I don't regret following along with the book and starting out from a place of confidence. Knowing that up to that point, my interpretation looked strong. The original quilter made a striking quilt, what an honor to learn and gain from her creativity!

Starting out, I never did graph out the quilt for measurements or try to do anything other than guesswork at a finished size. Maybe that's insane, I don't really know, but it's how I have to work when it comes to improv. The entire quilt grew from the first older, cream, floral piece that I cut out and starting joining other pieces too. It felt marvelous to add in all the rest of that little bit of floral fabric until it was all gone too. It felt intentional and very personal. Just because I'm doing an interpretation doesn't mean this quilt can't reflect me!
That lavender stripe saved the day
The left side of the quilt was not completely angst free. The red and white column of rectangles was where I first realized that my measurements were not going to accurately reflect the original quilt. My oh my, what a shock! The rectangles ended up being much chunkier and shorter than they should have been. Did you even notice? There was a choice to be made right at that junction of the quilt. Make a shorter, fatter column of red/white or chop off some of the work that was already pieced to go well above. Hmm... Choices, choices. I chose to basically 'fake it'. The tall, skinny red/white piecing unit was thrown out and I played around with the adjoining fabrics, cheating here and there with proportion. When I got the correct amount of {wider} rectangles to fit into that area without an awkward 'flow', it felt like a victory. The design was well represented, but I didn't have to sacrifice any prior piecing or bits of color. I'm not even sure this quilt could be made without that very important focal point so it was absolutely worth the effort. Not all areas deserved that much time, so I worked out different sorts of compromises. Super easy in some ways. Mind boggling frustration in others!
The original floral square that started the entire quilt 'size'
There was also some fabric seam-ripped out at the bottom left to make way for some colors/fabrics to be introduced again. I can't help it, colors and values need to be well balanced in my quilts, that's just the way it is. Plus, the left corner of this quilt isn't cut off on an angle, so there was more piecing to be added into that area. Because the right side of the quilt was all but finished when I focused on the bottom left, there was a little, tiny, horizontal strip of fabric having to be added to even the length out on the left. You can probably barely see it in the 'full' pic of the quilt, but it was terribly irritating. I couldn't believe that I need literally 3/4" of an inch of fabric squeezed in, or face cutting off some very important {to me} small chunks of quilt balancing color.*grrr  I ended up cutting and piecing that skinny little length into four different pieces of fabric, three various creams and of course, one lonely piece of a red. Good redirect from the 'oops'! Such a forgiving quilt though. How could anyone ever tell where I cut too short or had to piece more in? It actually happened more than once. Shh...., don't tell!
Gonna be fun to hand quilt this one...
This entire quilt was sewn together with fabric pulled straight out the stash totes. Nothing was bought new for it and in some cases, I couldn't find a fabric light enough or dark enough etc. Maybe the fabric didn't quite have the proper 'vintage' vibe that I was looking for. Regardless, I just pulled from whatever was available, and it felt like this quilt almost thanked me for it. Like it honored the original intent of the quilt.

On that last vertical unit on the right side of the quilt, I almost dumped the stash totes upside down looking for something that would cooperate instead of the green that simply WAS NOT WORKING OUT. The blue/green plaid was serendipitous. Truly. Definitely not perfect, but close-enough to call good and just keep moving things along. That is probably the only area of the quilt that I worried and fretted about until everything was totally sewn together.*whew! It actually did do the job it was meant to do!

This ended up being a very intense quilt and I have to say, it felt absolutely wonderful to sit down and hand stitch the various parts of the flowers onto the quilt. I've noticed that before in other quilts where I add just a tiny bit of applique. After all that focus and seeing almost beyond what our eyes are reflecting back at us, it feels incredible to have quiet time using our hands, not the machine to do some of the work. It feels like paying respect to the quilt or maybe even signing our name in fabric. Saying, 'This is important. It really does matter.' What a fabulous challenge this turned out to be. Thanks again to Ann and Kaja for their thoughtful, interesting AHIQ prompts. I definitely feel more prepared to play with the the Scrap bin bits and pieces again! Okay, that's it. Last project for 2019!

12 comments:

  1. You've nailed it Audrey, and it all goes to show that improv is waaaaaay more complex than many give it credit for. I'm glad that you closed the inspiration book after a while - it frees you up to do your own thinking and not just make a replica.

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  2. wow - just keep pulling from the scraps - and I love the yellow star flowers you added

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  3. Me gustan mucho sus trabajos son una inspiración para mi
    ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

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  4. This is such a joyful quilt! And I love reading about your process, so relateable in the struggle to make your idea into reality using fabric.

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  5. A glorious finish to finish a year. The final applique makes this quilt. Thanks for your wonderful explanation of your process. Working through this without drafting a diagram or measuring amazes and inspires me. I can understand why you'd need to keep the book beside you for a while but also why you need to close it in order to finish your own work.
    Your work on this and all your other creations inspires us all. I'm looking forward to 2020. Can't wait to see what else you create.

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  6. Not only are you a creative quilter, you are a creative writer. You seem to pull words and phrases out of the blue, roll them around, and say the most tantalizing things. Your blog posts are a creative record of your work and thoughts.

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  7. I think you pulled it altogether. It's the perfect way to end the year!

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  8. Fun to follow you through the process of putting this quilt together. There is always so much more going on than it looks like when a piece is finished. The interesting thing is that when you see a scrap quilt like this, you kinda say to yourself, "I could make that." But, I realized after reading your post that I really couldn't make something like this. It is a totally different mindset and I don't think my mind works like yours. (which is a good thing for both of us) This little quilt turned out to be much more difficult than it looks. I love this interpretation of the floral prompt. Nice work!

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  9. What a terrific personal quilt! I love this- "Like it honored the original intent of the quilt."
    Happy New year!

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  10. Fun with color and design.
    Thanks for sharing your process and Happy New Year!

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  11. great year end finish project. I too over analyse. The foundation piecing is so fun

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  12. I just love those little checkerboard inserts! Happy new year!

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