Monday, April 6, 2020

One Stitch At a Time

So, even with all the stress and concerns of late, there are two new finishes around here. Funny how the finishes can be so far apart and then on occasion, somehow land on the same week. The first one 'Vintage Coxcombs', was started sometime in 2016 when I couldn't stand it any longer. Just needed to start a sunburst style applique block quilt with vaguely coxcomb details. No official pattern use, just something that I drew up from all sorts of inspiration seeds and cobbled together into a desired look.
Vintage Coxcombs is a completion!
These colors remind me of the Brachs Napoleon coconut candies that we loved to eat as kids and so for me, this has always been a feel-good sort of quilt. Though some have commented before about the black in this quit, it's actually all brown {some very deep, dark browns}, but no black fabric used at all. Quite a few of the backgrounds used in these blocks are a mix of at least two different fabrics, some with more. It's a subtle make-do look, but one that makes me smile.
It's all done...
I machine quilted in the ditch along-side of all the sashing, then came back and hand quilted the applique and hsts in the border. It probably could have used a little bit extra quilting around the stars, but I just wasn't feeling it. This is a very sweet looking but not-so-sweet-it-makes-your-teeth-hurt sort of quilt and an excess of quilting would have {probably} bridged the gap between cozy looking and too formal for everyday. At least that's what I'm telling myself. It sounds good in theory!
Loving the applique shapes...
I have determined that the sashing fabric used in this quilt might as well be used as a color catcher. Just cut it up into squares and throw it in with all my quilt washing efforts. This is the second quilt that it has managed to soak up some of the floating fugitive dyes, while other light colored fabric in the same quilt remain unaffected. It didn't totally ruin the look of this quilt, but it definitely dulled it just a bit. There is about half a yard or so of it left and I'm very seriously considering throwing it into the trash. What an awful fabric!

Another thing that happened with this quilt is that I didn't feel comfortable cutting away the background to all the stars. On the pieced background blocks I went ahead and left the fabric behind thinking it'd be safer not to weaken the seams by cutting away behind. This caused a different kind of bleeding effect in three different blocks {with the same fabric used in the problematic sashing areas and one other light colored fabric from the same exact line}. What happened was that brown/purple dye looked like it actually got trapped between the background fabric and lighter star circle and never properly released into the soaking water. There's a 'ring' of dye instead of a light rinse throughout. It's very faint, but oh so obvious if you're looking. Which I was! I soaked the quilt for a very long time and never managed to get all that bleeding dye out. So disappointing.

Don't feel sorry for me though. These are good things to know {change next time} and like I've said lots of times before, I'd much, much rather this happen to me than anyone whom I'd ever gift my quilts to. Another reason that I'm spending so much time these days pre-soaking buckets of fabric before even cutting into the pieces and starting the journey toward making a quilt! Hopefully the day will come when all this angst will be a thing way in the past! Plus, it didn't really, truly ruin this particular quilt. I pouted about it all one night and then looked at it again the next day in the harsh daylight hours. Could obviously never hang it in a show, but I could still probably gift it to the right person who might not even care....
Glad that I ended up making a border for this one...
The second quilt that was finished up this past week was 'Shimmer'. It looks ever so much better as a completed quilt top than it did as a partially finished quilt top!
Shimmer is a finish too!
This striking pattern is by Diane Knott out of her 'Strip Quilt Secrets' book. I would never have come up with something this complex and organized! It took me a long time to power through because it appears that following a pattern is not my strong suit. I grumble and gripe and generally have a terrible time bonding with something that is telling me what to do. Ha! I can hear you all laughing at me. What did I expect huh? I have definitely got into the habit of making things up as I go along and start feeling very boxed in when there seems to be no proper room to maneuver!
Took a chance on a very light colored biding
I did make a few changes in the coloring of the quilt, of course, which stressed me out during the sewing of the quilt. Oh no! I ruined it!! lol  My light-medium colored purples initially appeared mushy looking and not nearly as sharp as was needed in order to hold the clearly defined design together. In the finished whole, it seems like a dumb thing to be anxious about but you just never know, right? By choosing medium colored fabrics in those areas instead of distinctly dark/bold colors {suggested in the pattern} it subtlety softened the transition of the design into those creamy white areas. Which is what I was initially striving for, and then was left worried sick that there was no delineation whatsoever. That I blew the whole thing! Diane's pattern has a fun, modern feel to it. What I was hoping/wishing for, was more of a focus on the scrappiness vibe overall {instead of that clear design}. I even half dared to hope that perhaps an old fashioned charm could make itself known in those areas where the design 'line' was purposefully broken down. Oh the perils of being independent minded and taking color risks!
Looking cozy!
Anyone that has followed me for any length of time knows that I make quilting decisions by instinct or by 'gut'. That's just how I roll. The quilting police can go take a hike and patterns/planned ideas are just a suggestion. This quilt has been a problem child all along as every single step has seemed to caused me to second guess. The final issue was that I had very definite plans to machine quilt it. Based on the overall design of the quilt, hand quilting seemed like a waste of time and who wants to toil over a quilt for hours and hours and hours and not see the quilt properly soak up the texture? Then I changed plans mid-stream {very impulsively}, and found myself with a quilt in the hoop that was making me feel very grumpy. 
Glad this one is behind me!
Now that it is completely, totally finished, I can clearly see that my instincts were actually steering me right.*whew!  A very light colored binding on to further lighten the vibe of the quilt, the stitching texture almost embedded in the background of the quilt, this quilt now has a very, very quiet joy. How could I have ever predicted that outcome? How does that even happen? Something was just telling me, {insisting actually} that I make that effort. That my friend would appreciate it, might even need it during these trying times.

No, this was not FUN to hand quilt. I much prefer to see instant gratification, which is what's happening with the quilt below {next up in the hoop}. Unfortunately that's not the way it's always going to be with our quilting. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy? Sometime we have to deliberately step out on the limb of unknown, unverifiable, crazy-obsessive-down-to-that-stupid-nit picky detail, and just TRUST. Say, 'Okay! I believe that everything my logical brain is telling me is WRONG' and then just go with our gut. Do it. Or you'll never get any better! Be as grumpy and negative about it as it takes to hedge against the potential outcome of disappointment. And be sure and finish! 15 minutes at a time, whatever it takes, just never give up until it's done, done, done! That's where personal satisfaction and 'voice' come into play with quilting, don't kid yourself. It's not that things are always easy or confidence is rife on the ground and there are NO doubts. It's simply doing the 'right' thing even if you don't know why that one thing is so very important!
Next up in the hoop
So yes, I really felt that the next quilt should be the instant gratification type. I've already stitched up two sets of log cabin blocks and can already feel myself melt into the hoop each night.
Quarter Log Cabin #1
These days of uncertainty and not sleeping well at night are the pits. Hoping that all are well and getting some respite with their current quilting efforts! The color therapy and stitching efforts definitely do me a world of good as per my general mood and level of grouchiness, I'm guessing it helps most of you too. I have to admit to not being the most patient of people and really, what choice do we have right now? Just can't think about it too much or it overwhelms me. At least we can take a walk outside here in our area and get a dose of fresh air whenever needed. Our state is on week 3 with 4 more to go. Yeehaw. Maybe if we could find some flour, I'd start baking more? Just haven't had the motivation quite yet. Want to bet there's gonna be some Covid-19 weight loss measures in place for most of us later in the year too?


  1. Two lovely finishes--funny how some quilts become problem children (I think of my quilts as my children really now that my children are raising children of their own).
    Anyway, I love the Vintage one a lot...and I canNOt follow a pattern to the nth degree either...I always vary it somehow--and not always to the good I fear...that being said...I keep on keeping on my own road...
    having fun and flopping sometimes...~ ~ ~ waving from Julierose :)))

  2. Congratulations on two beautiful finishes. ;^)

  3. I really like that first quilt - so very nice! the others are good to but that first one looks like one I would make LOL :)

  4. You’re really firing! Well done 👏👏

  5. I just love your cockscomb quilt, Audrey. So many things to love... the vintage look, the happy motifs, the mint green, and (of course) the brown! It feels so calming to me, I could just cuddle right up in it.

  6. Oh the quilt in the hoop, I love it! And the quilts you have finished are good, I like the one with the sun/stars best of both of them. But what a pity the colours bled. Hope all the pre soaking helps to prevent that happening in the future. Warm greetings

  7. Love the shape and colors of the Coxcomb plus the scrappy brown backgrounds. I think the quilt is sweet despite its issues. Your problem child seems to have grown up nicely. Shimmer looks pretty good!

  8. Loving your Shimmer finish. So much depth and texture the quilting adds. Coxcomb has always been a favorite too, I love how you're able to combine so many diverse fabrics into a cohesive beautiful finish. That's an art in itself.

  9. All your lovely quilts have raised my spirits, even if two finishes at a time puts me to shame. I like your words about following our gut feelings very much - sometimes it seems like so much extra work, but it's always worth it in the end.

  10. Coxcombs made a wonderful finish. Congratulations. I'd get rid of the fabric that collects dye, too. Make it into masks or the ties for masks. Then you'll never use it again and it will do some good for a change. Bwaahaha. That'll teach it.

  11. Hi Audrey, Just read your last two posts. Enjoyed them very much as always. I'm getting repetitive but I do love everything you stitch. I particularly love that tulip you are working with. Is there a pattern anywhere for that? I looked at the link...lots of inspiration there but I didn't see a tulip as such. Yes, we are all coping in our own way but it is not my new normal yet.

  12. The coconut candy is a perfect description for the colors in your quilt. I never have liked the taste of that candy but they are pretty to look at.

  13. Audrey I thin k this lockdown is playing havoc with my brain!! I read this post but obviously totally forgot to leave a comment. Well it's so unusual for me to say I like a brown quilt - but not this time, I love the look and your beautiful hand quilting.
    You have such an interesting setting with Quarter Square Log Cabin and I;m waiting to see how you decide to quilt this one.

  14. So annoying about the color catcher fabric! I'd say toss it!
    What fun quilts and so exciting to have 2 recent finishes!!
    I'm extremely grateful we can still get outdoors. Many trailheads are closed, but many are open if you know how to find them. LOL

  15. Love both your finished quilts! I'm envious of all that hand quilting you do! 'Brown' is making a comeback! It's a colour that I'm loving more & more lately.

  16. Oh my goodness, that Shimmer is so amazingly 'you' and I just love it. I've been considering doing one in neutrals and now I don't think I can avoid it! Thanks for the inspiration!


I love getting comments and always try to respond via email. If you aren't getting replies back from me, try leaving your email address within the comment. Due to Blogger changes, I've heard that some people aren't able to leave comments here at all. In that case, you can always email me at audkateaster at gmail dot com if you'd like and I'll respond from there. Thanks so much for visiting!