Thursday, February 25, 2021

Here a Little, There a Little...

This is kind of a catch-up post. There's been a lot going on at the home front which made it seem like I didn't have time to blog. Then I had too much to post about so it really felt like there wasn't proper time and well, yeah. Vicious cycle. 

Adhoc. Hourglass project about ready for takeoff

All the applique is finished up on the latest tulip blocks. They are trimmed as are the hourglass sashing units. Things are ready to roll in terms of layout if I could find available floor space. Should I just make an appointment? 

Next up for applique was the 'quick' word addition to Ormes Inspired. It is progressing at a very plodding rate. Who's idea was it to cut the letters out of Batik fabric? Huh? Such a difficult fabric to work with when doing needle-turn applique. The fabric is a very tough weave which always destroys my fingers at the point where I'm sewing the corners of letters. Trying to ram the needle through the extra layers is killer. And really, it's very slow overall because the needle doesn't properly glide through the weave like is optimum. You constantly have to make an effort, push, push, pushing which absolutely takes away from the enjoyable aspect of applique! As you can see, it is very close to being finished, but alas, I abandoned it once again in disgust and frustration. Bah! Beautiful fabric or no, this was a bad idea from the get-go. Please don't give me wonderful advice about using a thimble. I've tried. Believe me I've tried. Yes it saves my fingers a little tiny bit. But it's awkward and even more time consuming, not to mention extremely annoying

Getting there, slowly but surely....

No surprise that once again I sabotaged the get-through-the-ufo-list and jumped into a brand new project. So nonsensical {and unrealistic} to think I won't be running full speed ahead into something brand new when there is crushing mental fatigue from difficult projects.*wink  Plus, Sharon mentioned that she had 125!! ufo's so now I'm feeling pretty awesome about my own list! Finishing up the tulip blocks felt like a finish, okay? That's pretty much all the justification needed. This particular fabric has been sitting on the counters for wow, almost three years now? Not really sure, but whenever I think they are well past their inspiration prime, I get to feeling this little bit of longing to make another cheddar quilt. Okey dokey. The fabric has spoken.

The start of new project

One random night while I was casting about for something to chain piece {knowing I didn't have the mental fortitude to properly measure things}, this project struck my fancy. It's been the plan to use these cheddar and purple fabrics for an hst improv. medallion for a very long time. Ridiculously easy to dive right into free-cutting strips and then cross cutting them into little-ish squares. I really, really wanted to cut little bitty squares for the hsts but occasionally, even I know my limits!

Breaking it down into workable units

It was easy peasy and not at all scary to make sets of purple/cheddar squares and do the diagonal sewing, never marking a single thing. Isn't it wonderful to recognize our growth as a quilter? Improv. is so liberating when you could care less about the points or anything matching up. Every now and then for about a week I sewed sets, cut them in between the sew lines and then ironed them open. Occasionally I scissor cut the edges to make them more square, but not too much! When that part was accomplished, I just slapped them up on the wall, sometimes kind of fussily moving things around, but mostly just making rows and trying to find positive energy.

Trying to bring it all together

After I had about enough for the intended centerpiece {Oh yeah, did I tell you this was going to eventually be a medallion quilt?}, then I started sewing the hsts into 9-patch units or maybe 6-patch units if that seemed better and sometimes even a 12-patch unit. Whatever felt right. All the cheddar fabric used in the hsts was either a dark tone on tone or the brighter gold cheddar solid, keeping the background very cohesive. For the purposes of evening up the larger hst units, I deliberately introduced one busier cheddar print. Same color family, still ALL cheddar, but more tension. At first I used it quite a bit, then slowly realized that I didn't like the vibe of that print used in excess. You'll be hard pressed to see where, but I eventually went back and replaced that print in just a few areas with the original tone on tone cheddar. Balance. It's always comes down to that doesn't it?

Touching up the outside edges

I didn't mind the look of '9-patch' hsts, but I also wanted a couple areas to kind of flow into others. Fuss, fuss, fuss. Do I like this? Or that? How could I make this work? Also, I was trying to make sure the centerpiece didn't have an obvious seam directly down the middle. Ughh. Wouldn't that just look stupid? This is the part that stressed me out a little and where I had to take a lot more breaks. Eventually I got one large piece that seemed to lay relatively flat. Yay for curved piecing techniques! Though I'm not a pro, it definitely helps ease improv. blocks into submission when you don't want to tidy up {chop} every single unit as you're going along. 

At the outside edges, I simply added long strips here and there and then trimmed the whole to an approx. 30 inches. It was never going to be perfect with me at the helm. I could have easily added in more strips of hsts and then whacked them off {and in fact I diligently considered that}, but I rather thought the breathing space of more background fabric would be good. Yes, I did have to rip a seam out occasionally to add smaller pieces of fabric back into the original unit before sewing on a long strip. There are always details ready and willing to trip us up in our mad dash to the finish!

Making it square-ish

Overall I was pleased and happy and then abruptly, I wasn't. What was that curved thing on the bottom sticking out like a sore thumb? Part of me wanted to leave it be and just let it disappear into the larger quilt plan. The other part of me knew it would knaw away at me until I'd probably find myself ripping it out at a very inopportune moment. Been there done that doing that right now with Ormes Inspired! So... I fiddled around thinking I would have to re-work the entire bottom of the centerpiece, grumbling all the while. Then I remembered that there was just a couple leftover hsts that had been thrown out. Aha! Slapped them up on the wall, played a little with adjustment and wallah! Simple fix and it was done! More colors will be introduced moving forward, but for now, it's feeling pretty good! One thing I've unquestionably learned through the years about {me and} improv., is to take advantage of the mood. Finish it out to a good stopping place and then more easily pack it away for a short time.

Looking better!

As most of you know, I am still dedicated to hand quilting on this more traditional HST Medallion quilt. I'm sure it's quite obvious where I got the impetuous for making a much more free looking hst medallion quilt at this particular moment in time! hehe  All these tidy little rows are starting to drive me crazy!

Starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel

I have been pushing myself very hard with the quilting on this one, stitching for up to three hours many, many evenings. No need to wonder at all why improv. has been especially alluring to me at the moment! The need to rest my hands, my brain and probably my resolution too? I finally took a couple days off over this past weekend and didn't feel guilty at all. 

It's a big quilt....

I have two more corners of stitching and then all that remains will be the flying geese border on the far outside of the quilt. I have been boot, scoot and boogying right along! For that border, I will probably switch to my q-snap frame that is just as long as the current one, though only about 7 inches wide. No need to have this huge frame for such a narrow width of stitching. It's time to think about the next quilt top to go in the hoop, but all I can think is that it better be an easy one. It I have learned one thing with hand quilting this quilt, it's to always end the thread somewhere besides at the top corner of an hst! You don't even want to know how many pieces of thread that I've had snap off right at the knot....


Just for fun the other night, I had to pull another stack and bury myself in fabric love! I tell myself that you can never really have too many of these and then I realized, there are three stacks in these approximate colors! Ahem! I'm sensing a theme? Must pull them all out and compare, then ditch the less-worthy stacks. Gotta save room on the counters and in the little totes for plenty of variety!


  1. I really love that Cheddar Medallion in progress on your wall--the curved pieces really just make it so charming and vintage looking--great work!! What fun to just sew, isn't it? Hugs, Julierose

  2. Love, love the pulled stack! Gosh that is the best part! I agree with you on batiks and darned thimbles. When I hand quilted I could use one and liked to. For piecing or regular hand sewing, NO. I could never get used to it. Tulips and hour glasses look good! Cant's wait to see that progress. With batiks I did try prepping the pieces first. sometimes starching and pressing the edges first, Sometimes with freezer paper templates and using a basting glue or glue stick with a touch of the iron to tack the pieces down. But I feel I was trading one cumbersome part of the technique for another.
    Your big medallion will be great.

  3. I love your improv HST medallion quilt top! Love the colors, love the piecing, love the fact that you let the stitching take you wherever it wanted to go. Even love the fact that you couldn't bear that curved piece on the bottom. Hope you continue to have fun with it!

  4. Oh! I LOVE the HST quilt, how wonderful. And yum, cheddar and dark purple.


  5. Oh I love the cheddar HST centre and look forward to watching this one grow :) I'm the same as you with not being able to use a thimble for applique but I use Thimblepads instead - they're little sticky leather dots and they work really well - I often forget that I have the little dot stuck on my finger :)

  6. So much fun now that we've got it laying flat nothing obviously obtuse! Love the cheddar & purple playing together. Looking forward to seeing the quilted HST Medallion quilt. So pretty!

  7. Wow, what a post. I can't believe you got your cheddar hst medallion to stay free, But square up at the end. You're a fabric magician.

  8. Wow what wonderful 9 patch and your big quilt is almost finished quilting, what an achievement.

  9. A wonderful post, Audrey. Reading about your cheddar and purple HSTs and watching your process through the photos almost felt like I was sewing along. Great decision with the final two HSTs. Much improved - even though it didn't bother me at first.
    The colors of your tulips and hourglasses delight me. Love that grey tan neutral with the deep reds.
    Have fun with your new project. I wish I could start more things but have a bunch of finishes that really need attention. And then there might be room to move.

  10. Love the colour combination in your HSTs and your decision to add a few more to that bottom piece of the cheddar fabric, what a difference they make. I regularly veer off in the middle of quilts in progress and hit on another project I've been desperately wanting to begin - so there goes another new quilt to add to the mix.
    I love seeing your HST Medallion but am always amazed at the number of them in this stunning quilt.

  11. I can't imagine trying to applique without a thimble. Sore fingers for sure!!! I've trained myself to use a leather thumb thimble finally. My fingers are only sore under the quilt - sigh. The cheddar and purple quilt is visually appealing. Look forward to seeing this as it progresses. So interesting that you had 3 stacks of fabric in the same colors, it must be time to start another quilt. I sure enjoy your creativity and your willingness to share it with us.

  12. A great read for me this morning with my cup of decaf. Thanks Audrey for taking the time to talk to us about your stitching, the ins and outs, the ups and downs. I find everything you make so interesting with such wide dashes of creativity. I've downloaded the tulip and today is the day I start choosing fabrics!

  13. Great post! I really, really like your hsts - cheering colours and a lovely sense of energy and movement. I use a thimble for quilting but not for anything else - it mostly just makes me feel clumsy.


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