Saturday, March 6, 2021

Staying Focused

It feels so good to check a couple more projects off of the open-ended projects list. Gives me just a little bit of breathing room for the brand new starts. 'Cuz there's always gonna be new projects here, there and maybe every where!

Once again, it's a finish!

It was a relatively quick finish for the Ormes Inspired quilt once I put my mind to it. Just had to grit my teeth and plow through the last little bit of hand work on the batik fabric lettering. After that, there was a very small amount of effort to sew the block back into the border. Once that was done, then it was super simple to sew the white tulip over the top of the 'I' and wallah! the whole thing was back to being a true blue finish. I am so much happier with the final result now,  than ever before. Love how the appliqued word makes it feel more special.

AHIQHourglass/Tulip quilt

The AHIQHourglass challenge quilt/#3 in the tulip series quilt top is finished up too. I am so amazed and happy with the overall vibe to this quilt! All the hourglass units were sewed together in sets of four and then chopped off willy nilly at the ends. This makes for less-than-perfect economy block {look} cornerstones at the sashing, but I don't see that detracting from this utility style, improv. quilt at all.

The full quilt

Using the raspberry pink background fabric really amped up the cozy, almost romantic look and feel to this quilt. That was a bit unexpected, but so much fun to just 'roll' with! As always, I tried to push with certain fabric combinations, trying for blendy prints as well as throwing in a few larger print fabrics too. My default ever seems to be for using 'safe' fabric combo's and I've tried and tried and tried to break that habit throughout the years. Quilts tend to have a much more interesting feel when the fabric group as a whole takes on a personality! When all the prints are exactly the same scale, then the vibe tends toward boring. At least in my opinion. You're welcome to feel differently! 

All the leaves are blue in better lighting....

This same scale thing is sometimes a very good idea in certain areas of a quilt. You can't deny that some places will benefit greatly from this application! It helps give off a uniformity of spirit that seems a bit more peppy than simply using 4 yards of the same exact fabric and of course, enables all of us 'use-up-the-stash' lovers to really excel. 

In this quilt, I used very similar prints for the sashing {with both the creams and the gray-browns}, thus giving more room to push on the value in the gray-browns. Would it have looked fine with all the gray-browns being the same exact value? I think so, but mixing them up helps {subtly} to bring energy and movement to the quilt. If there would have been larger contrast used in the scale of the sashing prints, then there would have been less movement throughout, and undoubtedly, a  much choppier look.

For the eye popping 'look at me' prints {go ahead, pretend with me here!}, I definitely focused in on the tulip shapes and the stems. With the stems, it was easy. The same fabric is on repeat for every single block, but feels more engaging than one solid or blendy-type fabric combined with this particular background. If they become a little less noteworthy and more mundane due to repeats, meh. You probably like more chaotic looking quilts than I prefer! 

In a quilt like this, every single tulip could have been a busy, cool looking print. Alas, that's not my quilt stash. So, then it's time to make-do. Basically, I just play with a stack of fabrics, trying to mix and match interesting prints with change-ups in the color and value of blander looking fabrics until I get to 20 magic fabric pairings--the number of blocks needed here. If I have to toss out fabrics here and there, then that's exactly what happens. 

It's pretty obvious what I did for the leaves, mixing up both the color value and the print scale. In every quilt, there are decisions that inform the next move or phase of a quilt. With scrappy quilts, most of us are never quite sure what we intend to do until we are actually doing it. Experience makes it far easier to find the right opportunities to change up scale or value or when it's probably best to rely on a similar look/feel fabric mixture.

This one might be hard to get rid of some day!

It was difficult to feel comfortable using the med. pink for the tulips, but in the end, I really had no choice. What is contrast really, but what you make it to be? They couldn't all be red, white or black, either and the lighter pink had to go somewhere! Plus, I adored the sassy sweetness of adding slightly lighter pink over the darker pink. After all the applique was stitched,  I even threw out one fairly interesting printed white fabric tulip and substituted one more pink fabric tulip. Just because

Did you notice the orange tulip clear up in the far left corner of the quilt? I like how it ties back in with the larger print pink and orange floral fabric down towards the bottom of the quilt. Sometimes it pays to echo a cuckoo color in some other area of the quilt and since I wanted to use that scrap of larger floral? Super easy decision even though a part of me, that left brain, 'don't be a crazy' side, wanted to scrap it all. When I say that it was easy, that's because experience has taught me the importance of taking these sorts of chance in order to make a true 'me' quilt. You would take an entirely different risk and achieve a much better outcome--for you!

Always have to add something that
fades into the background!

So yeah. Blah, blah, blah, blah. This is me telling you why I love and adore this particular quilt. Yes, it was an impulse make. Yes, I was trying to use up the hourglass units. The thing is, successful scrappy don't generally happen entirely by accident. I don't care what people tell you, throwing a big pile of fabric in a bag and grabbing whichever pops up next, rarely works out wonderfully! 

Loving this quilt!

In most cases, there needs to be a measure of controls set into place. The when, where and how? That is entirely up to you and YOUR vision. Try to make your color palette, print scale and values WORK, but don't work exceedingly hard making it happen. Does that make any sense? Have a little fun and take chances and gradually {so gradually you might not even notice at first},  you'll be going with whatever flow the quilt quite organically generates. 

Do you think I wasn't the teensiest bit concerned about sewing all the leaves in blue? My mantra through the years has basically distilled into this one pragmatic thought: If a set of fabrics look good together in a stack, then they'll look great together in a quilt. Just pick a spot for each color and make it happen! As you struggle through the process time and again, you'll naturally get better at sorting out the proportions and pesky {but quite specific} details that take it to the next level. 

Rhi's quilt

Okay, time to get off my soapbox. After last weeks improv. adventure, it seemed like an excellent time to tackle the rest of my daughters dress quilt. Scrappy, improv. coins sounded fun and quite a good distraction from all the hand work currently filling up my evenings.  

No need to overthink it!

Though green is actually a challenging color for me to use as a predominant color in a quilt, it was the only way forward for the next round of this quilt. Try as I might, the blue fabrics {that I really, really wanted to use}, look completely uninterested in happily responding. Too much black and white bumped the quilt up to formal looking, instead of 'charming' {not a suitable look for those sunflowers} and yellow made the celery green center look like puce. I was doomed. Green it was! Next round will bring the quilt up to a good lap quilt size and feature more of the large floral. Trying like mad to keep this one as uncomplicated as the quilt will allow!


  1. Totally in Love with your tulip phase.... So good this last finish too.

  2. LOVE your tulip quilt and the whimsy tulips. Gorgeous color combo to boot. Have a great weekend!

  3. it is great to use the imagination and have blue mixed in! love using tiny prints for sashing and sometimes the impulse makes are the best.

  4. Those two quilts are so exciting. They make my heart beat!! You certainly have the eye for color and design. xo!!

  5. I really needed to read this post today - I adore your tulips (you already know that) and I love the way you describe your process. And that bit about if the fabrics look good in a stack they'll look good in a quilt has kept me going time and time again. I just need to disengage my rational brain and start sewing for the current AHIQ project - I'm stuck on my inspiration images and need to move on to what the colors really want to do instead. Thanks for helping me move along that pathway!

  6. I love hearing your thoughts on how you work. It all makes sense to me and now I want to make something with a very colorful fabric for a background!

  7. Such an educational post, Audrey. Of course, I love all three of your quilts. Now that you finished the applique word, it's obvious that was needed. We are twins trying to applique batik. I pulled one string {that looked perfect} on the placemats but spent a couple of days trying to push the needle and thread through it. Never again!
    The hourglass tulip is wonderful. So clever to cut off the sashing at each block and let it fall where it may. The color combination is perfect, too. The dull sashing lets the bright raspberry shine. They quite complement each other. And you are my hero for using non-realistic colors for stems and leaves. That is a habit I'm trying to adopt.
    And finally the sunflowers. Yes, green was your only option here and it looks good. You daughter will love this quilt and we get to enjoy it vicariously on your blog.

  8. I made a requested Sponge Bob quilt for a grandson a while back. When I tried to match Sponge Bob's yellow (on a printed piece of fabric) it turned out to be more green than yellow, a chartreuse. When I brought home the choices for that quilt I thought what a "gaggy" color but it was the right color. Our eyes know what looks best regardless of the inner voice that doubts. Your tulip quilt is wonderful. And I'm so glad it turned out so well for you. I love how the word tuned out with the little tulip for the Ormes Inspired.

  9. Love your tulip quilt and the raspberry background is perfection.

  10. There is not a single thing about these tulips that I don't like, Audrey: it is a wonderful top. Your observations on working in a scrappy way are spot on and I especially like 'cuckoo colour'; that's a phrase I'll be using myself.

  11. Love your work, but how do you find time to finish up so many quilts from one blog to the next?

  12. Love the tulips, we desperately need some spring sunshine both in the weather and our quilts! Ormes Inspired is a fine finish top too, and I suspect it won't be long until it's at the top of your quilting queue. Though what grabbed my attention is your daughter's dress fabric with those fabulous sunflowers - wish that were available as yardage! And wondering what quilting plans are percolating in your brain for the large plainer areas. So much potential in this start!

  13. As always, I enjoy hearing you describe your quiting journey with each of these great quilts. Your right that a truly interesting scrap quilt doesn't just accidentally happen. Many things to consider and a lot of give and take.

  14. I know that a scrap quilt is often requires much more thought and planning than thought. At least, that's the case with my scrap quilts! Once again, your pink tulip quilt is lovely.

  15. I do love your quilts! Can’t wait to see the Ormes quilt in full. Love the raspberry background for the tulip blocks - they do really pop. Rhi’s quilt it looking good too.

  16. Always loved the tulips Audrey! Wonderful post sharing the how's, why's and when's of your quilt process. I would have written lots more but wrist in brace so having to keep to short comments!

  17. Your first picture, something about it reminds me of curtains from the 1960's. I hope you are not offended that I said that. I love it, though!

  18. Love the tulips! And of course I've enjoyed reading the post, I guess I tend to overthink my options! Rhi's quilt is looking great so far too!

  19. Its always a treat to come here to see your eye candy and read your post. Many thanks for sharing with us. Always a joy.


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