Saturday, May 22, 2021

Still Quilting

 Yes, I have been almost completely out of the loop. Life has been full of unexpected happenings, many appointments, a funeral for a family friend, taxes being finalized, Google Chrome crashing on me, and on and on until I wanted to scream. Just let me quilt, please.....??

Sweet Hospitality ready for the last phase of binding!

But then I catch myself and think, honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. Life with family is the good life! If it's messy and busy, so be it. All the busyness does a number on my creativity though, and then it's good to have those fallback projects that are either hand work based or more formulaic in nature. And I mean that in terms of the end 'goal'. 

The Centerpiece of the quilt

Like this string tulip AHIQ prompt. There was a certain expectation of what this quilt might include, whether I chose to follow all the perimeters or not. It didn't take quite as many twists and turns as Kaja's marvelous version, but since my brain has felt sort of wooly lately, it wasn't quite as straightforward as it could have been! In fact, for a bit, I worried that 'my voice' had almost got lost in the shuffle. 

AHIQ String Tulips quilt top is completed!

So many times, the only thing that matters around here is what the fabric, centerpiece, or perhaps vibe of the quilt wants to convey. I'm on a journey to do what the quilt seems to want and need! This time, I kept being pulled back into the spirit of the challenge and what that might possibly mean. How that was important. What things could be done to complete the challenge without making something that was just a hurry-up-and-get-this-done sort of effort.

Everything placed via the 'eyeball' method....

Could I/Should I sew together a string challenge without any strings included whatsoever? Hmm.. While I loved the idea of using the bolder fabrics for the main part of the tulips, it didn't quite right to say that the main theme of the prompt was completely unnecessary. How lame would that be? So I took a bunch of the leftover bits and at least made the centers of the tulips out of strings. Ahh.. that feels much better.

Moody colors

Frankly, the secondary challenge--the one where I determined to play with a slightly uncomfortable mixture of colors?--was where all the difficulties stemmed from. If I would have just went to the scrap bin originally and started out from that specific place, then the design decisions probably wouldn't have been such a headache. As it was, I was a little too boxed in. Surprise, surprise, the color palette started falling apart almost immediately!

The very first thing I did was throw out all of the funky greens that looked so good in the marinating stack. {I know, you probably never even saw them.} Yuck. They were positively hideous in the improv. units! Then I arranged and rearranged, over and over, the outside units until they stopped making my eyes cross. Well, I'm not sure they ever did. There was just something about the color blend that didn't sit right with me until I finally got the centerpiece sorted out. So basically I ended up working backwards. And that's the real story of why those tulips ended up being less string pieced and more of a one-piece fabric look.

Not quite what I was expecting

Notice how I finally settled on two rows all around with primarily blue backgrounds and then one more surround with the converse?  It's a subtle medallion look, which of course I love, but more importantly, it somehow suckers you into staring at the centerpiece again. Over the course of my very distracted, much-too-interrupted ponderings, I eventually realized where the drama had be. Uh huh, those tulips, where I could have so easily taken the cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater route. They aren't my most amazing tulips ever, but somehow the combination of busy, bold fabric prints, the look at me flowy lines, a little bit of mellow, utility looking string centers, and then.... the bullseye center at the midpoint of the orange {so weird, I know!} stems? Yep! It all works to say something good. So yeah, overall, I'm fairly satisfied with the results from this prompt. I didn't go so very far off script that it feels ridiculous. Bonus! I got to use up quite a few oddball fabrics that have been languishing forever in the bottoms of the totes. AND.... I didn't let this color palette completely throw me. Truly, it almost did.  

Playing with a woodworkers compass

In other quilty news, I have been experimenting with a large woodworking compass. It's a cheaply made ball bearing one that allows me to attach a fabric marking pen. It's supposed to stretch out to something like 48" or so, but I quickly found out that the farther you spread the compass arms, the harder it is to get good consistent lines.

Burned through 2+ quilt markers

My husband tried to give me some very good tips, but alas, I was not in the mood to listen. Just wanted to do my thing and who cares if the lines aren't precisely spaced around the initial circle? He finally went to bed early out of sheer frustration and I might have felt a little sorry for him.

Loving the results...

The fact is, I'm pretty happy getting a lovely radiating effect {lines approximately 2" apart}, and didn't want to spend any excess time getting everything absolutely perfect. In fact, perfection would have quite possibly ruined the look for me. Am I just being contrary? It feel like part of what I've focused in on for the past 10 years or so is the ability to convey a special look that most definitely features 'the human touch'. Not sloppiness or ignorance as to method, but one that feels more organic and genuine than absolute mastery of technique . I'm sure there are better compasses available, but wowsers, I'm having fun watching these flawed quilting lines transform the quilt! 


  1. Say yes to being entertained by the inner workings of a Quilter's mind!
    Great design solution, thanks for sharing the journey.

  2. Your tulips are fantastic. Love the bright busy prints for the sides and the bit of strings in the middle. And the way they curve outward. So fun! I hesitated to propose this prompt because it didn’t seem like improv if everyone copied it. Then I decided people would like the idea and could make of it what they want. You’ve certainly done that. Your blocks remind me of Sujata’s freehand cutting. And your colors are wonderful.

  3. I like your circles! sounds like you have been very busy and sometimes good to be busy then have things go too slow. Love all your quilts you show - that looks like a very interesting tool

  4. I think your quilt is absolutely fabulous and the circle quilting is just wonderful. The colours you've chosen are delicious!

  5. I too found the balance between listening to the quilt and meeting the challenge tricky, but that's one way we learn, right? I really, really like where you ended up - there is a lovely free feeling to your tulips and the colour scheme feels both unexpected and somehow absolutely right.

  6. Your string tulips quilt is fantastic! I love it! Great color scheme and so vibrant. Loved the pictures of you at work with your compass :0)

  7. I can totally relate to the busy overwhelm and the "wooly" brain.
    These days I can only do something very easy and my frustration tolerance is very low so when a project doesn't go well... into the UFO closet it goes! I love your idea of making radiating lines (that are a little less than perfect!) And also... I love the new quilt!

  8. I love your string tulips. This is a fun and original applique as everyone uses their own style to interpret and create them. I also love the circle quilting, perfect and exact is overrated in quilting.

  9. Your tulip quilt is so satisfying to look at. It really tuned out nice with the makeshift string border blocks (so pretty) and the stunning center. The fabrics you chose for the tulips is fascinating and dynamic. Great job!

  10. I do have to say I don't envy you on hands and knees marking that quilt top. My knees and back gave that up quite a few years ago. Loving your take on the spring tulips.

  11. Oh my, did your string tulips quilt top turn out nice. Wonderful color and fabric combinations. Just love it.

  12. Oh what a finish Audrey!!! Your tulips are amazing, beautiful shape.
    I like where you're going with your latest project but don't envy you the task of kneeling down for ages making the circles.


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