Thursday, November 18, 2021

It's Always Better To Have the Prep Work Behind You

I've been busy, busy. Trying to get lots of applique prep done over the last weekend while my daughter was away on vacation. It was waaay past time to pull out Coronacrazy and just get moving on it. While the centerpiece has been done since January, the only thing accomplished since that particular push was the foundation work for this applique border. Letting it sit around and gather dust was only making me feel guilty and even more apprehensive about how it was going to turn out.

Will have to stitch down the corners later
The thing is, the applique border to-be, was really only a figment of my imagination and an odd little scribble on paper. I believe the genesis for the free flowing leaves idea was from a calendar hanging on my wall throughout 2020? but I can't really remember anymore. All I knew for sure was that there was gonna have to be a lot of floor space for this prep work to happen, lots of internal debate and hopefully a surge of creativity and illumination. Yep, I was absolutely dreading it.

A few flowers for interest
It took up the greater part of the upstairs floor, right at the top of the stairs for most of three days. It's an ugly carpet, so sorry for that, but design space isn't usually terribly fussy around here. I started out a little different with this particular border. First I spent some time free-cutting about 25 different shape and lengths of leaves in paper and then placing them along a vine. Okay, yes. More of that. This is the flowy vibe that I'm aiming for. No, not that, more like this? and so on till it started to click. 

Normally I would get a feel for the look that I wanted {on a paper drawing or maybe a quick audition} and then cut out a whole stack of leaves in whatever fabric I had stacked up and ready to use for the border. Just place fabric shapes randomly and make things work. And though I had the pre-selected fabric at the ready, I also knew that I wanted the leaves arranged in a bit of a color wash. Okay. That could be a bit more tricky as the lengths of the leaves needed to vary as well. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? 

Trying to figure out the look and feel of the borders
This time, as you can see, I started with arranging paper leaves on one side of the top border until the look was just so. Then, I carefully selected the preferred fabrics and colors as I went, tracing the proper leaf shape onto the back of that fabric. Uh huh. I basically went leaf by leafsometimes getting into a groove where I could cut two or three out at the same time. Woo hoo! It was painstaking because I didn't have enough fabric to just waste it in a big flurry of optimistic cutting. 

With the shape decisions out of the way, cutting one leaf at a time in the 'hopefully correct' color let me immediately see if the color wash was happening like intended. The ironic thing was, after getting all the leaves in place for the first total quilt view, I immediately started rearranging a few chosen leaves until the overall color was was simply a variegated look instead. Oh well. No one ever said the design process was easy, simple, straightforward or even made a lick of sense. You just have to roll with it till you hopefully come out the other side!

The overall picture of the intended applique
After getting through one half of the top border {and leaving the cut out leaves in place as a reference point}, I switched to the other side. Though I tried not to get too 'matchy, matchy', it helped to use repeating colors for cohesion. Then I worked on the bottom border etc. etc., always choosing to determine the tips of the vine leaf colors first. If I got stuck or spectacularly frazzled somewhere on a vine, I would switch to the other end of the border and work backward until I found a way to transition more gracefully. No sense working myself into a snit because a certain leaf didn't want to behave! Might as well take my attention elsewhere and give us both time to reflect.

It really did take a lot of time, hours and hours and hours in all. Now you know why I needed the upstairs floor completely free for days at a time! At first I just did a rough cut around the traced leaf shape on the fabric and placed them on the border as-is, thinking I could clean up the shapes later. Which I did in some places and others not so much. 

As the borders started developing, leaves got shuffled and moved into better position, leaves got trimmed a little curvier or slimmer or shorter or whatever seemed to be needed. More leaves got squeezed into the space, or less. Other times a whole group of leaves was jettisoned completely because suddenly there was a brilliant idea that needed addressing! Some areas I fussed with entirely too much, causing the invariable confusion and despair. An opportune time to leave and take a good long break. Coming back later with fresh eyes usually helped tremendously to see immediately what the problem was and well, have a hope of actually solving it?

All in all, there is only about six or seven unused or discarded leaves at the finish, so I count that as a win! And I didn't run completely out of any important fabric, pull out any hair on my head or even have a temper tantrum just trying to have clarity in what I was trying to convey!! hehe  So yeah. Prep work is totally done, the leaves are removed from the corner areas and carefully labeled for later stitching. These borders are finally in the backup handwork bag and waiting for their turn in the hand stitching queue. YAY! I can't even imagine what was possibly holding me back from this particular phase of the quilt, can you?

Baby quilt should be a finish by Thankgiving
I also finished up with the simple applique on the borders of the baby quilt, all borders attached and it's even sandwiched and pinned! This one is already in the hoop and I've been hand quilting on it for a couple nights now. So sad to have to put a pause on Bullseye Medallion quilt as I had finally made it all the way out to the outside borders. At this point it always feels like an easy couple nights till it's all completely finished, but I know better. I know, I know... The outside area generally takes much longer than we expect and well, it will still be there and waiting for me when the baby quilt is all done and ready for gifting.

Can't wait to get back to the stitching on this one
While I still had the floor available, I went ahead and made time for stitching up the sashing strips on CrazyDaisy. Though I was pretty sure they would be a go, you just never know for sure till the auditioning moment. 

Crazy Daisy starting to come together
Though it's not obvious in the picture, the cheddar and lavender squares seem a little bit 'flat' in comparison to the Daisy blocks. Overall I think that's a good thing. Gives the applique a chance to shine brighter. Like they need that? Hmm... Originally I intended to cut the sashing from a stripey fabric and make them fairly narrow strips. This way gives a little more breathing room, yet still keeps the energy high.

This is the setting triangle fabric that I settled for
After seeing the blocks with the sashing strips and the cheddar cornerstone squares, I was not impressed with how blah that cornerstone color was. I finally settled on a deep purple batik fabric to use {probably not an outstanding choice}, but it does exactly as intended. Helps 'pop' the dark curved strips in the blocks and further define the flowers. Not every color/fabric used has to be exceptional to work extremely well 'in situ'. 

These cornerstones look better to me
This quilt was supposed to be a very blue quilt and I'm not quite sure what happened? Somehow it veered off into this wildly exuberant explosion of color. So very, very energetic and crazy, I'm actually starting to call it 'circus, circus' in my mind! So far the only thing that I regret about this quilt though, is the fact that it's going to end up square. I probably should have gritted my teeth and stitched the extra blocks just to make the quilt come out rectangular. I did consider that for awhile, even thought about leaving off one row of blocks, but no. That would mean ditching seven applique blocks! Ha. Not happening. I'm actually very ready to move beyond these wild {for me} colors and work on some projects in more benign colors for awhile!


  1. How exciting! The color, the design, superb!
    And I can relate to that 'confusion and despair' thing after too much concentration!
    I enjoyed your adventure, thanks for sharing.

  2. I can see why you need that floor space! leaf by leaf and magic occurred - it looks wonderful and another quilt is born

  3. Wow Audrey - where do I begin!! From the beginning then - your applique on Coronacrazy leaves me speechless, so beautiful and so glad you didn't go with all totally matching, much more interesting to even have a slight difference. Now Crazy Daisy I have to say is my all time favourite of your quilts, so vibrant, loaded with colour and beautiful shapes and the fabric used for your setting triangles fits perfectly. I can't wait to see this top all stitched together.

  4. Funny how the colour of the cornerstones can have such an effect, the darker ones look better, like you say it adds a pop.

  5. Ahhhmazing leaves. They flow around so beautifully

  6. Since I started following quilting blogs, I've followed at least 100 over the years and read dozens more just one time (usually found in linky parties), and I believe you are my favorite quilter. Your quilts are extraordinary. Thank you so much for sharing your creative process. I'm inspired by all your color and pattern. Your quilts make me feel happy. Thank you.

  7. Your leaves are just so beautifully arranged--all curve-y and flowing--super job!!
    And I have to just love Crazy Daisy--and lavender with cheddar--who'd a thunk it? I really like that vibe.;)))
    Hugs for a great quilting weekend Julierose

  8. Such a gorgeous border!! I love it!

  9. You never cease to amaze me with you ideas and color schemes. The leaf border is very pretty and a nice compliment to the center designs. Who would of thought of putting cheddar and lavender together. . . you! It really works too!!!

  10. I'm always amazed to see the sheer amount of quilty progress you manage to achieve every week! Those borders are wonderful!

  11. Wow you are so busy, I love the leaves on the border and the daisy blocks are fab. The change in the cornerstones is just right too!!

  12. Your CoronaCrazy quilt is working out so beautifully!!! I loved the center already but that border is just amazing. Love the other quilts too and that dark cornerstone was the perfect touch. I don't think I would've thought of that. Perfect! The baby quilt is going to make somebody feel SO LOVED!

  13. I totally agree about our newest applique border. It's fabulous. The design does just flow around the quilt and those few pink flowers brings your eye back to the center. Well done. As to your blue Crazy Daisy quilt... it's color scheme morphed into a brilliant color combo. Those darker corner stones are much better.

  14. Just wow! So much eye candy. Love the CoronaCrazy. I've never considered making a red/white Christmas quilt but what you have created with the color combo for this CoronaCrazy quilt might change my mind. It's lovely in every way. What a delight seeing this post today. :)

  15. I adore Churn Dah Baby and also Crazy Daisy. Delightful.

    Corona Crazy is amazing and so complex.

  16. A great recap of whats going on creatively. Some projects just need to wait and others demand all your attention until they are done. That's what I love about quilting. Your border vine is delightful and now you have some hand stitching ready for the holiday season.

  17. I love reading how your creative process evolves, and WOW Explosion! Like, really wonderfully intense and inspiring. Will some of it please rub off on me?

  18. I had to wait a few days to respond as Little Man was here for the weekend and he sleeps in the room with my computer so the keyboard is unplugged and moved to another room to remove any temptation. I LOVE WATCHING YOU WORK with your appliqué especially as I don't do it but adore the look of it. YOU ARE SO GOOD AT IT!

  19. I had a few minutes free so I read this post and agree with Maureen and QDJulie. Your applique is fabulous and both Coronacrazy and Crazy Daisy are favorites of mine.
    Wonderful idea to make all the leaves different. So much better. The colors and shapes and fullness of the border adds to the total quilt. They remind me of the eucalyptus leaves Ruth de Vos makes (Australian.) Thanks for the photos of the corners. I think I understand how you turn them now.
    The Daisies and their sashing are glorious. Making the sashing from two colors of similar value does helps them sit back from the daisies - even though all the colors are bright.
    Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving.

  20. Coronacrazy’s borders are fabulous!!

  21. Oh Audrey, I am loving all those gorgeous leaves. And Crazy Daisy is coming up a treat. (as always running way behind in reading your post)


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