Thursday, June 23, 2022

I'd Say There's Never Too Much Applique, But of Course That's Not True!

I started on these flower blocks a couple months ago. Didn't get very far, very fast as I was really supposed to be finishing up other applique blocks. I might get spread thin with all the quilting projects, but I don't like a lot of opened ended applique. Just stresses me out.

Starting on the next round of applique
Anyway, right about the time that I was doing the prep work for these blocks, LeAnn over at Nifty Quilts posted her new tulip quilt. As I was looking at it, the style of flowers and the general layout really jumped out at me. Just too funny! I don't have the book 'Georgia Quilts' where she got her original inspiration, but I have looked at that quilt many times before. Pinterest? One of my other old quilt books? Not sure, but looky, looky, my doodling for this 'Flower Power' quilt obviously comes from the same exact inspiration! LeAnn's quilt is exciting and fresh, such a joy to look at. I'm a big fan of her work in case you couldn't tell!

Unlike her, I'm starting with mostly upcycled shirts for the backgrounds of my flowers, then digging in the stash for everything else. There is a piece of floral that I intend to use for the border or perhaps the inside strip sashing bits. We'll see. I do lots of pondering and turning things over and over in my head before even getting to the auditioning stage. Thus far, I am loving working with these bright pops of color. Simple applique plus bright, happy colors and it feels like an instant mood lifter! p.s. Don't be dismayed, there will be leaves attached at some point....

The loosey goosey notes & ideas
Sooo... this Ring Around project was the applique project getting in the way of Flower Power. Lots and lots and lots of time involved in the hand stitching and with 20 blocks? It can get a little boring at times. I piled the blocks up in an obvious spot in the quilt room just to help keep me motivated.

Looks so much better like this than hiding inside a tote...
Then there came the day when I had all the blocks done and tada! four rows sewn together too! Still not feeling especially pushed to plow through all the work to bring it to a quilt top, but eventually it all came together.

Waiting for a little more sewing time
During the original auditioning, I fiddled around with the sashing fabric {and even the cornerstones} probably more than I should of. It just didn't seem right that the quilt needed something so unassuming. There's a point sometimes where you wonder if your heart just isn't in it at that particular time of auditioning and then you realize.... This quilt really doesn't want something with a big, clever statement in that exact spot of the quilt. Ooookay. Message received!

The off-bacgrounds help make it interesting
In the end, to get the result needed, I actually flipped the sashing fabric over and used the backside. Uh huh. You can do that. I loved the nuanced stripey look to the fabric, but it needed to be toned down and let the applique blocks do their thing. The wonderful thing about the backside of the fabric {besides fading completely away} is the fact that it comes across more blue than green in those super subtle striped bits. With that, now the quilt has a lovely glow that somehow helps ease the aggressive bite to some of those rings. 

What is it about the color coral with blue?
Originally, I figured the cornerstones would need to be a black fabric, but that looked absolutely hideous. Coral and gray were also a non starter, and then I was left with some form of green or blue. Thankfully I had a couple pieces of teal fabric that fit the bill. The print was a little iffy on some of the pieces that I auditioned, but eventually I found the two fabrics that made the quilt do a little nod of appreciation. Yes, it could have been been one fabric instead of two, but I didn't have enough of the piece that ended up in the middle of the quilt. And that was the favorite, hands down. Had to be used somewhere! Which, interestingly enough, also helped add to the cozy glow of the quilt. Funny how sometimes all our little choices add up to something we don't even realize is building!

The second quilt in the Melon Patch series
It feels really good to finally get the abandoned background blocks from Melon Patch into something that helps make those center medallions shine. That sweet plaid fabric was from one of my youngest sons shirts that he wore quite a bit. One that I loved on him. Didn't want to just toss it away! There was a quilt in the book 'Mixing Quilt Elements' by Kathy Doughty that served as the impetuous for moving forward with these backgrounds, and though this quilt isn't exactly the same, many elements are very similar! Instead of her wedge templates, I cut my own from an acrylic template bought at JoAnns. Much easier and also, the wedges were a better size for these specific blocks.

Doesn't appear to need a border
Overall, I am very pleased with the look and feel to this low-key, but bursting with character, quilt top. At first I tried very hard to get the wedge quarter rings to match up exactly, but then I just gave it up completely. What am I doing? Why even bother? The sashing space helps transition  the 'Ring Around' effect tremendously and I'm certainly not someone to squawk if it's not perfectly perfect. Yeah. Not. Very. Important. At. All.

Original fabric pull
Another thing that I've done this week is something that happens pretty much all year long. It happens when I'm in the mood. When I'm stalling. When I'm down in the dumps about pretty much anything. When I can't get the motor started to put in the real effort and work of quilting. Whenever. You know how it is. You pull a couple stacks of marinating fabric stacks and attempt to fine tune. Let your subconscious  do its thing and just try to stay out of the way.

Adding a bit of spark
In the first picture is a stack of fabrics all chosen with the intention of trying to use up some of those bitter, brick reds that feel so very hard to get used up. Funnily enough, I actually liked the original stack almost enough to get started on a brand new quilt project during the winter. Then I dithered, second guessed, felt queasy in my gut and thought, 'no.... there's something not quite right about the blend'. I've approached it at least twice since then and had zero luck changing things up. It seemed content to be stuck.

Filling in the details
Earlier this week I pulled the stack out again and immediately decided that it needed some of those lighter blue/greens. Hmmm... could it be because I was just knee deep in those precise colors finishing up a quilt top? Hum, hum, humming along, I quickly added the salmon pink upcycled shirt {recently acquired from a thrifting excursion}. Perfection! Then it was obvious that there needed to be more of those super light pinks for a better transition. 

Maybe a tiny bit more depth with the green
And then some yellow gold hopped on for a ride. Not just any yellow mind you, but the exact perfect shade. So important to have a tiny bit of spark! And then it was a step back to peruse the effect. Hop on a chair and look down at the fabric on the counter. Hmm... Yep. Needs just a little bit more of the darkish shades of greens for impact. 

So yeah, that's pretty much how I work with the fabric stacks. As I'd said before, they rarely come out of the stash totes ready and raring to go directly into a new project. A little bit of fiddling here and there over several months {or a year} until finally, a day comes when the combination seems wholly complete. A big oops that I didn't use to recognize in my fabric gathering, is the tendency to dull things down and go for the soft, overly muted look. And then rush it directly into a quilt! The colors this happens with most often is usually a lot of the same colors that I wear. I don't even think to deeply about it in the moment! Quilt-making requires a bit more finesse though. Thankfully, I've learned to take the time {however much that is} to get things right. This stack seems good now. Belated it may be, but finally starting to see some cozy vibes happening! 


  1. I am glad your quilts speak to you and tell you just exactly what they want! Love that fabric pull...lovely!

  2. great job on pulling the fabric - I wish I was good at thrift store shopping but I have never been pleased with what I see around here - so many mixed blends and not 100 % cotton - where do people find the right kind - I have tried all the thrift shops around here over the years and never find them. I too use the back side of fabrics at times - it works

  3. I love your planning! Thanks for sharing your paper notes, I do that too!
    (plan on paper) And your projects look super.
    Lately Google has been giving me trouble leaving comments. I hope this works!

  4. Looking good!!! I have not made a pull of late. I too like doing that when I am stalled or begin to organize things and get lost in the baskets of fabric. Looking forward to seeing what comes from your latest pull

  5. Ring Around is Sweeeeeeet! And thank you for sharing your thought process when you pull out those "stuck" projects, change gears, and kick them over the finish line. It's nice to know I'm not alone in the "ack! Not what I saw in my head!" episodes when good blocks come together and I hear sad trombone wah-wah-wah.

  6. I miss Nifty's blogging days (I have been off Meta for a long time but the inspiration and connections on IG are calling to me once again for bloggers who no longer blog). Your tulips ALWAYS speak to me as does your process. I am totally with you on the marinating fabric pulls and their gradual evolution (or abandonment). Your post is once again one that speaks directly to my Quilty-heart. (Quiltdivajulie)

  7. As always, I love your work!!! Melon Patch is so sweet! Love Rhi

  8. Ring Around is my favorite so far .... again! Ha! I picked up on the subtle blue-green sashing and found it perfect with the bright, happy rings. Your quilts are always so inspirational to me.

  9. When I clicked over to see Nifty's tulip quilt I immediately thought of the older book Quick-and-Easy Strip Quilting by Helen Rose (think it was you who put me on to that book when you were making one of your earlier tulip quilts). Question - how many tulip quilts have you made up to this point? A lot I think, and always inspiring me to want to start one ... Loving where Ring Around is heading too!

  10. What a fun fabric pull! I'm looking forward to seeing what you turn these into.

  11. I love the quilt your currently quilting. And the quilt from the melon patch series. Warm greetings

  12. those tulip appliques are just lovely--so "you";))) The colors in your final fabric stack (is it ever really final? haha) are just lovely...I have never done fabric stacks...Do you keep them out where you can see them and then change them up??
    Sounds like fun when you can't sew some days...hugs, julierose

  13. Your 'tulip' quilt blocks are looking delightful, they made me smile! (and yes, I too am a big fan of Niftyquilts, very inspiring stuff) The different blue shirt backgrounds are bold, but perfect with the simple applique. Look forward to seeing your sashing ideas. I find fabric pulls are the best way to spend time when feeling not so motivated... I love rummaging through my stash, finding forgotten pieces, adding or removing fabrics, changing things up, and generally faffing about until things all work together. "Ring Around" is great too, those different backgrounds bounce off one another in such a great way, adding interest.

  14. Pulling fabric and auditioning more pieces has always been one of my favorite parts of quilt making. Sometimes it was just an exercise and a quilt was never made. Fun anyway.

  15. I'm so excited you are making more tulips. Ring Around has ended up being lovely - I am fond of the fabric reversing trick that has worked so well here too. I've never left a fabric stack as long as you do, but your description of that process has made me think about my approach - maybe I'll try leaving one to stew for a while and see if it makes a difference.

  16. Tulips are always lovely and the way you freely interpret yours is delightful. Ring Around came out wonderfully. I've used the backs of fabrics, too. You make me think I should do fabric pulls more often. Well, I do them but don't refine them like you do.

  17. You pack so much into each post, Audrey. Thank you as always for taking the time to write down your thoughts this way. I think that tulip design...LeAnn's, reminds me of one of your quilts. Very inspiring and your present design too makes me want to make one. Love that Ring Around block and the clever way that adds up when all put together. Your palettes are always perfect it seems. Lovely, Audrey!


Thanks for visiting! I love getting comments and always try to respond via email. Please leave an email in the comment to ensure a return reply! {Many of you are popping up as Anonymous for some reason, so I have no idea who it is.} Regardless, I appreciate all the comments and read every single one.