Monday, February 19, 2024

AHIQ:Sun Quilt Top and Autumnal Tulips #2

I seem to have fell down a rabbit hole this past little while. So shocking. This quilt top was a result of an AHIQ prompt from July 2022. I was really late getting going with my response and then even later getting it to finished quilt top stage. I was dragging my feet initially because it's just so different for me! Most of the applique pieces have been cut out and ready to go since sometime last fall though, and I've been positively antsy to see the end result.
Is it a sunflower or a daisy?
So yeah, it was time. Might as well take advantage! Working with quilt challenges is such an interesting way to grow in our quilting endeavors. To be quite blunt, a lot of the time my initial feeling is a bit of frustration. Why would I deliberately want to think about adding a 'sun' into one of my quilts? Or work from the point of trying to add in that distinct vibe? Or whatever the challenge happens to be--I'm truly not picking on that particular prompt! 

Sun of My Life a new quilt top!
The thing is, I don't generally love to be told what to do in regards to quilting. Most all of the new challenges take some talking myself into. {Yes, I'm telling on myself.} It certainly helps that the AHIQ challenges have been so open ended, but let's just say that it always seems to take a bit of an attitude adjustment. Gah! To willing embrace making a quilt from somewhere other than what I would consider to be 'organic' inspiration is just hard. Especially when I have an abundance of quilty ideas already bouncing around in my brain. Who has time to make something they have little to no interest in? But hey, wait a minute. How do we nudge ourselves out of our comfort zone if we never seek out a different perspective? 

I've learned to let these odd places of inspiration simmer in the back of my mind for awhile. Give them a lot of space and encourage my subconscious to take plenty of time to explore the many, many different ways that the idea could possibly be applied. Discarding most of them of course! And through the years I've realized the most fun is when the ideas can be manipulated to work in my favor. Like using one of the already marinating fabric stacks sitting around the quilt room or whatever. Or do a little play on interpretation. I try my best to work with {and answer} the prompt and yet, still convey something that resonates strongly as a me look, feel and vibe. That way, I will more likely follow through on the challenge to completion, maybe even enjoy the project and, bonus, sometimes end up with something amazingly better than ever expected. 

Looking across the quilt top is always fun
Sometimes it's a big fat fail, but it's so very beneficial to try! Take this quilt. I couldn't think much past using up yellow fabric, of which I have oodles of. So lots and lots of ideas about using up that. Meh. Not interesting enough on its own. Then I stumbled upon a block idea that seemed vaguely interesting. Yeah, not nearly good enough for the effort required. Everything seemed quite unsatisfactory and blah when thinking about in conjunction to this 'sun' challenge. Scratch it all!

How could the sun look any more
happy to be there?
And so it went. Me drawing up a potential foundation pieced sun block, pouring through antique quilting books, and looking for rising sun etc. blocks. Stretching my thinking even more and then finally, out of desperation, doodling a rough drawing of a large scale floral design with a big 'ol sun hanging out over the top of it. At first it felt kind all kinds of desperate. So obvious and over the top.

Loving the viny, bold flowers
A funny thing happened. Just the act of drawing the oh-so-improbable idea opened up my thinking even more. I remembered the times that I have wanted to deliberately piece backgrounds for applique and got mired in the details. Didn't gain any traction. Huh. Could this be the answer? Seeing the doodle in black and white made me contemplate how this could actually be accomplished with improv. piecing. Which of course I love doing. Would it, could it work? Maybe I could even add some orphaned parts and pieces too.... 
Subtle additions to the larger tulip
Eventually I combined all the good ideas and.... despite my very squirrely feelings of discomfort, made a plan of attack. Who cared if it was ridiculously large and naive in concept? I tried to consciously tweak each and every obvious detail into something that felt authentic, going over the details over and over till it felt right. Then, and only then, I dove into it with lots of nerves and a sort of steely resolve to see it through. No matter what kind of feedback I received, this was happening! And now, at the end of hand stitching the applique to this quilt top, I'm thinking it worked! It actually worked!! Wowsers, do I love this quirky, funky looking quilt already!

It's been a long journey with lots of hesitation and second guessing. It's wonderful to see the quilt really coming alive this last week with every single piece of applique that got sewn down. I just didn't want to quit, it was so quietly satisfying and yes, exhilarating! After all the larger applique was stitched down, then I had to add a few pieces of smaller things like the skinny leaves. Just for good balance and subtle definition.
And the value changes in the sun....
Looking so sweet to me
As an aside, the second {pink} sun has always felt like a rather silly addition. Why oh why did the quilt demand it? I so wanted to ditch the entire idea and find something else to substitute. Nope. It was the ONLY thing that looked right in that corner. And this week I think the answer made itself known in the new name for the quilt 'Sun of my life'. It sort of speaks for itself when paired with the applique design. In a surprising move, the quilt also decided that it doesn't need any sort of border whatsoever. Okay! I guess that's a wrap for now! Yay for challenges that steer us to good places!

The finished commission quilt top
I also remembered that I hadn't shown the results of the commission quilt that I had agreed to make last fall. If you think this looks like my Autumnal Tulips quilt, you would be correct.

It's a tiny bit darker than the original
A quilty gal had previously contacted me for the pattern, then later on decided not to make it after all. When she sent me the first email inquiring about me making a commission quilt {for her but for her daughter]} I instantly decided that it would be waaay to much work. Right? Then I decided to think things through a little better. Maybe give it a couple minutes to try to figure out what might make it worthwhile.

Autumnal Tulips #2
A bit of back and forth and surprisingly, we came to terms. I tried to be very straightforward about what the whole endeavor would entail--what we could expect out of each other. And Linda was super accommodating. So sweet! 

This is a smaller version of the original, but it does actually have some of the exact same fabrics included. {It was requested to be in very similar colors and fabrics.} I had to comb through the scrap bins looking for some of it, but eventually found all the important pieces! 

Like most of my quilts tend to end up, it's perfectly imperfect. Huge sigh of relief. Nothing like a bit of pressure to feel insecure about our work! And even though it's the 2nd version, it still has a nice, cozy, comfy vibe, very closely resembling the one her daughter fell in love with. You can only imagine how nervous I was to make a copycat quilt when everything I do is so scrappy looking! We only contracted for the quilt top which means I've been anticipating see the true blue completion some day in the future.Will it still look like a Quilty Folk quilt without hand quilting? Hmm... We'll have to see! Thank you Linda for being a gold star customer on my very first quilt commission!  And no, that's not gonna be my new thing. This is something out of the blue and just turned into an interesting experience! 

Okay. This time around, I'll really try better to put the bulk of my quilty efforts towards Bramble Blooms. It's not forgotten, just moving at a snails pace!



  1. I like that "perfectly imperfect" yes who wants perfection?

  2. I think your tulip/Suns quilt came out beautifully, audrey--I agree about letting things "simmer on the back burner" of your brain;))) I work a lot better if I decide on each step as i go--which means a lot of back-and-forth on my pieces...working small now so I have to totally revamp my thinking...hugs, Julierose

  3. Great progress! and I like the background of your Sun challenge quilt, the layering adds to the design.

  4. I remember the beginnings of your sun quilt when you first posted about it and thought how much it looked like one of your quilts and yet different than most. It is delightful! The pieced background adds lots of additional interest, too. I love it! I especially appreciated your comments about needing to talk yourself into others' challenge quilt ideas and readjusting your attitude and then the growth that comes with doing it.
    I'm so grateful your end of Bramble Blooms is going at a snail's pace because so am I!
    Congrats on your first commission quilt.

  5. Sun of My Life is a beauty! A super mix of blocks and applique, thank you so much for sharing how this quilt can e into being and your process.

  6. Your Sun top immediately brought to mind the song "Sunrise Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof and yeah, it's been my earworm all day. So pretty! Your post really does a great job of describing your improv process, and helping us BB1 participants attempt to do the same.

  7. Quiltdivajulie - I couldn't agree with you more about the prompts and how challenging it can be to complete them. I tend to jump in too quickly and get started only to discover my idea wasn't as pleasing as I first thought. Then comes a LOT of dithering and finally something good usually happens. Your Sun quilt is delightful (I especially love the heavily pieced background). And a commission - wow. I have resisted those and after one time for a "friend" who showed zero appreciate for the massive amount of work (aside from paying a far too low fee) there will be no more. I applaud you for making your situation work!

  8. I adore all of your quilts and Sun of My Life is no exception. It's wonderful and unique and special, and so tactile! I finally had a chance to create and pin down the applique for the most recent step of BB and I'm going to baste it on today.

  9. I love the new quilt top. It still has that strong Quilty Folk vibe. I have to learn how you make those lovely, wavy leaves. My BB has to take a backseat with my house move. So I am glad you feel the QAL is going at snails pace!


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.