Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Loving My Scrappy Tulips Finish

Scrappy Tulips is finally a finish! Yay! I opted to hand quilt this one a little more intensely than I usually do of late. It seemed like it just soaked up the texture like a sponge, so it was a good call.
Scrappy Tulips a new finish!
This one was started back in 2014 sometime, but I can't find the original post. The paper pieced tulip pattern was found in an older quilt book I picked up at a guild yardsale for $1--Quick & Easy Strip Quilting by Helen Whitson Rose. Such a great find!
Loving the hand quilting texture....
The tulips turned out to be a very fun way to use up some of those languishing scraps in the scrap basket. Of course if I'd have known the background color they would end up on, none of the tips would have been red! Which just goes to show that pre-planning isn't always the best way to operate. How could I have known how very much I'd love the fade-in, fade-out effect of those red tips?
Might have to keep this one for myself!
The stipey background choice was pure luck as I was auditioning every color under the sun and not feeling any love. Then I remembered a funky, striped backing fabric I'd bought and thought 'why not?' And the quilt just continued to develop with a mind of its own, like so many of my quilts do!
Such a fun quilt
I worried and fretted about the color of the triple blue, center sashing. Thought it was a bit too dull and 'meh'. Tried to fix it with the next border and then later with a bit of applique. The snowball border was an impulse decision made while I was currently infatuated with the idea of making a snowball quilt. That quilt never happened because apparently this border got all of that out of my system. At least I thought it did! Now I'm wondering if it should be made after all? Those scrappy little bits sparkling in the corners of the snowball blocks really make me happy!
Scrap bin quilts make the best sorts of quilts!
In fact, the entire quilt feels like happiness. It's just one of those that came together very well in spite of all the worries and concerns. Just the right amount of scrappy, great colors and a happy, fun vibe. What more can we ask for? If I'd have only known this kind of result was possible 15 years ago, I'd have pushed myself to be much more adventuresome a long, long time ago!

Linking up with Linda and Julie over at sew-stitch-snap-share!

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Brand New Start

Here's the centerpiece for the new medallion quilt I'll be attempting. I had to draw my own block as all the patterns available around here would end up with me having to make ridiculously small hst's. Not happening! This centerpiece finishes at 14 1/2"? Something like that.
Hst Medallion
If my math is correct, then all the hst's should end up finishing out at 1 3/4". That's doable--barely! I'm changing up the colors just a bit. In the antique quilt shown below, {found in one of my old Quilt Guild yardsale finds}, there are only four colors used throughout. I'm planning on using five or six, mixing it up every other hst row. We'll see. The whole idea could crash and burn any day!
Antique quilt using for inspiration
I decided to really push myself and use white instead of cream, my favorite background color. You have no idea how hard that was, coming to that decision. There's just something about cream that feels safe. Everything looks cozier with cream, right? lol  The whites in the stack of fabric I've gathered all have a tint of gray to them too, which could end up making the quilt look really cold and impersonal. Gonna fight that really hard with these pinks and cheddars!

I've been thinking and thinking, still no brilliant ideas for the wordy quilt proposed over at Anne's. I do have a couple stacks of fabrics percolating on my counters that most definitely have some improv. leanings. After our upcoming madhouse of a weekend is over, maybe I'll just play einy-meiny-mieny-mo, grab one and get going. Eventually, if there's a chance for words on the quilt, they can just come to me en route...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Time To Get This One in the Hoop!

There's this quilt top that has been nagging at me for months now, wanting its turn in the sun. I call it Flock of Geese or my 'bluebird' quilt. It was brought to the quilt top stage back in early fall of 2014, so you have to know its been very, very patient with me.
Flock of Geese getting sandwiched and ready for quilting!
When this one was finally all together as a quilt top, I felt a definite disconnect to it. Starting out I didn't want any brown in the quilt at all and well, you know me. Brown usually finds its way into many, many quilts around here! The fact that the wide sashing strips are practically a solid brown? Well, for one, that made me squirmy as to how it was ever supposed to be quilted, and two, tho it's a very old fashioned look {in theory}, this one didn't end up looking that way at all. Hmm...

Honestly? The entire vibe was probably more modern than I was accustomed to producing. Just a little hiccup at the corner of expectation and outcome! But this does happen occasionally as I've finally, finally started to clue in. Duh! My ideas and style seem to evolve faster than I can often mentally process. I dabble in this and that, push the boundaries of where I want my colors and/or quilt elements to play and wallah! The results can be unpredictable, and yet, oddly exhilarating too! And yes, that's undoubtedly why I predictably backtrack into the old and familiar on occasion. Like taking a long, hot soak in the tub and trying to completely unwind.  
Flock of Geese
Fast forward to today and I'm totally scratching my head as to why this would ever have made me uncomfortable in any way, shape or form? It's such a me quilt! lol  It is also interesting to note that the fabric for the birds in this quilt is the same exact fabric I used in a border for Scrappy Tulips, the quilt I just finished stitching prior to Cherries & Improv. pictured below. Totally different usage of the fabric and yet, it was a great sparky element in both quilts! Have I mentioned before that I love, love, love stitching on old quilt tops at the same time as working on the new? And stitching back to back older quilt tops with completely different moods? Such an interesting perspective all the way around....
Binding strips for Cherries & Improv.
Gotta a busy week ahead so am trying to get some hand work ready to go. Once this binding is sewn together and then stitched onto the quilt, I can have myself a binding marathon squeezed in between all the crazy bits of our life. Onward ho!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

I Think There Will Be Time to Quilt This Weekend

A little bit of everything going on in the quilt room! I have one quilt out of the hoop with binding attached by machine. Luckily I had three fat quarters of suitable fabrics to use so I didn't have to go out and buy special. Next up will be hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt, something that shouldn't take very long at all. Just need the motivation!
Scrappy Tulips with binding ready to stitch down
Hey Grandma! now has the smaller part of the flower applique attached to the larger flower pieces. Once I get the stems stitched down, then it's time to stitch the flower and leaves down to the background. I'm a bit worried about the leaves because they are very, very small and they might, possibly, probably, definitely? be too narrow to completely cover the stripey stem ends. What was I thinking?*aghh!  And they're all cut out of course. Will have to start from scratch too because that was most of whatever amount was left in that fabric....
Applique prep for Hey Grandma!
Since Scrappy Tulips is out of the hoop and on its way to a real finish, it's time to get another one back in quickly. Can't stand to have that hoop sit idle you know! I chose this scrap bin Improv. quilt for 'next up' as I was hoping it could be a fast finish.
Cherries & Improv.
The plan is to machine quilt the inside of the quilt in a basic cross-hatch grid, probably with those forgiving organic, straight lines, and then hand quilt the outside applique very simply with Perle Cotton. I love how the inside is straight out of the scrap bin and together with the outside fabric, it has that slightly old fashioned look. All together it makes me very happy. Possibly the colors? The scrappy bits? The vintage pops of red? My kids are like, 'Yeah, it's nice mom', but I am positively dreamy eyed over the various bits of pink and butter yellow. It just feels happy and cheery to me.
Lots of scraps
Anyway, it's starting to get a few lines of stitching this weekend and I'm crossing my fingers all the quilting {both machine and hand quilting} can be done in a week! Just keeping it very simple!! Hey, there are drawers and even a couple shelves full of completed quilt tops around here. If I don't make progress with completions, then I feel terribly somewhat guilty about working on current quilt projects. My kids and I have actually had conversations about what to do with those quilt tops if for some reason I die unexpectedly. Don't you dare throw them away! lol  I will come back and haunt you! We might be a strange family. I'm hardly in the best position to judge.
A little machine quilting
But yeah, that guilty feeling that pops up occasionally? Most of the time it's not a real and present problem 'cuz I just brush it off like a pesky little fly. Quilting is good for me. The truth is, because I am primarily a hand quilter, the quilt tops and true-blue finishes are a wee bit out of balance. It's a fact. One I'm dealing with it in my own way. Like, now that Folksy Flower is actually a completed quilt top? I've already made plans for the next medallion quilt. This time no applique. At least I waited...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Folksy Flower Fun

From the start to completed quilt top, this one has already been in the works for 2 yrs! So glad I put it on the 17ufosin2017 list as that really pushed me to make some real progress. This one was easy to procrastinate on as I was always having the jitters over whether my off-point borders would have too much bias and ruin the entire outcome.
Folksy Flower Medallion is a finished quilt top!
They almost did! Using this sturdy black fabric on the outside border is going to be a lifesaver, I can already tell as it helps keep all the inside stretching issues fairly contained. As mentioned in my last post, there was a question over whether or not to continue on to another border. The more I looked at this quilt, the more it was prodding me to end in a grand finale of sorts. I played and played with the the lighter colors from the centerpiece plus other colors in the quilt and finally sat back and thought, 'Maybe if I just take off the black border, add on a wider one for better balance and perhaps add a bit of applique?'

Well, that led to me deciding that I definitely didn't like how the blue and black border looked fading into the black outside border, especially if it was to be wider and have more detail involved. So in my auditioning with fabric phase, I cut a couple small blue triangles and laid them on top of the corner black triangles, hoping to see what it would look like if I took that border apart and finished the repeat properly.
Looking at the borders before the blue triangles...
In trying to get them properly positioned, I sort of dropped them and they turned the wrong direction. Before picking them up, I realized it looked like they were poking out of that little border like little arrows, which instantly made me excited. Yes! Love how that makes the corner series of borders just a little more interesting, adding an extra sizzle of energy! From idea to actual implementation, the size of those triangles went up two or three seam sizes until finally I was happy with the way they presented. As you know, I'm a big fan of making quilty things larger.*wink
A simple addition
Just adding the triangles onto the inside border completely changed how I was viewing the outside border. Ditch the outside border applique idea! From those little blue triangles, it was a simple jump to deciding to sew together a filmstrip style border {loosely interpreted as such}, which would help pull those little black square elements from the center clear out to the outer border. I do so love finding interesting ways to repeat elements in a quilt.
Sewing on a skinny little border
From there it was a very tedious effort of measure, measure, measure, cut, sew, cut, pin, pin, pin, pin and sew some more. In order to make the filmstrip wrap around the corner, I had to sew on every length of the border individually rather than sew the three parts together and sew all-as-one {like I normally would for efficiency's sake!}. Ugghh... Bear in mind that the inside measurements of this quilt are not exactly in lock-step with the outside measurements. Yeah. Lets just say that this was equal parts creative math and keeping my fingers crossed it wouldn't end up in a giant, stretchy border mess!
Trying to make sure the squares wrap around the quilt
properly, adding a bit more of the lighter fabric on the corner...
Sigh.... Like I said earlier, the sturdy black cotton worked very well in keeping the outside border straight and true. Those little light colored strips were only 1" before seams so I'm not sure any of this would have been possible without the good quality of that particular piece of fabric! And so you can see, Folksy Flower was able to get a simple, but snazzy, outside border which better pulls the entire look of the quilt together. I adore how it pulls the eye right back to the center of the quilt {my very favorite part!} and also repeats the little squares element. While I do like the corner borders a lot, they were never supposed to be The. Focal. Point.
And it's a finally a finish!
As I've often said, there's really no 'right' way to design a quilt, no matter what people might unintentionally imply at times--there are simply preferences! Putting our in-the-works design efforts out on a blog {or in a group setting etc.} for input and comments can make us feel terribly insecure about moving ahead the way we want. But only if we let it! People are simply reacting to what they can see in our pictures and/or completed efforts, often trying to offer up a helpful viewpoint or idea, but too, they are only reacting based on their own experiences and preferences in mind. They can't process the instinctual feelings we're dealing with in the same way and more importantly, they aren't as invested in the outcome, which is always, at root, a very personal thing! Is this going to be a nice quilt--so lovely--or is it going to feel like a 'me' quilt?  You decide which ideas to take and incorporate or which to leave behind and that's that. At the end of the day, we have to be big enough to enjoy the conversation without feeling pressure to conform or perhaps we'll need to skip the agony of indecision posts and just post the final pictures. There! That's what I did, like it or lump it! Anyway, enough with the creative cheer-leading. I'm sure many of you get tired of my rants!

I almost forgot with all my focused border work the past few days, but it's time to link up to July 17ufosin2017 over at Pomegranate and Chintz! {Meredithe always has such good eye candy} and this linkup has been an excellent push for me to work through some stalled UFO's. Along with checking Folksy Flower off the list, I also made good progress with Vintage Coxcombs and also my Peachy Cameo Medallion. These three were just supposed to reach quilt top stage so not quite as much time involved a complete finish. Tho there was a true-blue-all-the-way-completed quilt in the month of July too!  Learning Curves finally bit the dust and is now crossed off the list as well. Yay for progress!

Also linking up with Linda and Julie for sew, stitch, snap, share #9! Do make time to check out Linda's beautiful quilt for some good summertime inspiration!







Saturday, July 29, 2017

Blue Plumes, the Quilt That Snuck Into the Lineup

Another quilt top brought to the completed stage! I'm guessing this is a close to a monochrome color palette you'll ever see around here and I'm happy for the experience. It's very intriguing {in hindsight} to build a quilt completely around the applique too. Will have to think on more those possibilities for the future!
Blue Plumes a finished quilt top!
In the end, I left off the applique pieces which would have overlapped the top border. No matter how I fussed with the pieces, they just always came off as awkward looking when viewing the entire quilt. As a compromise to coming up with a 'finished' look, I migrated some applique elements to the corners. It's not obvious, but those pieces are actually two or more seam allowances larger than the rest of the applique in the quilt.

Once I placed the lighter blue petal in the center of every corner 'flower', then it all just sort of clicked into place.*ahh..  Sometimes it feels like nothing will ever work and then you'll find me pulling the quilt top out for weeks, trying this, trying that. It's a tricky thing, playing with color in borders. You never want it to overshadow the rest of the quilt, but rather use it in order to draw the eye around the quilt and provide a sort of balance. I love using it as an extension as to where the energy is being directed in a quilt. Border work can definitely help change the dialog. In this case, it firmly takes the power away from the very lightest blocks--they were shining a little too brightly--and says, 'No! Look at all of us, we're important too!'
Such a soft, different look for me....
I have a feeling this top will look better after some quilting. Don't they always? And I'd apologize for the rumpled looking effort on display, the bad pictures and the various bits of threads you always find in my pictures, but no. I won't.
So happy I didn't let this idea slide!
The other night when I went to bed the headboard & foortboard caught my eye--wouldn't that look amazing painted? And I just laughed. If there's time to be painting the headboard, you can believe I'll be quilting instead! As it is, the time it takes for photo shoots, no matter how lame, is generally just flat out annoying. Wait till the kids are out of the house, wait till the light is good, make sure stuff is out of the way in the background, etc. etc. etc. My heart isn't in that part of the process, which is oh-so obvious.*sigh  Now you can understand why I'm not leaping over to Instagram. Lots of pictures and little writing? The comparison with other quilty accounts would be deadly....

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Basket Love, A Completed Improv. Quilt Top

First off, I'd like to say congrats! to Paulette from The Way I Sew It blog. Her comment came up as the winner to my 7 yr. Blogiversary giveaway! The whys and wherefores of what might motivate any of us to comment on blog posts made for great conversation! The main thing that stood out was that most of us like to feel a connection, however that might come about. Time is too precious to comment just for the sake of commenting. And that's okay. We all seem to prefer those comments that feel heartfelt and sincere.
Improv. basket blocks
It's time again for the AHIQ monthly linkup over at Kaja and Ann's. These lady's are so talented, it's hard to keep up! I love the open ended style of their link-ups though, and the fact that they actively encourage learning and growing in personal technique and style, plus instinctual decision making. After over a year of dipping my toes into this adhoc. improv., I have to say that I'm having so much fun with it! Not ready to quit yet!
The green string columns

This particular project was in response to the 2-block challenge set up by Kaja last quarter. I determined to make free style basket blocks and then join them with vertical columns of strings. As usual around here, I pulled my fabrics in advance, tinkered with them awhile {weeks actually} and then started cutting and sewing only after I felt satisfied with the newly blended palette. The interesting thing about these colors is that I didn't choose the sour greens until all the other colors were stacked together and seemed to be missing a necessary spark. Then they just sort of jumped into the pile as though they couldn't help themselves. Okay! I'm game for about anything that looks intriguing, even if I'm not sure why!
Sewing the first set
It's so much fun to drag difficult fabric colors out of the stash totes and try to give them their moment in the sun. Really quite addictive in its own way. I'm always confident that playing with them one more time will give me the clues to getting all sorts of kinks worked out. This time could be the magic moment when that perfect blending of colors is found!

After I had enough baskets prepared, I added a darker coping border to the blocks in order to bring them all to the same exact size. Then I moved on to the green coins {or strings}. With these, I free cut strips--in sets of 2 fabrics each--until I ran out of at least one of the fabrics. That determined the length of each particular color blending as I decided to leave the string sets in two color groupings {sewing them length to length} rather than mix up single strings throughout an entire column.

Since I was working strictly with the greens for the strings, it was easy enough to divide them into rough groupings of light, brights for one pile and medium, darks for the other. That value change is stronger in some sets, but subtle enough not to make the quilt read as a super bold 'stripe' quilt. The columns actually read more as a background and allow the baskets to steal the spotlight, which is totally what I was hoping for!
Basket Love--Approx. 70" x 91"
It was only after the entire length of the string columns were sewn, that I went ahead and added the setting triangles to the basket blocks. I wanted high impact, heavily saturated and light or bright colors that would 'pop'. Initially I intended to mix them up a lot more and have all four corner triangles be a different fabric. Then for some reason I changed directions and decided to make it less busy, which meant cutting more fabric repeats. Sometimes that makes for a stronger look. This is probably the most purple I have ever intentionally put into a quilt and the crazy thing was, it didn't even make me wince. Not my favorite color! The more I quilt, the more it seems that there isn't any truly ugly color, just meh! {to me} color palettes! And yes, I'm well aware that I don't always get it right! lol
Looking at the quilt with the sun shining on it!
An interesting side effect of sewing such long lengths of strings together was having the seam allowance rip out here and there from the weight of the fabric. I pinned at every single seam, tried to be very, very careful in the way {and amount} I handled the columns, and even went back and backstitched where it was coming apart too far into the seam allowance. Hopefully next time I'll remember to use a smaller stitching length when sewing the original string sets. This was NOT fun! And after the entire quilt was together, I sewed a basting stitch on the sides of the quilt too. Fingers crossed that will stop any more unraveling!

So that's it. I'm calling this a completed quilt top. No borders for this one! I'm proud of how far I've come feeling comfortable in free cutting my string sets, excited to use up some oddball green fabrics, and thrilled at ending up with such a bold {for me} looking quilt! And, drum roll..... there was almost no waste with these string sets! Yay! I'm starting to get the hang of that basic math which makes me feel like the super, good, frugal quilter lady.*sigh  Gotta take our victories where we can!

Linking up to Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #23. Moving on, I'm pondering yet another 2-block improv. quilt, perhaps a Sherri Lynn Wood score? the next interesting AHIQ challenge {of course}, and oh yeah, trying to make a Kaja style improv. quilt--one little unit at a time. Oh well, there's a couple weeks to make that decision. So many possibilities.....

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