Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Probably Not My Best Work, But Having Fun Anyway

It's Ahoc. Improv. time again and I am still 'playing with scale'. It's gotten a little out of hand as you can see. So chaotic it's almost to give me a headache, but well..., there's maybe? possibly? a vintage vibe trying to peak through.
Trying to decide if the large blocks are a 'go'

I went ahead and ripped the blue tabs off the centerpiece. Oooh, that's much, much better. Thought that might happen, but when I decided on the big blocks, it was time for the tabs to go. Then I went ahead and added some blue back into some of the blocks. All the fabrics as a whole are so mellow and sweet {truly}, but in this particular grouping of blocks, the energy is practically surging. There was definitely an attempt to get value changes wherever possible {you know me!}, but I tried very hard to keep green in every block for unity. Or something important like that. Somehow it just didn't quite do the trick like I wanted and needed it too. So much for using up bits and pieces of a million fat quarters and expecting to get something that looks like background.
Laying out the blocks....
So yeah. This is not exactly what I set out to do, but of course, there are always deviations and distractions, quirks and surprises when working improv. At least in my quilting room. Guess I can't say for sure about yours! Can I calm things down with a strippy border around the centerpiece?
Considering other options...
Nah... Not working for me in any of the colors auditioned, tho deep red was the best bet. I do like the light pink and dark brown strippy inset border there on the bottom though. Maybe if I repeat that on the top of the quilt, just one row into the quilt? I threw these leftovers into a rough looking row just to 'see'. There's nothing quite like having it right in front of us to help make up our wishy, washy minds.
Probably not....
And the railroad tracks border idea was definitely intriguing, but just too much, too much. Can't handle all this strong 'look at me stuff!' And now I'm back to the strippy bars border minus one row of blocks for the length of the quilt. It's a really busy look, but somehow ties everything together regardless. Not a design to win any awards, but it will still probably keep someone nice and warm some day in the future.
Maybe a yes....
We have been gone several days in a row and there has been lots of craziness going on since we returned. This was farther than I expected to get today, but still not nearly far enough to satisfy. When the middle of the living room floor is the only design wall that's big enough to work with, time for auditioning becomes very limited. As it was, I had several of my family carefully walking across the quilt blocks. What to do? Once it's picked up, then it's who knows how long till there's another opportunity. So be it.

I did go ahead and start sewing rows of the quilt together tonight, randomly turning quilt blocks in a different direction when I got the urge. It was annoying to me that they were all placed so purposefully in a 'weave' pattern--that carefulness was the unintended result of hurrying to move things off the floor. I prefer a bit more randomness, but it might be too late to make it happen. 

Hoping to lay it all out once again with enough of the strippy lt. pink and brown border sewn to make a difference.  Wish you could see the true colors of this quilt--it's not nearly as mushy looking at it looks in all these horrid pictures! This project has been fairly mindless, surprisingly fun and also, really good to get rid of {more} sage green fabrics stock piled so many years ago. What was I thinking? There's nothing wrong with working with the old and languishing when we're focused on design possibilities, right? And it's always good to practice with the pieces we won't cry over if we mess up too terribly. Linking up with Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #32! Hopefully tomorrow I'll have time to catch up on the emails and blogging comments too...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Vintage Lily

It was rainy, gray day when I tried to take these pictures. Really a shame, because this {now finished} quilt top looks much more vibrant than the pictures might indicate. Vintage Lily was started sometime in the fall of last year. Kaja got me started on this particular color palette with two different quilts of hers that just sorta pulled me in and made me long to play.
Vintage Lily is a finished quilt top!
At first there was a fabric stack {probably started much earlier in the year?} pulled directly from my stash of course. That simmered for a very long time. It slowly attracted like-fabrics into the stack, and occasionally, kicked one out that didn't quite gel. I absolutely wanted a old time/vintage feel to the quilt, which isn't as easy as it might seem. Throughout those months, I carefully added in several shirting fabrics. A few came from second hand stores, one directly from my sons closet and another was a shirt he wore as a toddler! There were many vintage-look florals and/or prints tossed in and out, but it wasn't until after the fall quilt show though, that the initial 'start' to this quilt finally happened.

The overall approach to this quilt almost eluded me forever as I had great difficulty in being able to see the entire look and feel in my minds eye. How to start, how to start? Sometimes that is the greatest struggle of all--making sure that those carefully gathered stacks of fabric reach their best potential. It's a very common theme around here. In fact, at this moment in time, there are probably seven or eight stacks of carefully collected fabrics sitting around my quilt room. Just waiting for that perfect storm of inspiration and motivation!
Trying to determine if I like it.....
I used the 'Cultural Fusion' book as to the formula for making the simple improv. blocks in this quilt. There were similar blocks in the Scrappy Tulips quilt, but those little corner bits came straight out of the scrap bin. I loved that particular snowball border solution so much, but wowsers, lots and lots of extra cutting. Very time consuming! Sujata's method, tho involving lots of trimming after the blocks are sewn, is a bit more streamlined in terms of cutting and piecing. This seemed to work very well with the limited color palette going on here too. All I had to do for this 'look', was adjust the cutting in the block formula to get the smaller corners I wanted. The imperfection of the corners {that I love so much} is built right into the formula.
Testing, testing....
And one wonderful thing about getting all the blocks trimmed up after being sewn, is the rows go together very fast. It would've been even faster if I hadn't had to remove one row from each side of the quilt while it was still in the large unit stage. Miscalculation in my rough diagram.*grr  In the end, I didn't like the proportion of the finished quilt top either. There was an exact repeat amount of blocks radiating out from the centerpiece, and in person, it looked a little odd. Even to my no-opinions-about-quilts {haha} husband, it was something that needed changed. This just made me grit my teeth to think of getting out the seam ripper again. Oh just let me think about this for a minute or two, surely there's another solution! And thankfully there was. I decided on a whim to fold the edges of the quilt over and see what it looked like with a smidgen of those rows chopped off.
Making a minor adjustment...
And it was all decided in a matter of minutes. Yes! to cutting the blocks in half at the sides of the quilt! Me, the frugal, don't-want-to-waste-any-fabric-ever kind of quilter, happily chopping off the sides of a quilt. It simply boggles the mind.....
Vintage Lily
Gotta love the end result though. Somehow all the elements that I was originally inspired with translated into a good thing. Makes me feel sorta warm and fuzzy honestly! Linking up to Koka Quilts and JulieLou at sew, stitch, snap, SHARE!

Friday, April 13, 2018

It's Never Quite As 'Quick and Easy' As It Seems

Sometimes we have quilt projects that just need time to simmer. Dozens of potentially good ideas spin around in our brains for precisely how to move forward. And tho at times it feels really complicated, the minute it all 'clicks' into place, then we feel so relieved that we gave it time and space to get things right. In the meantime, there are generally lots of other projects that can more than fill up our creative time.
Adding a simple round of borders for Tidbits quilt
It's really is good to have numerous quilt projects on the go, all in different phases of completion. I like how it somehow works to keep the mind engaged and subconsciously focused on the 'in flux' quilts--those balky phases sandwiched in between moments of almost effortless momentum. This impulsive start {from the throw-away bits of another project} hasn't ever felt especially demanding or persnickety. No grandiose design ideas that may or may not pan out. Mostly, it felt that the quilt was just wanting to BE. And so...., me being me, I decided to make it a scooch larger so as to actually put it into practical use some day in the future.
Cutting and sewing strip units for log cabin type borders....
I love the look of log-cabin type borders, especially when they aren't perfectly matchy-matchy. It seemed like an easy-peasy way to make this quilt larger without an enormous amount of effort expended. After all, this wasn't on any priority list!*sigh   Digging through the stash totes culled two larger lengths of fabric that could be easily be used on opposite sides of the quilt, exactly mirroring each other. The other two sides of the quilt, well... they seemed fairly happy with a hodge-podge of cream, gray, taupe and lighter black prints.
Is it large enough yet?
It felt good to use up some of the odd yellow gray and weird taupe colors that never seem to settle well into any other color palette. I also threw in remnants of two text fabrics that brought a little extra energy to the quilt. It was an eclectic mix of neutrals and oddball colors for sure, but actually felt rather calm and confident once sewn together. There's just something about blending blues and greens with neutrals that makes good sense! And of course, our AHIQ challenge of 'playing with scale' found its way into this surprisingly spunky quilt too. How could I not include those larger 'hills' or buttons or whatever else they're called? I do so adore a touch of whimsy and 'what in the world was that woman thinking' in a quilt!
Yep, it can handle a couple more border rounds!
It definitely took longer than expected to finish stitching all these borders to the centerpiece. I was thinking an evening or two, zippity, zip. Ha! It took four evenings of dedicated time and effort! Lots of auditioning, then measure, measure, measure, cut, pin, pin, pin and then the sewing of course. {The applique work on the extra three pieces don't even count!} And even with all of my very careful measuring, the inside of the quilt {in only one direction} was approximately half an inch narrower than the outsides of the quilt. Oh I am so traumatized! Not!
Always trying to measure twice, cut once!
Another simple quilt top hiding out in the drawers is good stuff. I know this one can be dragged out and finished up lickety split for another niece or nephew wedding, right? The minimal, almost modern look to the quilt should make for an easy, well liked gift.
Tidbits finished up at 82" x 87 1/2" inches!
So there it is, my latest rabbit hole of a project. Gonna have to take a good hard look at all my lists and get serious about those projects that really matter. What do you think. Was Tidbits a worthy distraction?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

It's Looking Like a Finished Quilt Top

I am still crushing on this combination of blue, greens and blush pink. Not something I would have deliberately thought to put together, but somehow it all works to make me very happy.
Improv. Postage Stamp Basket quilt top
Originally the idea was to make postage stamp basket blocks with improv. string strips and then combine them with these classic looking pineapple blocks. That would have included some yellow golds and deeper pink and reds, which somehow was just a bit too clashy. Even for me! These improv. baskets have been an interesting experiment as they don't just scream out the fact that they are baskets. That was a little surprising to me, but maybe it's because I mixed the fabrics for the handles up a little too much and didn't use enough of the darker colored fabrics? Regardless, I do still like them. A lot! So that's good. Onward ho!
So hard to get a decent picture of the whole thing....
In the end though, they didn't look good combined with the pineapple blocks.*meh  Disappointing for sure, but these things do happen. And now one project has merged into two. Well, actually.... to be perfectly honest, the number is now up to four. Yep, it's a hydra of sorts! This baby quilt was impulsively started from the trim-offs from those improv. basket blocks and then also, drumroll please...., I have Tidbits. Those little cut-out pieces from all the basket handles that just wouldn't go quietly into the night either.....
Really love the busier sashing prints mixed in....
At least these original improv. basket blocks finally, finally settled into place. All it took to convince me was these random, lighter, blush pink sashing bits and a random floral fat quarter that worked quite well for the cornerstones. Sold! I love the whimsical, sweet look to the cornerstone fabric and thought it helped give a bit of necessary focus too. It was really hard not to scour the Internet for a larger piece of that particular fabric. {Why do I always buy skimpy fat quarters of the very best fabrics?} I hated, HATED! having to cut out some of the roses 'off-kilter'. Be that as it may, I also cringe at being the one who celebrates 'making-do' and then falls into a pit of despair when there's not enough fabric! lol

 Not sure if you can tell from my over-exposed pics, but all the darker roses went into the center of the quilt and the lighter colored ones to the middle-outside edges, then a lighter tone on tone fabric to the very outside edges of the quilt. It seemed to come together just fine though, and really, no reason to panic about some of the roses perhaps not being 'perfectly' centered. We quilters are so funny sometimes, the things that can push our buttons.

Still haven't managed to figure out quite what to do with all those pineapple blocks, but ideas are absolutely simmering somewhere on the back burner. In the meantime, I've just about convinced myself that this quilt won't be needing a border after all--you know that's the default position around here. So that's that. It's all trimmed up now and resting with the oodles of other quilt tops waiting for sandwiching and quilting. Two down, two to go on these blue/green quilt spin-offs. Maybe I should start calling it the 'Don't Tell Me What To Do' series?
Trimming off the excess....
Over the previous weekend I also addressed the applique prep for the latest big basket quilt. Just a matter of making some final decisions about fabric and proportion and then getting pieces cut out.
Applique prep time!
As usual I am nervously wondering if the flowers will be large enough after the seam allowance is turned under. That's the main thing that gives me concern until most all the stitches are completed. As I already increased the size of the drawn out flowers by two more seam allowances, I'm making myself leave it alone at this particular point. Oh yeah, I have already sewed another seam on the bias vine to make it more narrow than the original desired width. You know, for proper  'proportion'.*sigh  Enough is enough. Freehand applique is always such a trial and error process anyway. No way to know for sure about the end result until hello? it's a done deal. If it ends up looking terrible, then I'll just rip it out and start over. Good thing I don't make patterns as the end result is always a totally different shape and size from the original.

Friday, April 6, 2018

ThisTree of Life Quilt Just Makes Me Happy

Ah... this Tree of Life quilt. It was one that was on my bucket list for a very long time. In fact, here is a Pinterest board where I hoarded images of the more special ones that had caught my attention. And one day in 2014, I finally got started on my very own.
So, so happy with how this one turned out!
As usual, I ended up drawing my own pattern. No doubt this particular pattern is available somewhere out there in the land of quilting, but I couldn't find one with the 'trunk' put together just the way I wanted, or even the size of block I needed. It's easy enough to make though, if you'd like to try one for yourself.
It's a finish!
Although I adore the established look of most antique Tree of Life quilts, I couldn't get this version out of my head. It made me seriously consider whether or not I wanted to broaden the potential color palette a little more than the basic {two or three color} look so consistently used in the past. In the end, I couldn't resist the more-color-please! idea, nor the siren call of trying my hand at using busy {perhaps vintage} looking backgrounds. The challenge of turning out a cohesive looking quilt proved to be quite irresistible.
A close-up
Although very much touch and go at times {the seams are not exactly perfection!}, this was a positive feeling project clear through to the end. The colors, the blends of prints, the use of woven fabrics {which I always get mushy over) all helped to keep my endorphins running on high. The very universal layout, with a little solid color sashing in between blocks, also definitely helped to ground my colorful, busy looking quilt. It keeps the overall appearance firmly rooted in tradition, which I love and appreciate. Nothing to be ashamed of, using the foundations of antique/vintage quilting in our newly creative efforts!
Hanging on the railing
It was a little surprising at how much I loved having this quilt in the hoop, even though it's been four years since the top was started. There are times that I probably feel a little 'disconnect' from a project started that far in the past. We doubt ourselves and say, 'Seriously? Why did I make this again?', discounting the value of that specific moment in our quilting journey.  It's just fact that most of our styles continue to grow and change with time and continual forward momentum.

One of the things that I think helps in staying connected to older quilt tops, is when we deliberately strive to pursue our unique voice in all aspects of design, quilt after quilt, choice after choice. With that, and blending years worth of fabric choices {not making a one fabric line quilt}, then the overall look shouldn't feel stale or particularly dated in just a few, short years.
Love how the wonk in the woven fabric
 setting triangles quilted out!
I will reluctantly admit to having some issues with the backing on this quilt. It was sandwiched and pinned on one of those horrible, terrible, no-good days that we all have occasionally. By the time I realized there were five slits in the middle fabric, well.... I didn't particularly care. This fabric was one that was given to me years ago in a bag of other misfits, so the cuts were not of my doing. Nevertheless, it needed fixed and so I decided to try something new. The patches were hand sewn on top of the backing before the hand quilting started, and after the entire quilted was pinned. Yeah. It was a job, but so interesting to see how it looked afterwards. I wouldn't exactly recommend doing these patches on purpose, but somehow they appeal to me all the more for their brazen impertinence.
The strange tale of the backing patches...
And so that's the story of my Tree of Life quilt. Doubtful that this one will ever be given away. It's just too whimsical and yep, fearless! for anyone else to properly appreciate. Right? hehe  Told ya! the wonk would quilt out of the setting triangles. Hand quilting is the best....
Crossing this one off the list!
It's nice to finish a quilt on the bucket list occasionally instead of just meandering willy-nilly where ever our muse takes us. Oh right. I did that too.....  Linking up with Linda and Julie at sew, stitch, snap, SHARE #23!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Every Stitch Counts....

I just couldn't stand it any longer. This quilt {Quilty 365} needed to be in the hoop and that was that. You know how it is. Once a decision is made about the next quilt-in-the-hoop, it's just seems to be time!
Next up in the hoop!
I did manage to wait until the Tree of Life quilt was ready for binding, but it was touch and go. Not that this quilt was hard to work on at all. Oh no. These colors were perfectly satisfying to have in the hoop. The binding was an interesting choice as I really thought the orange/peach would give it a too matchy, matchy vibe. Nothing else popped though and using a brown or black just seemed boring. Surprisingly, this drab peach works well, especially when it's folded over and such a tiny little bit of color is all that will be showing. It was thrilling to find an larger, much older piece of plaid fabric that worked wonderfully for the binding. It's been hanging around in the stash totes for years and years! Now to get it all hand stitched to the back of the quilt.
Ready to stitch down the binding
Trying to keep up with the 6and6in2018 was problematic this month, just like last month. This little Tidbits quilt has most of the little 'hills' stitched down though. Only a few left to go now. Well, maybe it's more than a few, but still.... My granddaughter was at our house for five days and nights so this little bit of hand work felt like serious progress! The applique probably would have been all finished, but there was so much up and down, putting it aside etc., that finally I just folded it up and put it away. Didn't want a loose pin to find it's way into her foot or something equally traumatic!
Just a little more applique left...
Also for the 6and6in2018 challenge, I pulled out the Solids challenge quilt and finally, finally made a decision about the border. I've been agonizing about where to take it from these simple, punchy blocks. I've dithered between a clamshell type border, pieced triangles, applique work and everything in between. The funny thing, is that it probably won't even matter what the border looks like. It's just that the quilt is so small at this point, it's going to need something! I'm still cutting out the pieces, but as you can see, solids are not much in the equation anymore either. That was a huge decision too, as solids was the initial 'challenge' goal. It's a relief to let that go and just do my own thing, unfettered from restriction, from here on out.

So yes, it's a little strange, but I'm not sewing the center of the quilt together until I know exactly how long the borders will be. Of course I know what the measurement is supposed to be, but that doesn't mean it will actually happen. It feels safer to wait and adjust the sashing widths as necessary rather than try for a skinny coping border solution. Lots of confidence that my border will be wonky huh? Yep. It's gonna be a three deep sawtooth border. Lots of wiggle room there with the way I sew!
Starting to cut the border pieces...
And here's the little munchkin who kept G'ma and Papa hopping this past week. Wowsers, was I tired by the end of her time with us. Two year olds just don't fit seamlessly into our lives anymore!
Taking over Grandma's bed...
Good times though. She's such a little bundle of sunshine and love! Wouldn't trade it for all the quilting time in the world. Although.... now that my time is more freed up? Can't wait to get back to the quilting room! Linking up to 6and6in2018! Only worked on those two projects {Tidbits and Solids Challenge} for the month, but even a little bit of progress is better than none?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Little Bit of Improv. Progress

So I spent so much time on the Vintage Lily quilt that I basically ran out of time to spend on the other Improv. quilt projects. There are a lot of different ideas for moving forward with my Playing With Scales quilt but nothing seems absolute.
Auditioning ideas
Which in my book translates into just get started cutting and sewing and see what happens! I'm really on this fence about letting this turn into a medallion quilt, but that being said, it felt like it needed one border surround. And as soon as that was in the works, these little strips of blue jumped directly onto the quilt.
Trying to see what works
I played with a couple ideas for the pink and brown border and eventually settled on what is pictured below. Okay, that's it--carry on. Right?
All sewn together
Well maybe not. After sleeping on it, I thought this particular border needed just a touch more energy. The lighter ends on the top and bottom border especially bother me, how they just sort of drift off into blah, blah, blah. I tried auditioning extra strips on the sides, turned in the opposite direction thinking that could be a bold move. Yuck.
Auditioning again....
And then you know how it happens, I basically went back to the original {sewn together} border audition. Maybe with just a slight 'off row' alignment? Now to just get the seams unpicked and the new segment cut and sewn in. Right now it's just resting on top there in that bottom right hand corner.

Sorry for those of you who will greatly dislike them, but the blue 'tabs' on the applique centerpiece are completely sewn down and there to stay. There is just something about them that intrigues and won't allow for their removal. At least at this particular moment. If, at any time, my opinion changes about their value to the rest of the quilt, it really is an easy fix to get the seam ripper out and discard them--minutes is all it will take. It will be like they were never there. Much easier to sew them on now while the quilt is little, than to try and add them in at the monster quilt stage!
This could be the one...
And as for the Improv. Postage Stamp Basket quilt, there is definite progress being made, albeit slowly. Thanks for all the great suggestions to help make the baskets look more like baskets. It really made me think. For the time being tho, I'm fairly content to let that be an abstract thing and just soak up the colors. This blue,green and blush pink color palette is making me feel very happy and I don't want to over think the quilt to the point that it loses it's simple charm.
Improv. Baskets
'Cuz that can happen. I've been there, done that. Striving for a lost element can make us totally forget to enjoy the good things already going on in the quilt. Linking up to Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #31.

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