Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Week

Are You Crazy?!?
First I loved it, then I hated it, then it started to get more interesting again.   As it came together I understood why people probably don’t intuitively piece a bunch of blocks then try to put them into a traditional quilt format.  With matching corners.  But it’s sort of fun.    I don’t know why I always go overboard on color. And complexity.  But I do.

I enjoyed the process of putting this together more or less intuitively.  But probably more happy with the fact that I was able to work quickly - quickly for me, anyway - without too much diddling and fiddling.  I tried something, and if it worked relatively okay I went forward with it.  
In the end it's too mish-mashy and overwhelming.  Too much screaming color.  Although it's not quite as screaming as it seems in the photo.  I think all that color terrified my camera.   Too much busy-ness.  The orange strips are too much orange in one place.  The striped log cabins in the center are too sloppy and overwhelming...  

I should have been more precise with the striped pieces.  They are all lumpy and crooked.  

But hey, it's something, and it's done, and its time to move on.  But... what if I put a couple stripes into the orange strips...?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nothing is as Easy as it Looks

Studio time has been hit or miss lately, but I do get down there at least four to five hours per week, I'd guess.  I took last Friday afternoon off, and was able to work uninterrupted for about three hours, then back after dinner for a couple more.

For a long time I've wanted to try doing more with printed fabric.  Nancy had us bring geometric prints to all three of the workshops I've done, but we never got very deep into using them.  I have been following Maria Shell and really loving what she is doing with prints, specifically her Color Grid series,seen in this process shot she featured back in May.

Maria Shell - Color Grid Series

So given a three hour window to mess around with, I pulled out the prints and started cutting strips and making "fabrics."  I deliberately worked intuitively, without any particular plan in mind, but I did try to limit the color range and intensity.    Once I had four or five strip sets made, I grabbed one and started slicing and dicing.

After I made the blue units, I threw them on the wall in a sort of grid pattern.  Since there were eight of them, I had the concept in mind that they would evolve into eight blocks, and then I would make eight more out of other fabrics, and assemble 16 blocks in a checkerboard arrangement.  That seemed sort of boring, though, so I started arranging them in more of an overall symmetrical layout, thinking I would have a greater number of different blocks and more of a reference to traditional quilt making block layouts that could create overall secondary patterns....  

This is what the wall looked like this morning, after some additional fabrics and blocks were made. 

I don't like it.  Yet.  I'm not sure what it's going to take to get it to something I like, but right now the whole overall arrangement thing is not working for me at all. Scattered, distracting, confusing, overly complicated. It's questionable whether I can get it anywhere that I will like it.  I may have to go back to just having two blocks and repeating them, or otherwise simplifying.   As an alternative, It might need to be more of a "chunk" arrangement. Where multiple blocks are grouped.  I'm trying hard NOT to be too derivative of Maria's stuff, i.e. making a grid like hers.    I find I get more focused on geometry and mental gymnastics, and not enough on the visual that is actually produced, or the figure/ground relationship.  I wonder how they will look without all the white space...    I created the fabric on the left out of solids, thinking it would be unifying between blocks.  But - No.  You can see a couple thin strips in the center.  They are too big, in relation to the striped fabric.

Stay tuned.

In other news,  I took apart the black and white "thing" and got rid of all the arbitrary angles.  It's on the wall, and I played with adding some larger black areas.  Now I'm distracted by the couple of lines that get too skinny.  I thought they added interest or hierarchy or something, but now they are distracting.  We'll see.

And then there's Jane.  The temporary obsession with Jane has abated slightly.  but I did enjoy the paper piecing, and it helped me practice precision.  Not something I love, but something necessary.

I have sort of copied the blocks as drafted in the book, but also taken some liberties here and there.  The last one I completed was the 16-square in the lower right.  I did this by cutting squares, and it did not turn out sized correctly.  I can see now why people use paper piecing even with simpler assemblages.  More precision.  Question is whether I'll redo it, or just make do?  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The last few days I have struggled and struggled and struggled to get that first piece quilted.  I accomplished a fair bit, but I wanted to use some shiny Sulky thread, (polyester?) and I had a hard time with the stitches dropping at the turns.  I have ripped and resewn at least five times.  The frustrating thing is the strips DON'T drop when I sew on my sample fabric piece.  The only difference is the batting on the sample is MORE puffy.  Wouldn't you think the reverse, the'd drop on the puffy, not the flat?

When I get home I will change the needle.  If that doesn't do it, it's past time for servicing anyway.  I just can't stand being without it for up to two weeks right now!!!!  I am finally getting time to focus a little bit.

In other news, I'm becoming very fond of Dear Jane.  Although I tried and failed to make the simplest block, a 1-1/2" nine-patch!  Got too lazy and cut some pieces to finished instead of raw size.  I had just tossed it in the trash when I remembered my resolve to do some improv squares too.   I cut it in quarters like a disappearing nine-patch, resewed, added border and Voila!  THAT at least made me happy.

Now I am pondering ideas about how to put together my Modern Jane.  Many versions, many examples on Pinterest.  But I don't want it to just be a different setting, I want to somehow incorporate the blocks into something more creative.....   Stay tuned.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Variety

I have not finished anything else this week.  I have been hopping around pulling out different projects.  I like to be working on a lot of projects at once.  I am very easily distracted.  I can be in the  middle of quilting a section of a quilt and suddenly jump up and start playing with another design on the wall.
Rather than pound on myself for being "scattered" I prefer to think of it as overflowing with creativity.

I got kind of bored with the two pieces I planned to quilt this week.  I was not terribly  unhappy with the quilting, but doing it on the machine with walking foot can get very tedious.  My biggest problem is how to make "U-turns" that don't look messy.  I have my little pieces that I bought from Lisa, and I look at her photos on her website, but I don't know how she makes her edges so neat.  Somehow she is able to stitch over things and get the stitches to land in the exact same place.  Practice, I'm sure, is the key.  But it tells me that I'd better get serious about free motion quilting. Which also means more PRACTICE.  Sigh.

Here's what I've been up to:
The two pieces to be quilted:
This was my prototype for Working in a Series last year.

This was a challenge for FFFC.  Abstracted Van Gogh.
I almost hate to admit it, but I've been sucked back into "Dear Jane."   Sometimes doing something teeny and precise appeals to me. Another thing I need to get good at.  I don't see my real art being that way but there are always times when I get frustrated by my lack of technical skills.  So I spent about 90 minutes Wednesday and Thursday piecing block A-1.  They finish at 4-1/2" so blocks are made 5".  5" and 28 pieces.  1-1/8" half square triangles.  I had fun trying out this method for making eight at once.  Thank you Katie.

I had an epiphany about Jane - I do NOT have to make all the squares.  Not only that, but I can make DIFFERENT blocks too.  I can make up my own, if I want.  I have no desire to do the applique blocks. I have enough hand sewing backed up to get me through a winter worth of TV, why do more (badly)?  I can just keep making random blocks until I am bored.  I have been loving watching the Tula Pink City Sampler bloggers.  But I am fighting the urge to star one of THOSE too.  And the urge to buy the book!

Instead, I plan to mingle Modern blocks and Jane blocks to my hearts content.  Maybe that's stupid, Jane is the ultimate in fussy, Modern Quilters are the ultimate in loosen up already.   But what the hell, maybe it will be like Grandma meets Modernism.  
I also realized that in addition to a selection of teal-ish fabrics bought for Jane, I have a bunch of teal-ish fabrics bought for Tipping Point. So I might do the whole thing in shades of teal.  Or I might add a second color.  Or two.  Or ten.   Here's my progress so far:
Yeah, seven blocks.  But look at that sucker in the upper right.  That's the one from last night.  And if I may say so, the points are pretty damn good.  ;)   The one on the upper left I made up when I was practicing the HSTs.

Some other oldie-moldies that are back on the design wall:
Pink and Black nine-squares.
Sorry about the crappy picture.  
I started this really early in my career, when I was still interested in more traditional stuff.  I bought a whole lot of pink and black fabric because I had Zero quilting fabric.  Now I'm thinking about whether it should be anything or just scrap it.  What more creative thing can I do... ?
Carol Taylor Class
I NEED to finish this because I spent waaaaay too much money on her fancy yard.  Really?  I need 6 different yarns for this 18" square piece? What am I ever going to do with all that??
What to do with this project from Nancy's class is more interesting.  I thought at the time that making a diagonal cut seemed like the way to turn it into something.  While it hung on the wall I realized it was nothing, horrible, a mish-mash.  So I took it apart and stuck parts back on the wall.  But I'm thinking I have to take out the slash.  At least for now.  So those pieces are wasted.  Oh well, it will be smaller.  

P.S.  I forgot to add that I am spending WAAAY to much time on Pinterest.  I've become sort of hooked on seeing my followers increase. Not that I'm vain or anything.  :) But I have gone from 4,000 last weekend, to over 4,500 today.   I like to search out new things on the web to post, rather than just re-pinning from the people I follow (bcs. my followers probably have already seen those things too).   It's a guilty pleasure, that at least doesn't contain calories.

I guess since this post has lots of stuff on the wall, I'll link up to Nina Marie's Off The Wall Friday!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Christmas in July - Well, August

Yesterday I finished attaching and stitching down the binding on this - Point-y Settia.  Hee hee.  My first paper piecing project.  I'm learning not to use large scale prints in small pieces.  I hate when that happens.

Today I sandwiched two pieces and started practicing Lisa-Call type tight rows of stitching.  Don't know how she does it so neatly!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Finishes - On a Mission

I've had a little time to get back to the studio, and have been on a mission to finish things....
These Easter pillows were never even on an official UFO list, but I received the fabric in a guild raffle, and decided they would be fun for the girls on their Easter sleepover.  I actually did finish them back then, just never posted them.  My intention is that I can use these pillow forms and put different covers on them for various holidays.  We'll see if that happens.  Not sure why the corners are so limp...?
What I did finish last week was the little pink ones.  They came to be because - who could resist a 50-cent remnant of hot pink tiger-stripe fleece?  Not me.  They are the funny tiny shapes because the remnant was only about that wide.  I stuffed them with a lot of left-over too-fluffy batting I had filling up the shelves.

The other finish is an oldie but goodie that has been on the UFO list since 2010 when I took the class.  I actually thought there was a lot more work left, but I was able to finish it up in only a few days of quick sittings.  It was in worse condition than I'd remembered. It was started in 2010, in a class with Alethea Ballard.    Her "maverick" technique of just using a glue stick to slap things down, and then quilt later didn't work well for me.  Leaving it sit three years probably didn't help.   ;)   The pieces didn't lay flat at all, and there are some nasty puckered up areas.  But knowing it was a mess already freed me up to just do something and not worry about ruining it.  

The nasty puckers and bubbles actually gave me a "brilliant" idea  - since it's a soft, upholstered chair, why not give it some three-dimensional quality?  It's hard to capture in a photo.  I snipped slits in the backing and stuffed most of the chair sections (already outlined with zig-zag quilting) with more of that overly-fluffy batting.  It actually made me sort of like the end result!  I think I'll save it for putting up at Halloween.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to.  That and some mending - buttons and pants hems - that has also been cluttering the studio - and hence my mind!  Life is good.   Now, with all this hot weather I'm thinking it would be a crime if I didn't dye some fabric......  ?