Tuesday, May 23, 2017

AHIQ 21 - Two Block Quilt Progress

I've been thinking about a second block for CCII. Oddly alternating choruses: Slow down versus move it along; try something new versus repeat something I can create with ease.

I thought this quilt would look more like Nettie's Stacked Bricks. Instead it's taking on a bright "Freddy Moran-vintage" feel. Like our children, we have many plans for their future but, to be truly successful, they make their own choices.

Stacked Bricks center

Whenever I go to a show or meeting, I think, "If a natural disaster strikes, which one will I save?" Not steal. But I could only carry one. There are so many quilts {and parts of quilts} I admire. Among my favorite quilts are ones with nuance and depth to their work that still appear handmade and touchable. These are the quilts I would save from natural disaster. A trivialization of Sophie's Choice if you will.

What does this have to do with anything? I don't want to copy but rather to let ideas percolate and metamorphose until I find a way to incorporate aspects I admire. Like the suns in Kaja's Little Bird which also remind me of my Cowboy Fireworks made using Sujata Shah's Cultural Fusion Quilts. Kaja's are rectangular and I think she individually cut her rays. How would it work with a stack of fabric instead?

Cowboy Fireworks quilt

What if I made star points instead of sun rays? I have some paper pieced New York Beauties in progress for years. Yes. I still think they're beautiful, still like the colors, and still plan to finish. I don't want to start a second one now. {I can't keep up with the papers already.}

Paper pieced New York Beauty blocks, still in progress

Several years ago, Tim Latimer made a Suspension Bridge quilt. {His post also includes photos of a housetop quilt in progress and Kaja's been using that block. Hey. It's the circle of life, or at least the circle of coincidence.} What charming awkwardness of the points. He didn't paper piece. But he did write a post about his process: Tim's Suspension Bridge piecing.

So... How improvisational do I want to be? What method will work best for me?

How about you? I'm setting aside a couple of afternoons to read all the posts in detail. Be sure to check in with Kaja for more insight into two-block quilts.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spring Cleaning

Perhaps because of all the pollen this year, I've taken to spring cleaning with a vengeance. All the pillows have been washed; furniture moved, dusted, and polished; drawers are being emptied, sorted, and restocked. I've even reorganized my fabric boxes. And look what I found: a collection of squares cut for a class last year with Sujata Shah. That was when my family life went to pieces so I didn't take take the class and forgot about them. An easy project to sew this week and part of my plan to build a Parts Department a la Freddy and Gwen.

Fabric for Crossroads blocks

By the end of the day I had these completed.

Crossroads blocks

#AHIQtwoblocks continues Tuesday. CCII/Stacked Bricks needs a border. Might these work?

Possible Crossroads border on CCII
 The Xs aren't beefy enough to suit; they look wimpy compared to the stars. But the lighter backgrounds give me some ideas. Although these blocks don't work here, more fabric choices have emerged.

I pulled out my stash and set each piece on the top. This is my go-to method to ensure every possibility is tried. Purple is a possibility or perhaps blue?

After a couple of hours, here are the best choices so far.

Fabric possibilities for the next round

Some fabrics might be good colors but are the wrong print. For example, that whale fabric is a wonderful color but the print doesn't work with this quilt. Well, perhaps I'm wrong. {Won't be the first time.} Think seastars rather than celestial stars. There are starfish on that print that could match the red stars.

Testing some light fabrics.
Lavender and white print choices
None of these makes my heart beat faster when placed against the center. I'm going to try more lights tomorrow. If nothing works, a shopping trip may be required.

Enjoy the day,
Ann

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Enlarged Mini Trip Around the World

Twelve more blocks finished and the top sewn together. The quilt will be six by seven blocks or approximately 72" by 84". Here it is.

Red, orange, pink, and yellow squares form diagonals on this scrappy mini trip quilt

Here was the planned layout on the floor. Somehow the blocks became reversed while sewing. {Who did that?} It still looks good; one of the joys of scrap quilts. The colors are a bit brighter in this photo than the previous. The real colors are somewhere between these two.

Enlarged Mini Trip Around the World 
When I last laid these out, the blocks seemed a bit too bright/dark. So for the final twelve I used fewer dark and bright strips. Just to tone it down a bit.

Finishing this quilt doesn't take long when many of the blocks are strip pieced. I also learned some finer points from this exercise. For example, since I like strong diagonals I made sure a red/orange/yellow strip occurred every seventh or eighth strip. Then I opened the tube at that fabric so they made most of the main diagonals.

Note: If you strictly make your preferred color on the main diagonal, you'll have a larger "square" where four blocks meet at the corners. If you alternate seventh and eighth locations you get more of an Irish Chain style. Does this make sense?

Of course, you can be completely random, too.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chinese Coins II Moving Along

I got busy with this top and forgot to take process photos. While I liked the red sashing better, I didn't want the sashing to be the focal point.

Stacked Bricks, a Chinese Coin quilt variation sets Coins vertically
Chinese Coins II with green sashing and star posts

On the other hand, the green sashing blended into the blocks too much. {Here's the photo from last time to compare.} Also, everything here was too squared up.

Posts without stars
I considered appliqueing flowers over the posts again but really wanted some red and pink here. You can see how circumspect I was adding tiny bits of red Coins.

Star points were cut from more squares the size of the posts. They were sew-and-flipped to the sashing then pressed. That let me use the sashing as a guide to again square up the sashing.

Many of the coins were hand cut. Of course, some were rotary cut scraps from previous projects. If they were already a decent width I left them as is. I overlapped the the light and dark coin sets before rotary cutting that seam line without a ruler, both to add individuality and to keep as much length as possible. But I squared up the final coin set pairs and cut the sashing with rotary and ruler. I liked the combination of free and sharp this gives.

Several quilters combine these techniques, including Freddy Moran, Gwen Marston, and Sujata Shah. Look at Sujata's Windmills quilt as an example. Free cuts within the block but block perimeter is squared up.

There wasn't enough green to complete the outer sashing either. Fortunately a half-yard of this navy print waited in my stash. Even it wasn't enough so a fat quarter remnant fills out the top and bottom.


#AHIQtwoblocks

I've been thinking about two-block quilts. Several ideas are running through my head for future quilts but  a second block might make a good border here.  Improv quilts are a learning experience for me - at least, I want them to be. There are many techniques to be tried: non-paper-pieced curves and perhaps another bout of applique.

This is the year to be fearless; to push myself to learn new skills; to create more textured quilts. So I'm mulling inspiration from Kaja and Audrey's beautiful quilts.

Enjoy the day,
Ann

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Sashing Chinese Coins II

Trying to salvage Retro Mama sashing. Is there a way to sneakily add some green to the sashing or posts? What if I appliqued simple flowers over the posts? It uses blues, reds, and greens but it's not doing anything for me.

Flower posts
Monica suggested adding brown or gold sashing which might look good with the plaid. But the few bits I had did nothing when these Coins are added. I will reserve that idea for a future quilt. Ha.

I bit the bullet and tried other sashing colors. Reds, pinks, and two shades of green. While I like the red, there's not enough of any of them. In fact, none of these fabrics is sufficient to sash the whole quilt. Of course, Nettie's quilt uses a variety of sashing fabrics. But they are secondary elements that add a frame/resting place for the eyes. These just "slap me up the side of the head."

Sewing these strings into value blocks created a sea change in this top. Some of the subtle aspects of Nettie's quilt will not work with them now. Time to figure out a new narrative.

Various sashing plans

I like this green with red posts although it's a bit too quiet. Funny. Red sashing is too dominant; green sashing is too recessive.

Green sashing with red posts
More thinking ahead.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Revisiting Chinese Coins II

Without progress on my Chinese Coins II for the past month, they came off the wall to work on the Mini Trip Around the World (TOW.) And look what happened.

Chinese Coin layout
While I didn't like the red boxes together, This arrangement alternating red boxes with slightly longer blue coins has possibilities. The sashing is a small scrap of dark olive that sets off the bright colors well. I was sure more fabric about this color lurked in the stash boxes... but I was wrong.

Although this plan didn't work out, it broke the drought and I sewed several sets of Coins. Many of my coins measured from six to eight-inches long. I haven't made a Coin top laid out vertically so they are purposely set to get my mind thinking the right direction.

Monica at Lakeview Stitching and I are both inspired by Nettie Young's Stack Bricks. Like both of them, I'm planning wide sashing. It's interesting to see the variations we each bring to this design. Monica recut some hourglass blocks into several improv blocks but she retained the tall rectangular outline of the block.

Chinese Coin sets

Mine are turned ninety degrees; wider than they are high. Without really planning, I ended up with a light side and a dark side. Originally I laid them all with the dark on top. That made too strong a horizontal. Now they alternate. They almost look square as they float behind the sashing.

Because these strip sets had lots of blues and pinks, I was absolutely certain my second choice for sashing would be perfect. {First choices was a remnant here.} So I cut several strips. Wrong-o. Again.

I was amused to note my sashing has the same colors as Monica's. She planned her colors better; the browns and tans, fit the cornflower blues. {Someone in the States didn't keep her eye on the scraps.} Somehow my coins became greener. The quiet color saturation of both these sashings attracts me but doesn't work with the stronger, {more acidic?} strings. This sashing won't make the grade either. It looks like Retro Mama meets the Groovy Gal.

Plaid sashing for Chinese Coins II
Back to the drawing board.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies 16

My mother and I spent the day at the Dallas Arboretum. It was a bit early for many flowers and a hard rain and wind storm knocked the petals off the tulips. But we saw these moths busily mating.

Moths at the Dallas Arboretum
Monica at Lakeview Stitching says it's good luck when you see a white butterfly first in the spring. Do moths count? She's also making a charming Moth in the Window quilt. Take a look.

The Red Maple Rill is always gorgeous. Here's a view from the back side with the little waterfall and creek.

Waterfall near Maple Rill, Dallas Arboretum

This funny old woody was covered in flowers. Everyone lined up to have their pictures made with it. Peace out.

Flower Powered, Dallas Arboretum
Another scrappy Mini Trip Around the World in my perpetual attempt to reduce the scrap bag. And another Debater needs a quilt. Here's what I have so far. These blocks were made in a different way than I've seen others use. Most were made with expanded strips sets {directions here} but a few were individually pieced with leftover squares.

Scrappy Mini Trip Around the World blocks

Enjoy the day, Ann