Category Archives: In Process

A Quilting I Will Go

The next piece in my quilting queue is Damask and Denim, a large work that features much recycled material. It’s pin basted and awaits a quilting design decision. Because you’ve helped me in the past, I’d like your opinions of the rough designs I’ve developed. Thanks in advance.

First, the quilt top itself.

Option 1 surrounds zigzags with straight horizontal and vertical lines.

Option 2 uses all zigzag lines.

Option 3 combines the above two with straight lines only on the top and bottom.

In all versions the diamond centers would be free motion quilted with a diamond spiral. Thread color is open at this point. I’m considering either blue or very pale yellow thread.

Any thoughts? Ideas?

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The Last Bit Seems To Take Forever

It used to be that I took forever to quilt my tops. I’ve gotten better at that, but now I face the hurdle of finishing the edges. Case in point, my Big Red quilt.

It began as an offshoot of Rayna Gillman’s casual suggestion in her latest book to alternate background fabrics slightly for an accordion fold effect. That appealed to me, so I sorted numerous red fabric strips into lighter and darker piles and sewed them on a diagonal to lighter and darker pieces of gray fabric. I spiced up the red with bits of blue and metallic gray fabric.

Originally each vertical strip was the same width, but I found that too static and cut off different sized bits from the left and right sides.

I’m glad I used a leftover piece of wool batting as it makes the straight line quilting stand out so well. The heavier red line at the top of the red quilting sections was done with a jeans stitch. I had planned to couch cording there, but decided I could get straighter lines with a heavy stitch line.

Two decisions remain. Should I do more quilting in the long diamond shapes and what edge finish should I use? I have two gray fabrics as possible bindings. One is the metallic gray I used in the red sections. I could also face the edges.

Let me know your thoughts. I’ve had it up on the design wall too long to be objective about it.

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Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

The Denim (And Other Old Stuff) Challenge

One of the good (and bad) aspects of art quilt groups is their love of challenges. It’s good to have a starting point for a piece, but I find it can distract me from more long term work. If I have a choice between analyzing and fixing what went wrong on an existing piece and plunging into a new piece, guess which I pick.

At first I wasn’t going to join a recent challenge to use denim and/or old shirts in a piece. I had already used my husband’s shirts (with his permission) to make Shirtsleeves, and I didn’t have any all cotton old jeans.

Then, my husband asked if I could use a pair of his old jeans and a shirt. It was kismet, so I began my challenge piece under the influence of Rayna Gillman’s latest book, Create Your Own Improv Quilts.

I saw that I didn’t have enough denim, but did have damask tablecloths and napkins I had dyed shades of blue.  More kismet. I decided on 6 inch squares as my background, and fused lightweight interfacing to the damask before I cut it. If you don’t stabilize it, the damask will stretch out of shape.

I loved how the denim look changed depending on which side I put up.

Next, I began to slash the squares diagonally and sew strips onto the larger piece. At this point I decided to finish each square with the smaller piece I had cut off. I liked how it made the center small diamonds see-through.

Rayna’s version fills the centers with color, but I thought more color might be too distracting for mine as the background was already different colors. I think my version looks quite different, which shows how versatile some loose guidelines can be for improv work.

The top is done, named (Damask and Denim,) and just needs quilting inspiration.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Inspiration, Modern Quilting

A Long and Winding Road

I love improv work in quilting, though I get frustrated with the number of iterations I do before the product satisfies me. Despite my resolve to do more planning ahead I can’t resist playing around with my sewn together fabric bits without any clear goal in mind.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. While I thought about how to quilt a piece I cleared my mind by sticking some already constructed bits on my design wall. Here’s the early stage. (All the photos in this post are unedited and somewhat blurry.)

I was trying for paths of color through and around my bits.

I’ll fast forward through permutations of the vertical orientation, which I thought was too elongated, to a horizontal arrangement. What used to be on the top is now on the right, and I’m trying a different bit in place of the orange and brown bit. I’m also testing a turquoise edge.

I’ve compromised by using half the darker constructed bit, and I’ve given the lone turquoise triangle (put there to fill in a gap) company. From here on I spend most of my time playing with those triangles.

I’ve emphasized the triangles by putting darker triangles on top to create a reverse shadow effect.  I’ve added a ginkgo leaf cut out of the orange/brown fabric.

I’ve added another leaf and am trying another bit in the top left hand shape.  I’ve graduated the sizes of the triangles to get smaller as they swing around to the left. You can see my outline as I take the photo.

 

I’ve dropped the insert in the upper left (a mistake to do so?), swung the triangles closer to the top edge, changed the leaf position a bit, and added more darker triangles. At some point I used Inktense pencils to darken the lighter fabric bits in the darkest central area. Those pencils also got used to add more orange to the light upper left bit. I’ve evened out the edges and stuck it in the closet with a potential backing fabric.

Right now I’m heartily sick of it and will leave it in the dark for a while. Maybe it will fix itself, or the quilt brownies will come in and work their magic.

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Filed under Commentary, In Process

I Follow A Pattern

And why is that so earth shattering, you may ask? Because for 7, going on 8, years I have made my quilts up or altered the original source so thoroughly it was unrecognizable. However, when I came across Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s Cascade quilt in her newest book, “Modern Quilt Magic,” I knew I’d have to follow the directions to have my version work.

Here’s her version.

I cut out the templates from plastic, hauled out my purple and its buddies scrap bin, traced the templates, and started cutting. There is lots of bias in each piece, so gentle handling is the key. As Victoria says, you need only pin in three places before sewing the units together. It also helps to match the registration marks piece to piece, and to mark them to begin with, of course.

When I got to the light fabrics area I had to break into stash, which of course generates more scraps, and explains why scrap bins never get emptied.

My version of Cascade, which I’m calling Church Windows per my husband’s comment, is smaller than Victoria’s. There is a limit to my purple fabrics. I don’t know if I’ll quilt this one myself or send it out. It’s quite bias-y though I’ve stay stitched all the edges.

“Modern Quilt Magic” focuses on partial and set in seams projects, and gives thorough explanations of the processes. You can see a video of some of the techniques here. I appreciated the line drawings of the quilts that you can try out colors on before cutting up your fabric.

I wonder what this pattern would look like in horizontal stripes or diagonal colors? I’d better break out my colored pencils.

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Filed under Books, In Process, Modern Quilting

Target Practice

The Ohio chapter of SAQA was inspired by the exhibit, “Circular Abstractions,” to start a bullseye quilt challenge.  I poked around to see if I could find anything about the history of the bullseye block, but have come up empty.

See the source image

Not to worry. I think you’ll get the idea without any words.

The chapter is holding online meetings to discuss approaches and even an in-person sewing afternoon to work on our projects.

I decided to build some bulleyes first and worry about their placement later. A rummage through my scraps piles gave me enough material for two different approaches.

One is based on Jane LaFazio’s Recycled Circles, a method featured in “Cloth Paper Scissors” magazine [March 2009 issue].

With this technique you machine quilt a 12 inch quilt sandwich, cut it in quarters, and then fuse on scrappy curves. The idea is to make each quarter unique. You machine or hand stitch the fused curves down, and add as many embellishments as you like. You can zigzag sew the quarters together or treat them however you like. I chose to keep spaces between the quarters.

The machined stitched part of Bloodshot Bullseyes is done and I’m starting a lot of hand stitching. The quarter squares are zigzag stitched to red felt, and each fabric arc is sewn down with decorative machine stitches.

For my second approach I constructed crazy pieced pentagons with light and dark rings. Most feature blue and blue/green fabrics as I seem to have lots of those colors in my scraps. The shapes are angular rather than rounded, but I think they convey the idea of a bullseye.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I had enough pentagons (and a few hexagons) to create two pieces. My attempts to put them all into one looked  too cluttered. Rather than piece the pentagons to the background, I decided to machine sew each down to  the background fabric. I’ll cut out the fabric behind them to reduce bulk. That’s happened already with the composition below.

My second crazy bulleye is still in flux.

I predict the final version will look different than this. Already I’m contemplating sheer overlays and playing with shape placement. I’m thinking of quilting pentagons with heavy thread to continue the theme.  Unless I radically change my plan, each pentagon piece should finish around 30 by 36 inches.

Both approaches have given me lots of quality time with my scraps collection, and a chance to feel virtuous as I use some of it up.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

If You Cut It Small Enough…

… ugly fabric won’t look so ugly. At least that’s what Bonnie Hunter told us at a long ago workshop. She was dealing with millenium fabric, which was truly godawful. I tried to find an example to show you, but it seems to have been banned from the internet.

Because I had less than wonderful results in some pieces from my Sue Benner paint/print dye workshop. I wanted to cut those up. I thought a pattern called Flux, designed for Art Gallery Fabrics, would work to punch up my fabrics with bold solids and impose a grid order on them. While I used the same dye colors in my fabrics, the patterns were all over the place.

My plan worked, kind of. The pattern calls for increasing the size of the center blocks with each row from the center. It turned out more of each fabric was needed than I had. I decided to use the same fabric on the diagonals rather than in rows to eke out my supplies. I still didn’t have enough fabric, so I threw in a commercial fabric from Joann’s clearance bin.

Here’s my original sketch. Nothing like good old graph paper. The interior squares are crooked because I cut them out, colored them separately to give myself more flexibility and set them down on my foundation grid. At this point I still hadn’t decided on the center of the design. I ended up trying at least two different schemes for that area.

In fabric that translated to this.

I’ve called it “Trip Around Columbus” as a tribute to the trip around the world effect. Because it’s 56 inches square, I may have it quilted on a longarm.

I remade some of the squares because the first fabrics I chose just didn’t work. Those rejects gave me enough material to make a go-with wall hanging, called “Fractured Trip Around Columbus.”

I bet you thought I never used patterns. If someone else has done the work, why should I reinvent the wheel.

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Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting