Thursday, September 17, 2020

Sewing Double

No, you're not seeing double. I've been sewing double, bit by bit, for most of 2020. The project I hinted at has been gifted and I can finally share. 


The quilt on the right is a very belated wedding present (and by now, a housewarming present) for my brother-in-law and new sister-in-law. They were married in January. Why is there another quilt? Well, let's see...

This all started with a squirrel project back in mid-October--that leaf you see in the bottom right corner. I had an urge to make a freezer paper pieced aspen leaf that you can read about in the second half of this post here. At the time, I knew I wanted to expand that block into a quilt with other natural elements, but I didn't have a plan. I knew it would become part of a wedding present for M and C because they live in Colorado, where these leaves are glorious in autumn. At the time, I was also looking ahead to our church's art show in May 2020. I figured I'd make two quilts simultaneously, using the quilt on the left as my practice blocks  and then entering that quilt in the art show. So while my October post showed one leaf, there were actually two identical squirrels that month. For a little extra interest, I made the central vein and stem a three-dimensional flap. 

Art show quilt


M and C's quilt (with initials and date)

I had a nasty virus all during January, so I was slow getting started with the project at the end of the month. I knew that the next block I would make was a columbine blossom. For this one, I used a pattern from Ruth B. Mc Dowell's book Pieced Flowers. You know she's my favorite quilt artist, and I love using her freezer paper piecing, which I think of as puzzle style piecing. Her quilts often make dramatic use of fabric color, pattern, and value rather than more realistic representations. I have not mastered that, but I do love using the techniques and developing my own interpretations of color and texture. Most of the fabric used in the blocks were from my scrap bins and drawers. I had to use two different purple and white fabrics for the centers of the columbines as I didn't have enough of one fabric. Figuring out how to get the purple parts where I wanted them was a challenge with lots of do-overs, but I think they both worked in their own ways in the end.
Art show quilt

 
M and C's quilt

I was a little stumped about the next small blocks because I had sort of exhausted my knowledge of Colorado nature, but an internet search revealed that the state butterfly is the Blue Hairstreak. Well, sure. I've been on a butterfly kick for the last couple of years, so that would be fun. I made my own pattern on graph paper with multiple versions to simplify the design, and then transferred it to freezer paper for the patterns. It was fun fooling around with a batik berry print to make the "eyes" on the wings. I used embroidery after quilting for the antennae and little hairs at the bottom of the wings.
Art show quilt

M and C's quilt

I also found that there is a state cactus: the Claret Cup. Breathtakingly beautiful in the photos I saw. I drew a pattern and then waffled about how to represent it in fabric. I tried two different ways--one with subtle red shading and the other with more pattern in the fabrics. I like both of them. By this point in the process, I had ordered some fabrics online because I wanted some that represented spines and dryness in the background, so most of the fabrics in the background are new fabrics (except the dark brown scribbly print that I've often used to represent woody landscapes). I don't often buy fabrics online because I have a really difficult time visualizing them from a computer screen, but I had no choice. By then we were in lockdown due to the pandemic. I think I bought these from Lark Cottons, and all but two worked. I loved the other two, but the designs were too distinct. 
Art show quilt


M and C's quilt

M and C live near the foothills of the Rockies with a rather subdued mountain right outside their windows, but they have a second home in the mountains looking out at the chalk cliffs of the Collegiate range. I tried making a pattern for their mountain in the foothills, but never having been there, I had a hard time figuring out how to draw it just from photos. I did have access to photos of the chalk cliffs, though, taken on a brilliant day. My brother-in-law and some of his family members are in the foreground. I've blurred them out for privacy.

I knew I had found my header block when I found these photos. I designed an abstract version of the cliffs on newsprint and then made a freezer paper pattern. After that it was a matter of, little by little, building the different sections. (Sorry, forgot to take a picture of the pattern.)

I tried various patterned blue fabrics for the sky thinking they would fit with the other prints in the quilt.



But, I kept going back to that brilliant, cloudless blue sky in the photo and just had to use that. And I'm glad I did. 
Art quilt

M and C's quilt

You can see that I put frames around each block. I wasn't planning to do that at first, but as I developed a plan for the background of the quilt, it started looking mushy, so I framed the mountains in brown and the other blocks in various greens according to whatever was needed for a bit of contrast. I also tried some lighter fabrics for the background, but eventually chose a patchwork of yellow greens to represent various types of foliage. After laying out what I had on hand, I bravely made my way out to a local fabric store that had just opened after the virus lockdown to buy a few more pieces of fabric. It was the first time I had been to a retail store except for early morning "senior hour" grocery shopping, and kind of scary and surreal. The shop was outfitted with clear shower curtains to separate workers and customers, X's on the floors for social distancing, and of course, everyone was masked. It was probably the fastest I ever made decisions about fabric choices, but I did find what I needed to finish the quilts. By this point, it was easiest for me to foundation paper piece strips to make my quilts similar. It also ensured that I kept the quilt as squared as possible.

If you've looked closely at the small blocks, you'll see that I kind of scribble quilted different aspects to emphasize the main design elements and then I did stipple quilting in the backgrounds. The mountains were a bit more tricky. I set up my Ipad to look at the photos of them to try to imitate some of the features of the rock faces and the trees. 


I did some scribble trees in the foreground, but it's mostly texture quilting. I quilted straightish horizontal lines in the sky to add texture but not clouds. To soften the lines between the trees and cliffs, I did some zigzag free motion along the edges of the tree sections. Have you ever zigzagged with free motion? What fun! 
M and C's quilt

M and C's quilt


M and C's quilt
Here's one of the quilts before binding. Not a great photo, but it does show the quilting texture well. It was a bit ripply, so I had to do some stay stitching before sewing the binding on.
I bound the quilts with a green batik that I've had for years for my landscape quilts. The backing is a piece I ordered from Bernie's Needle and Foot Etsy shop. I bought it while we were still in lockdown, and I'm glad I did. It is really too pretty to be up against a wall, but I'll know it's there, and that makes me smile. 
M and C's quilt

The process of making the quilts was very slow. We were in lockdown much of the time, and during the early days of the pandemic, I had little energy or ability to concentrate for very long. I had another project that was a good distractor for me (which you can read about in most of my previous posts for 2020), but in between, I picked away at these quilts. I was happy if I only did one little thing on a day, whether it was cutting out pattern pieces or piecing a little section. I did not give myself a timeline--it was past the wedding anyway, and by the middle of March we knew there would be no art show at our church. (That quilt is temporarily hanging in my quilting room, but I think I have a plan for it.) So it was just a matter of working off and on as I felt like it. Over time, I got used to a relaxed--if isolated--way of living and regained my creative energy, which is why these quilts are finished now. It feels good! I did not keep good records, but here are the stats as well as I can remember them. 

Pattern: My own design, except for the Columbine block, which is Ruth B. McDowell's. The other blocks are based on various photos. 
Fabrics:  Pieces I had on hand except as noted above. I did not keep track of new fabrics, except the backing is a Harmony with Nature print by Norman Wyatt for P&B Textiles.
Batting: Hmm, hard to remember. I'm thinking maybe bits of Dream Select Cotton. Or maybe the Warm Company. Perhaps one in white and one in natural? But don't hold me to it. My mind is mush. I think I had to piece one of them.I really need to keep track of these things, but when I make wall quilts, I always dive into the batting bin looking for scraps and pay more attention to size than type. 
Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut in White Linen for quilting the background and in the bobbin. Various random threads in colors to match the other elements. Luckily, I had them on hand. Treasure in Old Lace for handstitching on binding. 
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back.
Finished Size: 39  5/8 inches by 26 inches quilted. Not washed. 
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for free motion quilting (and walking foot quilting in the sky).

And just a few more photos--



(The sedum flowers have turned pink now.)

I'm linking up this week with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread ThursdayMichelle at From Bolt to Beauty for Beauties Pageant, Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Wendy at Wendy's Quilts and More for Peacock Party. And now that I've got my quilting vigor back I have two more finishes to share. One is a fresh one that started as a squirrel recently, and the other is a real oldie. Watch this space over the next two weeks. And then?? I've finished everything, so time to start something new. Whooppee!!

(Oh, and a question for anyone that can answer it. Some of my photos end up squished and elongated on Blogger on my phone. I've made all the photos on this post in Large size rather than Extra Large hoping that fixes the problem, but any tips you have would be appreciated. I prefer to make my photos as big as possible. Blogger is just one surprise after another, isn't it?)

Remember to take care of/for yourself and others.This country I'm living in is such a mess. Hopefully, there will be some cheer and relief in the future. I'll keep quilting, and you keep quilting, too, if you can. It is truly therapeutic.

(Just a reminder: I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.) 


 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Stash Analysis

'This month is the last of our Quilter's Color Quest exercises, led by Rachel Hauser with her book Quilter's Field Guide to Color. We have left the color swatches behind now and are focusing on our fabric. So here's my batch of blocks for the month: 

The first exercise was to look at what we have and think about what fabrics are limiting (those with lots of colors and complex designs) and what ones are helpful (simple in color and design) when planning a color scheme/quilt. We were to pick fabrics that we find helpful and pair them with the more limiting fabrics. Hmm, looking at my stash, I'd say that it's primarily helpful fabrics, mostly tone-on-tone prints, with fewer limiting fabrics because I've never been very good at working with them. I read on someone's instagram post awhile back that she tended to use a limiting fabric as the springboard for a plan, choosing her other fabrics from the colors in the first fabric. I think that's what I have done, too, and truth be told, I think that's what I've done with this exercise. But it was fun, and it even got me to use some limiting fabrics that I've never used before. 

This first block makes me think of a picnic. The floral print is an old, old one in the tied summer quilt I used on our bed for years. In fact, I don't think I ever shared it here. Maybe I didn't think of it as a quilt as it's only two layers--plain squares and a muslin back.  


The pink check is actually a newer fabric, and strangely, I can't remember if I used it for anything. I may have bought it for a purse I made my granddaughter, but it didn't make the cut. But I love it here and thought of it as a helpful fabric to pep up the old floral. It's more modern than my usual tone-on-tones, but stays fairly simple in color. It's not one I would have considered before doing this exercise.

Next are two blocks made from sunflower fabrics that I have never used. I originally bought them for bits of background in the sunflower quilt in this post, but the background colors and/or design size didn't work for my plan. 


I sort of fussy cut the sunflower in this block and then emphasized the vivid sky with one of my favorite helpful fabrics in my blues drawer. And aren't those little green dots in the white background fabric perfect to echo the leaves? This block makes me happy.

And then this one with the black background--


I have a lot of yellow tone-on-tones as well as some oranges that could have worked here to pull out various colors of the flowers. I can see how these prints with a variety of tonal helpful fabrics could work cohesively as a whole quilt. Maybe there is still hope for these previously unloved sunflowers. 

The next limiting fabric is another potential one for a past quilt project that I just couldn't fit with the other fabrics in the quilt. It became boot inserts instead as those didn't need to match anything. But look how it looks with another ancient fabric--that little turquoise print. I was going to use solid turquoise, but this is a little more playful, I think.


And then there is this last one. I bought a fat quarter of the print on a vacation one time because I loved the colors and I was really, really trying to choose more modern fabrics instead of my usual almost-solids. I didn't know what I was going to do with it. Then I chose to make this quilt. I tried and tried to fit the fabric in, but just could not do it. Instead, I used the fabric colors to make the top without the limiting fabric. I did put some bits in a strip on the back, though, because I felt bad not using the fabric I started with on the front.


For this block, I was going to pick a solid or almost solid fabric, but then I noticed the two-tone teal print in my drawer. I think it works wonderfully with the limiting fabric as well as the putty background. (Could have cut that limiting print a little straighter. Oh well.) 

I guess the thing I learned with this exercise is that I do have a LOT of helpful fabrics in my stash. The thing is, if that's all I use, my quilts might have a sort of flat look. The exercise also really demonstrated to me that when limiting fabrics are in my drawer, I don't use them. Or, when I do, I start with them and then pair a more subtle fabric with them. What I learned most is that these might work in a scrap quilt if I consciously pair limiting and helpful fabrics in each block. That would provide the cohesiveness for the quilt. I also learned that a fabric with just a bit more movement in it (the pink check or the teal geometric print) can make a block more lively than a more subtle tone-on-tone.

The second exercise of the month was to categorize our stashes into styles of fabrics. Rachel reminded us that this is an important factor besides color for an interesting quilt that "feels right." My first thought about my style was "Old...boring" because that was how I had been feeling about my fabrics for quite some time even though I didn't want to part with ones that no longer thrilled me. Here are some groupings from my drawers that seemed to fit with categories suggested by Rachel.

Vintage 

           

Well, yeah, almost my whole stash could be called vintage, because you know--old. And then what might another quilter consider vintage? Fabric from the beginning of the century? From the 90s? Hmmm, how about the 70s? I know there are the typical repro prints like Civil War or 30's. But I'm sure young quilters would consider most of my fabrics to be vintage. I have lots more of these kinds of prints in all colors. And if you look at them, you will also see that they have very small prints. The reason for that is that I used to make miniature quilts, and when the pieces are only a quarter inch on a side, the print gets lost pretty quickly if it's larger. The reason all these scraps are around is that I would buy an eighth yard of a fabric and then use only a tiny bit of it for a tiny quilt.

Youthful


This is a category that I have to admit I don't have a lot of. I know some people thrive on novelty prints for kids. And I love the quilts they make with them. But I have never been real attached to those for various reasons. I find them really limiting in terms of interests/changing interests unless you have a huge variety of prints in one quilt. And I don't want to have that many novelty prints in my stash. (I'm sure lots of you would disagree with me, and that's okay, because as I said, I love what you make.) When I do make kids' quilts, I lean more toward the circle prints and confetti you see here instead of specific images. Anyway, youthful prints are a small part of my stash. 

Handmade


This category is almost non-existent in my stash. In fact, probably only the two lower prints in this photo fit best in this category. It's not that I don't like the category, but I don't run across (or maybe seek out) these fabrics as much. And I suspect the prints would be hard for me to work with as "limiting" fabrics because of the distinctive print. Maybe that's why I also pulled the two upper fabrics as ones that might be more helpful along with larger prints. Anyway, maybe something to explore in the future. 

Pretty

Rachel talks about these being more complex and colorful than vintage prints. Well, here ya' go. These are some of what I call my pretties. And guess what? They are also the fabrics that I think of as limiting in my stash. Hmm. In fact, you can see some of those very fabrics in the blocks I already shared. How about that? I'm glad we had the lesson on how to pair these with helpful fabrics so that I'll find ways to use them.


Modern
Rachel talks about these as being simpler in design and color scheme. My modern fabrics are probably even more simple in design than most stashes. We'll talk about that more in a minute. 

I like Rachel's categories. They help me look at my stash with fresh eyes and see why sometimes I can't find fabrics that go together even though the colors work. The styles don't always play well together. I started thinking about what categories might be unique to me. I have a fairly hefty amount of solids in my stash. (No photo here, but you know what those look like.) I sprinkle them in printed quilts, but mostly like to use them exclusively in a particular quilt. Another category I've already noted above that is unique to me--but does overlap with the vintage category--is tiny prints for miniatures. I don't make these often anymore but I still have a considerable amount in my stash. And then, an important category for me because I like to make landscape quilts, is batiks. I find that these don't always play well with other kinds of prints but can be invaluable for landscapes. Here are just a few of my batik and batik-like prints. 

As I noted above, I also have a lot of tone-on-tone or "blender" fabrics that can read as primarily one color. 

These fabrics tend to be jewel tones, but I do have a full range of colors. In recent years, I've tried to start collecting similar types of fabrics with more modern prints in them. 

They do tend to be more clear colors, and they also can cross over into the youthful category, don't you think? 

So let's look at my blocks for the style exercise, and then a few more words about my stash and the future of my stash. I chose vintage as a nod to my miniature-making days


and batik for my landscape interests.

So, my stash...lately I have been drawn most to modern prints, not real showy ones, but ones like those in my modern fabrics photo above. It is definitely a goal to build that part of my stash as a gradual replacement for my tone-on-tones. I think that I tend to use up my modern fabrics more than my old fabrics, perhaps because of my frugal ways of buying just what's needed for a quilt. I may need to buy just a bit over what I need to build up this part of my stash for more balanced scraps.

Another category of fabric that I've been wanting to expand is low volume fabrics. When we started making the blocks for this workshop this year, I intended to use a scrappy batch of low volume fabrics for the backgrounds. I did use some, but did not have the variety that I would have liked. And the low volumes I have are mostly very low volume--solidish. What I'd really like is a variety that read white or off-white but have bits of color in the prints. 

One other thing I'll do is try to fill out some colors that are kind of slim. My purples have always been in short supply and recently I used up almost all of my favorite yellow-greens so those are good colors to start with. As I purchase them, I'll keep track of keeping a range of values. 

Boredom with old fabrics is a bit of a problem, and I probably should get rid of some; however, I think I will continue to work with them to make scrap quilts using what I have learned about pairing fabrics over the past few months. There will probably be a lot more Bear Paw blocks because I love their simplicity of construction. 

Well, as I've been contemplating all of this, I won Rachel's July giveaway associated with the workshop. Working with Fenceline Fabrics, she put together two bundles of fabrics representing two color stories: A Child's Imagination and Twilight. What a great modern infusion to my stash! Thanks so much to Rachel and to Liv at Fenceline Fabrics.

So, here are all of my Bear Paw blocks (in no particular order) made during the Quilter's Color Quest this year--except for eight blocks that just had to be made into a quilt right away. (That Coleus quilt top has been basted and is ready for quilting.) 

I don't plan to make these into just one quilt. Rather, I will assess the styles and colors and use sets of blocks as seeds for other quilts. (I see two pale blocks I'm not crazy about, so they will probably get a makeover, but we'll see.) I know that I will continue to consult the Quilter's Field Guide to Color as I go. If you are curious about my previous posts, you can click on the Quilter's Color Quest label at the bottom of this post or in the right margin.

Thanks again to Rachel for this book and for leading us all through this workshop for the past six months. Who knew this would be so needed this year? It has helped me focus on something when I had no focus, to distract me from disturbing and terrifying news, and to create during small windows of time when I didn't feel like making anything at all. Quilting is definitely therapeutic, and I expect that it will be needed for some months to come. Just as I was finishing this post up, I saw that Rachel has posted on her blog all of the links that relate to this workshop--which she refers to as a bookalong.  So if you have her book, you can find them easily to use in your own color quest. I've changed the link at the top of this post, but here it is again if you don't want to scroll back up.

I hope you have found time to practice your quilting therapy this month. Stay safe, stay well, and honor others with your consideration for their health. Together we can make a positive difference if we persevere. 


(Just a reminder: I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.) 

 










Friday, July 24, 2020

Color Quest Squirrel

My color quest for July has been squirreled. I'll get to that in a few minutes. Let's first look at what the July exercises were in the online workshop I've been doing this year with Rachel Hauser's book The Quilter's Field Guide to Color

I have to say, this month has been a lot of fun. We are beyond color theory now (not that I didn't like it, but I didn't always "get" it) and into inspirational things that are more like the emotions exercises we did earlier this year. Our first assignment this month was to use colors to tell a story based on an idea, feeling, experience, or something more tangible like a photo or a piece of fabric. I ended up doing three stories. As usual, I made my interpretations with Bear Paw blocks.

1. Riding the School Bus with my Lunchbox
The first one that popped into my head was related to my lunch box that I had as a kid. I don't know what got me started on that. Perhaps I saw a picture of my old Aladdin lunch box on a resale site. Anyway, that little tin lunch box was red and black plaid, and I loved it. Maybe that was a precursor to my love of fabric patterns? Thinking about the lunch box made me also think about riding the school bus. Our bus covered a lot of territory from the city, to the outlying areas and a little country town. I loved riding the bus. There was one little neighborhood with a dirt road. It was almost always bumpy with ridges and potholes, and I remember that everyone would try to sit behind the back wheels where it was bumpiest. If you were really lucky, you'd get to sit on the aisle end of the seat so that when the bus went over a big bump, you might accidentally/on purpose fall out of your seat into the aisle. Hilarious for kiddies just starting out their school career. Frowned on now, I'm sure. I chose colors to represent the lunch box (besides the red and black, there were little yellow and white lines) and the school bus (school bus yellow, of course--although now that I think of it, the actual color is more orange--and grayish green seats). 
Here are the possible fabrics:
Wouldn't it have been awesome to find a red and black plaid in there? I tried out lots of combinations but eventually settled on some sweet flower prints because they kind of suggested the vintage of my school days (late '50s/early '60s). No, those fabrics aren't that old, but some are pretty old.
Squeal...there's even that grayish green in the stems of the flowers.

2. House of Flavors in Ludington
The second story came to me quickly, too. I was thinking about the restaurant we like to eat at when we vacation (well, not this year) in Ludington, Michigan: House of Flavors--both a restaurant and an ice cream parlor that makes its own ice cream. It's in a beautiful area on the west coast of Michigan. There's a park with gigantic trees and a huge beach on Lake Michigan, a lighthouse, a short drive to the hiking trails in the State Park  (and another gorgeous lighthouse), a delightful downtown to stroll around and a sweet little Mom and Pop motel that we stay at that includes what used to be the lighthouse keeper's home. We usually go during shoulder season--either May or late September. The motel we stay at gives us a coupon for breakfast at the House of Flavors (within walking distance), which is a great start to a day of hiking. In the evening, we watch the sunset at the beach and then walk down to get ice cream at--you guessed it--House of Flavors. So I had to honor the place with a block. The floors of the restaurant are black and white alternating tiles, the bench seats are crisp white with turquoise trim and pink vinyl upholstery. From time to time, yellow makes an appearance in vinyl records or other decor hanging from the ceiling. The walls are covered with wallpaper murals of photos of the restaurant way back when it was a cafe. Such a cool place!
I didn't even make a collection of fabrics to choose from. I knew exactly what I wanted: solid color fabrics in those exact colors.I couldn't decide how to include them all in the block, so I made a pieced block for the paw of the Bear Paw, and used the black and white floor colors in the claws.

Doesn't this block just make you want to eat some ice cream?

3. Camping With Our Kids
When our kids were young, our vacations were tent-camping at Hoffmaster State Park in west Michigan. Our tent was khaki and dark green--a heavy canvas Hilary tent from Sears that blended in wonderfully with the wooded campsites. Sometimes my husband's parents and brother camped near us. Lots of fun memories living outside. The park has miles of hiking trails, two beaches and miles of shore along Lake Michigan. We spent our days hiking or playing in the waves (our daughter still has the Seahawk inflatable boat our kids played in more than 30 years ago) and always went to the beach in the evening to watch the sunset. 

At first I was going to make a block related to the tent, but then I wondered how to include other colors to represent memories of our times there. Here's what I came up with. 

It's easy to see the beach colors in the blues in the left column and the buff swatch and the campsite colors on the right. The other colors in the middle column as well as the pearl swatch represent what we found on our hikes depending on the time of year: trillium blooming in the spring; hoary puccoon, a yellow flower that grows in the dunes; hawkweed, an orange flower along a camp road to our favorite sunset view; black raspberries that our kids picked; and all the greenery everywhere. Here's my pull of potential fabrics:


I would love to make a quilt that has all of these colors in it. But for this exercise with my Bear Paw blocks, I divided the swatches into the three groups and made one block for each.
Pretty self-explanatory, I guess. It would be interesting to determine what proportions of all those colors would work to make a whole quilt that tells this personal story.

I really enjoyed this exercise. I tried a couple of other stories--the look of the misty fields at sunrise when I commuted to a rural school district during my career days, and the experience of a recent bike ride along algae covered ponds with their neon green. But I couldn't quite find a palette that worked for me. Maybe someday.

The other exercise for July was to start with an inspiration piece--a photo, a fabric or even something less tangible like a movie or a song--and build a palette from that. My inspiration piece was a photo I took of a coleus pot I planted in the spring.
I've grown fond of these plants in recent years. So much color in a shaded garden. And I knew I'd have a lot of fabric bits to interpret this photo. Many are very old burgundy leftovers, and then I have some newer limes that I bought for another project. I started with swatches. Kinda went crazy with them.
Then, the fabrics. Oh, yes, this will work. 

I was going to make just a few blocks. But then I kept thinking of other combinations.
And before I knew it, I had completely forgotten that these were Bear Paws, and I went straight into squirrel territory. Forget it that I have two quilt tops basted and waiting for quilting. This needed to be a quilt top. After I got these eight blocks done, I got the urge to make letters. Why not? Foundation paper letters! And I had lots of skinny strings from some old projects that would be just the right size.
I picked a three-inch square for each letter block that worked perfectly with a slanty font. And  lucky for me, these letters are similar in shape and proportion to each other. No weird Ws or M's to fit in somehow. It took me maybe 10 minutes tops to make a pattern. And this is what these turned into. So much fun!!
When I sewed the blocks together, I trimmed them down for more pleasing spacing.

Well, now I was far afield of Bear Paws. I knew how I wanted to place these letters, but one more thing was needed. As I said, I love coleus plants. But you know the flowers they sprout? Not so much. I would think such beautiful plants would have glowing flowers to match. But no. The flowers are thready, and their colors seem incongruous. They are even tough to focus on as you can see by this blurry photo I tried to take before I snipped all the flowers off, as I've heard that the plant gets all straggly if I leave them be.
But, now that I was in coleus mode, I set about drawing a bloom. Here is the pattern along with my blossom stalk

The blossom is kinda thready, a little hard to focus on. Just the way I see them.

So here's where this squirrel/Bear Paw/coleus is now.
I still have to plan some sashing and other minor elements. 

I think this exercise did what it was supposed to, yes? I did get inspired. And I'm still working with color--particularly colors I would not have usually chosen. And there are still Bear Paws. If you ask my husband, though, he will tell you that this whole quilt top thing is a form of procrastination because I'm really not sure how I want to quilt those two waiting quilts. He knows me so well. 

All in all, July was a success. It stretched my exploration of color and helped me see how I can make a quilt that tells my personal story instead of thinking in terms of what's trending or what fits my decor. We have one more month to go in this workshop with the book. I'm going to miss it when it's over, but I think that I now have a lot of seeds for future quilts. And I'm pretty sure that what I've learned about value, wheels and theory will kick in when it's needed--or not, and that's okay if I want to make a quilt that speaks for me. 


I hope this has been a good quilting month for you, and that you've found inspiration in unexpected places. 

(Just a reminder: I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.)