Friday, July 10, 2020

First Quilt Finish 2020

Yup. You read that title right. It's what, July something? I've lost track. This is just how the year has gone. And more than half is gone. Which, now that I think of it is maybe a good thing. At first I stressed out over not seeming to accomplish much this year. But I did do some things. That sail boat project for one. And a pillow project with my granddaughter way long ago before we closed down. And I have been doing a relaxed-pace online workshop. And I have a couple of projects that are slowly getting there. And I've finally made peace with the slower pace. I'm not pushing myself, but I'm enjoying doing just a little something each day. I don't worry about whether I have something to share. And wow, it's all coming together! At the beginning of last week, I had 4 (!) tops ready to quilt. Now, the timing is not great. We have entered the dog days of summer (never mind that Google tells me they don't start until July 22), and quilting in 90+ degree weather is not ideal in the warmest room of our house (with the AC on).  But I have been limiting myself to just a bit of quilting each day, and I have a finish!!
This is from blocks I made during the Rainbow Scrap Challenge of 2019. If you want to see close ups of all the blocks, you can click on the RSC19 label on the sidebar or at the bottom of this post. It's been so long, I'm not even sure which colors are ones that were officially part of RSC and which I subbed in. I know that I did not use purple. I focused on the colors in the background fabric which I had purchased before the year started. There was purple in the fabric, but I did not have enough of the kinds of purple I wanted to use. I can't recall if black was part of the colors for the year, but there were black dots in the background so I used it. Most of my photos are post-washing because my pre-washing photos were off-color. They are better anyway, as there was no breeze!


Signature (with washable marker before washing--bad lighting)

After washing (marker all gone--love it), and I will probably be the only one to know my signature is there:

And here's the back. More dotty paisley.

Close up.

 I had to piece the backing, but I had enough to sew three pieces together with matched seams!! Probably not necessary, but it was fun to do. Do you see them?

So let's just back up for a minute, and then I'll show you some yard "glamour" shots--the best I could do since we aren't going anywhere much these days. Before I could put this quilt together I had to trim the crumb blocks. I wasn't really sure how big I wanted to make them, and during the course of last year, they tended to get a bit bigger. My final plan was to have the blocks finish at 5 inches. Here's the pretty pile of trimmings.

Then I had to figure out a layout. (Sorry, the picture rotated, but you get the idea. I didn't over think the layout. Just sprinkled the colors around.

All basted and ready to go.

And then, the quilting. But what to do? I decided to let the quilt tell me what to do. Well, either I didn't listen or didn't hear it correctly. I thought it wanted wavy lines with some crisscrossing. I started with the sashings with two lines that wobbled back and forth crossing each other. Then I began on the crumb blocks, making two REALLY wavy lines that crossed over somewhere in the block. It needed more quilting than that, so I made some less wavy lines along side of those. I wasn't sure of the first set, but listened to neither the quilt nor myself and doggedly (it's the dog days of summer, remember?) kept quilting in the same pattern. And soon I was done. 

But. I didn't like it. At all. I waited until the next day to see if I'd like it any better. Nope. Instead of making me feel all cozy, it made me uncomfortable. And if it was doing that to me, I couldn't give it to someone else and make that person uncomfortable. 

So I spent two afternoons picking out stitches on 16 lines of quilting--those really wavy lines that cross each other. I (weirdly, maybe?) sort of enjoy ripping out quilt lines. Maybe it helped that it was 90 degrees out and humid so staying in was appealing. I enjoyed some home renovation shows on TV and picked away. I replaced those two lines with one less wavy line, and all was right. Aah. It just goes to show, if something bothers you with your quilt, it's probably worth it to undo and redo. Just compare that photo with some of the close-ups farther up the page and see if you agree with me.
Now that that little confession is out of the way, let's see a few "glamour" shots. In the evening sun--please ignore anemic grass. It rained today, and that's all greened up again. These are pre-washing.

Another angle:

Front and back:

And a swirl shot. (I need some practice.)

Some stats:
Fabrics  A variety of scraps from more than 40 years of quilting. The background is Mexicali Fresh Beaded Paisley from Benartex.
Batting Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 
Thread Superior-- Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; King Tut in Temple for quilting; 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; scrap pieced.
Size Pieced: 46 1/2 by 60 1/2 inches; Quilted: 46 by 59 1/2 inches; Washed: 43 by 55 1/4 inches.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for walking foot quilting.
How about a porch photo?

And finally, a deck photo:

In a normal year, this would have been donated through the Hands2Help Challenge. My year had a shaky start, and I never signed up. I will probably donate this quilt to my favorite "local" organization: The Mother and Baby program through Margaret's Hope Chest, except that I haven't checked to see if they are accepting quilts right now in this different world we're living in. Perhaps I'll hold onto it until I have a batch of quilts to send. We'll see. It will go somewhere sometime.

I'll be linking this post with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, with Angela at So Scrappy for Scrap Happy Saturday, because, you know, RSC (even though I'm not participating in this year's round), and with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap on Sunday.

And stay tuned. I finished quilting another RSC quilt this week and did the machine part of the binding today, so there will be another finish to share next week. 

Please, please, please stay safe, and if you live in the U.S., keep wearing a mask, wash your hands, physically distance, and do whatever else you can to turn this country's viral mess around. And keep seeking justice. And keep quilting, but that generally goes without saying. (The other things have to be said a LOT.)

(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.) 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Exploring Context and Neutrals

I struggled with the exercises for June in the Quilters Color Quest using Quilter's Field Guide to Color by Rachel Hauser. I thought they would be easy, but though I thought I understood the concepts, I had a harder time visualizing them. I guess it's good to struggle with an exercise. I'm hoping I learned something. 

The first task was to compare a swatch of a hue with others of the same hue to see how context changes the look of a color. Perhaps I should have picked values that were more dissimilar? I'm not sure. But here are some groupings I played with. 


For this one I chose Autumn as my basic hue. When I compare it with the top row it looks a bit cooler to me. With the middle row, it's a bit warmer, and it looks definitely classic red to me when I compare it to the bottom row. I do see the differences, but I think I see more variations when I use fabrics instead of swatches or when I compare them to other colors.The main thing I learned from this is that in a scrap quilt with red, these would all probably work together for variation and interest. 

I also looked at blue:
Yup, I see differences between the sapphire swatch on the left and the greener and more purply hues in the group.

And yellow green:
I could see the yellower and greener look of the Spring swatch compared with each row of other colors in this one even though they are all basically yellow green.

I probably missed the point of this exercise, but I did not stress out over it and decided that I had reached the limit of my understanding of color theory, and that it was time to move on to working with fabric. 

The next exercise was picking a fabric that was a problematic one and try different fabrics to go with it to see if there was a fabric that changed the context to make it an appealing one to use. I started with a print with red, purples and tans and chose a bunch of possible fabrics:

I thought I might like blue and red, as they also had hash lines like the base fabric:
But it all looked kind of muddy. Here's what I finally settled on. 

I like it better than my other choices. The tannish claws bring out the lighter colors in the paw, and the hash marks in the background fabric relate to the other hash marks and the red, and the lighter background brightens things up. I probably wouldn't have been likely to use this fabric in a quilt (except a scrap quilt), but at least I used some of it up!

I had a piece of greenish yellow fabric and tried a bunch of greens with it. 

But I had some HSTs left over from the previous month's exercises, so why not use those? Well, of course! I think the yellow green brings out the green tones in the yellow fabric, but lets the yellow speak for itself.

Another fabric I had never found a use for was this daylily print. I tried a bunch of ideas out, thinking I might like orange or dark green. But then I found a black print.

Here's the block. (I won't bore you with all the backgrounds I tried.) 

Again, I like the blocks and learned something, I think, but part of the reason I haven't used some of them is that I've moved away from those kinds of prints (at least in my mind, not my stash). They will continue to work in scrap projects, though.

I did try one more fabric because it is one I have quite a bit of (I bought it for a quilt, and then found that it was too strong for that one), and I've been trying to think of what to do with it. It closely matches the Spring swatch from my book. Here it is with possible variations of blue and turquoise.
Probably any (or all!) of these fabrics would work. But I think the thing that was stopping me before was proportion. So I decided to use the spring color more sparingly as the claws.

I could see this in a quilt, maybe along with some greens of a similar hue but different value and a whole lot more turquoises and blues. Okay, of all the above context samples, I think this one has the most potential for a quilt someday. 

The other exercises for June were related to using neutrals in blocks: white, black, gray and brown. Keeping with the same color palette with the spring green, I tried out each of the neutrals.

I had tried several grays, and found that I liked a cooler rather than a warmer gray.

I liked all of these combinations, but the black was a bit stark for me. It would make a vibrant quilt, but maybe a little too strong of a contrast for me. The white of course is what I had used in the turquoise/spring block above. The gray was okay, but a little too common, maybe?
The one that really grabbed me was the chocolate palette. I have always loved brown, even though it has not been a generally popular color for many years. 

For the last part of the June exercises, we were to make a block, thinking about the various neutrals, but especially brown. I realized at this point that two of my blocks from the context exercise had already used white and black, so I was eager to work with brown. I happen to have a whole drawer full of browns/tans/beiges from many years worth of quilt making. Many of my dark browns have sat for as many years. They tend to have a lot of red undertones. In addition, they are ditzy prints/calicos that don't really inspire me. But there is one modern print that I just love, but have never found a use for. I think that is because I don't have other modern prints in other colors that complement it. I knew I wanted to do something with turquoise. Many years ago I had chosen exactly that combination with a mild white to make a wavy design knitted afghan for the end of my parents' bed. I tried this palette two ways for my Bear Paw blocks.

Ooh, I like this one, especially with the gray bits in the background fabric.
But this one is my favorite of all the Bear Paws I made for June:

Now THAT's a brown block I could be very happy using in a quilt these days. And I wish I had more than the little piece of fabric this came from. 

That is the sum of my June experimentation.So what did I learn?
--I kind of get context, and will continue to challenge myself to pay attention to it in future quilt projects.
--There are some fabrics that I'm probably over. Finding colors that work contextually don't make me want to use them widespread in a quilt, and that's okay. 
--I think I have the confidence now to work out something with the Spring fabric. Proportions will be important to consider. 
--I do want to explore brown more!! It will be time I think to start looking for more chocolate prints with a modern vibe. Yummy! (And to either jettison the old brown prints or use them up in something really scrappy)
--I like the idea of using a modern white/gray print as a background fabric.

I think there are lots of seeds for quilts here. (Like I don't already have enough potential projects in my head.) We are next going to go into color stories. I think I'm going to be more comfortable with those exercises. If I can find the fabrics in my stash to interpret my ideas. After working with my available stash for four months, it really is time to expand my choices by freshening up my stash with more modern fabrics.

Before I go, I'll leave you with a few flower photos from the garden and a few close-to-home bike rides. It seems that will be the extent of our vacation this year, so I'm enjoying the little things along the way. 

Catalpa blossoms; how's that for color/quilt inspiration?

Chicory--one of my favorite roadside plants

I'm linking up with Cynthia at Quilting is More Fun than Housework for Oh Scrap for this post as it's all scraps right now, it seems.I have an RSC19 quilt I just finished (!!!) to share, but this post is already too long, so that will have to wait until next week, and who knows? Maybe my other RSC19 quilt will be done by then, too! (Depends on how comfortable it is in my quilting room during our current heat wave.) Until then, stay safe!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

How Does Your Garden Grow?

So... this isn't a quilting post, although it might be inspirational for quilters--color, design, etc. It's really a test of the new Blogger format. I've already run into an issue. I was excited because I want to be able to write posts on my phone or ipad, but I couldn't figure out how to change the font on those, so here I am again on my laptop. Sigh. But here goes...

We finally (oh my, I have to change the font for each paragraph?) put in our annual flowers this week. We decided to wait to buy them until the Memorial Day/Garden Center Pandemic Opening was past. There weren't a lot of flowers to pick from, but we found ones that are doing wonderfully after some nice cool, dry weather to help them settle in. 

Here are a few photos I took with my phone--the ones that didn't come out blurry, anyway. I'll try some other ones for another post, if I need to do another trial post.

First up, our perennial geranium:
Ooh, that worked, and I like how I could increase the size.
Here's a close up:
And one more because I love this flower so much:
How about an adorable zinnia?
Pansies? Violas? (I can never remember which is which.) 
So far this is working pretty well. A painted daisy. These are so cute. They don't last long.
Our Maltese Crosses are kind of small this year.
We have a few pots of coleus.
There were only two flats of impatiens left. I usually plant red, but this year I added pink because there were only a few reds and the rest were pink, so new habit maybe?
Okay, I'm going to save this and see what happens if I try to do the last paragraph and photo with my ipad. 

Wish me luck. (Do you see what I did there? I started a new paragraph and didn't have to change my font. Yay!)

Okay, here I am. Font is still there. Here’s a photo of my red impatiens. Aw shucks! It won't let me add a photo. Hmmm. Okay, back to the computer. I'll have to study this a little more. Maybe this won't work with an ipad mini? Here's the flower.

No fabric or quilting photos here. But. I did venture out to my local fabric store today all masked and sanitized, and quick grabbed a few needed fabric pieces for a project I'm working on. The store is all outfitted with clear shower curtains to keep customers and cashiers apart, and there are little tape strips all over to remind us of the 6-foot rule. My fabrics are the color of the lime coleus above. I'll share them another time, maybe when I take another crack at this on the ipad. 

So, this format is not so bad. I was able to add my photos much faster than before. I just need a little more practice finding the right buttons. And I sure hope I can figure out how to use this on my mobile devices. Much more to learn...

Aw, my font just needed to be readjusted. Oh well, I know how to do that. I hope you're having a good quilty week, and if you are a Blogger user, I hope you are figuring out this new format. If you have any tips, please share away!