Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Fine Mess

Last month I shared a post about my Deconstructed Coins project, which was prompted by an Ad Hoc Improv Quilters challenge from Ann of Fret Not Yourself and Kaja from Sew Slowly. In that post, I said I would be taking my time with the project. Well, it seems I'm taking a lot more time than I thought I would. This project was sidelined for the past two weeks by a sudden need to make a different quilt. I'll share that project in a few days. 

Meanwhile, I'll share what I did get done earlier in the month. I added a few more sliced coins and then put them up on the wall pretty randomly. I also cut a few coin shaped pieces from some coordinating solids to try out an idea that kept going through my mind. I put them up on the wall as you see here:

My thought was to place the printed coins vertically in rows and then use solids horizontally in columns so that the printed and solid coins would sort of "weave" through each other. I added some more of the printed coins (without the slices of solids in them) and more of the solids to try to get better idea. Here is the result after it hung on the wall the last couple of weeks. Notice there are lots of holes where I ran out of cut solids. Some pieces also fell off as I brushed against them while working on my other project. I just kind of threw them back on the wall, and some ended up in a bowl somewhere. 

Every time I walk by I think, "well there's another fine mess I've gotten myself into." When I stand back from the wall, it all just looks muddy and choppy, and the solids start to take over as the dominant feature, which is not what I intended. I finished my other project today, so now I'll get back to playing with this one. I need to intersperse more coins without the little slice in them, and maybe try some other options for the solids. Perhaps put some of them vertically along with the prints or use some longer strips to make sashing instead of columns, or maybe include some white sashes to help the prints stand out more. 

Who knows where this will end up? I sure don't. But I'm going to keep at it. I'm sure it will continue to be a slow project. Stay tuned. Hopefully things will sort themselves out over time. 

I'm linking up with the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters because even though I haven't made much progress, I'm keeping it real and making myself accountable to follow through on this project. Feel free to comment away with your two cents worth of ideas. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hexie Finish

Oh, goody, I have another finish to share this week. My Hexie Quilt! I had set it aside recently to finish some other projects and chase some squirrels (and to procrastinate in picking a quilting design), but this week it all came together pretty quickly. This morning I ran out to take pictures (in my pajamas!) because the light was right--even overcast--and the wind was calm. Quite a contrast to our bright blue, sunny skies of yesterday and wind gusts as high as 60-some miles per hour. Cuh-ray-zy!! As a result of the wind, there are lots of places without electricity around here today, but we were lucky. Oh, guess I'm off-topic, but the point is that I could get some pictures (that showed the quilting) this morning without blowing away. 

You can see how I made this quilt here, here and here. There are also a few pictures on my Instagram site. If you compare some of those other pictures to the above picture, you can see that I did a little quilt surgery in the improv part of the back to balance colors out a little more after I had the back together. 

For the quilting, I decided on a walking foot design. Due to my shoulder injury, I haven't quilted a biggish quilt since last August, and large-scale FMQ still seems a little too demanding. I was going to divide the quilt diagonally and do four fairly equal quadrants of wavy lines, but then thought it might be more fun to put the diagonals off center. 

I started by using an old tool I haven't had out in awhile--my flexible curve. 

I could have drawn the lines freehand but this helped me visualize what I wanted to do. I used my Chakoner to draw light chalk lines along the flexible curve for my main lines. My walking foot has a guide with it so I used that to space the quilting. 

I did find that doing concave curves (that's the name for the ones that curve in like the bottom of a bowl, right?) with the guide was not real accurate because the guide is somewhat behind the needle instead of next to it. I don't know why that is--maybe because it's meant just for straight lines? Anyway, I learned to mostly eyeball my lines and use the guide as just a guide. Huh, maybe because it is a guide?? They're a little wonky here and there, but I decided from the outset that I would not pick them out if they wobbled. The lines are about 1 inch apart. I had to really restrain myself to not fill in with more lines to make them 1/2 inch apart. I love dense quilting, but I wanted this quilt to be a fast finish and really soft. I had a love/hate relationship with the mint thread I used throughout the quilting--I thought it was too prominent and taking too much attention from the hexies--but in the end, I loved it. I was just viewing it from way too close while sewing. 

I'm really pleased that I didn't have any pulling/distortion with the walking foot. I had really pinned this quilt a lot when I basted it because I didn't know at the time how I was going to quilt it. As I did each line, I moved pins as needed, making a row about 2 inches away from the previous stitching line. This took a bit of time, but it gave my arm a rest so that I could keep working (reaching to the left to rearrange the quilt as I sew is still difficult to do and fatiguing). The pins made a nice tight channel for the quilting. 

I ordered some extra navy print fabric for the binding. I like that it has a diagonal print that looks like bias binding with a little extra interest because of the variations in the print. I'm still working to improve my binding skills. Working on the theory that I tend to stretch my bindings as I attach them (so that the quilt ripples on the edge), I took extra care to make sure that the measurement of the binding matched the length of each side of the quilt. After turning a corner, I measured, then pinned the binding at the next corner and few places along the way.
I stitched it by machine to the front and then whipped it down to the back by hand. 

Here are a few close-ups:

Extreme close-up of my initials and date

And the quilt after washing (sorry, low evening light):

And now for the details about the quilt:
Design: Hexies from a plastic template made to my specifications by a local glass cutter. Longer diameter is about 9 1/4 inches and shorter diameter is a little over 8 inches.
Fabric: Paperie by Amy Sinibaldi for Art Gallery Fabric (mostly won in a giveaway from Hawthorne Threads), plus two aqua prints (one from Hazel line by Cluck Cluck Sew for Windham and the other an unknown to me). Backing is Jules and Coco Flower Garden from Joann.
Binding: Cut 2 inches wide and folded; 1/4 inch wide on front
Threads: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing. Superior King Tut in Mint Julip for the quilting on the front and in Temple in the bobbin. (I considered switching the colors around, but now I'm glad I didn't.) Superior Treasure Hand Quilting in Old Lace for the hand part of the binding. 
Batting: Hobbs Heirloom Premium 80/20 Bleached Cotton
Size: 43 1/2 by 53 inches before washing. 41 1/2 by 50 1/4 inches after machine washing on cold, drying on low.

Pieced on my Singer Featherweight; Quilted on my Singer 115 Treadle with a walking foot.

So what did I learn from making this quilt?
1. Sewing large hexies by machine is a blast!! And much easier than you might think.
2. It's ridiculous for me to agonize so much over the color of quilt thread. In the end it all works out.
3. Over-pin-basting a quilt takes time, but it's worth it.
4. A walking foot guide is really just a "guide" if I'm doing curves. 
5. It's very freeing to not worry about whether quilting lines are accurate and well-spaced.
6 .I can restrain myself from quilting every last half inch of a quilt and still be happy with the result. 
7. Taking time to measure the binding as I attach it seems to help me get a smoother edge.
8. My husband thought the quilting looked like the Piedmont. He remembered seeing pictures in his elementary geography book of the Piedmont area in the southeastern United States. When I looked up images online, I thought the quilting looked more like the Piedmont in Italy. But he's right. It does look like the Piedmont, wherever it is. If I were keeping the quilt, maybe I'd rename it Piedmont.  
8. I am so glad I can quilt again!!

I plan to donate this quilt to Margaret's Hope Chest for the Mother and Baby program at Pine Rest Hospital. It will serve as a hug during therapy for a mother recovering from perinatal mood and anxiety disorder. 

Time to get back to other quilt projects. The only outstanding WIPs I have are both Improvs. Hmmm. I wonder why they are always the last I work on. Lack confidence much?

I'm linking up over the next few days with linky parties at Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, My Quilt Infatuation,  Quilt Moderne (TGIFF) and Sew Fresh Quilts. I hope you have had a great quilty week. If you live in my part of the US, I hope the wind didn't blow you away! (And that you still have electricity.)