Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Latest AHIQ Stuff Going On Around Here

Just a quick round-up of the latest AHIQ work being done around here. No improv. piecing at the moment as I am mired in hand work. And no, I'm not the least bit upset about it! Chunky Crossroads below is moving on, gaining a border. All the prep work is sooooo tedious, but it is what it is and applique work cannot seem to exist without some effort.
Chunky Crossroads
That interesting border motif was inspired by a 'Mad About Folk Art' book {by Gerry Kimmel}. I found this oldish book in a collectible-type store bargain bin early in the year. Hello! Come to mama! My mind is busily considering whether or not the open leaves need a little addition of color--perhaps a round little flower bud instead of the single fabric print suggested in the book.

Improv. Wheels below is what is left of my improv. pinwheels, straight out of the Sujata Shah book that I can't seem to put down. After all the centers are sewn down, then we will start getting serious about a layout. I'm really hoping to keep the slight vintage feel to the blocks so probably won't get too crazy with the setting.

Improv. Wheels
The Tumbler Big Basket 'centerpiece' is all set, ready to go forward as well. I lumped it in with the other AHIQ projects because of the tumbler block experiment. Such an improv. attitude to take a full sheet of 'piecing' and cut it up! With the basket stitched down now, it just barely needed that little bit of 'framework-type' border to make me happy--set the stage for the rest of the quilt. And yes, it has a lot of open space around that big 'ol basket. Something I can work with later if turns out to be too white and bright!
Big Tumbler Basket
All these smaller baskets will be sewn onto the big basket {top and right sides only}, and are now totally completed. Would you look at that? A couple of them even get an extra pop of applique in the guise of a cheerful little flower. I know. Just can't seem to stop myself....
Little Baskets
Then I'm thinking maybe a long flowy vine thing down the left and bottom of that big basket. Hopefully with some roses and rosebuds too? I keep drawing lots of berries in my vague 'what-if'' drawings, then remember that no, this particular vine seems to need more of a flower shape. Do you ever do that?

The little block below is what I'm testing out for the bottom right corner of the quilt. Sort of a 'title or introduction' block for the quilt. I do love words on a quilt. So yeah, if the vine side of the quilt ends up being slightly wider than the little baskets, the entire quilt will present slightly asymmetrical. If all works out as currently envisioned of course!
Gather Ye Rosebuds block ready to applique
And the Improv. Woven Basket has been left on the wall. Still pondering border ideas so as to make that quilt larger without losing any of the current charm. It's something I worry about because little quilts are not nearly as 'usable' around here. I find myself constantly trying to push all these quilt projects into something more efficient for the long term, because in my world, quilts need to be well appreciated to make this all worthwhile!

So..., lots of applique work in the queue before moving on with any of these projects, but it's usually very intriguing to push through the steps. Right? Gotta love this wonderful process in quilt building: What's next? What works? What color? What shapes does it really need? My mind as always, is constantly working in the background, making those wonderful connections that can {hopefully} lead to a better, more individual, quilt.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Circles, circles and more circles....

Ahem. Well, it appears that I don't have a problem with appliqueing circles anymore. Just needed a different format? lol
Improv. Woven Basket quilt
I present to you the proof. Here are 28 circle-y type flowers {including 28 roundish circle-y centers} that I worked on. All. Weekend. Long. Cut, cut, stitch, stitch. Who knew? I'm thinking it was the colors that drew me in for a great big 'ol quilty hug, 'cuz I just didn't wanna quit. You know how it is when the driving 'need-to-see-the-results' overcome the logic.*wink

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hand Quilting on the Pickle Dish

This is a quilt I've had in the hoop probably since the end of July? The goal was to have it finished by the end of September, but alas, there have been way too many interruptions. And distractions. Plus too much time spent reading the latest election coverage really gets in the way of my evening quilting time.
Loving the stitching...
I've closely mirrored the stitching on this quilt to what LeeAnn did with her 'Eyelashes' quilt. The minute I saw her finished quilt, I said to myself, 'Gotta bookmark that quilt because the stitching is perfection!'. Thanks LeeAnn for the great inspiration! So many times we need a nudge in the right direction to solidify what we really want for our own quilts. You know it when you see it!
My little bit of applique that just HAD to be included
I'd only been stitching on this quilt for a short while when I realized that something kept nagging at me. It didn't feel finished. Not 100% complete yet. So I considered. And thought. Wondered to myself. Really? It needs applique? You must be kidding me.

But yeah, I finally relented and experimented with a few things until coming up with a simple silhouette in the bottom, far left corner. It looks vaguely like a weather-vane to me, but whatever. I LOVE it and that's all that matters.

You might think the quilt is too busy for that little bit of applique, but it makes me smile. And you should have seen me grousing as I pulled all the sandwiching pins out {in that particular corner}. Then, I had to fiddle around with the weight of the entire quilt, all while trying to applique that little dab of fabric. Yep. That's how I roll.*sigh  Knowing if I allowed myself to say, 'Nope! It's too late for that!', I'd bitterly regret it for like, forever. Plus the quilt would haunt me and cry and whine every time I used it in the future. And I'd know in my heart--it could have been better....
Working on the border
I do think there needs to be a little more stitching in the side borders of the quilt. Just too much area left 'undone'. So I'll be adding in one more orange peel in the middle of each diamond shape, which should hold the borders just fine. Yeah, I know it looks close to a finish, but there's still lots left to do as always. These borders generally take more time than we ever expect!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Quilty365 Linkup

Here we go again, a round-up of all the little circles for the past month! Adding these to the stacks gives me a total of 341. Wowsers! Counting the extra circle needed for leap year, that leaves me with only 25 left to stitch! Woohoo!
September Quilty 365
Okay, that feels like a walk in the park at this point. And some people get squirmy when I fess up, but seriously, I. Am. So. Tired. Of. These. Circles. Which is why I finally drifted away from raiding the scrap bin and starting digging {straight from the stash totes} for fabrics that made something inside me do a happy dance. Totally the point of the entire exercise at the beginning, but somewhere along the way I just narrowed my options--and then dug in until almost too late. Kept challenging myself to be frugal as an additional challenge, just because it sounded fun, and clung to the idea of being able to say 'Yep, and it was all made directly from the scrap bin!' So stubborn.

Yeah, well, about that. It was 'fun' for a long time and then I burnt out big time on that big 'ol monster scrap bin, which lead to being weary of the circles. Almost tossed all those bits and pieces piled up in the corner straight into the dumpster if you want to know the truth of it. Then something made me hesitate. Turns out I might just have another scrap bin quilt waiting in the wings of my imagination. One without any circles? hehe  I might have got tired of the repetitive-ness of these too.
All the little circle blocks....
But even as I write this, it's obvious that this circle quilt means something to me. It'll get done, you can bet on that. Getting disinterested in a project from time to time is just part and parcel of the creativity process for almost every single one of us. I talked about it over here once, the way the creative process works. With most projects there's just gonna be a tedious phase. That's a fact. Or perhaps two or three tedious phases.*ughh  Totally normal for almost all of us though!  It's that prep time or 'implementation' that is the work so it gets tiresome. So boring. It requires a little grit to get through--some determination and follow through. And if nothing else, having a daily, year-long project has taught me oodles about the in's and out's of how I actually like to work.

This daily, scheduled plan of attack {which eventually went to once a week and then thrice monthly?} has been a little tough on me, especially this last couple months. I've itched under the skin from the frustration of it all, groused to my family and friends, changed things up in little ways and then finally, just made myself be patient with the entire process. I'm so ready to charge ahead with the layout, but nervous too. What if I don't like the end results? What if, what if, what if? Yeah...., but.... What if I love it? What if it doesn't matter what it looks like as a whole 'cuz I love how it makes me feel? Huh? What about that? 

This is the creative process my friends, when we make it up as we go along. Plowing through the monotony. Coming up with solutions. Fixing mistakes or perhaps cluing in to what might have been overlooked {'it could have been so much better if only...'}. Finding a way to make everything look cohesive and like it was totally meant to be. LOVE that part. Don't you? Makes everything completely worthwhile.

So, please, please link up with us if you haven't already given up and moved on to something much more interesting. Frankly, I'm kind of surprised to make it this far myself! Link a thumbnail picture to a current post on your blog detailing:
  • What particular day you happen to be at now {such as 'day 300'}
  • A picture of all your September circles whether they are stitched to the background fabric or not
  • A link back to this post
  • Any thoughts or introspection you might want to add about this particular project


    An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Yeah For Viewers Choice Nomination and More Ad.-Hoc Improv.!

Wowsers! So exciting to see 'Things Will Never Be the Same' voted into the finalist round at the Bloggers Quilt Festival! Thank you to everyone who has {or will be} voting for this very-special-to-me quilt. A Viewers Choice nomination always feels like such an honor.
Things Will Never Be the Same
So today I finally have all my {Cultural Fusion piecing} improv. blocks sewn together--20 of them! When I put them side by side, they look like such a jumble. Meh! The applique circles I intend to sew onto each block will certainly help bring these blocks into better focus, so that's a given. I like that part a lot because it just feels right.
Improv. pinwheel lbocks
This has been an odd project for me. Trying to experiment  more with these sort of controlled, almost formulaic 'improv.' blocks is very intriguing to me. It gives me the perfect setting to be free; ie, cutting the single print squares out and then free cutting the shapes. I like a certain amount of clear cut boundaries, even if self inflicted. But, it also feels sort of like cheating. How 'free' it is when the shape is basically pre-determined? I am having such a hard time getting away from the idea that 'improv.' should have absolutely no barriers!
Considering a corner triangle fabric....
But that's okay. I'm getting around that notion just fine because the fact is, working in this manner allows me to take greater risks with my fabric choices--sort of stretch myself outside of that safe little comfort zone. And these fabrics are some that I've returned to time and again for some crazy reason that only makes sense inside my head. Wondering how they could be used.  Greatly enjoying the faintly 'vintage' vibe that I keep sensing and hoping that same vibe can be made even stronger by careful manipulation of fabric and piecing.
Thought about using yellow instead, but too blendy...
Do you ever feel that urge? To try and communicate a 'feeling' in your quilts? So ambiguous and ill-defined. Fabric is fabric is fabric, right? But we all know there's a key to putting it together. Because some quilts feel flat and uninspiring. Some quilts look like the 80's. Others are joyful or heartwarming. There's all sorts of feelings to convey in the quilts we make. I really, really want to make this quilt feel {and look} retro or vintage. A good challenge always keeps me interested and more focused. How about you?
Really like this floral on white fabric!
To that end I have kept with the aqua, red and yellow colorway that people are getting so weary with these days. There are whole lines dedicated to this particular look, but I didn't want to have someone dictate my specific fabric choices. Digging deep into my stash, here's what I ended up: There are polka dot prints, a bright, clear red fabric and a solid aqua as well, different stripes, small and mid-large florals--vintage, 30's and modern, a check fabric and also a re-purposed small blue/white plaid fabric. Some of these fabrics have been floating around in my stash for well over ten years! I wouldn't want to use a pretentious word like 'curated', ha ha, but I've certainly carefully weighed the value of each particular fabric choice. These colors and prints don't come naturally to me as a unit, so I've been second guessing myself every step of the way!
And love how it starts looking more focused when
the corner triangles get larger plus lighter!
And finally I've decided there needs to be more white. What would a vintage looking quilt be without a solid white fabric? Which is virtually non-existent in my stash. Creams, tans and golds, yes. White? You're looking at all I have.*sigh

So that's it for the September AHIQ. All I have to show you! Still prepping for applique work to finish up on my other two AHIQ projects, but eventually I'll have more to post there.

Why don't you join us in our Ad-Hoc Improv. fun?  It's a great crowd!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Not So Citrus Squeeze--Fall 2016 Bloggers Quilt Festival

It's so rare that a quilt gets finished up the same year as it was started around here. I'm still in shock that 'Not So Citrus Squeeze' is now a true, blue completion! ! Love that the timing coincides with Amy's Quilt Festival too. Are you like me and find yourself disappearing down the rabbit hole whenever this wonderful event crops up? 
Not So Citrus Squeeze
This particular quilt was started early on in the year as a challenge to myself to try and interpret one of Diane's quilts in her new 'Scrap Quilt Secrets' book. I wanted to see if I could keep to the integrity of one of her patterns {I'm so terrible at following along with the rules and not going my own way} and yet still end up with a quilt that genuinely looks like a 'me' quilt!

It has quite a few 'modern' looking fabrics {check out those yummy text fabrics!} incorporated into this quilt, but you know me. I also dug really deep into my stash totes and added in some oldy moldies. It does my heart so good to see them coexisting side by side in the same quilt like they have always been the greatest of friends!
Loving that texture!
I did really well with my challenge, staying on the straight and narrow right up until I reached the end of the pattern. Huh. Then, it's like I couldn't help myself any longer. I un-repentantly jumped ship and added on a smallish, nondescript border {don't you like that floating effect?} and well, of course! some of that simple applique I love to play around with. The quilt was practically begging for it, you know it was!
Such a sweet quilt....
Then I challenged myself to machine quilt the top. The organic straight lines went rather well for awhile and then my machine starting having major tension problems. The long and short of it being that it's now in the shop being completely rebuilt. Just like I thought it needed the last {three} times it's been in the shop.
Feels like a happy quilt!
I didn't like the pink thread on the outside, side borders and so had to do a little seam-ripping. Ughh.  Hate that, but after I finally settled on a dark, bluish gray thread for those borders, I fell in love all over again. So subtle, but just perfect for the overall texture. I also had to add just a smidgen of Perle Cotton around each appliqued flower. What would one of my quilts be without some lovely hand quilting?
Everything looks better in the quilt room!
It's ever so much more fun than machine quilting, but each to their own. I'm still quite, quite terrified or ruining one of my quilts with horrible machine quilting if you want to know the truth of it. I always have to psyche myself up and keep telling myself 'You can do this!'  And to be honest, this one could use some ripping out here and there if I wanted to be a perfectionist about things. But I'm not. It is what it is and I refuse to lose any more sleep over it!

This quilt has been entered into the small quilts category over at Bloggers Quilt Festival if you have time to peruse the whole lineup. I also entered a larger, more, shall we say, infamous! quilt into the applique category as well.

Things Will Never Be the Same--Fall 2016 Bloggers Quilt Festival

It's time for that wonderful on-line Bloggers Quilt Festival once again! Amy does a great job putting this together and I'd like to thank her for her efforts! The quilt was one that I questioned very seriously whether it should be included. But then, I thought, if even one person gets inspired by this quilt to make their own story quilt, then it will all be totally worthwhile.
The story of a fire in our town
These kinds of story quilts are quite grueling actually. I don't think I realized the depth of emotion required to get to a finish, until last year when I finally took the last stitch and just sort of sagged back into my chair. My story is similar to lots of other people's across the USA {and Australia} in the last several years, only we didn't actually lose our house. Almost! But to some people that doesn't matter because 'almost' can't possibly be traumatic. lol  Yeah. Still laughing. But at least it was nature, not people causing the damage like in the case of the current rioting issues across the nation. I think that would be harder to process, don't you?
Trying to figure things out
There's always so much mental conflict, emotion and horror at dealing with these destructive acts of nature. Feeling completely out of control and wanting to place a little blame, figure out what went wrong and what we might do differently the next time. Feeling so fragile in the face the aftermath--what our family and friends are having to deal with. Trying to give real, true help and not just throw a little pity their way and then forget about their pain. Planning and working through the implementation of this quilt really helped me put all those feelings where they belonged and worked as a sort of therapy. Oh how I loved and hated this quilt!
Lots of crazy emotions
So much harder than I thought it would be, but I felt so driven to tell the story. Because it matters! And if you're a quilter, how else to tell the story but with fabric and thread? Stitch after stitch, I could feel the emotion being embedded into the fiber, almost beyond my control! Little details being added in constantly to add more emphasis--such as the little red and white dotty circles representing the embers flying through our town, setting one thing after another on fire. The flag that flew upside down in our town for months, signally our great distress to outsiders. The way I tried to write 'Pateros' to emulate our town sign that eerily burned {completely into two and then incinerated} and  now can never be replaced because of new zoning laws.
The pain of determining the value of our belongings
I posted a bit about the process on my blog here and there, but always felt so inadequate. Which then got a lot worse when I entered the quilt into our local quilt show {on the 1 yr. anniversary of our town burning} only to be basically shunned. {Yeah, it's true 'cuz this year I didn't even get my usual email to enter quilts!} My emotions were ALL OVER THE PLACE after that, but as my mom says, it got my 'mad up' and gave me the motivation to enter the quilt into a larger venue.
It really happened just like that
So terrifying, but at least it proved to me that I wasn't a complete and total whacko. Genuine shock and awe followed when I got the first glimpse of my quilt hanging in that much larger show. A Best of Show ribbon!! and whenever I made my way back over to look at my quilt, people standing in front of it for a very long time. This happened at the one other show I entered this quilt into as well. People standing, reading through the quilt, taking pictures, talking and crying with their friends as they took the time to process the message. So gratifying that the message was able to resonate with strangers. So humbling.
Things Will Never Be the Same
I don't care if this quilt gets voted on or not in this festival. It just seemed like a good place to enter it and say I'm so grateful to be a quilter in times like these. Whether or not I have another story quilt in me remains to be seen. This one still gets my nerves humming along just by reading through the words and remembering that day. That summer. And yes people in our community have moved on, recovered and/or rebuilt. Their lives have definitely improved, most of them. But not all. Some will always view that summer as the moment when their lives took a turn for the worse. That seems to be the capriciousness of life the world over.

Anyway, thanks for reading through if you did. My loyal readers have already heard the whole story over and over and over and over.*wink  I'm entering this quilt into the Applique category if you'd like to go have a look there as well!

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