Category Archives: design

The High Cost of Free Fabric

Seems like forever since I’ve added enough fabric to warrant a stash report, but at long last, a shopping day!

It started with the six free fat eighths provided by Riley Blake for this year’s MQG challenge (Creative Rockstar line). In the past,a requirement has been to add print fabrics only from the same line as the freebies and any solids.  This year the solids had to be Riley Blake cotton confetti.

Well, I don’t label my solids,so whenever a brand is required, I must shop. And shop I did.

Riley Blake additions

And of course some additional of the prints. The four small prints are the same as some in my six free pieces; the multicolored triangle print is for the backing. The varying shades of solid have two functions. I like using near shades/tints. And I couldn’t be sure what I saw on my monitor really matched what I had in my hand.

I did try to shop at my local quilt shops. But luckily I phoned before traveling, and none carried the challenge fabrics or the cotton confetti solids. I suppose they can’t keep up with all the challenges that are out there. I might have bought more variety in prints, but limited myself because the shop had a one-yard minimum cut. Otherwise I might have bought the two gray variations–I’d had an idea for using them. But they were not essential.

The plan I have so far involves improv. I’ve been wanting to try Score #9, Get Your Curve On, from Sherri Lynn Wood‘s Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. This seemed a good chance to begin. So no sketch this time. I have nothing planned except which colors will go in which rows, which is background, and an overall size (either 45 x 45 or 40 x 60, whichever works with what I get).

This quilt is due April 30 so I can dawdle a tiny bit.

I’ll be linking with Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash Report someday (Molli is on vacation). Here is the button so you can see past posts.

“Sunday-Stash-with-Molli
The button isn’t working today–it was back when I posted. Here is another link.

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Idea Forming for Threads of Resistance

The Threads of Resistance challenge has been in the back of my mind for a while. I’ve been thinking and sketching and thinking and sketching some more. Actually mostly thinking. I probably should sketch sooner as nothing shows an unformed idea so quickly as trying to put it on paper. Until I actually sketch, I can delude myself that an idea is good.

Because of my interest in the Standing Rock Water Protectors, oil accidents contaminating water sources have been my first consideration.

threads-sketch-1

One of the first tries, oil pouring out of the slash-zero ‘Forbidden’ sign. Meh. Too in-your-face. I tried again, making stripes of blue and black for a background an forgetting the oil falls.

threads-sketch-2

Not much better. Then I got the idea of fragmenting the sign.

threads-sketch-3

Now I feel like I have something to work with. My next design move is to cut the sign full size, cut it in parts, and then move the parts around on a full sized piece of paper. (Minimum size is 20 x 20–not sure what size I am aiming for yet.)

Penciled in dark = black, medium = red, uncolored =blue. The background will most likely be shades and tints of blue; I’m debating on what shade of red (or varied) for the fragmenting ‘Forbidden’ sign; and the dark will be the black for oil.

Then there is the matter of title and the question of how much to depend on it. Ideas so far include “Waters of the United States,” “Deregulation,” and “Foxes Guarding the Hen Houses.”

Come Friday I’ll link with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall–button in the sidebar.

 

 

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Last 5 Weather Blocks

I guess it is time to get with the program and finish off this 2016 project. So here are blocks for August-December

weather-aug-dec

These are ready to put with January – July, blocks that have been patiently waiting. (If you click back to the early post you will have to scroll way down to get to the weather update.)

October . . .

weather-oct-2017

. . . I think it is safe to say, was the most boring month! If I had divided temperatures into groups of 5 instead of 10, I’d have been able to switch out only 7 of the grass green squares.

The design definitely works out best in a strip setting instead of monthly setting, as you can see from the others in the Facebook group. But I had to try. The image in my head was of calendar dish towels.

I’m aiming for 50 x 70 for the AIDS camp that I make several quilts for; here’s hoping one of the participants is a weather geek. I’m thinking of 1-inch strips between months and a narrow border on the right. On the left a wider border with the key to the temperatures. In keeping with the dish towel look, the top border will have “2017.” And the bottom “Portland Highs.”  So now to make the letters and numbers.

I didn’t get to use red for 100s or purple for 20s. I’d have been able to use the latter for this January–at least three days, so cold does happen here. Hot not so much.  I’m pondering using them for the letters and numbers and/or binding.

ETA: Linking with Moving it Forward Monday–button in sidebar.

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Stretching Art Progress

The Stretching Art challenge was posted long ago:  This year’s theme–Dream Big; Requirements–Size 18 x 36 and try some new technique.

So I started to think on dreams. I’ll admit to censoring out options that I couldn’t imagine a design or technique for or ones that I could imagine but didn’t want to do. I prefer abstract to representational, and that seemed hard, given this theme.

About the time I was exploring ideas, I was also reading of drought and forest fires, so dreaming of water seemed a good thing. Out came the graph paper..

water-early-sketch

Grid = 1 square x inch

I doodled more than two, but kept only these. Early thoughts were flowing rivers and drops containing trees, fish, and something else. Oversized drops to convey abundance. The right sketch got me into shapes going off the edge. And the plan moved on.

water-sketch

The new technique would be inserting those drop shapes rather than appliquéing them. And I did.

water-top

The upper left drop was inserted whole, but I have since trimmed it and will trim a bit more. I had added 2-3 inches on each side so that after quilting I could trim to size. My estimates on how much measurement will be lost to quilting are never accurate.The biggest trim will be at the right and bottom.

I tried sewing the first drop by starting at one side of the point, then starting again in the other direction. It was okay but not great. Better was starting at the side of the shape, holding the clipped background on top and stopping, but not removing the piece from under the needle, to turn. Yes, there was stay stitching first. I tried the first one without pinning, just like I do circles, matching registration points. The second one I pinned very closely around the point. If I ever do this again, I will pin. There will never be a tutorial for this, because there is no way I could interrupt sewing to do photos.

So on to the quilting.

water-detail

You may notice lines near the point. Yes, it was for reinforcement as well as design. I’d sketched a possible design (too lightly to photograph), but this is what has emerged as I worked. The unquilted background is waiting for me to decide how many more “pebbles” and where among the lines. Then on to quilting the drops.

The Stretching Art project is an annual event, unjuried.  You can join the Yahoo Group, if you are interested in considering it for next year.

ETA link to Stretching Art website.

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More Lotto Block Tops

As I assembled these tops, I pondered my process for grouping unlike  blocks.There are many features to play with: color, shape, value, intensity . . .

  • I look for exact pairs (or groups when there are more than two).
  • I look for similar colors and balance them–usually into corners.
  • I fill in the empty spaces with similar or coordinating colors; sometimes blocks that match in color add different colors as well, and that new color leads to a criteria for selecting other blocks.
  • I evaluate shapes and shift blocks around.
  • I consider values and shift blocks around.

Sometimes, of course, the block that is the right shape is the “wrong” color or value, so I shift around and go for the Gestalt effect that is pleasing.

I’d started this process toward the end of July (here), and after a reading break,  I made five more tops. This first one is about similar shapes first, then color considerations.

lotto 9 with stripes

42 x 42

I had some of the stripe left that  I’d used in the first batch,  just enough for sashing/borders by adding the yellow cornerstones. The plan is that the stripes unify the different colors.

Another top where striped fabric comes to the rescue:

lotto orange striped borders

42 x 60

This one started out with framed pictures as the unifying idea, then framed anything, then 9-patch blocks that had a novelty center. Finally the Shoo-Fly block that sorta fit. Next I shuffled them around till I liked the look of the colors and shapes.

The next one was arranged mostly by color; secondarily by shape. The yellow center block might have looked good in the bottom middle, but so did the one with green.  Either one would have balanced the top center.

lotto lavender and aqua

42 x 42

The border and cornerstones tie those two blocks to the other more aqua ones; however, there is purple and green in the prints of the corner blocks, which suggested the addition of the two center purple/green blocks. Aqua around the center block was to keep the top from becoming too purple.

I played more drastically with color in the next one. The closer to the end, the fewer to swap around.

lotto squares sashing

42 x 60

I started with the matching pink blocks and added the pink-brown-green. I’m not sure which came first the 36-patch or the aqua in the corner. The bottom center balanced the top center’s dark value. Originally I had the orange and aqua 36-patch in the lower corner to balance the upper aqua, but it was too dark. Dark seemed to fit the center better. Then, because the colors were so varied, I made the sashing and borders in as many of the colors as I could and tried to spread them around. It isn’t the world’s best design, but this is, after all, a utility quilt, so making do is okay.

And the last one is a surprise.  Looking at them tossed on the floor–the 12 rejects from the other 9 tops–I had decided they didn’t play together at all. I decided to take a photo to show that.

lotto A-layout

Instead of putting the blocks away, I started moving them around until they became a workable group.

Lotto A top

36 x 48

Isn’t it amazing what just a little rearranging will do?

That concludes my current batch of Lotto blocks, collected over about 6-7 years and 9+ winnings. I still have Blocks of the month from guild to assemble and my Foot Squared Freestyle blocks to arrange. Maybe in a day or two.

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Floating Squares 2 Top Finished in the Nick of Time

I finished the top last night around midnight; that left this morning to transform the studio back into an apartment and wash the dishes that had piled up while I frantically sewed.

Without further ado:

Floating Squares 2 Finished Top

50 x 70 — irregular edge and teal binding planned. Orientation is sideways–blue is the top.

Product people can stop reading here. Process people, for you I remembered a couple before and after photos.

When I started working on the blue section, I thought it was getting too checkerboardy.

Floating 2 check effect

So I scrambled to make some combination blocks more like among the reds here.

floating 2 check fix 1That turned out to be overcompensation and way too dark. So I tried rearranging.

floating 2 check fix 2I liked that till I sat with it a bit, then the long filler lines on each side of the remaining dark segment distracted me.

The solution–shifting left and adding mixed light and dark.

floating 2 fixed

While there are still some checkerboard moments, they seem less obvious with variety around them and among more colors. Finally I was ready to move on.

In her book, Sherri talks of quilt edges in two ways. The traditional squaring up straight lines and keeping the curve created by the non-uniform pieces. Until I started assembling, I’d not seen the value of the latter. But then I saw edges like these:

In each case there was a lot of piecing I’d not want to lose by straight cutting; nor could I move the segment in farther. There was some aspect I needed where it was placed. So I’ll be using an irregular edge.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy curving he seams to follow irregularities in piecing? I should caution that it adds about thrice the time to the project as straight seams do. (If there is a long way to do something, I am sure to find it.) So I do a mix. Some considerations I make to choose:

  • How tired am I and how tired of trimming and sewing curves?
  • Will a straight cut obliterate a great pieced detail?
  • Which preserves more fabric?
  • Does the potential curve enhance the overall look?

While the first question is primary, the next three can override it.

Most of the curves are gentle.  I learned some things about trimming. It is easier if the pattern piece is placed to the left and the piece to be cut to the right (I am right handed; left-handed people might reverse this.) And when there are a couple areas with deeper overlap, something to hold onto, it is easier to hold the pieces steady. I did this trimming with scissors as I had trouble cutting through two layers where there were seams with the rotary cutter, and it is harder to re-cut a line without a ruler.

Most of my curves turned out smooth.

Floating squares 2-curveBut I also had plenty of practice darting to make corrections. I pretty much pressed where the fabric wanted to go and then returned to the sewing machine and sewed along the fold where it differed from the seam. No ripping involved because curves require pressing to the side.

One other thing I learned. Large chunks of fabric “control” how the square segments are sized and sewn.  I had to eliminate a lot of large squares of the bright colors. Heavy and dark just didn’t integrate with the print.

Are you still reading? Have you run into any design issues like these?

 

 

 

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Floating Squares Continuing

I’ve been assembling small sections, arranging and rearranging. In the ideal world I’d have before and after photos of the big changes.  But I get an idea and jump up to try it with nary a thought of a camera.

So, here is where I am now.

city2 progress c

The first unphotographed layout had the bright sections lined up along the Utopia fabric, the greens along the bottom of the middle piece and the reds in a V along the middle and upper pieces. I fiddled and remained unsatisfied until I finally realized that was the big problem.

After I realized I needed some larger squares and cut some 8-inch and 10 inch squares I made some rather large sections, but when I placed them, they overpowered the print. So I ripped off the big bright squares, keeping only the big background squares.

My approach has been to start with large sections while I have large spaces to fill. Gradually I make smaller and smaller segments–now I am mostly making strips of squares and four-patch combinations. Smaller allows me to fiddle more.

You can see there are lots of empty spaces left to fill. I’ve been thinking, Two more days of work, for the last 3 or 4 days. So much for my powers of prediction. One deadline. Guests are coming on the 8th and I’ll need to fold up the ‘design bed.’ And I don’t want anything unattached at that point.

 

 

 

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