Category Archives: design

Water is Life:A Tribute to the Standing Rock Water Protectors

Back in February I rushed to finish the top (post here), then set it aside because there was no rush.  Now rush is approaching as the show set up is May 10.  And it is finished.

Still showing quilts on my sofa until I find a willing quilt holder. Wondered if pillows under the quilt would improve the photo.

Life-whole-bumpy

Don’t think it did.  Back to the old way.

Life-whole-finished

ETA link to the flat view hanging at the show. 5/22/18. And while I’m at it, I’ll link to Clever Chameleon’s Tuesday Colour Linky Party.

For the “sky” I was debating whether to do elongated meander as I ended up doing or some windy, cloudy swirls. I chose the meander because I didn’t want to detract from the bubbles.  I’m not sure it was the best decision. It does look a little better now that the quilt is bound, though.

The other decision was whether to quilt concentric circles as if the letters were not there. I had wanted the letters to be obscure, something to be found on closer inspection. I decided they were hard enough to see, so I quilted around them. The problem with a design detail for closer inspection is that there has to be something to invite that inspection. I’m not sure this quilt has that. I’ll try to watch viewers a bit, if I can be subtle.

Here are some views of the quilting.

Life quilting left bottom

I used “pebbles” to make “bubbles.”  I used concentric circles in the big circle; I’d usually do concentric circles with the walking foot, but the position was such that turning would have been too much wrestling, so I tried free motion.  Maybe I need to learn ruler work. Wonder if there is a ruler foot that fits my Featherweight? (Don’t worry, I won’t mention flaws to people viewing, but my blog is for the good, the bad and the ugly and reflections thereon.) The circles also look smoother from a distance and a washing will do more smoothing yet.

Life quiting right bottom

I think the letters are clear, but not too clear.  And the quilted words:Life-quilting close up

While realism wasn’t part of the plan, I though a nod to perspective was in order, so I used  the differing sizes of the phrase to suggest distance. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.

I’ll like to Connie’s Freemotion by the River and to the Friday finish linkies if I remember (buttons in sidebar).

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Finished and Named: Loop d’ Loop

This quilt from Latifah Saafir’s workshop is the second of three for the upcoming guild show. The quilting continued well; the binding took longer than planned.  I was halfway around the quilt on the first seam when I realized I was sewing binding to the front instead of the back. I pondered ripping it out, but decided that would take as long as hand sewing the second seam.  I’ve made that mistake before, but I usually catch it a couple inches in.

I haven’t sewn the hanging sleeve yet because I’ve not decided which side is top.

At first I thought this way

Loop 1

I thought I wanted those bendy long “stems” on the bottom, reaching up like real plants do..

But now I’m leaning to this one.

Loop 2

It seems more stable and the long stem swoops move the eye around more than the other way. But just for the sake of completeness, here are views 3 and 4.

 

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Or maybe it doesn’t matter at all. After the guild quilt show it will become a lap quilt for someone in a nursing home.

The other design decision was color of binding.  I’d considered green as well as yellow.  Yellow won because some of the loops are so close to the edge that the green crowded them.  The quilt’s history starts here ( reverse order) where other design decisions were discussed.

It’s not Friday but “Finished or Not Friday” is still open, so I’ll link. (Button in sidebar for your convenience. Go look.)

On to quilt number 3. A little over a week is plenty of time.

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Half the Battle is Deciding

This top has been finished for quite a while. Once set aside, it seems a project gets further and further out of mind.

Loop 'd Loop top

It is the project from Latifah Saffir’s workshop, Designing with Bias, that I attended last summer.  (Previous posts here, here, here, and here.)

When I would get it out, I’d ponder quilting and then put it away again.  Gradually I got the ideas for the wishbone on the sashing and the various motifs between the strips of bias. But what to do with the loop section remained elusive.  The shapes of the background did not invite various motifs as did the strips.  And besides it seemed that variety might distract from the loops themselves.

I considered echoing, but that too seemed daunting and not necessarily effective. Of course once I got the winning idea, I wondered why it had taken so long. It seemed so obvious. And doable.

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At first I balked at crossing all those bias lines, then realized I could do the tight-stitch knotting up to the bias, advance past the bias, then make a couple more tight stitches to anchor the thread and continue the lines, trimming later. Two blocks finished, two to go.

Linking with Connie’s Free Motion by the River. Click and see what others have been doing.

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“Water Is Life” top finished

Whew! I got the top finished in time to enter it. It retains some of the ideas in the sketch (here) Given the shortened time frame, I needed to simplify some more, so the “foam” went. I made a mistake,so the deep purple went (I was sad to lose it). And the “foreground greenery” went because no fabric that I had looked right. I didn’t overlap any of the circles because I wimped out.

Water is Life top

You may remember I wanted to draw some attention to the letter bubbles, but not too much.  I thought a little light and shadow might do it. I had already made the circle templates and didn’t want to make a new set (not the best of criteria for design decisions). I thought of free handing some curve to the colors to be added, but wimped out.  I decided a straight line wouldn’t hurt.  But it kinda made the circles look like eyeballs or space ships. And without the “foam” they don’t seem to be splashes from the waterfall, as originally intended. Oh well, maybe they are something else relevant. I do like the aqua against the lavender that I’d not have had if I’d gone with the foam.

This is the first time I’ve inserted circles onto a whole (almost finished) top instead of into blocks. Others have done it, so I knew it was a possibility.  I won’t rush to do it again (until the next design that requires it). Managing the bulk of the top while sewing the circle is so much more awkward than handling a block (in addition to the stress factor of cutting holes in the almost finished top).

I will admit to holding my breath each time I got to the end of the circle seam. The first four fit perfectly. And of course the stress level rises with each finished one–can’t ruin it now please, as I sew the next one. The fifth wanted to make a tuck at the end. I checked and saw that my seam had dipped in on the circle piece about 1/16-1/8 inch for about 6 inches.  I ripped that and tried again. When the two seam lines met exactly, the circle fit the hole. Breathing a sigh of relief there, I was!

The finished product isn’t due till May 31.  I think I’ll continue on with making the back and quilting it so I don’t have any more last minute panic.

Linking with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday and Finished or Not Friday (Links in sidebar).

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Simplifying an Idea

Moving on to my next project with a due date.  This one is for the guild’s area at the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in July, but a photo of the top is due in a week. The guild’s theme is that we use letters.  Early on I had decided I wanted my letters to be subtle, not the first thing viewers notice. To accomplish that I’d have two fabrics either very close in color or the same color with a print on one, something like that.

I started sketching soon after the theme was announced. The first ideas were quite wordy. And maybe preachy.

l sketch 1

The layers would be black for coal, brown for oil, another brown for gas, a couple greens, blue for the water (the cursive writing would be quilted in), then a couple purples, maybe yellow, then blue for sky. I’d considered quilting “solar” in the sun if I included it and the icon for wind–puffy faced cloud blowing in the sky. It needed work, so I sketched again.

l sketch 2

This one eliminated some layers but kept the other ideas.  It also looked like something I’d been seeing a lot of. So I let it sit a while. Meanwhile, I went visiting fabric stores while in Lincoln and Omaha, NE.  And I found these.

l fabric

They seemed the exact sort of similarity with subtle difference that I’d been looking for, only I’d planned to quilt the words on the water. Time for a new sketch.

l sketch 3

A waterfall with one word in its “foam.” And I drafted the letters.

And there it sat while I did other things. Today I started auditioning fabrics and making the letters.

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It didn’t take long to yank the bright red-violet out.  But I remain quite undecided about the stone/greenery for the foreground. I like the lighter blue for the sky but it will be tricky to get enough from the fabric I have.  Since I don’t have to have that decision made in order to make the letters, I’ll sleep on it.

And here are the letters.

l letters

I need to trim the letters into circles. There will be some overlapping. I will proceed without an exact idea, and lay out the fabric and cut on the spot.

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday, button in the sidebar.

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“Stretching Art”* Top Finished

Once I stopped dithering, sewing went relatively quickly, so now the top is finished.

a stretching art 19 top

Because I have several small projects ahead, I’ve set up my portable (52 x 52) design wall. I’d thought I’d be using it for this project too, but since I was following a paper diagram, I had to lay the pieces flat until now when they are attached. You may notice a couple small changes from the preferred arrangement of a couple days ago.

I got several design suggestions, but only one before I’d done a fair amount of sewing.  Kate suggested the bottom left “vein” that had been in the first rejected layout. It took me a while to remember why I had dropped it. At the time I was thinking of the way the veins really angled in the photo of the leaf. But when abstracting from reality, such things as realistic angles don’t matter. and I agreed with Kate that the design needed it.

In case you are wondering, No, the angle variations are not a mistake. I wanted the traditional blocks to be at a traditional on-point angle, and the leaf “veins” to have no right angles and not to parallel the blocks, more like the casual placement of modern improv, and the two “grids” to be in tension. I don’t think this tension between the two is what MQG means by their category “Modern Traditional,” but I might submit it to QuiltCon next year anyway.

I am still not sure if the design has a focus.  My eye tends to fall at the spot where the two veins almost meet above the autumn tree block. Not sure if that qualifies it as a focus.

Now to plan quilting–I have two tentative ideas. Tune in again next [whenever].

*For those interested in details of the Stretching Art Challenge, here is the link.

Meanwhile, while piecing the top I finished off 11 more sets of 5 squares for the Irish Star quilt, the relaxed schedule QAL, relaxed because many of us are making the chain blocks as leaders and enders. (Link here if you are interested in the tutorial.)

Irish Star progress

Whereas most people are making blocks as they go, I am making columns.Why do something easy if you can make it more difficult? Before I realized that each star’s background involved 4 of the chain blocks as well as the star block itself, I’d decided I wanted to use left over background fabric and not have the backgrounds match. I won’t have enough variety to make each of 17 unique, but there will be variety.  That means I have to know where the stars are going to be placed before knowing where to put the background square in each of the four surrounding sets of 25 patch blocks. (If this doesn’t make sense, go look at the tutorial.) I need 68 pairs of 2 1/2-inch squares, so it will take a quilt or two before I have them ready.  I also need to cut more pieces for around a dozen star blocks. To do that, I need to do some scrap control, i.e. cut more 2 1/2-inch squares. My color selection is getting very limited as well as there not being 136 usable squares.

I plan to link with Moving it Forward Monday (ETA link here) and Oh Scrap! (link in the sidebar.

 

 

 

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Mental and Visual Planning

I have thought on the various options I left off with and finally decided to cut strips to see how the veins would look.  “Make visual decisions visually” is advice I’d gotten somewhere; perhaps in the Masterclass with Elizabeth Barton a couple years ago. In the Masterclass, I’d been faulted for laying out strips including the seam allowance.  Trim or press it; it’s only fabric . . . But pressing seam allowances on narrow strips seemed too much handling. And of course I was always sure I’d end up just that one or two inches short. So on to viewing the plan with strips.

attempt 1

Besides trying strips in the correct size, I auditioned two possible fabrics for the possible varying of the background. I did not like the three colors of veins nearly as well IRL as in my head. And my first thought for the background variation was to add some color to the rather bland winter block. Not thrilled with that either. Moving on

attempt 2

This one seemed too dark.

attempt 3

I tried the varied background in different places.  The bottom fabric drew too much attention to itself for a background. It would maybe have worked had I stayed with Plan A to replicate the leaf segment, more or less.

To view more than one segment of the less bright color I needed to cut fabric. Since I had only a fat quarter, I had to be sure I had enough. So I went ahead and drew the “map” of the plan and the tissue paper templates. (Yes, I decided on templates instead of improv, mostly because I had to end up with a specific size.) There was enough fabric, so I laid it out.

attempt 4

And I switched out a couple leaf veins to a lighter orange and liked it. But wondered if I needed more of the alternate background. So tried one more layout.

attempt 5

You may have noticed that the spring tree doesn’t have as stable a position as the others. I’ll need to decide soon.  I like the idea of a narrow piece of the second background, maybe down the whole right of the main vein. but I don;t like the two background colors together without the vein between, and that is not a place to put a vein. I’ll probably go with the fourth layout.

I realized that I don’t have a clear focus area.  Not sure what, if anything, to do about it.

Come Friday, I’ll link with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays (link in sidebar). You might enjoy a visit, check it out.

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