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A New Year and a New Quilt

With a due date the beginning of February, I guess it is time to get beyond mental quilting. The Stretching Art theme this year is “Under Scrutiny.” (The Stretching Art challenge is to make an art quilt 18 x 36 on the assigned theme and to try some new technique. The quilts are hung in three or four Mancuso shows in the East, so I’ll probably never see them hanging.) This theme was daunting for quite a while. Last year’s, Dream Big, was much easier for me (Dreaming of Cool, Clear, Abundant Water here ).

What hindered me was that the theme, asking us to look deeply and drill down, seemed to invite representational art (even though the challenge mentioned abstract ideas) and I prefer abstract design. I didn’t get an idea till Fall came, and gorgeous leaves filled the sidewalks.

So I took a walk, camera in hand. From the photos, I selected this one and cropped and cropped and cropped. Idea one was to replicate the last one, more or less. But before I started sketching, I remembered an ancient start of a tree themed quilt. I’d made four test blocks, one for each season, and gazillions of  one-inch HSTs. The plan had been to make the first four the center of a queen sized medallion quilt, either as four blocks on point or as a square..

I got stumped on the decision of whether to keep the season represented by the center tree for that whole quarter of the quilt or to intermingle the HSTs randomly or to keep seasonal coloration by rows. I set them aside with the fabric the HSTs had been cut from while I thought on the dilemma. And you know all about “out of sight, out of mind.”

Having remembered them, I thought, Why start my scrutiny from the tree when I could start with ecosystem, forest, tree.  Finally I was ready to sketch. Although I did the outline to scale, I’d made the 6-inch tree blocks too small, but the idea seemed a good place to start..

leaf sketch

I’d gotten this far before Thanksgiving, but set it aside again for the holidays.

Today I dug the old tree blocks out from the bottom tub in a four-tub stack and began auditioning fabric.

leaf fabric audition

The leaf “veins” will be much narrower, of course.  And I’m still debating whether to vary the shades of gold in the background or use just one. I’m leaning to the one. I also have to decide whether to make the “veins” straight or slightly curvy as in the sketch. I’m leaning to straight. Curves can come in the quilting. And I’m pondering whether to make templates or do improv piecing. I’ll sleep on it.

Linking with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

 

 

 

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Second Welcome “Blanket” and Last Omaha Top

At long last the second welcome “blanket” is finished. It was so easy to keep putting it off while I did other things, and then the due date appeared. I’ll get it in just under the wire.

pink welcome blanket finished

42 x 42

I wrapped the back to the front for binding–since it was a pieced back, there are the pink interruptions in the cranberry print binding. Not as great an effect as a wholly pieced binding, but it will do.

I quilted it with an all-over floral pattern. I’ve used it before, but then it slipped out of favor. A recent blog posting by Angela Walters reminded me of it again, and it seemed just right for all that pink. And it is just as easy as  a simple meander.

pink quilting detail

Here is a link to the Welcome Blanket blog–you can browse it and see the exhibit to date. They had received 1500 at the Oct 9 post. Maybe there will be an update soon. The blog mentions mass deep freeze.  An earlier email described the museum process: 72 hours freeze, 24 hours thaw, another 72 hours freeze. Just so no moths, etc. are entered along with the blankets.

Quilt history: top here, (You can see its destination changed.) back here, BOM project here.

The other finish is the top I had started at the retreat.

Omaha big flower

40 x 60

This top is made from the kit I assembled from the parts that people had sent it. Most of us took some extra parts home from what were left at the end of the retreat. I had fun picking up all the big flower pieces, then when they ran out, medium and smaller flowers. I made the rectangle pieces from neutral fabrics that had been donated. We assembled 170 tops while at the retreat, but others have been making tops since as well, so the total is higher now.

This one will go on the pile of quilts that need backs.  A step between top finished and quilting. That plus cutting the batting are the hold ups for me, but eventually they get finished.

Linking with Free Motion By the River and if I remember, with the Friday finishes (buttons in side bar). ETA 11/12/17: Also linking with Free Motion Mavericks (changes in WP keep me from showing the button anymore).

 

 

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Mostly Traditional

At guild a long time ago, I picked up a kit to make a twin sized charity quilt. The Rail Fence pattern needs one dark, one medium and one light. The kit had two darks and a light. So it sat a while.

I had a lot of left overs from the Urban Chickens quilt–strips conveniently 3 1/2 inches wide.  Lots of medium, but not a single color. I decided to sew and figure out an arrangement later.  I finished the sewing of the blocks at last year’s fall retreat. I delayed a long while because I don’t particularly like trimming blocks and these needed it.

Today I am getting ready for this year’s fall retreat, so finally trimmed. Next comes the fun part, arranging the colors. I started out alternating horizontal rows. I dismantled that before I thought of photos, but trust me, it didn’t look good.

Rail Fence

I think because the design moves diagonally that alternating diagonal rows works better. (To echo or to contrast? That is the question. Today the answer was to echo. )I’ll have to stare at it for a while and move a block or two before I pack it up.

It will need a border.  I don’t like the fabric from the kit for the border either.  I’ll go stash diving later and see what I have that works.  I guess that kit will end up making two tops.

Assembly should go fairly quickly. I have one other project kitted and another two planned. Lots of cutting in my week to get ready!

 

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Four Blocks in the Bias Project

I thought I’d be finished with the blocks at this point.

four bias 1

But now I am thinking the dark green is rather stranded. And some of the spaced between the center lines seem too wide. So maybe some dark green stripes?

i think I’ll try 1/4 inch bias. (Most in the design are 3/8; the wide strip is 3/4.) I’ll try a very small piece so that there isn’t much to rip out if it is too hard to work with.

The 3/8 surprised me by handling much easier than the 3/4-inch. I also bought a 2-inch bias maker, but don’t know what I’ll use it for. When I figure it out, I’ll be ready.

Also, I am rethinking the yellow checkerboard sashing. It sounded good in the abstract, but looking at this, I now think it would be distracting.

Has it ended up “modern” or “primitive”?

Early posts, in case you missed them, are here and here.

Tomorrow I’ll link with Move it Forward Monday (button in sidebar).

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Bias Control, a Sketch, and a Block

The second block is almost completed.

bias block 2

18 x 18

It needs one more row of green, but I still have to make the green bias.

I had planned to finish two blocks, but making the long strips of bias took longer than I expected. (Something always seems to take longer than expected.) But now it is under control.

bias made

While cutting, I thought it seemed like plenty, but I may run out of the narrow and have to cut the wider down. We’ll see. Now my excuse for working on a new project is gone–I no longer have to prevent tangles. Oh well, I’m working on it anyway.

I made a sketch for the next three blocks. The first block was made in class, detail here.

bias sketch

I wanted swirls and loops on each edge and stripes in each center corner. However, I didn’t want any exact duplication. It seemed I should sketch with the whole in mind rather than make four separate blocks and hope they looked good together.

One thing I like about Latifah’s bias quilts is that she didn’t fill every swirl. I think my first instinct would have been to fill them all.  I tried to get that effect by having lines intersect, but also wanted some loops that are empty. They will appear in blocks 3 and 4.

ETA: Ironically, Latifah’s gallery that I linked shows quilts where all loops are filled; however, in class she showed several that were not. Maybe someday they will get to her gallery.

Here are blocks 1 and 2 almost in position.

bias 2 blocks

They will have 3-6 inches between them in the finish. I couldn’t step back any farther to get them both in the photo so moved them closer just for the shot.

Maybe the blocks will be finished by the end of the week. I’ll need to dig in my stash and probably shop (oh darn!) for some yellows for the sashing.

Linking with Moving it Forward Monday.

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City Squares Finished

A guild quilt show coming up does help UFOs become finished pieces! This one has been in ‘to be quilted’ limbo for quite a while. One reason was that I couldn’t decide how to quilt it. Usually I have a focus to emphasize or some lines that get me started, but there was nothing like that on this one. As the deadline drew near I went with my default, meandering.

I did consider an angled meander instead of curves. I always ponder whether to echo or contrast. I thought curves contrasting to the straight lines of the piecing and print would work. And it is the easier of the two, for me. Sorry, no quilt holder available; maybe a better photo at the show.

City Squares finished

~50 x 70

I haven’t actually measured the finished piece yet; 50 X 70 is the target size.

This quilt was also inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood’s Improv Handbook for Modern quilters; it is Score #1, Floating Squares. Sherri makes two suggestions for edges: cut them straight (as I did for Mint Swirl in the previous post) and follow the curves that form naturally. I tried the latter on this quilt. To deal with the curves I made bias binding. It worked pretty well.  I had most problem with the down curves.

city squares--unsmooth curve binding

This is the worst curve, and I’m hoping it doesn’t show much after being washed. Possibly a single layer binding would have helped (I always make double layer). But  a gentler curve would have helped more. Next time I won’t be so stingy about losing fabric as I create the edge.  I did feel that I had to do the binding the traditional way, machine stitching on to the front and hand sewing the back. I’d not factored that into my time allowance, so cancelled another outing in order to work on it.

The finished quilt doesn’t look much like the picture in my head.  I knew this when I had it laid out and was assembling it, but didn’t know what to do about it. It came to me while quilting. The background needed to have been closer to the background color of the print fabric; then the line between the print and the piecing wouldn’t have been so sharp and the two would have blended better. Also instead of the three areas of color I had planned with most of the red in the middle, maybe I should have used pieces to actually extend the partial city groupings in the print wherever they occurred. The quilt is okay this way, just not the look  I had aimed for.

So my three pieces for the show are finished, but I still have hanging sleeves and labels to go.  I’ll have no trouble meeting a new challenge. Annie’s Ruby Slipperz has a challenge to sew 30 minutes every day, 6 out of 7 for the month of May. (It is early May, you can join in. Information here and here.) At the end she will do a drawing from those comments on the appropriate posts of hers–once a week, I think. Commenting is more important than actually sewing every day for the drawing. This challenge might keep me sewing after these three are labeled and delivered.  Often after a push to deadlines, I take a break. This time I’ll try not to.

ETA photo of the quilt hanging (to improve upon the sofa shot above)

NW2 city squares hanging

Quilt history in reverse order:

Finished top (way back in July)

Assembling the top

Early assembly and arranging and rearranging

Starting the arrangement

An abandoned plan

Skyline, the quilt that made the scraps

I still have a long, narrow piece of the Utopia fabric. And a couple ideas.

 

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Stretching Art and Tradition

Back in January I finished Dreaming of Cool, Clear, Abundant Water and got it mailed off. Today all the Stretching Art and Tradition quilts are online here and next year’s challenge is here.

Enjoy viewing and consider playing.

Meanwhile, I’ve prewashed my Riley Blake challenge fabric, and I’m plodding away at my Threads of Resistance piece. Templates made, pieces cut, and a few stitched.  But it isn’t photogenic yet. Soon.

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