Tag Archives: quilt design

The Last Four Stars

I didn’t feel like I’d made any progress until I got the parts assembled and could lay out the block into a 9-patch.

1 star partial

At this point it almost feels finished even though there are several seams left to sew.

Plan A was to have the  quilt layout planned today.  Not gonna happen, and here’s why.  I’m going to need a whole day to assemble the alternate blocks once they are laid out.  When the design bed is opened, it takes the whole living room and is very awkward. Meanwhile once the quilt is laid out, I don’t want to pick it up till stitched together. This grouping just doesn’t lend itself to any stacking method I know that would allow me to keep track of what goes where. So a one-day sewing marathon is in my future. (And with the stay-at-home order there will be days.)

1 star alternate block

All the alternate blocks are at this point. Because I planned each star to have its own background, I need to synchronize those backgrounds with one square in each of its adjacent alternate blocks. So I can’t finish the alternate blocks till I know which stars will be next to each of its sides. And that won’t be known till I decide first where each star will go and second which parts of the alternate block will be arranged together beside it.

So, the final four.

1 4 stars

Hmmm. Yes, I see that oops. Funny how sometimes you don’t notice till you see a photo. At least this is before any more seams are sewn.

When I started making the star blocks,  spent a lot of time looking for the right square to put in each corner. But once I laid the blocks out with the alternate between them, I saw that the corner square blends so much into the other squares that it really doesn’t matter.  (You can see what I mean in the layout here or in the Irish Stars button in the sidebar.) So I have dithered a lot less since then.

Usually I’ve photographed blocks in even numbered sets, like the above. However, last time I had an odd number. That photo suggested another possible layout for a quilt without the chain alternate blocks. I had to check it out.

1 5 stars layout

I think that would make an interesting quilt someday.

The two end stars don’t have white centers. The white is the four squares that match the background being kept with them for when I finally get the layout planned.

It won’t be too much longer, just not today.

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday and Oh Scrap! (Buttons in sidebar).




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“Torii” Sketches

You’ve been dying to see what I’ve done for Elizabeth Barton’s class with last post’s photo, right? (Quite likely not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.) First I cropped the photo.

b torii corner

Then I sketched the major lines including some of the wires and poles in the background because I thought the latter added interest.

L3 lines

I put “torii” in quotes in the title because I was pretty loose with the lines, and only one of the sketches has anything resembling a torii look. And that maybe only if you already know about the photos. (I also wonder to what extent the three appear to have come from the same source.)

In the first sketch I kept some of the hanging tags. And added an extension to the left.

L3sketch 1

This one needs the most work:rotating, eliminating, etc.

The next was my favorite

L3 sketch2 adjusted 2

It needed the fewest changes, and they have been done. Mostly filling the upper left triangle with extensions of the lines below it. Since it was my favorite and needed less work, I’m thinking my judgment might be improving.

The third one has some resemblance to a torii.

L3sketch 3

But when  rotate it 90 degrees left, as suggested, the toriiness will be gone. No matter. I have more ideas from this photo, which I suppose makes it a potential series. But I don’t think I can call it my torii series since the torii keeps disappearing. I’ll come up with a name. Or maybe one of you will.

The assignment included grabbing colors from the photo, but the photo had so few that I took a photo of a nearby bush. And saturated it in iPhoto.

berry color_2 saturated

I also have a color assignment for Lesson 2 which has been fun to work on.  I did it armchair method, computer open and showing the art source, and a swatch book in hand.  I had planned to set it aside and move on to Lesson 4, but I was in the mood to think color. I can move on while waiting for fabric to arrive.

And I signed up for Elizabeth’s next class, Mod Meets Improv. I am especially interested in her version of improv since she emphasizes sketching so much in the art quilt classes.

Chances are I’ll not have any more progress to post before Friday so this will be my post to link to Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday (button in sidebar).




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Color Play

Lately I’ve been seeing posts deriving palettes from photos through various programs, Palette Builder 2.1 being one of them.

I decided to play too.

photo plus palette

While I might have fun playing with this palette, the first thing I notice is what is missing, the reds and yellows. Does that mean Moda doesn’t have a match for these? I’d be surprised if that were true. Is it related to amounts of color, and the tool goes for larger percentages? Maybe.

Let’s try another with more accent colors.

Second paletteWhere are the white and reds? Does the algorithm “assume” that I can see these accent colors for myself and need help only with the more subtle ones? Maybe.

Well, let’s try one where there is no accent color, just for fun.

Landboat palette

This one is to say, yes, these are from my most recent Lan Su Chinese Garden visit. And yes the red rose is blooming again. And here is the ritual landboat shot.  I missed the new ritual bridge shot. Gotta get into that habit. But about color: no accents to lose, so no disappointment. Benefit of the palette builder here is the blue, second from the right. I’d not seen that in the photo.

Just one more. It is a bit addictive, I must admit.

more color

I tried a more colorful photo. Can you believe that that one pink (I’ve already forgotten its Moda Bella name) is the only reddish color from that photo? It is obviously not a selection based on amount of a color in the photo.[ETA: Since looking at the tutorial mentioned in the comments, I see that the program does work from volume of a color. I’ll have to study why that doesn’t appear to be the largest amount of a shade of pink to my eye.] I would also appreciate if the “save” feature produced the names of the Kona Bella solids along with the squares. You get the names when you upload the photo; they just don’t save.

A while back I took a class with Jean Wells Keenan when she was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame. She too advises getting a color palette from photos. However, she emphasized maintaining the proportions of colors in the photo. Now wouldn’t a tool be lovely if it did that proportion math? Of course I’m using a free app; maybe one exists out there that does what I want for a fee.

I’ll be linking with Creative Goodness on Friday, link in sidebar.


Filed under design, quilting

QuiltCon, Negative Space, and a Puzzle

I will start my reflections on QuiltCon with the categorization system itself, and then my thoughts on Negative Space. The categories are problematic in that they are neither consistent nor exclusive. Some categories are about method (piecing, applique,improv, bias), others about design (minimalist, use of negative space, modern traditional)–immediately creating overlaps. That within the design categories a quilt can feature negative space and be a minimalist design adds to the confusion. Even though the categories were confusing, it was frustrating not to be able to choose which one to enter a quilt in. It seems they could have let quilters say their preference and still move a quilt if they felt it filled an empty spot elsewhere. It would have been nice to know that the first glance was where the quilter preferred.

I especially enjoy seeing creative uses of negative space. I have a few photos of quilts I especially liked and a couple that show I need more information. Only a little off from the judges who gave it a third, I would have given first place to Stephanie Ruyle’s Read Between the Lines.

Read Between the LinesThe narrow red accents crossing from the design to the negative space appealed to me on this one. (And the negative space fit with my understanding of the concept.)

Also appealing to me, and with understandable negative space, were Cheryl Brickey’s Pikes Peak and  (I think I have the name right–my photo of the tag isn’t clear) Amy Dame’s Wake Up, Wake Up.

Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

I have a fondness for flying geese, but even without that, the overall design impact would have caught my eye. The quilting that emphasized the lines moving toward a point with its varied widths added interest. There was a clear unity between the piecing and the quilting, something I strive for but don’t always accomplish.

Wake Up, Wake Up

Wake Up, Wake Up

I was drawn to the upper half circle “calling” to the two rows and to thinking of various wake-up scenarios: parent to child, sun to plants, and so on. Again the quilting seemed appropriate to the piecing. That the quilting echoed the lower rows and not the upper half circle placed the emphasis on the waking more than the calling.

You can see that both of the above could easily also have been placed with minimalist design (something I like almost as much as creative use of negative space). And Pikes Peak could have been placed with Modern Traditionalist.

Now to the two that raised questions for me. Phoebe Hamel’s (another unclear photo of tag) Transmission and Heather Pregger’s Tuning Fork #12. (Remember, the quilters did not choose the categories.)



Where is the negative space? It all looks like design to me. Or does each row take its turn being design and then space? Or instead of seeing six rows am I to see four rows and space? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuning Fork #12

Tuning Fork #12

I really like all that I have seen of this series (three in person, several in photos). The controlled busyness appeals to me as does the subtle color variation in the background sections. The energy. My questions are these: To what extent is “background” synonymous with “negative space”? How much design can negative space hold and remain negative space?

Now it would be lovely if I could ask the judges directly, but I doubt they read my blog. So I’ll link up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Friday (button in sidebar) in the hopes that readers there will comment to clarify the concept of negative space.


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Fading Charms, a Late Friday Finish

I was so close that I had to keep sewing. And it is only 11:30 pm.

Center and first couple bordrsI did daisies and echoed around them plus some meandering in the center.  (The daisies actually showed better in a previous post, here. )After doing the string of circles for one border, I decided I didn’t want to do it all the way on the others. I’d seen lines with occasional circles and thought that fewer circles echoed the fewer blocks.


Here you can see my two-borders-in-one design. I echo loops in the borders of four squares  and of 2 squares (someday the sun will shine and I might get a photo that shows that) and the circles echo the other three green border circles.

And I think these are the best corners I’ve ever done after learning a trick from Wendy Butler Burns on Craftsy. And I’d never pressed my binding before–that too probably helped.

It seemed to me that with all the brightness going on in the quilt, a subdued binding was called for; hence the dark brown binding. I think it works.

Linking with TGIFF and Finish it Up Friday.

ETA link to Wedding Dress Blue’s tutorial for Fading Charms.

ETA history of blogs on this quilt

Center finished (May 2012)

Top minus last two borders (June 2012)

Top finished (July 2012)

Quilting begun (Dec 2014)



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Lost Edges, Top Finished

The Masterclass is drawing to a close. We have October’s assignment and then will get November’s. December is a time for comment on work we didn’t have time to post for the monthly finishes. It has been good.

I have the top finished for the September project and have received its comments. While it might not have had lost and found edges as it was blocked, it now is an “interesting solution to the lost edges problem.”

Finished top

13 x 14

I like seeing how much a few simple shapes can accomplish. I guess one thing I forego, then, is the high praise of more detail to see the longer one looks.

I hadn’t quilted it yet because I couldn’t decide between two options. Elizabeth suggested a third. I’d thought of stitch in the ditch around the pieces or short lines in the spaces, horizontal in the aqua and circular echos in the lavender and window like lines in the “buildings.” I’d thought of matching thread.  Elizabeth suggested more stripes in aqua or variegated thread, an all over design instead of three separate ones. That would be easier than all the color changes I was considering. I’m not sure I want light thread on the dark fabric. I’ll think on it.

The circle is inset; the right green “beam” is inserted. The others are needle turn appliqued.  I need more practice on acute angle stitching–this was my first try at that.

I don’t have a title yet; could use Lines and Circles #3. But Elizabeth suggested a series, so it should be a first, not a third. The floor is open for suggestions.

I foresee taking Elizabeth’s class about working in a series. I’ve read her book, but there is so much benefit in doing the lessons and getting the comment that it would not seem redundant. But it won’t be immediately as I am ready for a break from monthly projects.

Linking with Off the Wall Friday and Sew Solid Sunday


Filed under design, quilting

Can an Old Floral Go Modern?

It all started with the Classic Meets Modern Block of the Month. In the month of April, the classic block challenge was Double Z, and here is my thinking on modernizing the block.

the blockThe block didn’t just sit there; it got submitted to Sunshine Block Lotto and returned to me when I won 15 blocks. Since it didn’t play well with the other 14, I got the left over fabrics out to see what they could become.

I didn’t have as much as I had remembered, only enough to make four blocks. If I had measured correctly I could have made more. My 16-patch blocks are usually made from 4-inch pieces; I don’t know why. So, flying on automatic, I cut for 4-inch HSTs. Once they were assembled I realized my mistake; the original block had been 12 x12. There went my plans for layout–neither am I that friendly with my seam ripper nor did I want to waste that much fabric–no way was I resizing the four blocks.

I have enough fabric to make one more 12 x 12 (if I piece the dot) or 2-3 8 x 8. I lean to the latter, but nothing is cut yet. I have been playing with layout.

Easiest, but very traditional: duplicate the starter block and use the traditional 9-patch for setting.first layout

But Plan A had been to split the quilt into light and dark, not repeat the mix. So next I tried something closer to Plan A:

Second layout

Yes, one of the segments is upside down–can you pretend it is right? What I like about this one is that it is less symmetrical and in two places the original classic form of the block shows, the ones with a single background. And it has lots of negative space, a nice modern feature. Not being sold on this layout, I kept playing.

Third layout

This one is growing on me, but I am not committed to it yet. Questions for you:

Does this seem a modern quit design to you?

Would you make one 12 x 12 block or make 2-3 blocks that are 8 x 8? And if so, where would you put them?

For background would you use all lavender or all darker purple or mix with lavender on the light half and the darker purple on the dark half? Or something else?

Do you have another layout to suggest?

I don’t have time to sew for a week, so I can wait for feedback. Planning to link up with Design Wall Monday and WIP Wednesday.


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Redefining Minimalism

Today I read farther down Barbara Brackman’s Historically Modern sidebar than I usually do and found an older post on modern minimalism.

Most of her examples fit what I had considered minimalism, which emphasized big, plain, and simple. However, I was surprised at the Kandinsky she included. Simple shapes, well yes, mostly squares and triangles. But what about those irregular shapes and curves? And it seemed so fussy, compared to the one above and below it.

Better to expand than constrict, perhaps.

I don’t have any photos today, but there are plenty if you follow the link to Brackman’s post.



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Minimalism’s Challenges

I really like minimalist abstract painting, and it seems it should readily translate into quilts. However, I’m puzzled by how to keep minimalism from being boring. And how to handle the empty space so that it looks intended and not just forgotten.

The starter for April’s Masterclass assignment seemed to suggest minimalism:one shape, another similar, another a little bit different, and some lines attaching them.

April's sketch

I liked this one best of the three I submitted, as did Elizabeth. (I’ve made enough instructor comments–not on art–to know that ‘best of three’ is not much praise for the whole set.)

After seeing everyone else’s sketches, I wondered if I had taken the instructions too literally. Almost everyone else had lines through shapes that broke them up into more shapes with shading. After I saw the first five, I almost redid mine, but didn’t really have time or another idea that didn’t feel like copying. So I left it. And I will tweak it according to most of the suggestions.  One I am not sure about: making the rectangle out of small pieces of the same value. I think that would contradict my attempt at minimalism. Or maybe this sketch already has too much to even think minimalist thoughts. I maybe shouldn’t have layered anything so as to keep it flat.

One of the recommended tweaks is to move the bottom triangle left; I can do that with no problem, but I was already concerned about the triangle’s unbalance. Maybe I’ll get an idea as I move pieces around.

I like the challenge of finding and solving design problems.


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From Sketch to Blocked Design

Remember the sketch for the line based design in the master class with Elizabeth Barton?

After considering black and white, shades of aqua, or multicolored brights, I settled on the aqua, making adjustments along the way for variation in value.

Design blockedYep, I flipped it.

The white is there because otherwise the light aqua looked white. After I added it, I also liked the variation and contrast. I chose the green just because I wanted something darker than the darkest teal on hand.

My plan was to lose 1/4-1/2 inch on the long strips to seam allowance, though I was beginning to like the width of the teal and white strip as is and considered ripping it and cutting other strips. But Elizabeth’s comments lead me to keep all  the widths as is.

I have been wondering how to block out a design that will end up losing seam allowance, especially with narrow lines planned. I’ve been trying to just use my imagination. (But of course that violates Elizabeth’s maxim: evaluate a visual design visually.) Pressing under 1/2 inch of a 3/4 inch strip doesn’t work either. Nor can I press circles under and keep curves. I guess I’ll just have to cut exactly what I intend (and figure out some way to use the strips later–well the 1/4 inch ones will just be trashed) and then cut a new piece to actually use.

Now comes the final construction. I had slash-and-insert construction in mind, but since some of the strips are wide and others tapered, I may end up making templates. I remember having read not to limit design by familiar construction methods, but rather to design and then figure out how to create it. Sounds like a good principle, but it may be easier said than done.

I’ll be linking to Off the Wall Friday–button in the sidebar.


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