Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sharing the Process

So this is one of two patterns I'm testing for Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs.  I love testing patterns.  (cough) This is only my second.  Ha!  But I still love it.  I think the English teacher in me loves the marking/grading aspect; the quilter LOVES the playing in my fabric stash (OMG I have to do this MORE; I am like Bella with a knitted scarf or afghan, rrrrrowwwwrrr, knead, knead, purr, purr, where have you been all my life? kind of warm and fuzzy feelings) okay.... totally lost my train of thought....phew! Shake! Okay!

So here are my fabrics.  All these photos are under the Ott-Lite.  (Would you believe I bought these about 10 years ago with the idea of making a jacket with them?  Kinda glad I never got to it.) I've made some great quilted jackets, all but one, however, which read as a solid.  Had I sewn one with these fabrics, I can hear my brother saying, as he did about a beautiful, hand-knitted, hand-dyed, hand-woven wool heavy sweater I bought, and paid good money for, "How many couches did you kill for that sweater, Sa-sa?"  Still loves to tease.  And I digress.  Again.

Then I started closely reading the pattern for Grande Scrappy Tiles.  Um what was I thinking?  I had six fabrics to start with, once I added in a light.  I need 21!!

HALLELUJAH!! (how exciting--more fabrics!)

So I got my Weeks Ringle on (just discovered she also writes an interesting weekly-haha-blog), and tried to do a Stash Rx on my choices.  Because I love sharing my thought (what I remember, lol) and design process, and I love reading others' thought  and design processes, and because I have now taken the process pledge (thank you Julie, for having that button on your blog, and curious, I had to check it out) here is how I arrived at the block you see below.

Disclaimer:  I have a double-major in English and French degree, and do not profess to know all the colour rules, so there very well could be some grave errors here, but it's my party...

Adding in an interesting light.
The light has flecks in it, which have made it more difficult to use as they seem to pop and annoy, rather than interest the viewer.  Here, it works.
Adding in pinks, and score! I like this taupe light as it picks up the beiges in the floral
I decided to aim for 4 pinks, blues, burgundies and greens in range from dark to light. That would make 19 fabrics all told with the 2 lights.  I'd fill in 2 more maybe at the end.
4 pinks done, found a raspberry/burgundy marble I'm liking with the flecks of purpley-blue in it
Not sure on that white background though of the one pink. I remembered Weeks saying not to add in white if it isn't there, and the backgrounds here are cream.  Also like the different character of the rose one with the "jacks" shapes on it.
Took it out.
Now for the blues
Weeks also says that prints that are similar, as in large scale, or quite intense bold ones, or, in this case, floral, can be combined.  So I decided to add in some blue florals that have more than one colour and cream in them.  Hmmm.
Trying for some larger range from light to dark; also for a variety in prints
I remember Jinny Beyer saying to always put a bit of black in a quilt, and also that quilters often don't go dark enough or light enough.  So, I'm trying to go darker than I think.  The coral in the blue/coral floral is bothering me here, and the blue-green plaid just isn't doing it, the dark blue flecked one which I used for a binding on another quilt has white pops in it.  Not sure on the top left dark tiny blue floral. It's on a black background and even though JB said always add some black, this one seems too different.
I removed these, thinking the turquoise was the wrong shade of blue, even though I liked the change in motif
Still unsure as I look at the photos the next morning as I'm writing this up, about removing that black background blue floral!  I also did remove the blue/green plaid, and the coral floral.
Blues decided upon

Love finding that stripe! And another green floral, not sure on the pale green small floral
I also was interested to see the tree bark green, which I bought for a backing of some future quilt, might work here too, and change the floral up a bit too.  Not sure on the very pale green. It has soft pops of purpley-blue (is that periwinkle?) though which I'm liking.  Also the modern (and newest fabric in the lot) green with beads(?) and lines on it--interesting, but I don't know... My head is starting to hurt! As are my eyes.
So I eliminated the small floral, thinking it was too cutesy and not in the olive or asparagus-colour range. I've kept the real light because I'm just realizing that I only have one real light!  Only a few real darks.  Uh oh, is this too ho-hum? Too medium-range only?
Burgundies...which are reading awfully similar to the pinks I already did!
There is some white in a couple of these, so I'm not sure.  I really like the fossil fern one; the tone is perfect and the print is different.  I also love the middle-of-the-photo roll of two-tone burgundy; when I found it, I just thought 'Yes!' and it's perfect. And I kept thinking I need a blue that is dark but richer, more in the deep royal colour. Found this marble, so I'm going to add it.  I need 21; my formula of 4 of each colour plus main floral and light doesn't yield 21 total.

So I decided to arrange my 22 (I think by this time) fabrics from dark to light, ignoring the colours, and see what I had:
22 here, mostly in the mediums, mostly floral or softer motifs
I did three things:  First, I looked at this under the Ott-Lite, then I shut off all the lights except for one small one, so I could view the run in semi-darkness, a great tip (see my tips and Aha! posts under the tab up top), and finally looked at the thumbnail of the photo (which creates distance, and you can often detect not-so-good pops or jumps). I came to these observations:
Lots of mediums, maybe too much.
Unsure of the paisley purpley-pink. (4th from the lights side) but I like that it's paisley.
The fossil fern (which I love!) reads the same as the marbled one with the purpley-blue poofs in it, as well as pretty similar to the one with the black "jacks" in it; one has to go.
I do need to keep that very pale green...I think.  If it is still bugging me, maybe that's an indication it should go.
Final 21!  What do you think?
This took me about an hour and a half.  It was so much fun, and such a rush (who needs drugs?!) to rifle through all my stash, petting and caressing, smoothing and admiring, finding treasures (man I have a LOT of blue fabric) and trying to get more of the fabric INTO quilts!!

So, next step is to make the blocks, which are 24.5" unfinished.  Any thoughts or suggestions about my final 21 are much appreciated.  I still love that fossil fern, still am thinking about that black background tiny blue floral in the 7th photo, still unsure of the purpley-pink paisley and the very pale green.  Ya, are you seeing a trend here?  Hate making decisions, second-guess myself...

Linking up with Pink Doxies Pet Project Saturday.

Update:  Judy's suggestion in the comments:
When I look at this, especially without my glasses (I'm near-sighted, which can be a wonderful advantage when wanting to fuzz the fabrics together!) I see where I didn't have these arranged quite correctly, but I'd kind of figured that out, BUT I think this will work!  I think there is a good range, and I don't think there are too many mediums.  Thanks Judy!!

And, since I posted, I JUST found out that I can let the cat (finally) out of the bag:
I'm a Moda Bakeshop designer!!  See my Pyramid Pouch here!  Now to get the button for my sidebar, and write about it for tomorrow!  Eeeek!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hands2Help Charity Quilt

This sweet little quilt is going to the Canadian charity Because You Matter.

I posted about how the design evolved here.

I know I will be making another, not sure if it will be in time to send off with this one though, but rotating every other strip set block to create a woven effect. This was suggested by a couple of readers, and I think it is a great idea!  It was too late (and I was too lazy to unpick the already-sewn blocks) when I got the suggestions.

I did something I've never done before on this quilt, as well as something I haven't done for some time.

Something I've never done before is stitch in the ditch on my Bernina before loading it onto my Avanté. I've read that Sarah of Confessions of a Fabric Addict does this fairly regularly.  I wanted needed to on this quilt because I had "Franken-batted" the batting a fair bit!
Empty bag!!! A good thing.  I mainly used this batting (that's 3 quilts in a row, all for charity) and various smaller pieces of it and some Warm 'n Natural for this quilt. No affiliation. It's just a lovely soft, drapes-well batting. :-)

A few of the back with the vertical lines ditch-stitched

And the front: I stitched vertically on either side of the columns of strips blocks, as well as in the ditch between the border and the quilt top
From here I loaded it onto the Avanté, once I trimmed the bottom edge and made sure the top edge was square. 
Top edge pinned the first time...
Then realized the bottom edge wasn't squared, so unloaded, squared it, then reloaded.  When will I learn/remember?

Ready to quilt!
And tout fini!  Something I haven't done for some time is single fold binding.  I had no choice; I had mere inches left of the pink text fabric. 

I thought the backing I'd picked up might be a little too strong for the softness of the front, but now it's done, I think it's fine!  It's a really soft, albeit a little light in weight, cotton.
So today after I'd washed and dried it, I took a few more pictures since it was sunny and not storming!
 All kinds of crinkly quilty awesome-ness in the bright sun
close-up in the shade - can you see the word I randomly quilted?  "hugs"
I did a loops and leaves and flower all-over meander
I was surprised just how hard it was NOT to echo-quilt the stars or dot-to-dot quilt the geese, and not do swirls in that lovely white negative space...but time is of the essence, so all-over meander it had to be!
I really love the batting, I may have said that before, and this soft backing just makes for such a soft and snuggly quilt.  Hopefully the snuggles, softness, and healing thoughts of comforting a child that I had while stitching this all will be felt when whoever is the recipient holds onto this.

This is all that's left!
I never did use the bottom novelty fabric in this one, but I'm sure it will find its way into yet another quilt.  I'm very happy that I put such a dent in the leftover strips and pieces from the original quilt.

Stay tuned for a pattern for how to make this quilt.

Quilt Stats:
Size: 38.5X42"
Pattern: Original design
Fabrics: scraps from my stash + purchased backing
Batting: the majority is Pellon Nature's Touch 100% cotton scraps + a couple pieces ofWarm 'n Natural
Threads: pieced with Gutermann; quilted with Robison Anton Rayon
Quilted on my Bernina (ditch-stitched) and FMQ on my Avanté

Linking up:
Can I Get A Whoop! Whoop!
Finish It Up Friday
See the buttons on the sidebar! Lots of inspiration.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Have My Cake and Eat it Too

I wrote this earlier today, and then life happened and so did a few thunderstorms... so here we go:

Today is a red-letter day for me.

I used to think two things about aging:
1.  that I would NEVER live to be FORTY
2.  that I would NEVER live to see the year 2000

(because the world would probably end by then.)

Well, I made it.

And then some.

Today my very first pension cheque from the teaching profession, albeit only half a full pension amount, got deposited into our bank account. I also used to believe in the early years of teaching, that I would quit by 50 because that is just SO OLD, and I need time to do all the things I want to do! Well, I'm a few years past that "old" age (it's so not old!) and I feel much the same as I did at about age 28-30; however, I'd like to think maybe a little more wisdom and serenity have settled upon me.

So we bought these two beauties to celebrate:
Note the shrapnel from a couple of the storms that passed through! These two got a little drenched.  Mandevilla vines.

Maybe I'll take my husband out for supper as a further celebration.

Or maybe we'll stay home and enjoy a homemade supper with maybe a second glass of wine for moi!  Rebel.
(We did, and I did.)

What do I mean by the title of this post?
Of the 30 years of teaching I did, from age 22-52, several were part-time years.  This allowed me to stay home for all, or chunks, of the days when my girls were babies and growing up.  I had the best of both worlds:  mummy time (SO many good memories abound), but also adult time, (SO many friendships made with both colleagues and students and still kept today), validation that I was contributing to the good in the world by teaching young people, yet validation that I was able to spend a decent amount of time, IMHO, with my daughters.  Yes, I only get half of what I could have got, had I, either not been part-time, or taught until age 61.  I don't mind; I have my sanity, my health, my optimism!

I wouldn't change a thing.

I managed to snap a quick photo or two on the porch of the Hands2Help quilt I finished this afternoon.  It was raining pretty hard at the time!

More tomorrow once I've washed it.  Here is the back:

Today is also a red-letter day because I am about to upload a pattern of mine that has been accepted...more on that pretty soon!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Heart Is Full

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

~Mahatma Gandhi                        

This weekend:
Clematis at Dayna's
Fresh from a local greenhouse
Last night:
H2H quilt top is done

Rhododendrons in Amherstburg

Incredible sunset (this does not do it justice) over the Detroit River, Amherstburg
Just to relate this to quilting, as if the colours are not enough, Amherstburg was the last stop on the Underground Railroad to Canada and freedom, quilts hung over porch railings or on clotheslines with symbols sewn in to safely lead the way.

This morning:
7 am:  Greeted by...a cardinal, (that brilliant red spark by the stained glass sun?) his mate in the tree above him. The lower red spot is a quince flower
Rocco soaking up the love of these adorable munchkins, who he ADORES; they don't see his breed, just a loveable soft doggie
That's a beach picnic and toys wrapped up in that quilt!!
Made by her oma, the girl told me this quilt sadly got literally eaten (shades of Nugget, no names mentioned) by her dog in one spot.  It's all handquilted, such bright happy fabrics.

More bright happy
and icing on the cake, shortly after I got home from our walk, this arrived!
Perfect!  (uh, notice the Rocco photo-bomb again?
I won this in Julie's (Pink Doxies) giveaway a few weeks ago, for linking up on her Pet Project Saturday.  It is BEE-YOO-TEE-FULL.  Colour choices, fabrics, FMQ and workwomanship.  It looks just terrific on the cream loveseat against the wheat-coloured walls.

Can you get the sense of just how round and fat my happiness bubble is...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

It Started With This...

This is in Pam and Nicky Lintott's Two From One Jelly Roll Quilts, a book I took out of our guild library.  I thought it might work as my Hands2Help quilt for the Canadian charity, Because You Matter.

But I had this

The strips on the right are left from my over-zealous cutting for Maren's quilt.  I suddenly saw blocks of strips as the star centres rather than the 4-patch.  Pulled out the graph paper, and drew this

pieced, dug for some white fabric, dug out more scraps from Maren's quilt, and put this on the design wall:

I experimented with two different squares for the flying geese method I wrote a tutorial for here.  It's rather freeing to do a quilt for charity, with no pressure.  Let's see, I thought, what would happen if I used two different colours for the squares...could I get two-coloured geese wings?

First I laid two pink squares across the background white one.

Sewed, cut, pressed as per the tutorial.  Added the purple ones

Sewed, cut, pressed and squared to this

Kewl!  as my sister Linda would say/write.  It worked!  You get 2 identical pairs, so 2 with the purple on the left and the pink on the right and 2 the opposite.

I also by accident found another layout for the pieces in this quilt:
A rather happy accident!
I like them both!  But if I do this arrangement, I would need to either make another column of the strip set blocks and geese, or make big borders because it's only 30" wide.  I love the diagonal movement though... What about you?  I think...hmmm, I think that will keep for another quilt as I want this one to be about 40" square, and with a 2" border it will be just that!  Perfect for a child to grab, hug, or put on her lap.

Now to remake the same pattern, but in boys' fabrics!  Remember the stacks of strips at the beginning of this post?  Those on the left are left over from Brady's  I Spy quilt.

Whatever layout I choose for the girl, I will do the other layout for the boy.

Outside of a piece of cotton for the backing fabric for this first quilt which I picked up yesterday at Fabricland on sale, this is completely from scraps in my stash.  Aren't scraps a wonderful thing?

Linking up with Julie's Pet Project Saturday, Cindy's Oh Scrap! Sunday, and DSW on Monday at Patchwork Times.  Buttons on sidebar.

Remember to vote in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival!  I know I need to go do this asap.  Did my 3 picks for Viewers' Choice last week.  My two quilts are Gears in Art Quilts and Seashell Runner in Small Quilts.  So much talent and beauty and inspiration all abound in this twice-yearly festival!

Oh, nearly forgot:  Bella, in her diva, pose-for-the-blog-why-haven't-I-been-on-it-lately way, managed to catch my attention yesterday:
"Make sure you get my good side!" she's thinking.
I mean, come ON!!  What cat does this?  Well, lots, I know.  If I'm cutting, she has to be on the table; if I'm pressing, she's trying hard to be allowed to stay on the pressing area; if I'm sewing, she's either trying to get on my lap (and often succeeding) or trying to wiggle into a spot behind the small of my back, or sitting on the sewing table.  I laid out the white fabric and of course, because I was cutting, she was on the cutting mat.  So I draped the fabric end over her and smoothed out the end I was cutting.  She didn't even move, loving being beneath the fabric!!  I went to the pressing side to press the squares I'd just cut, as they still had a bit of a fold in some of them, and saw she was still motionless under the fabric. So I picked up the iPad which was right beside me, said, "Bella! What are you doing you silly pussycat?" and of course up, periscope, she popped with a "mmrrow?" and held still for two photos.  You know, just to ensure I used the very best one here.