Tag Archives: Fun

Still Climbing Mountains

Last year I had fun making a medallion using big prints. (If you click on the photo, it will open in a new tab.)

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The Mountain. 60″ square. November 2015. Made from stash. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

It was a challenge for me, because big prints tend to mute contrast. I like strong contrast and the sharp edges it reveals. I named the quilt “The Mountain.” In the linked post, I said this about the name, “I am not sure why the name came to me, other than that I have been climbing and climbing, mentally and physically and emotionally and artistically, and now I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere, though of course I’ll never reach the peak.” To see more about the design process, click here.

Early this year I saw a quilt top on this site that also merged big prints, but in a completely different way. (I didn’t link the quilt top itself, because the photos disappear when she has sold the tops. And I won’t copy her picture, because it is her picture. However, as of writing this, the top appears in the set of tops over $100.)

I thought about how to make a similar quilt and make it my own. This was the result:

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Still Climbing Mountains. 57″ x 64″. August 2016. Made from stash. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

The name, “Still Climbing Mountains,” is for three reasons. First and most importantly, the block style used is called “Delectable Mountains.” Second, I am still climbing! And third, it reminds me of The Mountain because of the big prints.

In truth, though, there are all kinds of fabrics in this quilt. They range from solids and tone-on-tone, to very large prints. There are batiks and traditionally printed fabrics, ethnic-ish designs and geometrics and Civil War repros. The fabrics were purchased over many years from local quilt shops and large retailers. Browns, teals, rusts, olives, and tans, I just kept pulling fabrics from stash until I had enough.

There are 48 blocks in a 6 x 8 layout. If you look at the photo above, they are arranged by value. The first column (left to right) is very dark and medium dark. Column 2 is medium dark and medium light. Column 3 is medium light and medium dark. Columns 4-6 reverse the order to finish with very dark.

Construction was amazingly simple. I began by making 48 half-square triangles that would finish at 9.5″. That is a weird number, but the unfinished size is 10″. (I cut squares of fabric at 10 3/8″. I cut them on the diagonal and then stitched HST from them. If you cut oversized and then trim, you would trim to 10″, so a finished HST would be 9.5″.)

Each HST then was sliced into 4 segments of 2.5″ by 10″. The segments are rearranged and sewn back together. The new block finishes at 8″ x 9.5″.

hst sliced rearranged

The coolest thing was how each block transformed as it was rearranged.
Del Mtn blocks in process

Assembling the top was easy, too. I assembled each of the six columns, being careful to match them in the one place where the jags fit together. When sewing the columns together, you only need to match the block corners, because that is the only place where contrast shows. In fact, though I’m usually pretty careful in my construction, this was a really forgiving quilt top! My blocks were not all exactly sized and my within-block seams didn’t match up, and believe me, there is no way to see any of that! It was fun and fast — the hardest part was picking the fabrics, and I’m not kidding.

This is one of four quilts I finished in August. September will be a lot lower output for me, so it was nice to mark some finishes.

Busy July

I am good at many things, but I am not good at multi-tasking. For instance, I can make or I can blog. Doing both at the same time seems beyond my capabilities much of the time. In July, I was busy making but not blogging about it.

Early in the month I showed you my list. At the end of June I had four projects in process, and my goal was to finish them all before my guild meeting on July 11. By July 1, one of them was done. By July 11, three of them were done. Since then I’ve finished the fourth.

The only one I managed to blog about since finishing was my guild challenge project, Iowa In My Mind.

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Iowa In My Mind. Approx 31.5″ x 20″. July 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

I still might blog about how the other three were finished, but life moves on and perhaps I will, too.

More Precious Than Diamonds

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More Precious Than Diamonds. 86″ x 90″. June 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Find more about Diamonds here and here and here. And here.

Moonlight Waltz

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Moonlight Waltz. 90″ x 90″. July 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Find out more about Moonlight Waltz here and here and here.

Untied

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Untied. 41″ x 47″. Hand-quilted. July 2016. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Find out more about Untied here and here.


AND SINCE THEN?

Round Robin

Since July 11 I finished my small group round robin for another member. It was our last border pass, so my border presumably was the last border for her project. I also received my own in return. On Friday I quilted it. Sorry — no pix yet. I plan to donate it for my guild’s silent auction at our next quilt show.

Delectable Mountains

I love playing with triangles, and frankly I don’t do it nearly often enough. This month I chose to play with Delectable Mountains blocks created with half-square triangles. I do plan to blog about this but it might be a few days. Saturday I quilted this. I need to lengthen my binding by a few inches before attaching, but I hope it will be done this week.

Delectable Mtns on frame

Stacked Coins

I made the back, loaded, and quilted some stacked coins today (Sunday.) I made this mostly with scraps from the Diamonds quilt. With the angled cuts, scraps were icky shapes and I didn’t feel like putting them in my scrap drawer. So I cut strips from every piece I could. With adding a bit from my scrap drawer and a bit more from stash, I had plenty to create my strips. I LOVE strip quilts, so this was fun to make. Again, another blog post to come.

Stacked Coins on frame

The first half of my year was rather slow, so I guess I’m making up for it now.

Putting It Off

Why do you put off working on a quilt project? Here are a few possibilities:

* I don’t have the supplies I need
* Parts of the project got scattered, and I don’t know where they are
* I don’t know how to do the next step
* I don’t like what I’ve done so far
* It’s boring or tedious or just plain hard
* Non-quilting parts of my life are taking my time and energy
* I’m mad (or something) at the person it is for
* I got distracted by a different quilt project (ooo! shiny!)
* The deadline is coming up, so I’m waiting to do my best work under pressure

If you have a lot of UFOs, any or all of these reasons might apply.

I never have many UFOs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t put stuff off. I’m doing it right now, in fact! The reason? I don’t have the supplies I need (good textile markers,) and I don’t know how to do it. And I have lots of other things I could choose to do instead. The fact that there is a deadline looming doesn’t make me delay; it just adds stress to it!

The other day I mentioned my guild’s annual challenge, to be presented in less than two weeks. This year the challenge is to create a quilt inspired by Iowa. There is no size or technique limit. However it must be quilted through three layers, bound, and labeled.

I have a start on my project, and I have ideas for how to proceed. The photo below shows a map of Iowa lying on top of pieced fabric. I used blue tape to draw a “dead body” outline around it, so I know the basic outline within which I’ll work. My plan includes some text, as well as at least one wind turbine. But the other elements are harder to envision. And in truth, I don’t know how to execute my ideas!

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What does that mean? I can keep putting it off and miss this opportunity to try new things. Or I can get busy, learn how to write text on fabric, play with sizes for wind turbines, and have some fun! What’s the worst that would happen?

Why do you put off projects? What great (or lame) ideas do you have for my Iowa quilt? Do you have advice or encouragement for me? Let me know in comments.

Lessons: Starting a Medallion Quilt

The Mountain. 60" x 60" with 15" center block. 2015.

The Mountain. 60″ x 60″ with 15″ center block. 2015.

While I love all quilts, medallion quilts continue to fascinate me for a number of reasons. They’re one of the oldest formats of bedding quilting, and I love the history behind them and the huge range of styles they can take. Aesthetically, the variety of borders makes them exciting, while the symmetry appeals to me, too. Each one teaches me new lessons. But one of the things I like best is they are a mystery to be solved. I don’t need to know the ending before I even begin.

If you would like to make a medallion quilt, where should you start? First you need to consider a few things.

What is the purpose of the quilt? Will it be a gift? Will it be a wall-hanging, a baby quilt, a bed quilt? Do you need to please someone else or just yourself? Colors and size, and even blocks used may be influenced by this.

Is there a specific center block you plan to use? If so, that will drive many of your decisions as you go. If not, here are a number of centers that may inspire you.

What colors/fabrics will you use? Are you busting stash or will you buy some new? Are you comfortable with scrappy and improvisational fabric choices? The tradition of medallion quilts allows incorporating “new” colors and patterns clear into the last border, as long as they continue to relate to what’s gone before. If you’ve already chosen a center (or have a plan for making one,) you may want to pull fabrics that might work, knowing that others likely will be used, as well.

THE CENTER BLOCK
Once you’ve decided the purpose for the quilt and the approximate size, you can consider the center block. (Or alternately, if you already have a center block, that might guide the purpose and size of the quilt.)

How big should the center block be? When I study “successful” medallions (meaning, ones I like,) the center block is at least a quarter the width of the whole quilt. A smaller block tends to lose its importance when the scale is less than that. My largest block was about 60% of the width of the total quilt. [For some illustrations of center block proportions, see my post Proportion, Part 1.]

For example, if you have a 15” block, your quilt might be up to about four times that, or 60” wide. If that 15″ block were half the width of the quilt, your quilt would be 30″ wide, perhaps a wall-hanging.

What if you want a larger quilt? Well, you could use a larger block, or you could increase the scale of your block by turning it on point. [See my posts on turning a block on point: Straight or On-Point Setting? and How to Set a Block on Point.]

That same 15” block, if turned on point with an exact (not over-large) setting, creates a block that is 21.21” wide. How do I know? Using the math for diagonals,
15 x 1.414 = 21.21.

Using a block about 21”, you can make a quilt up to about 84” and still have the same proportions.

(If you make the setting triangles “too large,” you can increase that more. If you decide to do this, you’ll want to think carefully about scale and how the block may “float” on the setting. If the block’s design is too far from the edges, it again may seem too small.)

Another way to make a block larger is to make it the center of a bigger block. Rather than turning on point with setting triangles, as above, you could frame it with the outside piecing of a larger block.

To the left is a basic variable star block, with the center left blank.

Imagine your block surrounded by star points. A variable star would double the size of your center, as shown in the photo below.

The little star below is framed by the bigger star, which could turn an 8″ block, for instance, into a 16″ block.

But there are any number of ways you can use your block as the center of another. Here are just 16 frame blocks I found in EQ7! This may be a little hard to see, because there are so many and all so different. But the idea is, you can frame your chosen block with any one of the bigger blocks below to expand it and make it more substantial, just like I showed with the little mock-Amish wall-hanging above.


I’ll write more about center blocks in the next Lessons post. Look for more Medallion Lessons here

Do you have a block? Have you thought some about your goals? I’d love to hear about your ideas in comments. 

Playing Today

My word for the year is PLAY! While I generally enjoy my creative time, some is more playful than others. Today I’ve played at two things so far. Both are designs.

Last evening I googled images for “urn flowers applique“. One of the images selected was an antique quilt done in only two colors, peach and white. (I couldn’t find out more about it. It had been a sale listing and the information was gone. No date, no name, no provenance.) The two colors formed a primary design as well as a secondary. I grabbed a piece of paper from the recycling bin and scribbled part of the design, enough so I could replicate it today in EQ7.

On analysis, it was done in 256 half-square triangles, in a 16×16 layout. The antique also included a peach inner border and a white outer border. My drawing below in blue and white skips the borders but includes a narrow white line to emulate the binding.

Binary Stars blue

Really cool, huh?

Here is a corner to show you the construction. Make the corner 16 times, and your quilt is ready for assembly.
Binary Stars blue 4 by 4

And since I was playing, I wondered how it would look in multiple colors. I love two-color quilts, but frankly I think this is a lot more interesting.
Binary Stars multicolors

And the corner for this one:
Binary Stars multicolors 4 by 4

Notice, if you will, that this design has absolutely NOTHING to do with “urn flowers applique“. That was my original search because I’m planning to start an urn flowers applique project! But first I need a design.

Since I don’t draw well, I decided to cut shapes and arrange them on paper. This gives me a pretty good idea of how big the shapes should be and how they might be arranged. The crumpled white paper is the wrapping label off a roll of batting. (Do you save some of that paper, too?) I taped two strips together and then started cutting shapes from another chunk. To save my arrangement I traced quickly around the shapes. It should be pretty easy to transfer to freezer paper and then fabric.

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I’m planning to do old-fashioned needle turn applique, without all the glueing and pressing and fusing and fussing that some of the other techniques use. This will be relatively primitive, both due to my skills and my intention. The colors I’m choosing are joyful, not stuffy. I’ll show you progress as I make it.

What are you playing with these days?