Tag Archives: Work in process

Class Quilts

My medallion class began last week! In class I help lead participants through the process of designing their own medallion quilts. And while they create, I do, too.

In the few weeks we have together, while each of them is making one quilt, I design and construct two. I start with very different centers and color schemes in order to demonstrate a variety of strategies.

The first one I began has a center block that features flying geese circling a star. The block design came from the Big Book of Scrap Quilts, published by Oxmoor House in 2005. The quilt pattern is called “Dizzy Geese,” designed by Joan Streck. Dizzy Geese is a block quilt, with a 17″ block made with templates.

I re-drew the block to 16″ and paper-pieced it.

Though I’ve made quilts in reds and greens before, I haven’t made one I’ve thought of as a Christmas quilt. This one will have that intention, but I’d still like to keep it lighthearted. I’ll minimize the holiday-focused prints, but refer to the occasion through shaping. For instance, the circling flying geese give the impression of a wreath.

With the intricate center, I wanted a simple first border, but one that would extend the range of color. Because the star points are a forest green print, I chose a citrus green for the border. The corner blocks add to the gold, found in the center’s green print and in its background fabric.

The second border was fun and easy to make. Take a look. The corners are just half-square triangles. The side blocks are each made of three pieces and all the blocks are same. Their orientation gives the look of a twisting ribbon as they circle the top.

And the third border is a plaid with dark green, dusky gold, and burgundy, with bright gold corners. I don’t love the dark plaid, for various reasons. But I think it will serve its purpose as the design develops. It’s easy to get hung up on individual elements, such as the color or shapes or value of a particular border. Just as you don’t have to love a particular block to have it work well in a block quilt, you don’t have to love a particular border in a medallion quilt. Every border changes every border, and it’s the final effect that counts.

I have tentative plans for the next borders, but won’t work on this more until next week.

The second quilt begins with a bear’s paw block in the center. I’m less certain of the direction for this one. I really like the center block, with its beautiful Julie Paschkis print in the large sections. And I love the batik that surrounds the block. I am not absolutely sure they work together. However, some patience is in order as I let the process play out. (Trust the process.)

Though I rarely work on two quilts in the same stage at the same time, the chaos is kind of exciting, too. We’ll see if I still feel that way in a couple of weeks. 🙂

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Finding Balance with Visual Weight

I’m working on that UFO. More accurately, I’ve stalled working on that UFO, because of balance problems.

Last time I showed you a couple of ideas for finishing the 6-pointed star with borders. Both were good ideas, and I kept playing in EQ7 to refine them. This was the winner:

Pretty, huh? I liked the airy way the chains of 4-patches wrapped around the center. After arriving home over the weekend, I set to work making 40 double-4-patches to construct the borders. They finished well, and I was excited to lay them out around the center. But I don’t like the look at all. They definitely look better in the drawing than they do in real life.

The balance is all wrong. The visual weight of the center (everything in the center so far, including the 4-patches on point and the 1″ dark pink border outside of them) is too heavy, relative to the weight of the chains. The difference is so stark, the border chain blocks seem completely disconnected from the center, as if they are from different quilts.

Unity: the design principle that all the elements and components of a design look like they belong, that they are unified, or one.

Balance: the design principle that elements and components of a design have equal distribution of visual weight.

My chains are not well balanced with the center, and in fact, are so badly balanced as to look like they don’t belong.

Sigh… 

So it was back to the literal drawing board of EQ7. I have a tentative plan, but you might understand that I’m shy about showing it right now. First I’ll see if it works.

How is your week going? Are you making good progress, or are you in steps-forward and steps-back mode, like I am?

A New Plan for an Old UFO, Part 2

Where I left you last time was having solved the problem of setting the star points into background fabric without using Y-seams. I also showed you an idea for a quilt design using log cabin blocks. It’s pretty, but I really have no interest in making it.

This is where it is so far. At this point it finishes at 54″ square. 

The question is, what to do next? Often I begin a quilt with a center and two or three borders, designed in my mind and with scratch paper, and made directly. When it’s time to add more borders, I often switch to EQ7 for design help. It gives the advantage of trying out ideas without making them. With unlimited iterations possible at virtually no cost, there is not much downside. I did the same for this one.

Here are a couple of options, drawn in EQ7.

Original design in EQ7, 82″ square.

Original design in EQ7, 93″ square.

I like them both, but I have a pretty good idea which direction I’ll go with it.

Mountains Coming Into View

My Delectable Mountains quilt is coming along well. I have the “mountains” pieced for the second set. Next is trimming those half-blocks and filling outside of them with the double pink setting fabric. Then I can trim the center to size and attach the DM borders with corner blocks.

What is “double pink”? From the Quilt Index Wiki page:

Double pinks, sometimes called ‘cinnamon’ pinks, feature tiny prints in a dark, cinnamon-like pink, on a light rosy pink ground. Both of these hues have warmer undertone than bubblegum pink, which emerged as a quilt fabric, often as a solid rather than a print, in the twentieth century. Double pinks were most popular in the 1860s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, though double pinks are common in quilts through the 1920s. At the height of their popularity in the mid-nineteenth century, double pinks were often paired with madder or chocolate browns in quilts.

In the image below, the dark pink triangles on the outside edge are double pink. The center of the center block also is considered a double pink, even with its more complex pattern.

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Half blocks set in place but not sewn on yet. They need their double pink setting fabric first, as well as corner blocks.

The color combination, as it says above, was most popular in the mid-1800s. Most of the images of Delectable Mountains medallion quilts in the International Quilt Study Center & Museum index are from before 1850. So the colors are slightly anachronistic, but I think they still suit.

The Game’s Not Over!

Nope, we’re at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and there’s a lot of time to make a difference. What adjustments will you make to your strategy so you end the year with a win?

(Remember when we were in high school and learned about “stream of consciousness” writing? I don’t usually write that way — it can be hard to follow. But it’s been a long time since I wrote anything new here at all, so we’re gonna go with it…) 

After finishing four pieces at the beginning of August, and then heading out of the country for almost three weeks, I’ve been in a lull for both making and writing. It happens. And I don’t mind. The spell always breaks after a while, and I get revved up again.

One of my intentions this year was to make some quilts for the local VA hospital. My guild distributes some of our 200ish donation quilts a year there. They have a preferred size, approximately 48″ x 60″, and of course recipients are adults, so not all of our members’ contributions suit it. But I don’t much like making baby quilts or little kids’ quilts, as many people do. And with Son in the military, I’d rather make for the vets.

Last week I began by pulling all the dusky teals in my stash. To pair with them, I picked light fabrics with a golden or tan cast. Deciding on block size was … annoying. With 48″ x 60″, 6″ blocks work well (8 blocks by 10 blocks.) Note, though, that requires making 80 blocks. Also when making block quilts with an alternating block, I usually prefer odd numbers of blocks, such as a 7 block by 9 block layout. That allows the blocks to alternate in a balanced way.

Then there are the decisions about using a border or not, and if so, what fabric do I have enough of already in stash? Well, NOTHING. I have NOTHING in stash, to go with the teals, with enough yardage to make borders. Okay. No borders, just blocks.

Finally I decided on shoofly blocks to finish at 7.5″. With a 6 x 8 layout, the size would finish at 45″ x 60″, which works fine. That’s still even numbers, which affects the alternate blocks chosen. What works? Ones that have a diagonal line, such as half-square triangles. In fact, I considered other options but HST are simple and effective. I found a piece of toile just large enough (with some piecing) to make halves, and I pulled my old-fashioned rusty oranges for the other halves. (Some of those are pieced, too. I’ve gotten better at making the fabric work for me, as long as the area is enough. I CAN piece it together. I know how.) 

The picture below is blocks, before being assembled into a top. My overall standard for quilts is pretty simple: would I be pleased if someone gave it to me? The answer on this would be yes. The toile in the HST is paler than all the other lights used. One of the teals is pale, but doesn’t stand out as living in the wrong quilt. One of my teals has as much bronze as teal, and the bronze is what shows most in them. That’s okay with me, too, as it doesn’t stand out, either. And the HST with their strong contrast give great movement. (That’s why there isn’t a balance problem when using them as the alternate, when using even numbers in the rows and columns. The movement and strong line create their own balance.)

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What I don’t have is backing fabric or batting. On my list for a stop later today.  (Wrote that yesterday. I stopped at JoAnn Fabrics last evening before meeting a friend for dinner. Got the batting. Picked up three yards of fabric for the back. Had 50% off coupons for both. If this were really stream-of-consciousness, I’d go on about that, and about my favorite quilt shop closing soon.)

hmm… what was I saying about the fourth quarter? What else do you want to get done before year’s end? And how do you fit it all in? I’ve seen a couple of blog posts recently on that. One is from my friend Tierney at tierneycreates.com. She wrote about the seven habits of highly effective crafters, a crafty look at Steven Covey’s rules. It covers a lot more than getting projects done, but on that issue, the most relevant is putting first things first. In other words, decide on your priorities. What is most important is not always what seems most urgent. If there are things you want to finish by holidays, for instance, identify them now.

Lori at The Inbox Jaunt takes that a step farther. She recommends using a notebook to inventory projects. Once you know what you have, identify priorities and then list specific, small steps that need to be taken next, to move them along. (Do you quilt your own? Check Lori’s blog for seemingly unending resources for quilting designs and strategies.) 

At this point, I need to think about what I want to accomplish before year end. That will give me a way to identify priorities.

What’s left on your making list for the year? Will you get it all done?