Tag Archives: Work in process

Year End Deadlines?

What is it about that word, “deadline?” Is there an actual line, like a race’s finish line? Do you drop dead when you cross it? If you don’t cross it in time, are you as good as dead? According to Merriam-Webster.com, the word was used during the US Civil War to signify an actual point of no return. If prisoners of war tried to cross the deadline surrounding the prison camp, they would be shot.

Regardless of how stressed the holidays can make us feel, the deadline is not as treacherous for us. But at this time of year, many people — quilters or not — are scurrying to finish projects for holiday gifts. Often, that’s me, too. Pillowcases, checkerboards, table runners, and other small projects have deadlines!

Not this year. This year I have no project in process that will be a holiday gift, and no quilty deadlines. However, like always, there are things I’m working on, and it’s great to clear things off the list before year end!

What’s on the list of projects in process?
1. Urn with flowers. The top is done, as of yesterday. I need to make a back, and get it quilted and bound.

No title yet. 45″ x 50″. Unquilted top.

2. VA Hospital quilt #4 for the year. Again, the top is done but it needs a back and quilting. If I’m finished by December 10, I’ll take it to guild meeting to donate it then. Otherwise I’ll donate it in January.

VA Hospital quilt 2018, #4. Approx 48″ x 62″. Unquilted top. Disappearing 9-patch using orphan blocks.

3. The Rooster. The top is done. However, it’s possible I’ll make minor changes before quilting. We’ll see.

4. The Mask. I’m developing a plan for this, which might include a snake wrapped around the face. Hmm, not sure where this will go. Because of the uncertainty, this won’t likely get finished by year end.

5. New York Beauty star. This is heading into 2019 as a great idea but a fairly low priority.

And then there are all the projects I want to start! I have been so inspired by our trip to Peru and would like to develop some work based on that. There are a few table runners and table toppers that could be (that old “could be”) fast finishes. A series of masks would be a great way to learn more about faces and about appliqué. My dear Green Man continues to wait for his quilt. And then there are the stories I want to tell in quilts, which I’m finally feeling ready to begin.

And projects already finished this year:
1. Fierce Little Bear
2. VA hospital quilt #1
3. VA hospital quilt #2
4. Charlotte’s Kitty
5. The Old School House
6. Georgia’s graduation quilt
7. Where Are the Birds? (landscape tree quilt)
8. ¡Fiesta!
9. Hands and Hearts
10. Shirt
Projects 11-15 are all shown here.
11. Dan’s Honor Flight Quilt
12. Sonny’s Honor Flight Quilt
13. Heather’s baby quilt
14. VA hospital quilt #3
15. Iowa map quilt, hostess gift for Peru

What’s still on your lists for the year? Do you have holiday deadlines for your projects? 

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Productive Procrastination

Did you know that “productive procrastination” is a thing? I’m talking about choosing to do something valuable while actively choosing not to do something else valuable. For example, you could choose to dust your living room rather than call your mom. Or vice versa. What I’m not talking about is getting lost for hours in Pinterest or Instagram photos, searching for inspiration you’ll never actually act on. Or clicking through Facebook or online news ceaselessly, looking for something new to read or respond to.

Right now, I’m putting off writing about my trip to Peru, and all the tasks that are included in that: identifying photos to share; framing my memories so they are meaningful for you, too; considering how those memories have shaped my creativity, even just a little. And I’m also putting off re-starting one of my quilting projects with the benefit of my new perspectives.

Instead, I am working on another VA Hospital quilt. Certainly that is worthy of the time involved. I can’t pretend that it is a high priority — there is no deadline. On the other hand, there’s no deadline for my purely creative adventures, either.

It started when I opened a drawer of orphan blocks, parts, and binding leftovers. I found a bunch of these, dull and dismal puss-in-the-corner blocks. (They didn’t qualify as a UFO by my definition, as they were not “a project” themselves. They were just orphan blocks, parts waiting in inventory until useful or otherwise disposed of.)

They finished at 6″, more or less. The fabric is not particularly nice. And they certainly aren’t pretty. But could they be useful?

(This reminds me of the very silly public television show, The Red Green Show. He is famous for saying, “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.“)

So what can you do with 10 not-pretty blocks? I decided to use them within a disappearing 9-patch quilt. Mix them in with enough other, prettier fabrics, and they’ll be okay.

When I make disappearing 9-patches, I like to use an accent color for the centers of the 9-patches. It also is helpful to have value contrast between the large corner patches and the side-centers, which become the “legs.” As I picked through fabrics, I decided to stick with dark greens and dusky blues for the corner patches, rusty oranges for the accent center patches, and lighter pieces for the legs.

I made nine large, ugly 9-patches using 6″ finish blocks. All the blocks were unpieced except my green and tan puss-in-the-corner blocks.

After completing the 9-patches, I sliced each into four pieces, arranged them, and stitched them into a quilt top. The top is now finished.

Disappearing 9-patch top. About 44″ x 62″.

(Honestly, it’s better looking in person than it is in the photos.)

I’ll need to build a quilt back, quilt it, and bind it. But it will wait as I have another task to tackle in the next few days, one with an actual deadline.

What are you working on? Are you procrastinating, forging ahead, or doing both in turn? 

What About That Rooster?

Joanna commented on my last post that it was an interesting bait and switch, titling the post with “Rooster” but blogging about geese. Yeah, that was not really on purpose. By the time I finished showing you the flying geese quilt top, it seemed like a big enough post already. This one is actually about the rooster.

Though I put a couple of recent photos in Instagram, when you last saw it on the blog, I’d assembled portions of the appliqué but had not fused it all together. Here it is, both before and after being fused to the background fabric. Click either picture to see them bigger. 

It’s worth spending a moment here to talk about execution. Over the last few months, I read a lot of different blogs and tutorials about fused and other machine appliqué. For me it was like reading a lot of recipes for one type of dish, and then making my own plan based on what I’d learned.

Whatever this quilt is when done, it won’t be a cuddle quilt or bed quilt. It’s not likely to ever be laundered. I don’t need to worry about finishing the edges completely with stitching. That gives more flexibility for method. Here are a few bullet points, with whatever commentary applies:

* I used Wonder-Under brand fusible web. Honestly, I haven’t tried more than a couple of brands, so I can’t tell you how it compares to other types of fusible.
* For some of the larger pieces, I cut the centers out of the Wonder-Under before fusing to the rooster fabric, leaving just an outline about 1/2″ wide. That reduced the heft and stiffness of those pieces.
* I fused small components together to make bigger parts (shown in the photo above,) using parchment paper as my pressing sheet. Once the pieces are pressed together, they can be peeled off as a group. Some people recommend Teflon pressing sheets, but I used parchment paper; it worked fine and it’s very inexpensive.
* Previously I’d drawn an outline of the rooster on tracing paper, along with a couple of marks to show where the background seams were. That made it easier to place the big parts when I was ready to fuse to the fabric. However, I purposely oriented the rooster a little less upright than my original drawing. That was easy to do since I hadn’t fused all the parts together yet.

After attaching the full rooster to the background fabric, I tried a lot of ideas for how to frame it. Initially I figured to create a narrow line of dark coral, all the way around, and then bordering that with hourglass blocks. None of the color combinations I tried really rocked me.

Many iterations of color later, I left the room. While Jim and I had dinner that evening, I tossed out some questions. You know, what if? What if I don’t use a narrow border of coral? What if I don’t use a narrow border at all? What if I just put one wide strip border around it and call it done? What if …

One question seemed worth pursuing: what if I made a checkerboard border? What if I used three layers of checkerboard, like 9-patches? Or maybe simpler, just 4-patches? Again I auditioned colors. I chose a bronze batik (used in many other projects, and I’ll be very sad when it’s gone) and the same blue print used for the rooster’s head.

The finished patches are 1 1/8″ squares. Rather than work with the tiny pieces individually, I used strips of blue and bronze, cut along the grain for better stability. If you cut across, width of fabric, you can get substantial bowing of the pieced strip.

That’s my progress so far.

Mess

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I have lists of things done and lists of things doing and lists of things to do! I have a mess in my studio, the product of having several projects going at the same time. What should I do first? What should I write about first? Perhaps the first quilt I finished this year! Perhaps the one I’m working on right now! Perhaps the one I’ll take up on Monday!

So confusing… But in the interests of some forward movement, I’ll show you some pix of my studio late yesterday.

Now I know, this is not most people’s idea of a mess, but it is for me. That’s one of the reasons I tend to be very linear in my making, with only one or two active projects at a time. I can finish something, CLEAN, and move on to the next thing. With lots of active projects I can’t put things away.

Here is my list, not in priority order:

And here is my “current” project.

I started the center block on Tuesday in a workshop with Toby Lischko. It is a classic New York Beauty, a challenging block to make. But her instruction, tools, and technique made it very easy. I modified the size of the outer background (Moda Grunge in orange) to make it 17″ finish instead of 16″. (Math stuff — I won’t go into the details now but it should set up all the rest of the sizing well.) And I added corners in purple (more math stuff for how I decided the size. Details later.) And I designed the Lone Star-style star point. I need to take it apart and rebuild it so my seam allowances are better, but later I’ll be glad I took the time to do that.

HOWEVER now it’s time to switch gears, so this project, called “Wind River,” will just wait for a few weeks. Instead I have a secret project to do as a wedding present for Son and his bride. Since they get married four weeks from today (HOORAY!!!) I have to get in high gear on that. (And oh yeah, I better make my purse, too!) This is my linearity kicking in. Later I can be messy again. 🙂

 

Mid-Year Review

It’s a little early for a mid-year review, but I thought it would make an easy way for me to reconnect here. After a ten-day road trip for family celebrations, I’ve lost my habit of reading and posting. (If I’ve missed big milestones in your life or making, feel free to post links in comments so I can catch up with you!)

In fact, it’s not just the last few weeks, but all year I’ve been slack in posting and less present for reading. (Honestly, that’s okay. We all get to be here just as much as works for us, including me.) One of the things that means is that I haven’t shared a lot of the projects I’ve worked on. That makes it harder for me to keep track, too! So I made a list.

Finished:
1. Fierce Little Bear
2. VA hospital quilt
3. VA hospital quilt
4. Charlotte’s Kitty — the only one I’ve shown you completed
5. This Old House
6. Georgia’s graduation quilt
7. Workshop landscape quilt

All but finished:
8. Fiesta! — I’ll get the binding done today

And then there are a number of works in progress, with varying levels of completion:
1. Resist
2. The Green Man
3. Rooster
4. Claddagh Ring
5. Tatters
6. Snowflake concepts

All of my works in progress are part of my “course work” to learn some methods to tell stories with my quilts. Though stories can be told in many ways, all of these projects focus on using words and pictures for that.

There’s been other stuff, too. For instance, early in the year I submitted a couple of designs to magazines to publish as patterns. (They weren’t accepted.) I might do that again; I might not. So I’ve had enough to do. Ultimately, though, I’d like to share a few of the quilts I’ve finished and talk a bit more about process for them. And I want to comment on some of the applique options I’m trying in my art/story quilt work. Now that I’ve broken ice again here (or is it more like clearing the throat?) I can work through some of that.

This is enough for now. I hope you all have a terrific, productive week. Again, please feel free to link some of your cool stuff for me in comments. I’d love to see what you’re working on, too!