My stash is consuming me

Honestly, I don’t know what else to call this post. I mean seriously, I have SO MUCH fabric, and yet I seem to have to buy more for projects, backings, borders, customers, various other excuses… uh I mean REASONS. Legit reasons!

So anyway, here’s the problem (I think): I see the amazing and vast potential of every fabric I find, and I see what it could ultimately become. But I don’t have the time to actually execute the idea I have about the fabric.

I make it a point to go on as many retreats as possible. I made it to only one last year (very busy year), and have made it to three this year, so far, and have two more planned. Wait, make that four already – forgot about the one I was invited to last minute in AZ.

Anyway, I have been to some retreats that were not well, um…. well appointed. I.e. one ironing station for 12 people, two cutting stations for 20. See what I mean? So I prep before going to a retreat so WHEN I GO TO THE RETREAT, I sit and sew and sew and sew. I don’t have to stop production waiting for the iron or cutting table. I precut most of what I can to be prepared to just GO.

Which means I complete A LOT. I usually finish 4-8 tops (mostly not bordered tho) at a weekend retreat.

Which brings me to this (quilts needing borders):

need borders

need borders

Then there is the stack of quilts that HAVE borders attached.

have borders

have borders

And these are probably getting these borders…

maybe borders

maybe borders

Then the quilts that are ready, WITH backing prepared for them.

quilt tops with backing

quilt tops with backing

And then the quilts that I somehow actually got quilted, that now just need to be bound.

need binding

need binding

Never mind the two rag quilts awaiting their turn…

So when I went through all this I brought home about 15 yards of solids from the quilt shop and found all my other large pieces and measured and tagged them. These are potential backs:

backings

backings

First count I had about 8 needing borders, 5 needing backs, 15 needing quilting and 4 needing binding. I got 2 quilted, 5 bound and 3 with borders attached. Which leaves me with 5 needing borders, still 5 needing backs (because I matched a few more up), 17? needing quilting and one still needing to be bound.

Honestly the problem is that I am a long arm quilter by trade, so everyone else’s quilt gets top priority over mine (including any charity for the guild or QOV). So I just rarely quilt my own projects!

And to think, I’m heading to retreat Friday morning to create more tops! OI VEY!

Monthly Block – September, finally

September monthly block

September monthly block

OK, I’m going to start off by saying I KNOW I have a problem (ok, more than one). But the one I’m talking about here is that YES I am verbose = I use too many words. So my goal this month it so keep it short.

Plus you’ve already had some info (last month) about this month’s quilt, so there really is no need to elaborate :).

This month is a repeat of last month, only with black-ish background instead of creamy white. It’s actually a brownish black batik, but reads black unless you put it up next to a true black.

I honestly thought I would EASILY like this one over last month, but now I’m not so sure.

I liked the border I did this month, but August’s border is SO awesome! Also I remember why I HATE mitered borders. I thought I’d do myself a favor and not have to attach three separate borders, just miter the corners of one instead by attaching the three together first. Yuck.

And again, the pinwheels sort of disappear when the fabric turns darker…

pinwheels on light

pinwheels on light

pinwheels on dark

pinwheels on dark

The obvious thing to do over the next few months is monthly/holiday appropriate holiday fabrics, which will indeed occur. But I’m going to find a way to make it different than that, because, after all, isn’t that the point?

So let’s compare again:

“The” block –

"THE" block

“THE” block

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

I keep these two photos in here because I think it’s SO important to include a border on quilts. It makes a frame, which is like closure for your eyes. I think it makes a quilt look finished.

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

And, July

Julys quilt top

Julys quilt top

While I like the more complete/less sparse look of July over June, I think if I made this quilt top in different colors, with something lighter than the red, that I might like the finished product even more.

August:

August monthly version

August monthly version

And finally, September:

September monthly version

September monthly version

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!

 

Monthly Block – August version IS HERE!

AUGUST

AUGUST

So, you’ve already seen the drawings, and the idea. This one came about sort of funny, meaning I knew what I wanted to do, drew it out, colored it in and chose some fabrics. Then I erected my ‘design wall’, which was essentially a piece of batting i hung on the wall with tacks. Cheap, fast and hey, it fit the bill!

pieces on design wall

pieces on design wall

When I hung the pieces up on the wall, I liked the look, but decided I didn’t want each block to be of a specific color, with those cascading down. Rather, I preferred to have more of a gentle wash effect. I ALSO decided that I would repeat this quilt for September, but with a dark background color. That meant I would need to cut everything twice, so any parts I had cut that I had too much of, I would just use for the September version and fill in the spaces with some new fabrics.

So I chose some more fabrics between the colors I already had and took down the details of my choices on paper as I moved them around on my design wall. This was tedious, since I really prefer the throw it together type scrap quilts.

So now I had my desired layout up on the design wall, and the duplicates in a pile sorted out from one corner down to the bottom. I didn’t want to lose track of what went exactly where, so I put together the top with the dark background first while I left my visual reference up on my design wall. So basically September’s top center is finished. 🙂

I quickly put together August’s top center, and then promptly left the country on vacation.

August top center

August top center

But when I came home not only were many quilting jobs awaiting my attention, this baby needed borders! This stage took me a few days, but I finally settled on a darker-than-the-center-background color for the inner border, a brighter of two reds for the mid (because it tied in better to the outer border),

borders

borders

and the outer border 4″ of the brown leafy batik used for the pinwheels.

August monthly version

August monthly version

Were I to make this quilt again (aside from September, ha), I would use something different for the pinwheels. Perhaps I would have them change shade as well, instead of having them be a constant fabric. You can see how they sort of disappear as the block colors darken.

pinwheels against light

pinwheels against light

pinwheels against dark

pinwheels against dark

So let’s compare again:

“The” block –

"THE" block

“THE” block

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

I keep these two photos in here because I think it’s SO important to include a border on quilts. It makes a frame, which is like closure for your eyes. I think it makes a quilt look finished.

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

And, July

Julys quilt top

Julys quilt top

While I like the more complete/less sparse look of July over June, I think if I made this quilt top in different colors, with something lighter than the red, that I might like the finished product even more.

And of course, August:

August monthly version

August monthly version

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!

 

Monthly Block – August Version COMING SOON

I was sort of smacked from the side at the arrival of August, and up until last Friday, I hadn’t even thought about what I would DO for this month! Fortunately I made my decision quickly, found some fabric to work with and started cutting.

So I thought I would give you a sneak peak at what’s to come. I will also divulge that September will look familiar, but as with every month so far, it will also be different.

Last year, a local quilter make a model for the store that had sort of an ombre look to it. The pattern was leaves with a light background, all batiks, and it was quite striking. So that was my inspiration for this month. Once I found the colored pencils in my daughters room, I sketched it out and then found some fabrics to work with.

august sketch

august sketch

specific placement of colors

specific placement of colors

This is my makeshift design wall. I was so excited about this I got up at 530a and started on it. So this piece of batting was great until the sun came up. Then I had to move it over so the light didn’t shine through the window and mess with my eyes.

pieces on design wall

pieces on design wall

OK, that’s it. That’s your teaser. After a little time on the beach I will get this girl finished up and post the results. Until then, happy quilting!

 

Monthly Block – July version

July is here, and my inspiration was right there in front of me – TODAY! Happy Independence Day my fellow quilters!

Independence Day Quilt

Independence Day Quilt

After last month’s quilt, I felt like I got away easy. It was only 9 blocks because of the alternating flag blocks that offset the monthly block. I was ALSO curious about how the block would look if it did NOT have the offsetting blocks. So I decided to do it again.

This time around I did choose multiple fabrics, which lent to a scrappier look but also helped me use up some smaller bits of fabric. I used the same setting and color placement as June, but without the alternating blocks.

July block

July block

I chose to not alternate the blocks this month but to use the flags again along the edges,  because I didn’t want to have half blocks along the edges of the top. I did put the top up on a design board with red, cream and blue to see if those looked better, but I still liked the flags the best for this purpose. I did the same the choose the borders.

flag fabric on the edges

flag fabric on the edges

What I thought was interesting this month was how the rows of bricks showed up. The pinwheels are there if you look for them, but they don’t immediately stand out, and the arrows fall into the background a bit as well.

I took this photo in black and white because that is the best way to show color value. This photo tells me why my pinwheels didn’t stand out: the blue and red both translate as dark value fabrics!

black and white photo shows colors values

black and white photo shows colors values

So let’s compare again:

“The” block –

"THE" block

“THE” block

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

I keep these two photos in here because I think it’s SO important to include a border on quilts. It makes a frame, which is like closure for your eyes. I think it makes a quilt look finished.

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

And, July

Julys quilt top

Julys quilt top

While I like the more complete/less sparse look of July over June, I think if I made this quilt top in different colors, with something lighter than the red, that I might like the finished product even more.

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!

Sorry to leave you salivating, but I am not yet sure what’s in store for August. Perhaps with the coming of fall season (my favorite) I will make each block a different color… hmmmm.

that blank slate again…

I thought I was over it. I thought for sure I could get past it, because I HAVE gotten past it! Even recently! So why am I paralyzed again today???

OK so here’s how the week has been: Monday morning I showed up for jury duty selection, and was ever so fortunate to not have to serve at this point (it just isn’t a good time right now for civic duties). Considering I had NO IDEA how the day (or week or longer) might actually turn out, I didn’t make plans to get any work done. But I knew the next bit of work that NEEDED to be done was adjusting the timing on my longarm machine.

One of my mentors suggested doing it on a weekday morning, so if I had any troubles I could contact APQS service and they’d be there to help. So when I got home, I was fortunate enough to have the time left in the day to attempt it.

I’ve done it before, successfully, so I knew if I just followed the instructional video I would do just fine again. After a bit of frustration (from doing something wrong), and taking a break I finally got my timing successfully adjusted and machine completely cleaned.

To test the timing, I thought why not put up a small piece of plain cloth and make a mini out of it? I couldn’t find a cotton fabric I wanted, sooo, up went a piece of silk.

blank slate of silk

blank slate of silk

Blank slate. OK, break the ice – outline the perimeter. Done.

I saw I had an oblong space, so I decided to do a feather, with a heart at the top, since it was in burgundy silk, maybe that could go in my bedroom.

feather

feather

I knew I wanted to echo it, and then decided to do the curl/paisley/echo thing I’ve come to really like around that, as a filler. Boom. Done in 10 minutes.

red silk mini

red silk mini

Well that was easy.

For part 2 of the story, let’s back up a few days. I’m cleaning and organizing the house, basically, because I’m going to clean the carpets, so I need to move A LOT of stuff out of the way. In doing so, I found this cute little kit I bought in Colorado Springs, which, coincidentally was great for my jury duty experience (and doctors office visit today) because it’s small, handwork, easy to start and stop and tuck into my purse.

First off, I never buy kits. This is literally THE FIRST kit I have EVER bought in my entire life. Secondly, I don’t hand embroider. I am a quilter, and I make quilts. I’ve done a few stitches on some minis for friends, but not anything sufficient enough to call real hand embroidery. And third, I don’t follow directions. That’s not entirely intentional, I am just not good at following orders/directions/recipes, so I tend to sort of do my own thing.

So off to jury duty I go, and bring this little bird thing with me. The selection process did take a little time, so I made some progress, which I continued later in the day. Unbelievably I finished it last night, and added a few beads that look like feed at his feet (not shown in the pic).

first chicken

first chicken

Ultimately, he is part of a mini quilt, with blocks around this one, but I thought, what a fantastic way to stay busy while waiting ANYWHERE!!!!!

So I started another one, but with black background and pink thread (to the right below). I’m going to bend his knee so he looks like a flamingo because I think they are the funniest birds on the planet. So as I start this new one, I tell my daughter, I think I’ll trace some more of these so I can make a bunch of them. She says, “Why mom? Make your OWN drawing!” Well, duh.

stumped

stumped

And here we are.

There are more scratched out doodlings, I just didn’t put them in the photo.

I feel like I am a vast vessel of ideas, but that I can’t bring any of them to fruition. I HAVE ideas, and they WILL work with a line drawing situation like this, I just don’t know what to do!!! I think, oh flowers, BEEN DONE. Ohhh, a tree, LAME. A bird – HELLO  YOU JUST DID ONE!

What I really wish is that I could detail in a pencil line what it looks like to echo emotion and feelings and hope. But I can’t figure out how to illustrate that. I tried a heart with a crown of thorns and frankly it looked ridiculous.

Second best would be to draw out something simple, like a cat or an owl or a bird, and figure out how to take it to another level by changing everything surrounding it (like adding beads, changing up the thread color, leg or tail position, blocks surrounding the embroidery). Sound familiar? Sound somewhat like my monthly block project? I think it does.

But that still doesn’t help remove the feeling from me that all I can do is take something and tweak it. I want to make something unique, and I feel like instead I am taking something of someone else and just changing it, and that doesn’t feel as visionary to me (so maybe I should be confronting myself about not being a visionary here).

I guess that’s something everyone wants – to leave their unique mark. Something that sets them apart, something THEY are known and recognized for. Maybe I’m putting too much pressure on myself , after all, this is my FIRST hand embroidery project. Or maybe I should just stick to quilting.

Nah, it’s too fun to try new things. I just need to stop pressuring myself, and remember to have fun with this, and that’s what it will be. 🙂

 

Monthly Block – June version

June version

June version

Here we are again – another month has passed and summer is upon us. And yet again, my inspiration has come from an unexpected source.

Early last month I had a young lady call me inquiring about a quilt. She wanted one made for her Marine friend coming home after summer, in reds, white and blues. Since I was already up at the quilt shop at the time, I looked around to see what I could find. There was a great fabric with overlapping flags, so I bought some as well as reds and blues that matched. I had already wanted to build my stash a bit in those colors, so I purchased all that, knowing there was a chance the quilt would never come to fruition.

Which I think is the case. No harm done though – I got some fabric that I ended up using much sooner than anticipated. And if I do ultimately create that special quilt, I can buy new fabric :). Yay me!!!

After I had purchased it, I left it all out on my file cabinet, sort of as a set, in case I needed to use it all together. So when I looked at the drawing for this month’s version (like I said last month, I wanted to set this month’s block on point), I realized this fabric set was perfect!

I kept it simple by choosing one blue, one red and one cream to compliment the flag fabric, although I could have used multiples of each and had a scrappier look. I used red and blue pens on my drawing to test out different settings, meaning, where each color should go and which color should make up the arrow. Once I colored a few different blocks, I made my decision (you can see on my drawing where I circled THE choice).

I did have a bit of a setback… because of the way I chose to lay this out, there were two blue triangles per ‘triangle block’, which needed to be opposite from each other for the pattern to work. So I sewed together the white/blue half, and then put the red/blue triangles next to them to ensure I sewed them together correctly. Once I thought I had it right, I sewed and ironed them all. And I did it wrong.

oops

oops

Needless to say, I had to rip the seams on all the red/blue blocks and iron them flat and then SEW THEM PROPERLY and then IRON THEM AGAIN. I HATE ironing. Oh well, had to be done. Just know you aren’t alone when you make silly mistakes!

Here’s what the blocks looked like once assembled:

June blocks

June blocks

When making a quilt top, you can choose to straight set the blocks or set them on point. In this month’s case the blocks are on point. In either setting, you can have every block be the same pattern, or alternating blocks can be solid, or a different block.

I chose to alternate the blocks in this quilt, mostly because I didn’t want to have half blocks along the edges of the top. But because of that choice, you can see that the pinwheels are gone.

Set on point

Set on point

I could have had every block be of the same pattern, with the edge triangles surrounding them (but inside the border) solid. Maybe next time.

The real beauty of this quilt was that I only had to construct NINE blocks, versus the 25 or 30 in the other quilt tops. This made for a VERY fast assembly, and a smaller top, but I decided to do a multiple border to grow it a bit, and I liked the way it framed the quilt in all the colors within.

Multiple borders

Multiple borders

You can also see from my drawing that I had planned on using the flag fabric (represented by red and blue squiggles on my paper) between the red and blue borders. When I laid it out to see how it looked, the flag fabric was too busy and just made all the flag fabric pop out instead of being the background for the blocks. So I changed the middle (narrow) border to the cream.

June drawing

June drawing

So let’s compare again:

“The” block –

"THE" block

“THE” block

January result – all scraps in turquoise, bright pink and green (and white)

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February result – scrap white and purple dyed, sashing matches center blocks (focal fabric)

February quilt

February quilt

March result – different center, but magenta and purple and white match it. I placed the white and purple triangles specifically to ensure the pinwheel came out

march quilt

march quilt

April result – crayon box threw up. center squares were inspiration, all brights were scraps that matched lines in center squares. totally random placement

april quilt

april quilt

May’s version – I think this should be called sunburst

may version of monthly block

may version of monthly block

Here is the quilt WITH the border –

may quilt top with border

may quilt top with border

And here’s June –

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

I think this might be my new favorite!

June version quilt top

June version quilt top

See how many different quilts can be made with just one block and a little imagination? Don’t be put off by a quilt pattern photo in colors you don’t like – give the pattern a good, hearty look, and consider how YOU could make it with fabric you DO like! It might end up becoming your favorite quilt!