Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Almost done (thank goodness)

It's been a long time since I worked this hard on something I liked this little.  The New Year's Eve mystery quilt top is almost finished.  Two borders to go.  This morning I cut out the borders and binding and joined the backing so when I attach that second border I can fold it up and get it out of my sight.

Why, you ask?

I have no idea, but I have grown to detest the quilt.  Husband likes it for the purple and green colors and all the white areas  (he likes bright colors and light designs) but I'm thoroughly sick of the fabrics and the construction.  It started when I decided to make two kinds of blocks and cut up some of the subunits to add that darker purple square on the sides of them.  I had thought about also using a narrow purple sashing between the blocks but the amount of effort involved put me off.  Besides it makes a nicer pattern when the blocks adjoin like this.

But now I just want it done.  When it's completed and quilted I may be able to look at it and say "that's interesting" but for now - yuck.  However I felt about it I wasn't going to make it another UFO and clutter up the closet with it.  Just get it finished.

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Year's Day mystery quilts......

.....uh, you say it's almost February?  Well, yes, I'm late finishing them.  But the tops are done finally.

The first one is about 50 x 70, a good size for a charity quilt.  I usually don't like quilts with light borders - they just seem to peter out rather than finishing - but this one was made by the directions and I didn't have enough of the green print that inspired the color scheme to make another border - it's the fabric in the bottom right corner square of the border.  So, it's done, well or ill.  The binding will be dark rose.
 I frankly don't know what do to with this one.  It's about 60 x 60.  Husband liked it because of the bright colors, but I'm firmly on the fence.  I love the border fabric, though.  That's where the colors used in the design came from.  I've seen other versions and they are more successful done in two color or monochrome.  There's one in blue/tan especially on the Quiltbug site that's lovely.  Mine - well, it's more like "Where are my sunglasses!"  
I thought I was being fairly daring to pick the blue batik for the background instead of a trusty WOW print.  The ivory turned out to the my accent in the corners and centers.  That might have been better with a very dark color or bright lime green.

Quiltbug is having a Superbowl Sunday mystery and I'm going to do it again because their quilts are usually a good size for a kid's quilt.  I have the fabrics picked out and the pre-cutting finished.

As for that purple and green New Year's Eve mystery, I'm still plugging along.  Can't seem to get any enthusiasm for finishing it because the colors don't work for me.  But Husband likes it because it's bright.  I'm seeing a trend here!

Other than finishing the mystery quilts, I want to get a few more half-done projects out of the way before I am tempted to do anything else.  There's a project on my design wall that was started during the Orca Bay mystery and needs only 11 blocks to be done, so that's next.  Then I will force myself to complete assembling the NYE mystery quilt.  After that, perhaps more cheddar bow tie blocks.  Anything to get some of those project boxes off my table.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Border decision

Not sewn on yet, but you get the idea.  It's kinda cute.  At the very least, it's a new cat bed quilt.  Navy binding, I think.

Oh, there's the NYE mystery quilt there on the floor, waiting to be finished......I need to put together the last 15 blocks after lunch.

A cautionary tale

I heard advertisements yesterday for a news program which was going to air an interview with the second Mrs. Newt Gingrich (as opposed to the current, third Mrs. Newt Gingrich).   I didn't watch it.  It all sounded too familiar.

When I was a kid I took piano lessons from a local lady who also taught a pretty little blond girl named Kathy.  Kathy was enough younger than I that I really didn't know her well, but one of my mom's best friends was a relative of her mother's.  As the years passed, mom heard from her friend about Kathy's life since the friend saw the girl's family often on family and social occasions.  During the 1980's Kathy went to work as the secretary of a well-off man in a nearby town who owned a heavy equipment business.  He wasn't Warren Buffett rich, but quite comfortable.

After a while mom's friend reported that the man had divorced his wife and married Kathy after having an extramarital affair with her.  Kathy was still ensconced in the business office, presumably to keep an eye on her husband.  They had quite a life, even taking the private jet down to the Caribbean to his vacation home.  Mom's friend even went with them once and described the plush accommodations

Later, mom found out that the man had divorced Kathy for another fling he was involved with.  When her friend told us, mom and I just rolled our eyes.  The man had already proved that he wasn't above cheating on his wife when he married Kathy;  she shouldn't have been surprised when the scenario was repeated with her.  What convinced  her that she should expect more faithful treatment from the philanderer we couldn't fathom.

Amusing myself with a couple of charm packs

Nothing special, just a table topper. I'll join the rows and add borders in the morning. If I had been thinking further ahead I would have saved all the red charm squares to make the flying geese.  I might do this one again in a slightly larger scale (these hourglass blocks are 3"; the inside of the quilt will be 36" square).  I would like to use all red for the flying geese and autumnal colors for the hourglass blocks.

OR....ooh, I just had a brain flash.  I bought a piece of this rose background paisley from Moda's "Luna Notte" recently.  I pulled out a stack of coordinating pieces from my stash, rose to maroon, tan, brown and blues but hadn't decided on a pattern.  How about rose/red for the flying geese, tan/brown/blue for the hourglass blocks,this print for the center squares in the intersections and the border?  Cool!.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rethinking (or thinking too much)

I have dreamed up so many setting solutions for these blocks it's making me dizzy.  I had decided on straight set, with sashing and decided to make two types of blocks, with and without the side squares in the second print.  Then I made up several possible settings on point, with and without sashing.  At first I didn't like the look where the print triangles intersected because the print is busy and it looked chaotic.  But now with several rows laid out it doesn't bother me as much.  I also bandied about whether to sash it in green or purple.  And what do to with the corner half triangles - pieced or solid fabric?  I can't make up my mind.  Here is the  EQ representation of my latest suggestion:
Compare with my purple sashed option:
Or this version:
Or green sashing:

Someone needs to take me by the shoulders and say "Make that one!"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Another wrinkly, thread-y finish

It was laid out considerably flatter and neater until the cat got to it.
This one will be a gift later this year.

What a relief to finish all these half-done projects.  What's left?  A quilt using the Brackman "Lately Arrived from London" collection I'm calling "When My Ship Comes In", an Orange Crush variation that needs borders, those New Year's Eve and New Year Day mysteries, and adding the final border to my Orca Bay mystery.  Of course I also have the Brackman Civil War Sampler blocks to set but I haven't decided what to do with them yet.  And, I cut out a Blue Ridge Beauty during the Quiltville mystery that's about 1/4 pieced.  And the Cheddar Challenge Bowtie blocks.  Whew!  Not as caught up as I thought.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And next.....

You can see the sample border section on the upper right.  This one is going to be a gift.

I spent the afternoon piecing together a backing for the other quilt from all my scraps.  It used every square inch I had left, even though I thought I had plenty of leftovers and had actually bought generously for this purpose.  Amazing how much goes into a backing.

Another one done

It's wrinkly, it's thread-y, but it's done.  Now to make the binding and decide on a backing.  Perhaps all the scraps from the fabrics when joined together will be large enough.  Hope so, because I wasn't bargaining on buying backing.  Alternately, I have a green batik that might work.

Finish-it-up mode

I'm in the finishing mood today.  So many of my projects are languishing with only a few steps left to be done, so I pulled out one and started sewing today.  I'm adding the final border to an album block quilt made of a Moda Laundry Basket Quilts collection.  I'll post a picture as soon as I'm done.

I also need to put the New Year's Eve mystery quilt to bed that I started.  I wasn't happy with the design as it related to my fabric choices so I'm going to rework it.  Here's what was designed, and here's what I finally came up with:

Quite a bit different!  I added sashing and chopped the side pieces apart to add another fabric square.  When I finally get it done it will be very cute (and VERY PURPLE).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not much progress on the cheddar challenge

Ah, bow ties.  When last we spoke of such things back in August, I had posted a photo showing these:
 I made more, but became sidetracked with finishing mystery quilts, making Christmas gifts, and playing with new goodies.  When the new Quiltville mystery was announced, I scurried around my sewing room neatly boxing my projects so the pieces wouldn't get lost.  So Cheddar Bow Ties got its own labeled box, with an EQ visualization of the finished quilt:
Inside of which were the cheddar fabric, the proposed backing fabric, the navy and cheddar binding fabric, my finished blocks and blocks-in-progress, and cut squares for the rest:
Here are baggies of completed blocks and blocks waitin' to be a-bornin':
Cut squares for other blocks:
And finally my completed blocks, all 170 of them neatly pinned into stacks of 10:
I am loath to unpin the stacks and show all of them simply because it's a lot of work!  But, you get the idea.  All the centers are Civil War repro, mostly from Barbara Brackman's lovely collections. The solid cheddar is a Moda solid, and is a new favorite of mine.  Now that the mystery is mostly done and I've caught up on other projects (which doesn't immunize me from starting more!) I need to get a-bowing.  I only have 392 more to make that king size quilt!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Yes? No? Maybe?

OK, I need your opinion.  Here's what I'm thinking about doing to expand my border on Orca Bay:
That fabric is where the color scheme came from and what is going on the backing.  I would love my quilt to be bigger and this is one way to do it.  I kinda like it, but am probably too close to the quilt to be subjective.  So what do you think?

It's done (yay!)

It's finally done!  I'm in the middle of stay-stitching the edge but had to stop for a while because I'm tired of wrestling this stretchy quilt.  I must say, this is a pretty design although a difficult sewing job because of all those bias edges and string blocks.  But, it's done!

Pretty much done, to be exactly honest.  I'm still deciding whether to add a narrow gold border on the outside or perhaps a solid border of the fabric which inspired the color scheme.  It would be nice if the quilt were a little bigger. This is a decision that can be postponed for now.  I'll make the backing and binding and put it away for a while.

And, inspired by the colors, the name of the quilt is "Butterscotch Drops, Starlight Mints and Cinnamon Red Hots". 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Now for the hard part. . .

.   .   .putting the whole quilt together.

I finished replacing the center squares in the gold stars and laid out the quilt center in the floor.  You can see there in the top left corner how much room I have to move my sewing chair!  I need to get it assembled quickly and out of the way.  I like my substitution.  I brings the green into the red areas and the red into the green areas and balances the design, at least in my view.  I am so eager to finish this quilt!

What to work on next?  Well, I have both a New Year's Eve and a New Year's Day mystery quilt to complete - all I got done on each on the day was assembling the blocks.  Then, I can try to finish a small quilt I started making of scraps from Mods's Fig Tree designer lines so I can get that off my design wall.  Of course, I have other unfinished projects like assembling the Civil War sampler quilt and the EQ sampler quilt.  And the Blue Ridge Beauty I started during Orca Bay.  And the quilt my husband wants made out of cat fabrics.  And the Cheddar bow tie blocks that have been languishing in their box.  And.   .   .and, well a lot.  Quiltwise, my eyes are bigger than my stomach.  And I haven't even mentioned the black and white fabric I bought yesterday at Joann's for a black/white/lime green Orange Crush variation that is inspired by a lovely quilt I saw on Vivian's blog, Sew At Home On Pine Ridge.  Take a look at the quilt in her header and see if you don't agree that it's the most striking version of Orange Crush you've ever seen.  Bravo, Vivian!

I have to get some finishes logged somehow.  It's getting ridiculous.  I need to quit reading blogs and getting all this inspiration.

99.9% certain. . .

.   .   .but still playing with possibilities.

After changing out the center squares of enough gold stars to make another layout, I tested the modification:
and I like it, I like it a lot.


I decided to check out a change that was suggested by several commenters (I think they meant it as a substitute to changing out the center squares, but I checked it with the modified gold stars) and got this:
Interesting, very interesting.

Which do YOU like, the first or the second?  I still have some time before I will be committing to a design because I still have 18 centers to pick out and resew.  What's the verdict?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Green centers

I cut some green 2 1/2" squares and plopped them down in the center of the gold stars.  See?  The green centers tie in with the string blocks.  I still don't know if I'm up for removing all the red centers from 28 blocks and adding the green ones.  Still thinking about it.

Addendum:  I've decided to replace the centers of the gold stars with green squares.  Six done so far, 22 to go.  It's tedious, but I like the results.

Going into analysis

It's time to over-analyze a quilt design!

I'm sure you're dying to -- not.

Well, here's the situation:  I printed the final clue for Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville mystery quilt last night before I went to bed and I am conflicted (oh, when does this NOT happen, ha, ha!).  Since it was already 1 a.m. and I wasn't going to start sewing at that time of night but was curious how my quilt would look, I laid out a 3 x 3 arrangement on the floor and took a picture:
 And my initial reaction was - that doesn't work.

It's the little green string squares, which are perfectly adorable by themselves but sit there in the quilt like they fell from the sky.  Was it the color?  I tried darker green, dark or light blue, brown, orange, red, whatever.  Nope.  The closest thing that worked was shirting squares in the same fabrics as in the blocks:

I liked that;  two color quilts are traditional and this was an honest example.  I missed the motion of the string blocks, but figured that I could piece shirting string blocks if I really wanted them.  But the larger question was, what was wrong in the original design?

I opened up EQ this morning and mocked up the blocks, and then started playing.  And it immediately jumped out at me.  I didn't like the green string blocks in place because they didn't relate to a single thing in the rest of the quilt.  Green wasn't used anywhere else, not in the Ohio Star blocks, not in the borders.  I had kept waiting through the mystery instructions for the third color to appear again and was puzzled when it didn't.  Now I know my subconscious quilt designer was saying that you have to repeat a color or an element in the quilt to tie it into the design.  The green just sits there, as if to say "Where am I?" 

If the green had been used for the centers of the predominantly gold Ohio Stars, with red in the center of the predominantly shirting Stars, it gives the green string blocks a reason to BE, a tie between the elements of the quilt.  Here's an EQ mock-up:
See?  The eye pops back and forth between the green strings and the green star centers and ties the whole thing together.  I even added green binding to bring the color out to the edge of the quilt.  This isn't just a problem because I used green.  When I saw her quilt on the blog, the blue squares seemed to stick out at me but I hadn't analyzed why.  Now I know.  

There are a couple of solutions.  One, I can unpick all those gold star blocks and add green centers - ugh!  Or I can take the green out and make a two color quilt, which is quite cute:
I could even bring the red out into the inner border, but it might be better with shirtings.  

Oh, what to do?

Addendum:  I decided to change the centers in the gold stars to green squares.  I'm doing it now.  Boy, that's a lot of seam  picking!

(Note to Bonnie fans:  OK, you can hate me if you want.  It's my opinion.  You can love your quilt, but right now I'm not quite loving mine. I adore the string flying geese and the star blocks, it's just those small string blocks that are giving me fits.)