Sunday, May 15, 2016

13 Cherry Trees

My 13 Cherry Tree of Life blocks for my quilt Hanami, have been done for a couple of weeks, and this week I finished sewing together the main body of the quilt. I've held off posting any progress photos, because I wanted to wow you with the full impact of the pieced setting:

The plan was to blend the trees "seamlessly" into the background, and I am really pleased with how that worked out. It's the random distribution of background fabrics in the blocks and sashings that makes it work. But in fact, the sashings and setting triangles were made from carefully managed strip sets:

The strips sets required careful management to make their repeating pattern look random. That involved a lot of labels and total focus, which is the other reason why there are no progress photos!

The idea with the strip sets was that it would be more efficient, and I suppose it was. But it was still a heck of a lot of sewing. And a lot of pinning too. But it was all worth it, and I'm very happy with how it has come together.

From close up, or from the side, the trees tend to disappear, and it is just a mass of pink and white florals.

I even managed to fit in a couple of butterflies:

If I was starting over there are a few of things I might do differently, but the benefit of leaving a lot of it to chance is that it stopped me from obsessing over the little details. Somehow you just relax and accept it the way it is. I think that helps the quilt bypass the logical mind of the viewer somewhat, and connect on a more emotional level. An unexpected benefit!

It still needs a border. I'll trim off the points to square it up...

and add about 5" (13 cm) around. My original plan was to make just a narrow sawtooth border of green HSTs, but I changed my mind on that a while ago. It felt too hemmed in. The green HSTs are already made, and I thought I may need to put them aside. Then today a better plan for the HSTs occurred to me, but it will require more cutting too.

So once again I have to put it aside for now, while I finish up a couple more urgent projects. My secret purple guild challenge quilt just needs a binding now. I have to say that it looks pretty good, but they are a competitive bunch at my guild, so we'll see how it does! And I still haven't completely unpicked that terrible puckered border on Hen Party. My mom's birthday is less than a month away, and the quilt is almost four years overdue. I think the embarrassment has dragged on long enough!

But never mind, for now let's just relax among the flowers...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Not Done After All

In my last post I mentioned that I was thinking of making a few more blocks for Rosalie Quinlan's Best Friends Forever stitchery quilt. On Friday, that's what I decided to do!

The decision to make the project bigger is a bit of a celebration for me. In March and April I've been dealing with a personal health scare, and it looked like my time might be cut short. But, on Friday I learned that while the doctor still can't diagnose the problem, it probably isn't the worst case scenario. I had a very clear feeling that the road was stretching out ahead of me again!

Since time was back on my side, it seemed right to finish off the remaining BFF stitcheries. Interestingly, my BFF thread palette was still intact:

I like to pre-cut my embroidery floss and set it up on a cardboard thread organizer like this. I make a set for every project, so everything stays together. When the project is finished, I cut the cardboard apart like this...

...and sort the floss back into my thread stash. I use plastic bags (one bag per colour) on rings to store thread, which works really well for me. I can keep both cut threads like this and new skeins all together in the same bag.

Actually, I've been using the same threads for Little Wooly Baskets:

Most of the BFF thread has been perfect for my wool colours too. Maybe I'm developing a style?

That's a slight digression, but my point is that I never sorted the thread back into my stash, so I guess I was never really done with the project. I now plan to make 31 of the 32 designs, which will give me a good sized throw quilt, probably in the vicinity of 60" x 80" (150 x 200 cm).

And the long break has given me fresh inspiration too. Last time I looked at this motif I couldn't think of what to do with it at all. Maybe the big bird should be teal blue, so the cardinal stands out? This time one choice led to another in a very natural way.

I used to avoid using too much of the tiny chain stitch, because it is slower. This time it didn't seem like a problem, and I used it all over. Last time I was also worried about the swirls over the birds heads. I didn't want a big feather on the head of my cardinal! This time I said to myself, "I'll just blend it out with the light blue, and that will be fine." And it is fine! And once it is part of a big lap quilt, no one will ever think about it again.

So, a little perspective is a helpful thing. :D  25 done, 6 to go.

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