Wednesday, November 25, 2015

No Picnic

Last week I finished all the blocks for my Modern Utility Quilt. I was determined not to slow down on this one! For example, when I made a cutting mistake, I just added an extra strip to bring the block back up to size:


Extra strips are a classic improv device, I think, but this first one really was a corrected mistake. The second one, well... let's just say I was not averse to another mistake! But after that my orange strip was gone and I buckled down.

My plan was to just motor through. The quilt is too big for my design wall, and since it's already so busy I thought it would be best to just distribute the fabrics evenly and sew it up. First I sewed all the blocks into pairs, and then some of the pairs into rows of four.

Monday morning I awoke with the conviction that I was selling myself and the quilt short with just a random layout. I thought maybe there could be a few "crystallized" areas near the centre of the quilt. And, I realized that I could put just the centre of the quilt on the wall, and then fill in randomly around it while I sewed it together.


Out came the seam ripper, and I hunted through all my sewn pairs for four blocks with this same light citrus-themed background.


Then I thought it would be nice to carry the same background out into the spokes around the corner. There was a lot of hunting and seam ripping required to find the right fabric combinations. Plus, it's trickier when some of the blocks point left, and some point right.


Then I wanted a cross with all red sushi fabric backgrounds, in more or less that spot on the quilt. More hunting, shuffling, and seam ripping.



And finally, an all-green cross a little further down.


Then I just started filling in around those three points. I had to rearrange the sushi cross with the fat ends together, because that's how it fit into the pattern.

Even though I spent an hour or so with the seam ripper, all my prep work sewing the blocks into pairs did pay off at this point. The main layout came together quickly:


There's just a hint of a glow in the centre, and a few interesting repeats to catch the eye. There will still be a full row of crosses to add to the top and bottom, and along the right side.

After my experience with the blues in Collector, I knew the greens would be important here, so I was careful to keep them even. Once again though, contrast is king. I don't know why I am surprised, but I am! I thought the almost solid pin dot fabrics would be more important, but it turned out that the high-contrast large ginghams, and the red and white apple fabric, are by far the most demanding.

I am keen to see it all sewn together now! And then, there will be the question of a border. I know, how will I manage to put a border on this? We'll have to see, but, I do want to add about 4" around, and I don't have enough fabric for more blocks. A debate for next time!

But for now, I'm linking up with the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters again this month. Back in my first Improv post, I mentioned that I wasn't yet in danger of never going back to regular sewing. Now I can feel my whole point of view shifting! I still have traditional projects that I want to finish, and start, but I've already thought of at least five new projects for Improv as well. Maybe I will finally start to reduce my stash!

21 comments:

  1. these blocks look pretty spectacular, did not envy your ripping out always a pain to do! Interesting block wonder how you constructed it, maybe it has a name and I can find it on the internet? It is good to see so many fabrics working so well together

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  2. The time you spend thinking about the layout has definitely paid off here - this is gorgeous! I love the colours and the way the greens work with the warmer reds and oranges. And this is officially the first Modern Utility quilt too! Thanks for linking up with AHIQ.

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  3. Your layout makes this quilt glow!! The green makes my eye flow to all parts of the the quilt. Wow! Great job and I hope you find a border fabric that you love or come up with another plan for those four inches! I'll be staying tuned in!!! :)--Terry

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    1. Thanks Terry! I did order some fabric for the border yesterday, and after that I thought of something else that I might be able to do from my stash! Isn't that the way? At this time of year I'll be lucky to see my order in two weeks, so I may not wait. We'll see how it comes together!

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  4. A modern scrappy delight! Your quilt will be awesome!

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  5. All that seam ripper work paid off! Isn't it funny how we get an idea in our mind and then nothing else will do. I love the bright happy vibe to this quilt--it's absolutely wonderful! I have several improv. ideas now too. The ideas apparently breed quickly and with great abandon.:)

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  6. Well, your unsewing brought you to an interesting conclusion. There's like a burst of energy and color in your quilt. Your shifting perspective looks like it's heading into an exacting area.

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  7. I can't seem to get into the improv frame of mind. And then I see a yummy quilt like yours!

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  8. Oh this is so beautiful. So lively and energetic. I know the feeling - improv quilts are just so fun to make.

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  9. Wow - fabulous and creative quilt design and wonderfully colourful. It was interesting reading about your process too.

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  10. Oooo so nice! It really sings, fabulous!

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  11. Such a lively, happy quilt. You arranged these blocks so well. The green moves my eye across the quilt. Well worth the rearranging effort. Thanks for linking with AHIQ.

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  12. What a bright and colorful quilt! I love your use of color, I could never achieve that.

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  13. Did you know that Cultural Fusion Quilts book uses a similar approach? Nice job, very bright and cheery!

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    1. Yes indeed! Anyone who is interested in my sources for this quilt can read the first post on it here -- http://www.lakeviewstitching.com/2015/11/modern-utility-quilt.html

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  14. One of the first improv books I read mentioned that the seam ripper must be your friend. While my first effort goes to working a "mistake" into something good, sometimes inspiration in the middle requires redirection. claire aka knitnkwilt.wordpress.com

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  15. I used to think if I had to take it out it was because I made a mistake. Now I realize it is because I need to make an improvement. It's all in the flow. This is a very nice arrangement. Thanks for linking up!

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  16. I used to think if I had to take it out it was because I made a mistake. Now I realize it is because I need to make an improvement. It's all in the flow. This is a very nice arrangement. Thanks for linking up!

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  17. I agree with everyone: this is a beautiful quilt. I especially like the green mixed in. You managed to keep the green down to the right amount. It's so tempting to add more of something that works well in small amounts without realizing when it's overdone. I know because I just made this exact mistake. Instead of the seam ripper to take things back out, I divided things up and added a neutral background. Now I have two quilts! How's that for improvisational? Your quilt is gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks very much, Mary! At one point I thought I was going to have two sides -- one mostly pink, and one mostly green. But I managed to stop cutting before then!

      I think two quilts is a perfectly reasonable outcome when it comes to improv!

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