Sunday, April 26, 2015
DIY Mystery Quilt
The alternate title for this post is "One Step Forward, Two Steps Back," lol. But, I'm trying to stay positive!
It's been a month since I posted the first block of my "cherry tree of life" quilt, Hanami:
I mentioned then that I wanted to add an element of mystery to the quilt, but still keep some control over the design. Once I figured out the layout of the entire quilt, I calculated how many HSTs I would need. I made them one dozen at a time using my homemade HST papers:
40 dozen in all! My hope with this project was that by doing all the boring work first, and saving the fun part until the end, it would have a better chance of a timely finish. The jury is still out on that!
The great thing about these papers is that they add to the randomness, because with a larger print, you cannot exactly anticipate how the fabric will be cut. Some triangles were quite light, some were dark, some were mostly pink, some were mostly green.
Once all the HSTs were made, the plan was to put them in a big bowl, and have a random draw for each tree. But, while I was making them, I started to think that if the draw is completely random, then all the trees will end up looking the same. If I wanted each tree to have it's own personality, then I would have to add some granularity to the mix. It's like the difference between baking sponge cake or muffins. Sponge cake batter is perfectly smooth, and muffin batter should be a little lumpy. To my taste, sponge cake is kind of bland.
So, I chose 13 fairly solid pink "feature fabrics" for my 13 blocks. Each block uses 22 pink HSTs in total, and I decided that 9 of them should be from the same feature fabric. "9" was a shot in the dark, really. I hoped it would be enough to make the trees distinct, but still allow for a fair degree of randomness.
I set up 13 plastic snack bags, as you can see in the first photo above, put in the 9 feature fabric HSTs, and then did a random draw for the rest of the pink ones. Then I had smaller pools for the brown trunk HSTs, and the light background squares as well.
Now I get to open one bag at a time and see what's in there! I iron open all the HSTs, and arrange them until they look their best:
I'm finding that it works best if most of the matching HSTs go around the outside of the tree to define it.
You can see that the brown trunk HSTs are divided into medium brown and dark brown. There are only six brown fabrics in total, so most of the tree trunks have some matching browns.
And, instead of a solid square in the middle of the trunk, I made 13 medium/dark HSTs to give the trunks the same level of "pieciness" as the rest of the tree. I didn't use the papers for those, I just made them two at a time with different fabric and a bigger variety of prints.
The assembly is straightforward from there. I join the squares into rows:
And then join the rows into blocks. Two more are done...
...I have realized that they are both distinctly rectangular rather than square. My seam allowance joining the rows is too wide. That is not too hard to fix, but it's still frustrating. And it does have to be fixed, or the final assembly won't work as planned.
So, that's slowed things down quite a bit. That's how UFOs happen, but, I'm going to try to get back on the horse soon...
...only, I did start something else this week...