Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tranquil - A Finish!

aka My Secret Purple
Guild Challenge Quilt
(with butterfly)

Well, it was down to the wire, but I finished it on time!

Tranquil (42" x 49", 107 x 125 cm)
Back in January I showed you the crayon I got -- violet -- for my Guild's crayon challenge. The idea of the challenge was to use a range of values in the colour of your crayon, and for the crayon to be the predominant colour in the project. There was no limit on what kind of project you could make. My intention from the start was to make something that I like, even if it turned out not to be my favourite colour. I don't really mind purple, but I hardly ever buy it, so I went online for these purple batiks.

I searched through my photos for inspiration, and decided on this one of our lilac:

Sujata Shah's book Cultural Fusion Quilts arrived at around the same time. Her leaf-shaped blocks reminded me of the big leaf in this photo, so I used her pattern "Winter," in my colour scheme.

I followed the pattern almost exactly, and it went quickly. Sujata's technique is a fun, easy-going way to start curved piecing. It was after I made these blocks that I was inspired to make the curvy churn dash blocks I showed in February.

Sujata quilted her quilt with straight lines about 1" (2.5 cm) apart. For several years now I've been admiring all the closely straight-line quilted modern quilts out there, and I decided this would be a good time to try it. I bought 6 different variegated 28 wt Aurifil threads (alas no photo). My plan was to blend together the solids and batiks by artistically shading the different threads down through the piece.

Turquoise, purple and a little yellow at the top...

...and some greens and forest-y shades at the bottom:

The line spacing ranges from 1/8" to 3/8", and I used a long stitch (7 per inch) to keep the thread on top of the quilt as much as possible. The corrugated texture is wonderful, and in places the light weight batiks look smocked. I did plan to do it at home with my walking foot, but when time was getting shorter I went back to the long arm rental place. This 28 wt Auriful thread is not ideal for a long arm -- it broke three times and left a ton of lint behind. But, three hours rental is better than three weeks slog at home!

The most time consuming and picky thing was the binding. With all those straight quilting lines, the binding has to be straight too! I also used three fabrics to shade the binding light to dark, same as the quilt.

For the back, I was finally able to use this purple birdcage fabric that Connecting Threads sent me by mistake one time:

I thought I would never use it, but it is perfect for this! And now that it is in context, I really like it too.

This is my fifth finished quilt, and it feels like a good step forward. I had a plan, I stuck to the plan, everything I planned turned out as hoped, and I finished on time! So that is very satisfying. :D

And our lilac is in bloom again, which is good timing:

It's getting taller! Last year the butterflies loved it:

This year I haven't seen one butterfly yet, although now that I say that I'll probably see one later today. I think our cold snap in April threw the schedule off a little. Ann and Cathy's Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up spreads awareness of the issues facing butterflies and butterfly habitats, plus it is just fun, so you'll be able to check that out here, tomorrow (I hope!).

Plus, the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters (AHIQ) link up is still on, so today I can do two for one!

Next up, I still have a ton of binding to sew, and then some more finishes to share! Although, I am dying to do some more piecing as well...

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...

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