Showing posts with label Baskets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baskets. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Daydream Baskets Flimsy

Last time you saw this project, I was thinking about using the fabric crumbs left over from the improv pieced baskets to make the setting triangles. I spent a couple days sewing, and a couple more days thinking, and then I threw all the bits out. It was just a distraction, and didn't help the design in any way.

There are two main stories in this quilt -- the improv piecing, and the colour scheme. For a small wall quilt, that's enough. So, I just sewed the blocks together and cut simple setting triangles from the same fabrics already in the blocks.

Daydream Baskets flimsy, about 37" (94 cm) square 
Two of my reject blocks were cut up to supplement the crumbs, and went in the bin with the rest. But, one had survived, and I used it as a setting triangle on the lower right there. A bit of Japanese influence to go with all the Asian fabrics!

I will say that as a rule, it would be better to use sashing or alternate blocks of solid fabric with these blocks, because there are a lot of heavy points coming together in the seams. There is quite a bit of "problem solving" happening in the seam allowances on the back!  Anyway, my plan is to free motion quilt it here at home, so hopefully I can work around the lumps.

This quilt was inspired by the #basketswu sew along started by Barb, and my improv inspirations are always Ann and Kaja. Check their blogs to see what else is happening with the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters as they wrap up 2017!

I will probably be back again in a day or two with some Ringo Lake progress. I'm making changes!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Daydream Baskets

"Daydream Baskets" is the name I have settled on for this quilt inspired by a daybed at Windsor Castle. I think that hits the right tone -- it is a potential minefield!

All three of the blocks I shared last week have gone into the reject pile. I realized that it is crucial that the centre triangle be darker than both the basket and the spikes.

I also realized that five blocks would not be enough, and added another round to bring it up to thirteen blocks. Thirteen allows for a better exploration of the block and its variations, and it just seems to make more sense.

So, here they are:

Way better, eh?

Now I am debating the setting triangles. I have been thinking about sewing together the crumbs from the piecing for some "made fabric" triangles, but I'm not sure there are enough. I've also been see-sawing on the issue of sashing. But, now that I am studying the photo, I've had an idea about that.

We'll see how it pans out! In the meantime, please check out the rest of the improv at AHIQ #27, right here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Improv Baskets

For some reason I thought AHIQ would be starting today. Oh well! I'm ahead of the game for once. :D

Almost a month ago Barb (Fun with Barb) and Kelly (Pinkadot Quilts) started a basket sew along ( #basketswu ) inspired by an antique basket quilt. They have both posted excellent tutorials, click the links by their names to find them. I thought I would have a crack at an improv version:

I had the idea for a small improv wall quilt with a red background right away. For some reason I always want to do improv on a red background! Then a week or two later I watched a documentary about the watercolours of Prince Charles, which was quite interesting. It included some B roll from Windsor Castle, and this outrageous day bed:

The combination of scarlet silk damask on the walls, pale jade, lavender and copious amounts of gold gilding caught my eye right away! A colour scheme was born.

I'll admit, it's a challenge to translate to my stash! But, at least the improv piecing is going well.

I'm determined to keep this quilt small, so only five blocks are planned. Three are made:

I'll probably have to make the one on the right again. I did plan to put the lavender in the spikes and the gold in the centre, but somehow I mixed them up when cutting. Argh! Since there will only be five, they will all have to be fairly strong on their own.

I'm not thrilled with the values in the other two either, but, I think the next three will have more contrast and that will make it all work. I hope! Anyway, that is the beauty of a small quilt -- it's not a big investment so it's easier to take a risk. I'm planning to make small quilts my focus in 2018 as well.

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! Technicolor Turkey is coming along, but it won't be a flimsy by Thursday. I still have two quadrants left to join, and the border as well. Definitely by the end of the year, though!

And, every day for the past two months I've had a different plan for On Ringo Lake. Right now I think I will have to pass. As part of my decision making process I've added a new page to my blog that summarizes all my Bonnie Hunter Quiltville quilts. I am happy with all of them, and I think it will be better to move them along rather than adding another.

So, that's my update for today. See you again next week for AHIQ!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gwennie Medallion Month 1

Wednesday June 1, 2016 - Five Days Ago

After keeping my head down so I could finish Tranquil on schedule, I decide to catch up with what's new in blogland. I've noticed these Gwennie Medallion badges popping up here and there.

What's that about? I found the answer here on Lori's blog, Humble Quilts. It's just a casual medallion quilt along, inspired by the many and varied quilts of Gwen Marston. Each month there will be a theme, and we can interpret the theme any way we want.

Lori's theme for the first month is Baskets. Hmmm... Baskets are like a Pavlovian thing for me. Should I do it? I have to dash into the city on an errand, and literally the last thing I see before closing my computer is Lori's encouragement to join in.
So, it's a gorgeous sunny day, and I'm driving down the 401, thinking about Gwen Marston's "style." I remembered this retrospective of her quilts at Plaid Portico recently. Lots of solids...

...and some wavy piecing. Gwen isn't afraid of brown, and what I like the most is the tremendous feeling of depth that she achieves with her colour choices and placement. My theory is that I can get the same result with careful contrasts between light and dark, warm and cool, bright and drab.

And there's plenty of applique in Gwen's history, so I'll want some of that.

Back on the freeway, I get in lane to take the Don Valley Parkway south, but the exit is backed up for almost a mile, which is worse than the usual slowdown. I decide to take Leslie instead, but I am not the only one with that idea either.

But, the weather is perfect, the windows are open, and the radio is on.

The DJ comes on and rather sheepishly jokes that since June 1 is National Olive Day, we should collect as many different kinds of olive as possible, and eat olive it. Slow news day!

It turns out that Leslie is also down to one lane, thanks to a storm drain cleaning crew. But after that the road opens up, and I have a very helpful meeting. On the way home, I am still designing my basket block in my head. My liberated basket block. So, I don't think I should worry too much about matching the corners. And maybe play with perspective a little...

Now, what about the applique? I have so many flowery projects already. I've always wanted to do a project with willow leaves...

Well...what about olives? Olives have willowy leaves. Black olives would be a break from the usual quilty red berries. Could it work?

Thursday June 2, 2016

Luckily, I have all day to work on this project. The wavy background comes together easily, and somehow the basket goes in with hardly a break in the lines. The handle is easy to draw on some freezer paper, ironed right on the block, and then transferred to the handle fabric and cut out. So, that all went quickly.

Gwen encourages making your own applique templates. so I do a Google image search on "olive branch," With the search results open in front of me, I sketch a few different olive leaves, a couple of olives, and make templates. (Ignore the flower for now!)

I notice that olives have thin, whippy stems. So, I make a bunch of 1/4" stems, and cut out way too many olive green leaves. My plan is to design the applique right on the block.

TWO HOURS of fiddling around, many awkward, stiff layouts, and I finally think of winding the branch around the basket handle. Aha, that seems to be working! I take a photo to see how it looks.

On the small screen on the back of my camera, it looks terrible. Argh! All day, and it's a dead end. Olives are stupid. I decide to put just a single red flower on the handle and call it a day. (That flower above.)

Friday, June 3, 2016

It's a busy day, but I do download the photos from my camera to the computer. Really, I think the problem is that the dark green leaves don't show against the brown basket. And I like the line. I won't give up on it yet.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Back to the stash for some lighter green. How light? Well, it turns out that it needs to be very light, and the leaves on the blue background need to stay quite dark. And somehow, that works.

Two days of rather rough and ready applique (speed over quality), and the block is done!

It's over 17" now, but I'll probably trim it down to 16" finished for the next round.

Once again, the timing worked out, and it was nice to run with inspiration when it struck. I think it was lucky that I only had a week, instead of a whole month, because the tight deadline sharpened my focus. And most of all, I'm glad I didn't give up!

Check out what everyone else made in the link up here, tomorrow. I wonder what the next theme will be? Although seriously, I really have to finish Hen Party. Now, where did I put it?

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Sedona Star 1.0

For a change of pace, today's post is (mostly) about what I'm not going to make!

Early in January I had a big hunt through my stash for this orange fabric, which I wanted for My Country House. It is the perfect orange, not too gold and not too brown, but that's beside the point right now. The point is that my search started a whole process of digging through all my old quilty projects and making some decisions:
  1. Keep going
  2. Keep going but make some changes
  3. Toss.
The result has been that suddenly I've been working on, and thinking about, a whole bunch of projects at the same time. There hasn't been much to show, because I'm spread too thin. For example, in February I set myself a schedule to get Texas Star to the flimsy stage. According to the schedule, I should now have 227 stars joined up. As of today, the total stands at 146...

...which is progress over last time...

...but not ideal. Still, although progress is slow, I think we will all agree that it is looking pretty good. 

What you may not remember is that this is Texas Star 2.0. In 2011 (before this blog), after about 25 years and two cross-continental moves, Texas Star 1.0 went in the bin. At that point there were about 250 machine-pieced stars finished and ready to join. But, it just had too many problems, including dodgy fabrics and dodgier sewing. About 16 months later, Texas Star 2.0 got off to a much better start, and it will definitely be finished. But for now, I'm packing it away, because as I said, I'm spread too thin.

As you've probably guessed, the project I'm not going to be finishing is Sedona Star, shown at the top of the page. In fact, those photos are all that remain, because it all went in the bin in February. It had many issues, but the biggest was that it was big -- bed sized -- and my colour scheme was more suited to a wall quilt. So yes, Sedona Star 2.0 will be smaller. It is all planned, but not started.

I've already mentioned that this project, Trick or Treat baskets, was abandoned last fall:

Baskets 1.0

In fact I had about 12 to 15 done, but there are no photos, and these went in the bin in February too. Gosh, I imagine you are saying, I know they could have been used somewhere. And surely something could have been done with all those pretty Sedona Star circles. Yes, I thought about that quite a bit. But finally I realized that I can't do it all, and it would be a bigger shame if my newer, and much nicer, projects didn't get made because I was still flogging a dead horse with these.

So, Down in the Garden will get the nod, and we will see what happens when I focus on just one project at a time. I think it will be a perfect summertime project. :D

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Year in Review

I was going to do this after Christmas, but yesterday I noticed that the new moon and the winter solstice coincide this year, so now is the time to put the old year to bed, and then make Christmas the celebration of new beginnings that it is meant to be.

So I'm back! Last year Toronto fibre artist Kit Lang did a wonderful post reviewing her projects and learnings from the past year. I believe that improvement, whether you are an artist or an artisan, requires regular reflection and adjustments, so I decided then that I would do something similar this year. Here are the highlights of what I've learned in 2014.

I'd been stressing about UFOs for years, and last January's resolution was to cut them all loose. Clean slate, start over.

Well, it was easy to say, hard to do. All my old projects crept back on the list.

My final thought is that it's like gardening -- cutting away the dead wood makes the whole plant healthier, but over pruning can be equally bad. The trick is balance,

In May I got a new sewing machine, the Brother Nouvelle 1500s high speed, single stitch machine. What a difference it's made!

I've never thought that it's reasonable to spend thousands of dollars on fancy gadgets for a hobby, but I can feel my opinion changing on that. I'm finding that better equipment gives a better result, and makes the process a lot more enjoyable as well.

Also in May, I was able to get this project, It's Warm Inside, from start to finish in about 3 weeks. That was the fastest I've ever done anything quilty! It broke down some mental barriers for me about starting and finishing in a timely manner.

Why was this one so easy to finish?
1. I had all the materials ready to go.
2. It was just 16 blocks, so there was no time to get bored.
3. I planned and cut the whole quilt before I started to sew. Then I wasn't slowed down by decision making during construction.

No, it's still not quilted, but I count it as a success nevertheless!

Mod Trips
Finishing those 16 log cabin blocks empowered me to get back to these Scrappy Trips blocks that I'd started in 2013. You could say they were a UFO whose time had finally come!

I applied what I'd learned. Rather than choosing, ironing and cutting fabrics for the blocks one at a time, I chose and cut everything for the rest of the quilt in one go. This streamlined the process, and it helped me make better choices, because I could see how everything worked together.

Even still, it was a grind to get the 25 blocks done. I think my threshold is around 20 blocks!

On the other hand, the two pillow covers I made from the leftovers were really fun. I think I liked the puzzle of how to fit them all together. That's something I plan to do again!

Over the summer I also put myself on a schedule to finish my "forever project," Texas Star. The schedule was easy, just six stars per week, and it worked.

I had to put my other forever project, Trick or Treat baskets, on hold while I finished Texas Star. Then, as I was finishing up Mod Trips above, I came to a big realization. It's not enough for a project to be interesting, I also need to have an emotional connection with it. Mod Trips is nice enough, and I'm happy it's done, but it's all intellectual.

And the baskets will be the same thing, too much head, not enough heart. I like the grey colour scheme and the fabrics intellectually, but I don't love them. I may start it again down the road in different fabrics, but this version is definitely dead.

Although it's nowhere near finished, this new project Jacks and Cats was still an important lesson. I learned that it is good to have a big stash.

I hear the groans! Over a year ago I resolved to only buy fabric for specific projects, and to stop buying just for stash. But I've changed my mind.

What I've found is that when inspiration strikes, it is very helpful to be ready to go. I bought the magazine and started this project on the same day. The whole thing flowed together beautifully, and it was super fun to be able to ride that initial wave of inspiration. For me, I think that's the best way to work.

Yes, I'm a little worried that now the brakes are off the shopping cart, but actually, I've bought less fabric recently.

Ink Week Finale

November's lesson was about the importance of the blogging community. Really, it should be whole separate post, but I'll just keep going here.

I am so appreciative of all you, bloggers, readers, and commenters, for the support, encouragement and inspiration you provide!!

My project Down in the Garden, had been languishing with just a few of these herb pots done, when I noticed that Kaaren at The Painted Quilt had started it too. She encouraged me to get back to it, and crucially, added my blog to her blog list.

That's so important, because I can see the traffic coming in from her blog, and it's very motivating. It is very helpful to borrow someone else's confidence when your own is flagging! It gave me the encouragement I needed to just go for it with Ink Week.

Then Mary Corbet recommended the series, and sent a huge spike in traffic my way. But, right between parts 3 and 4, a family emergency briefly knocked things askew. Once again, it was knowing that people were watching and waiting for the rest of the series that got me back on track and helped me to finish. And I'm so happy I did, because it turned out even better than I'd hoped!

So, when I say that I appreciate you all, it's not empty words. I really mean it! You make me better. Thank you!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Planning the Basket Quilt

I am thrilled with how these big prints* are working with the little baskets so far! And I am realizing that the whole quilt will be fussy cut...even the backgrounds!

It just doesn't seem right to leave the large background prints to chance, when the baskets are so carefully composed. The dotted fabric above, and the zig zag below, are all scissors-cut. It's not actually that bad. Easier than trying to line up the rotary cutter, I decided.

The quilt will not be particularly scrappy. I have four background fabrics in the "dove" colourway -- the dots, zig zags, some butterflies and stylized flowers. I also have four main basket colours -- green, turquoise, orange and pink. Since everything is already so structured, I've decided to use a consistent formula matching up the baskets and backgrounds. All the zig zags will have green baskets, and all the dots will have turquoise baskets (although the fabrics themselves have a lot of variation).

I expect that this will make the final layout a breeze. Plus, it will reduce decision paralysis along the way, while making it easier to keep track of where I am. Especially since I don't have a permanent design wall.

So, 8 down, either 171 or 305 to go!

*Note that the green bamboo fabric is my stock, photo-background fabric, not part of the block. It's so useful for photos that I may never put it in a quilt!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Starting the Baskets

As I hinted last time, you can see that I went in a completely different direction on my new project, Trick or Treat, designed by Barb Adams. For now I will just be calling it my baskets quilt.

I started out looking online at reproduction shirtings, and somehow I ended up on Hawthorne Threads (my new favourite fabric website), looking at Heather Bailey's True Colors collection. I've had a green and grey colour scheme on my mind for over a year now, and this time it clicked. So I clicked too, and bought mostly this collection and a couple of other fabrics here and there to fill it in.

I know some of y'all are looking at this with doubt in your heart, wondering if the whole thing is going to be too busy for words. I feel that doubt too, but I also have a really good feeling about the project, so it will be interesting to see how it develops!

I do like how some of the baskets, like the top one, will be clearly outlined, while others, like the second one, will blend a little into the background. Because there is such strong repetition in the pattern, I think this will give an added dimension to the final result. Hopefully!

The original pattern had a diamond cut out in the body of the basket. The diamond would be lost in the large prints on my fabrics, so I left that out. The pattern also has the basket handle and body cut separately, but I joined them in one template to preserve the continuity of the fabric design as much as possible.

I thought about different applique techniques, and even cut out a bunch of freezer paper templates, but in the end I went with one template plastic template, and regular needleturn applique. Template plastic lets me position the template on the fabric to the best advantage.

I was hoping to stitch the project with cotton thread, but when I searched through all my different thread boxes, this Kimono 100wt silk thread was the only one in the right colour. So that's what I used, and it's completely invisible, so I think I am committed to it now. It is a bit of nuisance to work with, but, you can't argue with the result!

Previously I've stitched this silk thread with a #9 applique needle, but I found these longer #10 sharps from Clover, and they are working very well too. They are not as long as a milliner's needle, which I find awkward sometimes, but are still long enough to smooth out the seam allowances when needed. I'm sure I've said before how much I love Clover needles -- they are so sharp and smooth that you hardly feel them go through the fabric.

The whole queen-size quilt calls for 313 of these 5" blocks. I am already considering a large lap quilt instead, which would still be 179 blocks. I have enough fabric either way, so I'll see how it goes!

And, I'm linking up again with WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shirtings vs. Blenders

Scrappy vs. Stained

Today's cautionary tale is not about something I did, but rather about a quilt I saw at a show here in Ontario a few years ago. I've been to shows from Burlington to Trenton and all points in between, so I'll be no more specific than that!

Walking around the show, I saw a great log cabin quilt a few rows away, and as I approached I could see that it was badly stained. "Oh dear," I thought, "I'm surprised she still put it in the show." It looked like the victim of an encounter with a pack of untrained puppies.

But when I got right up to it, I saw that it was not stained at all. The quiltmaker had sewn all the light parts of the quilt from strips of light coloured blenders, that from far away had indeed blended together into a mottled disaster.

Since then, I've paid attention to how quiltmakers can make a successful scrappy quilt with light coloured fabrics. I've found that the difference is to use shirtings rather than blenders.

Every quilt shop in Southern Ontario has a shelf full of light coloured blenders -- those white on white, white on cream, beige on white "background" fabrics. So our anonymous quiltmaker was likely dependent on the local supply. I have quite a few myself:

But when you look at a great, light coloured quilt in a book or magazine, these are not the fabrics they used. In the Summer 2014 issue of Primitive Quilts Catherine Hughes has a very satisfying quilt called "Shoofly Delight" that shows what I mean:

"Shoofly Delight" by Catherine Hughes, Primitive Quilts magazine Summer 2014

Hughes used shirtings, light coloured fabrics with simple stripes or prints in dark colours. The difference is that with the variety of prints, the eye can clearly see the edges of each piece, even though all the fabrics are light in value. So the quilt looks scrappy rather than blended and/or stained.

And, to finally make this post relevant to my current projects, shirtings were also used in the background of Barb Adams' "Trick or Treat," the applique quilt project that came up in my "quilt lottery" back in April:

"Trick or Treat" by Barb Adams, When the Cold Wind Blows 2008

When this project came up I thought I had all the fabric in my stash and I could start right away. But this shirtings vs. blenders issue put things on hold. I very nearly made the same mistake as that other quilter a few years ago! I needed more shirtings for the backgrounds if I was going to be happy with the result.

I tried to go back to a different applique project instead, but I couldn't let this one go. So, I started shopping online for some new fabric. A dangerous situation! And a very surprising result, which I will show next time!
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