Can This Quilt Be Saved?

Ha! Many, many years ago there was a column in a women’s magazine called, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” I have no memory of reading the content, but somehow the overly-dramatic title has stuck with me. (I just asked Ms. Google, and I’m not the only one who remembers this: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/can-this-marriage-be-saved_b_58404189e4b0b93e10f8dfdf)

Anyway, in moving I have come across some experimental pieces that I’ve kept. I learned something from each of them, but sometimes what I learned was that a particular piece was not especially attractive!

Well, this didn’t work

The above piece was an experiment after reading a book by Freddy Moran. It’s well made but not especially attractive. For me, the colors don’t “gel” and the prairie points are entirely too regular in their arrangement.

This unquilted piece, approximately 42″ square, is the THIRD attempt to make something with these dotted fabrics! The other versions were no better, but I’ve saved some of the fabric by cutting out circles and using them as applique.

Rescued Dots

I think the “rescue” was pretty successful, and I’ll probably do something similar with the rest of this fabric. So I guess that’s 4 iterations of a design with those dots before finding something successful! 

And then there’s the Stuffed Olive Block. Never mind why I designed it in the first place. I made it into a pillow, but really, we have more than enough pillows. I think it just has to go!

I’m a firm believer that no experience is wasted, so we’ll call it good even if some of these just go out with the trash.

Of course that’s nowhere near all the experimental pieces I came across, but that’s all for now 😀

P.S.: I enjoy seeing “barn quilt” blocks as we travel, but this one struck me as unlikely:

 

 

Woo! The Book I’ve Been Waiting For!

I’m a fan of Cindy Grisdela’s work and have gone through the exercises in her previous book, so I was thrilled when C&T sent me Cindy’s new book for review. Adventures in Improv Quilts covers the basics of design and color, but includes some more complex quilts than her previous book. Some of them remind me of Maria Shell, whose book I also love.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Cindy’s colors are bright and interesting. She often combines colors I wouldn’t have thought to use together, which causes me to look twice at the design. That’s a plus!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book includes plenty of detail on technique. I was especially amused (and gratified) to learn that part of Cindy’s design process is to outline the size for the quilt with blue tape on her design wall. I’ve done that for years and find it a very effective way to think about filling the space as I design. Validation is always nice!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book includes a chapter on color choices, which will be welcomed by numerous quilters who worry endlessly about the “right” colors. I choose my palettes intuitively, with better results some times than others, so maybe I should pay more attention? I love the color examples in the book, starting with basic palettes and progressing to the addition of other colors or values to give the project variety.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Cindy then goes on to cover the basic principles of design. These won’t be news to most quilters, but her examples shine. I think I will go back to the “bits” left from working through her previous book and see if I can enhance them by using some of her examples from this book.

Photo courtesy of C&T

My favorite advice in the book: “Don’t fear wasting fabric”! That’s a liberating thought!

My second favorite is one of her tips for free-motion quilting, but I think it could apply to most any part of the process: “If you feel like you’ve made a mistake, keep going. Either ignore it or do it again so it becomes a design element.” I love that! I love this book!

The book is available here, but this is not an affiliate link. C&T sends me books for review, and I tell you about my very favorites among them.

 

Sunrise

Here’s the last finish of August, made of HST (half square triangle) blocks left over from another project.

And here it is held out the window for me to photograph! I thought it would be fun to have my husband stand on the landing half way up the stairs and hold the quilt out the window. And it was fun!

Quilt Stats

Name: Sunrise

Design by: me

Finished size: 50″ x 75″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

And just in case you asked, the quilt isn’t upside down in either picture. It’s ambidirectional–is that even a word?

Eight Years

I’ve now been blogging weekly for 8 years. One of the best things about it is “meeting” people from all over the world and reading about what they are doing. Some of them have been at it even longer than I have, though many of the bloggers I’ve “met” have since quit writing.

Here are my current favorite quilts from each of the years I’ve been blogging.

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013

quilt photo

My Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

modern quilt

Happy Squares, designed and made by me, 2015

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss, 2016.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide, 2017

Equilateral Triangles, 2018

My “Little Green Man” quilt, June 2019

“Clamshells? Really?” 2020

I’m going to delete many of the older posts since I doubt they are serving any purpose at this time. I have had a book made for each year, as suggested by my friend Linda, so I can always look back at them if I want.

A Preschool Project

Our younger grandson is energetic and curious about everything, and one day he walked over to the sewing machine and said, “I want to see what this does!” He selected some scraps and sewed them together with a little help and a lot of watching to keep his fingers out from under the needle! Luckily, my machine has a speed control so I was able to slow it way down to lessen the risk.

The next time he came to visit, we got out the scraps. He chose everything he liked and we glued the scraps to a piece of paper (8.5″ x 11″, which we used to call “typing paper”!). I didn’t help with selection or placement, only encouraged him to cover the paper completely.

We then went to the sewing machine, where I operated the foot pedal and he guided the fabric-covered paper. He learned how to guide the piece under the foot, and we turned the speed up a little! (Note: If you do this, don’t let the child see where the speed control is!) We used a zigzag stitch to cover the edges more easily, and tried a few other stitches, too.

It took several visits for him to finish the piece with all the edges tacked down. He enjoyed the sewing and was very good at clipping stray threads. I then let him choose a tote bag to which we attached his art quilt 🙂

No, he isn’t old enough to have lost that tooth yet. It was a playground accident!

He was very proud of his creation, though he’s still at that age where kids do the fake smile when they see a camera. The lovey got to ride home in the bag along with a couple of other toys he had brought along.

If you have children who try this, please send me pictures of their creations so I can share.  And have fun!

 

Tessellations again!

In a moment of madness, I agreed to do a program on tessellations for my MQG in Greensboro.  I’ll be posting the same information here so we can all share it and so that these blogs can serve as “handouts” for my presentation.  To start, here’s a blog written by my friend Jean Larson, who has designed and made several award-winning tessellation quilts.  To view some of Jean’s quilts, click HERE.  –MJP

Tessellating designs make me happy.  Tweaking those designs is even more fun.   I want to share the joy of starting with a very, very simple design and watching it blossom.  

Start with a simple gridded block and create a light/dark design.  Here, I’ve started with a 3 x 3 grid.  Then re-color the same block with the lights and darks reversed

.The grid lines are only for design purposes, and each block can be constructed with a single square block with 2 corner triangles attached using any method you prefer.

Here are some design possibilities…Quilt_1A simple “cat head” quilt using only 2 colors.

Different looks can be achieved with variations in the color placement.

Blocks can be inverted and turned for even more quilt designs.

Just imagine all the possibilities with color in these!!!!!

It’s even more complex when you design with a 6×6 grid.  Here are the positive and negative versions of another block.

These blocks can be constructed using half-square triangles integrated with larger fabric pieces.  If these blocks were to finish at 6 inches by 6 inches.  The center column on each block would be a single 3.5 inch wide by 6.5 in long piece of fabric.  The side strips would include some half-square triangles.

A couple of the quilts that can be made:

Looks like spools, some gray, some white, all standing up.  Same quilt with alternate blocks turned a quarter turn yields a different  clearly recognizable tessellation.  Reminds me of tessellating doggie rawhide chews 😉

Now back to the spool quilt from above.  The “thread” areas have been colored in.  No blocks have been turned.

Jean spool 5This shows the power of color and value (lightness and darkness).   The colored part, being next to the gray and being closer in value to the gray, unites those parts of the block, and gives the illusion that we have all gray spools on a white background, some standing up, some lying down.

I hope these examples can be the seeds to sprout some design experimentation with tessellating shapes.

  1. Start with 2 square grids
  2. Create a positive design, and its negative design
  3. Alternate them in a quilt layout
  4. PLAY!
  5. And play more with color!

Happy Quilting (and Designing)!!   –Jean Larson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Donation Quilts

Before I show the latest group of donation quilts, I want to say how happy I am that my long-time blogging friend Melanie has started posting again.  She’s an expert in medallion quilts and does beautiful work, so you may want to check her out here.

These quilts are going to Ronald McDonald House, so here’s a last look at them before they go.  

improvisationally pieced quilt

“In Fairyland”, original design, 2013.  53″ x 67″.  I like it, but it’s never been used, so off it goes.

 

Serendipity I”, 2020, 51″ x 61″. Pattern is from Love Jelly Roll Quilts.

 

Black and floral quilt

Unnamed, 55″ x 69″, 2011.  Made to use some of my huge stash of florals, but never used.

Kaffe Leftovers, 48″ x 60″, 2020.

I designed “Spring Sun” using piecing papers from a Judy Niemeyer pattern, 2012-2014.   It was juried into an AQS show but has never been used, so it’s time to donate it.

“Elizabeth’s Village”, 40″ x 40″.  Center design is by my friend Elizabeth and pattern is available in her Payhip store. I added borders so it would finish crib size, 2020.

“Baby Stars”, 45″ x 45″, 2019.  Pattern is “Lucky Stars” by Atkinson Designs.

Star Swap Quilt, original design, 2019. 40″ x 40″.

I hope the families at Ronald McDonald House get enjoyment and comfort from these quilts.  They were just stored in a closet here, so they need to be used.

Avoiding Half Square Triangles

Half square triangles are an important design element in many quilts. The split value and diagonal line allow a variety of dynamic designs.

This is a Half Square Triangle (HST)

One of my quilt groups has been discussing HSTs because some of us love them and some have limited tolerance for them. It matters because we regularly do block exchanges.

One member recently sent a picture of a beautiful depression block quilt, and that got the discussion going again. A depression block quilt is made entirely of HSTs!

This is a typical block from a Depression Quilt

 

This is a traditional Depression Block Quilt made entirely with HSTs

Not being much of a rule-follower, I got to speculating about how we might make this quilt using strips instead of HSTs. (Yes, I get that the original idea was to use up small scraps, but what if you just wanted the overall effect without all those HSTs?) My friend Mary B encouraged me to develop this idea, so here we go.

I did a number of experiments with Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8), which produced all the illustrations for this post.  I learned that the most important element in the success of this quilt is contrast between the values (rather than the colors) of the fabrics. (All the illustrations use Fossil Fern fabrics from the EQ8 fabric library.)

I first tried drawing a block that used strips of lights and darks in place of the rows of triangles. This would simplify construction significantly.

Here’s the block:

Depression block effect without the HSTs

And here’s the quilt:

Then I tried a traditional Courthouse Steps block set on point to mimic the depression block effect.

Here’s the block:

And here’s the quilt:

Finally, I changed up the color arrangement in the traditional Courthouse Steps block to provide more variation.

Here’s the block:

And the quilt:

So! I’m not sure my variations are a good substitute for the traditional Depression Block quilt, but it was fun and I do like the quilts. What do you think, Mary B? 

Little Jewels

I found a quilt like this somewhere online, and you know I love improvised scrap quilts, so I just had to make it!  (Sadly, I have lost the link, so if you know where this came from originally, please let me know.)

It’s always a great idea to offset the intersecting seams!

My quilter was able to use Minky Dot for the backing and quilt it with no batting. That makes the quilt nice and cuddly without being too heavy.

I have been informed that the grandchildren prefer the quilts backed with polyester fleece for cuddling. The lighter weight of the quilt without batting also makes it ideal for dragging around the house or building forts and tents.

Polyester fleece can be a challenge to quilt because it stretches in at least one direction. The quilter told me that a midarm or long arm quilting machine does not have feed dogs, so stretching was not a problem, though the tension was a problem at times.  I suppose I could do free motion quilting with the feed dogs down on my domestic machine, but walking foot quilting might stretch the back.

Minky backing with no batting allows the quilt to drape nicely

Quilt stats:

Name: Quilted Jewels

Pattern source: anonymous picture on internet

Finished size: 46″ x 62″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Class With Maria Shell!!!

COVID rolled over my plans to attend the Vermont Quilt Festival (VQF) this past summer and take classes there with Maria Shell.  So imagine my excitement when I got an email from VQF offering one of Maria’s classes online!  (Here’s the link if you want to learn more.)

This is the Announcement from VQF

I signed up immediately and started gathering the materials–there really isn’t much needed in that department since I’ll be in my own studio for the class!  The class will be interactive, and the student information included lots of funny reminders like “Remember, we can see you.  Wear pants if you plan to stand up!”  I have no idea how to mute my microphone or much of anything else, so there’s no telling what they’ll see/hear from me, but I’ll be sure to be fully clothed 😀

As you may know, I love Maria’s book (here’s the link if you want to know more about the book.).

I’ve made some “mat-cut stripes” inspired by her, though I haven’t figured out yet what to do with them next,

as well as a little art quilt for which I used her method for making free-cut flying geese.

This quilt is titled “Blue Ridge–Cardinal”

One thing that is different about Maria’s technique for improvising is that she does NOT just combine fabrics randomly.  She looks to see if they go together visually before she sews.  Her quilts are graphic and striking, and I look forward to learning more from her.  I’ll let you know how it goes!  And here’s the link to Maria’s site if you want to explore her work more.

Just a reminder:  The links in this post are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links that generate money for me!