I’ve been making a series of improvisational blocks from a bundle of fat eights and a single solid blue fabric, which is intended to tie them together visually.
Each set of 4 blocks has a theme, such as triangles from a strip set in this one
and random arrangement of free-cut squares in this one.
All blocks are 6-1/2″ in one dimension to give them some chance of fitting together eventually! Set 4 had the theme “log cabin”, and I am fond of little lines in my designs, so it had some of those, too:
“Lines” was the theme for set 5:
Despite using a bundle of coordinating fat eighths and a unifying solid, I think these are getting to be too diverse to go together well. I’ll try to attack that problem in the next set. Please stay tuned, and share any suggestions you may have!
I now belong to THREE groups that make donation quilts, and it may be a bit much. I’ve decided to focus on the group I’ve been working with the longest, both because it was the original and because we donate the quilts locally. (I fear there’s some truth to Garrison Keillor’s quip that most donation quilts sent to other countries go to hot climates where their best use is as compost.)
I see from my notes that I fell behind on donation quilts over a year ago due to being over-committed. Duh. Anyway, here are my recent attempts to catch up.
I found this panel in the SCRAP BIN at a shop where I teach, so I got it for $1 an ounce! The finished quilt is 34″ x 44″.
This top was started over a year ago when I wanted to experiment with half-rectangle triangles. The finished quilt is 40″ x 48″
This was made from slabs swapped in one of my groups. I spy some orphan blocks incorporated into slabs!
This one was done for leaders and enders, and is going to have to be entitled “Nobody’s Perfect”! Finished size is 34″ x 39″
I made this after starting the blocks as a class demonstration last time I taught “Twinkle”. Finished size is 40″ x 40″
I can just hear somebody saying, “Well! That certainly is a variety!” It would be more efficient to make the same pattern multiple times, but I just can’t do it.
I was excited to get Maria Shell’s book Improv Patchwork a while back, because I’m an admirer of her quilts. (This picture of the book is from her website, where you can order an autographed copy of the book.)
I first encountered her work when I saw this quilt:
No Borders Treasure Map, by Maria Shell, from her blog
The quilt above appeals to me because I am OVER all the plus quilts that have been everywhere for years now, and Maria’s quilt is a fun allusion to the plus sign without being the same-old-same-old.
I read Maria’s book as soon as it arrived, She has lots of suggestions, including making strip sets and cutting without rulers. Just for starters I made a strip set.
I based the arrangement of strip sizes on the first few bars in the bar code for the word “quilt”. Yes, I’ve done something similar in the past when I used a QR code from Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest’s condom campaign to make this quilt. This time, with the bar code, I didn’t even try to get the whole code in, or to make it scan.
I like it! What I don’t know is what I’m going to do with it! It seems to need to incubate for a while. Any suggestions?
I recently took a class at the annual North Carolina Quilt Symposium, which this year was held in Asheville, relatively close to where I live. The class was taught by Rosalie Dace, an art quilter who lives in South Africa. The focus was on techniques for putting lines into quilts. Since she is an art quilter, there were many techniques that wouldn’t be used in utility quilts, but it was fun to try them out anyway.
Here are a couple of Rosalie’s quilts that were on display at NCQS.
I thought about how to use it for several weeks and finally decided on Turning Twenty Again. It’s an old pattern, but I’ve seen it made up in many different fabrics and it’s almost always spectacular and modern-looking. The fabric I bought was 8 fat quarters, and Turning Twenty Again is a pattern developed for efficient use of fat quarters, so it seemed a good match.
I needed a little more fabric and found this dot in my stash–it had the same appearance of linen texture as the original fabric and I thought it went perfectly with the others.
The next question was what else to add. After auditioning several options, I decided on this cat fabric. The eyes are sort of of dots, too, and the color coordinated well. I made the blocks and put them on the design wall, and…Eek! Is it too busy? And when I see it overall, I do not like the tan fabric I added, even though it is similar to the beige-green that came with the fat quarter set!
I’ve had it on the design wall for a week trying to decide what to do. One option is to put the squares together with sashing and a border to kind of calm things down. I auditioned a dark blue fabric and a turquoise fabric for that–both are Moda grunge, so they have the same linen-look texture.
Another option is to take the blocks apart in order to add these birds from the same collection, giving a greater variety of prints. I think if I take it apart, I will remove the tan fabric I don’t like, so the birds could add variety AND get rid of the tan!
From there we go into the wild options. They are legion, and include the possibility of cutting the blocks randomly and inserting solid strips. Or I could replace some pieces with the birds and some with the turquoise grunge.
And of course there is the perennial option of putting it away for a month and then looking at it again to see what comes to mind.
I recently started teaching at A Stitch in Time in Franklin, NC. It’s as “local” as quilt shops get for me in this rural area, so I’m very happy to be able to teach there. It’s an excellent shop and I sort of have to work to avoid drooling on the fabric…well, you know what I mean 😉
So here is the quilt I will be teaching in July…
Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide
“Red Pepper” is made from a quilt pattern entitled “Yellow Pepper”
Happy Squares, one of my original designs
Of course, while I was in the shop I got a little fabric! This is a specially-printed piece from Hoffman California that has 8 coordinating fat quarters in a 2 yard cut!
There were other nice prints in the series, but I’m a fool for dots. If you need some, too, you can order from A Stitch in Time (and no, I do not make any money from it; this site is non-commercial).
One of the things I love about blogging is hearing from people who comment and share their ideas. Here are a couple of ideas that I thought you might enjoy, too.
When I blogged about some household items that are useful for quilting, Peggy commented that she cuts up her old calendars and uses the numbers to label her blocks and rows.
It was the perfect time of year for that handy hint, so I promptly cut up an old calendar. The numbers worked great for labeling pieces for a complex project. I clipped them to groups of fabric for the various sections of the quilt using binder clips–an idea I got from Judy Niemeyer’s class years ago.
Another friend, Claire, responded to my post on making single-color slabs by asking what I do with fabric that is a mixture such that no one color predominates. I had been cutting out sections based on the predominant color, and that seemed to work. But…
When I came to this piece, I realized I had NO desire to cut out chunks small enough to be mainly one color. Then I started looking and saw that I had a number of prints from which I would NEVER be able to cut single-color pieces of any size.
So I made a block of multi-color pieces. It is pretty wild, but so were some of the fabrics that went into it. I’ll see how it looks with the single-color blocks when I assemble a quilt. What do you think? Make more of these or give up on the truly multicolored fabrics for slabs?
The Quilt Alliance auction of donated art quilts has started. I’m sorry I didn’t get this announcement out last week, but there is still time to bid in Week 1 of the auction if you hurry! My quilt is in Week 2, which starts November 27. Check out the auction here: http://www.QuiltAllianceAuction.org
This is the “promotional image” for my quilt, which is 16 inches square per the contest requirements:
But really, I encourage you to check out all the quilts. There is one I really like (other than my own!) and will be bidding on. If you don’t know about the Quilt Alliance, I encourage you to check out their activities here.
Second link: My friend Melanie at Catbird Quilts recently pointed out a little research project she found. Another blogger, Vicki Welsh, posted about testing a variety of methods to save a quilt that has been washed with bleeding of one (or more) fabrics. The results are very interesting, and are also useful for those of us who pre-wash (at least some of) our fabrics. Check out Vicki’s post here. Vicki encourages you to share her test results, and I encourage you to be sure to link to her original post when you do.