Monday, October 9, 2017

Stitch by Stitch - Slow Sunday Stitching


Having finished quilting the circles (except the ones that are appliqued in the center of some blocks) I've moved on to quilting the connecting lines between the circles on this scrappy quilt.

I haven't been hurrying to finish this quilt but sometimes hand quilting seems to take forever.  I also have not been working too hard to make tiny stitches.  Utility stitches for a utility quilt seems about right.

The color's a little too creamy in this photo. It was grey and rainy today and I snapped this photo under the light of an Ikea lamp, which doesn't capture the true, natural colors.

I will be happy to finish this quilt, not because I'm tired of it, but because it means I will be able to use it!

I'm linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Kathy.

--Nancy.
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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wrestling

This is a long post.  If you want to see my work in progress, scroll down till you get to the photos.

I rarely take the easy, sure way to a finished quilt.  Sometimes I see a quilt pattern that looks wonderful but imagine just one or two little tweaks that I think will make it better, make it my own.  Or maybe I want a similar quilt but just a little smaller.  Or larger.  Or with the first border narrower and the second wider wider, or a pieced border.  I make things harder for myself when I try to change up patterns and especially when I choose to create without a pattern -- the times when I dream up a quilt in my mind:  imagine, draw, choose fabric, cut, sew, alter, sew some more.

Why do I do this?  Elizabeth Healey, author of Stitch, Fabric & Thread:  An Inspirational Guide for Creative Stitches, offered these thoughts which mirror my own.
There is great comfort in following a design created by someone else, be it a shop-bought kit, an article in a magazine, a book or even an online tutorial, since much of the planning and thinking is done for you.  All you have to do is follow the instructions and you should get a replica of what's on the packet.  Coming up with your own design is far more daunting and can be filled with frustrating moments as you strive to realise your vision.  But when you get it right, it is infinitely more satisfying than anything bought off the shelf.

Creating from scratch can be difficult, daunting, challenging, and can call a maker's creativity into question causing self-doubt and uncertainty.  But when one succeeds -- what joy!

Without doubt, the most challenging quilt to make is/has been the Gwenny-style basket of flowers medallion I began last year.  It was part of a sew-along hosted by Lori of Humble Quilts.  I'd already made the center when the sew-along began; the border themes were suggested by others but the creative interpretations and decisions were mine.


The first border theme was childhood.


The next border was log cabins.


So far so good with all of the above.  The next border was stars.  And that was the border where I started to question the way this quilt was going.  By now it measured about 58" x 64".  I wondered about the widths of the borders -- were they too similar, not similar enough, etc.  And the colors?  Not much variety in colors in the borders.  But I continued on.


The last border was "something fishy."  With such a large quilt and only a month to make a border, I chose what I called fish tails.  I should have realized, but didn't, that a 3½" final border (4" on the bottom) for a quilt this size wouldn't work -- would be disproportionately narrow compared to the other borders.


By the time that border was stitched in place I knew the quilt was in trouble.  I auditioned a few additional pieces of fabric around it with the idea of adding one more border but it seemed to me that nothing worked.  (Can you imagine me wrestling?  I'm not suggesting that I disliked the process, just that the choices didn't come easily.)  It was nearing the holidays and I needed the floor space so I folded the top away to work on later.

Later came last week.  I laid the quilt out on the floor again and within a day decided to remove the fish border, make the star border narrower, and add a wide blue border with the idea of adding applique.  (Blue water is definitely fishy.)  This is where the quilt is today.  (I'm beginning to think this style of quilt--Gwen Marston/liberated-- is beyond my current abilities.)


I've thought about omitting the vines and adding only flowers and leaves, as though they're floating on top of water.  I've thought about vines and leaves only.  I've thought about circles/bubbles; clam shells; waves in some form or other; etc.  If I had found a printed fabric that would have worked for a broder, I would have used it.  To some extent I'm probably stuck on too literal an interpretation of "something fishy" but at this point it doesn't really matter whether this border has anything fishy about it because the sew-along is over.

I could just stitch those vines, flowers, and leaves down and call it done.  Gwenny style?  I'm not so sure.  Good enough?  Yes, probably.  That border is not unlike many I've seen around the internet when I search google or pinterest.  It works well enough.  But could it be better?  Could it be more original?  Could there be a border that adds to the quilt more than this one does?  I think the answer is probably yes to those last three questions. 

So I'm wondering, dear readers, when you create an original quilt of your own design, do you keep working on it, playing with it, wrestling with it until it's perfect?  At what point do you decide it's perfect?  Do you ever settle for good enough, call it a learning experience, and move on?

By the end of October I want to have made a decision about the border on this quilt and have begun (and maybe finished) it -- for One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts.

I'm linking this post to
> WOW at Esther's Blog
> Let's Bee Social #197 at Sew Fresh Quilts
> wip link-up at Silly Mama quilts
> Midweek Makers #92 at Quilt Fabrication
> UFO Progress at Jo's Country Junction
> One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts
> Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts 
Thank you, ladies, for hosting.

--Nancy.
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Monday, September 25, 2017

Sweet Bees

Sometime near the end of July Kathy, of Kathy's Quilts, the same Kathy who hosts Slow Sunday Stitching every week, posted photos of a mini quilt she'd made using the fabric in this post.  What a sweet little quilt it was.

The very next Sunday, her post commemorated five years of hosting Slow Sunday Stitching and she offered a giveaway of the fabrics she'd used for her mini quilt to two people.  I was surprised and thrilled to be one of them.

About a week and a half ago they arrived in my mailbox.  Pure delight!  If I had to choose a favorite graphic style, these would be it.  I love the vintage-style drawings, the decorative fonts, and the beautiful embellishments.


These are Deb Strain fabrics.  Each individual printed block is 5" square.  Kathy also sent pieces of gold print fabric, one with bees and the other with honeycombs.  (I think my photographs are slightly less vibrant than the fabrics in real life.)  They are all beautiful.












I don't know if I'll make a small quilt like Kathy's or use them in some other way.  For now, I'm just enjoying them and beeing grateful.  Thank you, Kathy.  I appreciate your generosity.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Flags and Crows Joins 2017 Bloggers Quilt Festival


Amy of Amy's Creative Side is once again hosting the Bloggers Quilt Festival this fall.  It's a festival where many quilting bloggers share their favorite finishes from the past 12 months. 

This year Simply Flags and Crows is participating in the Festival.  I rarely use patterns and when I do, I usually adapt them one way or another.  That's true with this quilt, too.  I wanted this for my front door and began it the last week in June and finished it in time for the Fourth.  Record speed for me!  But then, it's a small quilt, finishing at about 18" x 24".  It was such a speedy quilt that I didn't take measurements as I went along or even at the finish.

This is a primitive pattern and practically everything about the quilt is primitive, including the stitching and thread.


The fabrics are mostly plaids and a few prints and the thread was an old spool of thick cotton that came in a box at an auction, or possibly from a thrift store.  It was sturdy and worked for this quilt.



I can report that this quilt hung on our front door for over two months and I haven't noticed any fading of the fabric.




I hope you'll visit this year's Bloggers Quilt Festival and enjoy the great variety of quilts submitted by participants.

--Nancy.

Morning Stars in 2017 Bloggers Quilt Festival

It's that time of year again when Amy of Amy's Creative Side hosts the 2017 Bloggers Quilt Festival and quilt bloggers throughout blogland submit their favorite quilts of the past 12 months.

Morning Stars for Isaac is participating in the Quilt Festival this year.


I love this scrappy quilt with the uneven stars in the sashing and I had a lot of fun making it.  Each block finishes at 5½" and the sashing at 2½".   I free-hand quilted it with Baptist Fans and gave it a scrappy binding.  The size of the finished quilt, after washing and drying, is 43½" x 50". 

No fabric is repeated in the large squares nor in the sashing.  Fabrics include large prints, small prints, plaids, and a few prints with animals, people, etc.


The stars have a variety of lights and naturals and each star does not necessarily have only one fabric.  It's really very scrappy.




I like this quilt so much that perhaps another is on the horizon.

I hope you'll click through to the Bloggers Quilt Festival and enjoy the other entries.

Thank you, Amy!

--Nancy.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sixteen Down


I have 16 half-circle blocks around the edges of this quilt finished and 16 half-circle blocks plus four corner quarter circles to quilt.  I guess that means I'm nearly half done with the edge circles.

It would be great if that finished the quilting but I need to go back and quilt the corners of each block.  I envision quilting several diagonal lines from circle to circle across the corners.  I should probably decide exactly how to quilt before I begin, shouldn't I?  But I think what I've got going will work for this quilt.

You can just barely see the Prismacolor pencil marks outlining the circles to be quilting.  I've had to remark several of them either because they were too light or because they rubbed off.

I'm linking this post to Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  Thanks for hosting, Kathy.

--Nancy.
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Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Little Fabric Store in an Envelope

A few weeks ago Janet O. of Rogue Quilter mentioned at the end of this post that she was emptying her scrap basket and told her readers to let her know if they were interested in having them.  Janet makes miniature quilts -- the most exquisite and perfect little gems -- and said the scraps were small.  Yes, I was interested.  If my name were chosen, I knew to expect pieces 2" or smaller.  I've been cutting 1½" squares for a small quilt for an as-yet-undetermined pattern so little scraps would be great. 

Last week before we left to visit our daughters in Kentucky, a bulky envelope from Janet arrived in our mailbox.  When I opened it, I found a quart freezer bag brim full of beautiful Civil War reproduction fabrics.


There were 92 different Civil War era fabrics -- more variety than is available at my local quilt store!  I oohed and aahed as I looked at and admired each piece.  The pieces were larger than I expected, some big enough to cut several 1½" or 2" blocks, and all were prints I'd not seen before.  Amazing.  Beautiful.  Delightful!  I'm already imagining possibilities.

So now, when I want to make a small quilt with reproduction fabrics, I will go shopping in Janet's little store in an envelope.

Thank you, Janet.  You are more than generous.

--Nancy.
.at

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Crooked Little Finish

Another little basket block is finished.  I like it, even as crooked and out of proportion as it is.  And are those primitive flowers or just odd ones, do you think?   


What I keep learning again and again is that a photograph is more perceptive than my eyes when looking at the real thing are.  Now I see everything I didn't see when I was laying out pieces and stitching them to create this block, and even after the block was stitched.  Maybe photographs are just more objective?

Thank goodness I left a little extra around the edge for trimming.  I have about half an inch in which to tip the basket and flower a little to the left.  This block will measure 7½" x 10½" when cut.

Asymmetrical baskets are a little challenging for me because I'm never certain how to place them on the block.  Sometimes they're fine, other times, like this one, they seem to tip too far in one direction or the other.

This is the final basket block in Cheri Payne's Baskets of Plenty quilt along in her Facebook group.  There is one more block in the quilt-along, however it has a branch and bird plus the quilt's name.

Cheri used a simple 2" scrappy sashing between the baskets in mostly light and medium fabrics.  So there's one more aspect of play before finishing these baskets into a quilt top.  I want a quilt large enough to use so I may add an extra border or two, or I may make a few more basket blocks.

I'm linking this post to
> Moving It Forward Monday at Em's Scrapbag
> Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
> Main Crush Monday #88 at Cooking up Quilts
> finish it up Friday at crazy mom quilts
> Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
> Finished or Not Friday Busy Hands Quilts
Thanks for hosting, ladies.

--Nancy.
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