Friday, October 29, 2010

It Speaks, We Listen

Three Stones
Sharon V. Rotz

I had some very thought provoking comments on my last post relating to how we plan our quilt projects. I do think because we, as quilters, are drawn to fabric as our art medium, we cannot ignore its importance to our design process.

Are we not inspired by the colors, the designs, the fabrics as we ponder a quilt? We are tempted by kits because we are pulled in by the fabrics. Who hasn't wanted to duplicate a fabulous quilt that we've seen? Kits can be a useful answer to those who love fabric but don't want to make decisions. There are days when we have been forced to make enough decisions and we just want to get lost in doing.

For my personal "release" days, I love to cut squares from my fabric scraps -- in whatever common size that I can cut. Just doing for the joy of touching fabric.

Other days and other people love the challenge of creating something that has not be done before. Of course, it doesn't matter whether we choose fabric first or design first. Often, we do a combination of both because we just can't resist our fabrics when they start to speak to us.

These are the days I would think up ways I could use the squares I have cut. And, I too, enjoy the idea of re-inventing UFO's.

Now, I have to run, I hear the murmur of fabric calling to me. I must get there before it turns into a deafening shout.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What is your Battle Plan?

How do you approach a new quilt?

What is your battle plan?

Do you run to your stash and choose the colors or the fabrics that you wish to to use?

Then, do you let these fabrics or colors inspire you, letting them give you a ride into your wildest imagination?

Or, are you the person who has a plan? Do you have an idea, draw up a sketch, and then convert that sketch into a working size plan before you are distracted by color? Then, do you finally start your search for fabric patterns and colors?

Is there a right or wrong approach? What are the advantages of each plan?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Making a Difference

There was been a lot talk about Make a Difference Day, Oct 23. We, as quilters, certainly do make a difference. I've never met people who are more open about sharing their time and talents.

As I have mentioned in the past week, I belong to a group that shares their resources and talents with others. Members of our community are warmed by the many cuddly quilts that we make and distribute.

But, it is a learning experience for us as well. We are challenged by using the fabrics which are donated. It may be easier to supplement fabrics from our stash or buy matching fabrics, but we are exploring options and having fun learning about color, pattern and design in the process.

It seems there are winners all around. May you be blessed as you Make a Difference.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Puzzle, A Key Number and God's Abundance

Whether, it's Sudoku, crossword or jigsaw puzzles, we all love the challenge of solving the problem. Planning the layout for a quilt is just another "puzzling" dilemma; a math problem to be solved.

In the plastic bag was a large pile of black 3" squares. While I used the printed 3" squares on the previous quilt, I saved all the solid colored squares in hopes of combining them with the black squares. Again, I delved into the Undercover Quilters' box and found two solid pieces approximately 1/2 yard each, two narrow longer strips and a bit of neutral brown. These fabrics seemed to loosely coordinate into a color palette.

Finding the key number is the solution to joining these assorted fabrics into a quilt top. Of course, I wanted to go large to make it a quicker finish. Four of the squares pieced together yielded a strip 10-1/2" long (a good size) and would work out nicely as a cut size for a width of fabric. But, my strip of striped fabric wasn't wide enough to cut 10-1/2" squares.

The answer was to change from a square cut into a rectangle 10-1/2" x 8" (the measurement of 3 squares pieced together.) This was a perfect key number to cut large pieces from my 1/2 yard fabrics as well as the long strips. Any fabric remaining from cutting the rectangles was cut into 3" squares to incorporate into the pieced rectangles. This worked out so well, I had almost nothing left to discard.

As I worked to assemble the pieced blocks, I realized that the black 3" squares were cut with a bit of creative license. (This could explain how these pre-cut squares landed in the donation box.) Some I trimmed with my scissors at the machine, a few I had to discard (too small), and others I maneuvered into the blocks. I tried to match corners but --- reality check--- the quilt would be just as warm if the piecing wasn't perfect.

When I started, I was hoping there would be enough to maybe a small lap quilt. What could you expect from a yard of fabric and small scraps? But, like the Lord multiplied the 5 loaves and two fish, He had bigger plans than I did. I found to my amazement there was enough, and just enough, for a twin size quilt top. Should I really be surprised?

After laying out the blocks, it was easy to piece them together as I cheered for my Wisconsin Badger football team, who started out with a bang and hung on to defeat No. 1 Ohio. Hurray!

Oh, so sorry Ohio :(

Monday, October 18, 2010

What was really inside?

When I opened it, I saw them but what to do with them? Could they be useful? Were they full of potential awaiting their opportunity to shine?

I'm talking of the plastic bag donated to our "Undercover Quilters" group. It was filled with pieces all cut to size and a few larger bits that matched. Of course, there were no instructions, there never are with donated fabric. What does one do with a pile 3" squares and numerous 6" x 3-1/2" rectangles? To me, they don't shout out "put me together" into any common block that I know of.

But they did. They went together happily without extra cutting and re-sizing. A little trimming was required to fit in the larger pieces but not a problem.

What was really hiding inside the bag? Well, as you can see, it was a quilt top ready to layer and finish into a warm and cuddly cover to keep someone in our community warm this winter.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Breathing fire!

I've swirled my last swirl and my dragonflies have fluttered off (actually, what do dragonflies do? Besides, flying around breathing fire.......)

Excuse me, as you can see my mind is obviously still in a "swirling" fog.

I have finished the quilting and its on to the binding. This is a sweet moment. I enjoy sewing on the binding and then hand stitching to finish it. Another quilt completed.

This is for a gift so its doubly sweet to complete.

Until its gone!

After making a large quilt out of these flannel fabrics, I used the remaining fabric to comfy lap quilt. The large quilt used 4" squares and half-square triangles so it was easy to come up with a star design for the lap quilt. The spare scraps that didn't measure-up (to the 4" squares) became the log cabin star centers, using up a bit more of the remaining fabric.

Since I don't often make flannel quilts, it became a challenge to use up all of the flannel so there wasn't any left in my stash. The quilt front made a good dent in the surplus flannel but there was still a little left.

I then turned my attention to the quilt back. A challenge is a challenge, so the flannel must be used until there was no more. The few remaining half-square triangles turned into a different style star block, strips became more log cabins, and any remaining flannel was piecing into border-type strips.

I had to dip into my stash for black and white prints to tie the sections of the back together but it was fun was use up every bit of my flannel. It's gone, there is no more. Mission accomplished. What a great feeling.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's up front?

Is the pile of quilts in your world heading for the sky? Do you see images of the tale of "The Princess and the Pea"?

That's exact where I stood one day in my studio so instead of finishing two quilts, I chose to make a two sided quilt. The front side (or is it the front side?) is one of my patterns "G.P.S. Geese Phying South". For the second side I combined several homespun fabrics from my stash into four patches. The small four patches joined to make 16 patches, which combined with medium four patch blocks and solid blocks to make 9 large four patches. Did you follow all of that? Easy as pie, it just sounds complicated.

One of my purposes was to use up the red print seen in the borders of the G.P.S. side. It was a good fabric, incorporated in several of my quilts, but its time had come. Likewise with the homespun fabrics, I am ready to get on to new fabric selections.

What creative ideas have worked (or not worked) on the back of your quilts?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oh my, What's that on your back?

On my back?

Is it a creepy, crawly?

No, of course, I am talking about the back of your quilt. Are you so happy to finish the top that you elect to put any fabric on the back? Do you run down to the local quilt shop to purchase a coordinated fabric for the back?

This week I will be showing some optional backs for your quilts.

I will start with the quilt I have been working on, my bright yellow scrap log cabin quilt. For this quilt, I am using up fabric from my stash. With limited amounts of the fabric, I played around for the best fabric useage.

I had a blue mottled fabric, similar to several fabrics I used in the top. It was a good start, but of course, not large enough to cover the back. (Actually to my delight, then I get to use my creativity.) To this, I added some strips of frog fabric (again, a fabric used on the top) and found a striped fabric with similar colors.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What's most important?

We all love creating, whether we do by sewing, knitting, or painting. We love to spend our time in the studio busy, busy, busy.

But, some days the weather just calls to us. This week has been filled with absolutely beautiful days, days that are meant to be savored. The air is warm and the landscape is filled with fabulous color. The world is filled with the sound of crackling leaves as I walk along. I can't resist shuffling my feet through them and kicking them into the air as I pass by.

Despite the projects that draw me into my studio, my spirit is being renewed as I spend the day outdoors. Next week when the winds blow and the rains fall, I will happily return to my studio with fresh energy and enthusiasm for my work.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Whirling and Twirling, the top is done

The blocks are done and arranged and I've completed the quilt top. A random layout of log cabin blocks and solid blocks seemed the right combination for this colorful, carefree quilt.

After piecing the log cabin blocks, they were cut to size on a angle. (Further information on this technique can be found in earlier posts and in my book "Log Cabin Quilts with Attitude".) This gives great movement to the blocks. Does this remind you of gaily dressed dancers whirling around? Or maybe those autumn leaves fluttering in the wind as they fall to the ground? To me, it is definitely color in motion.

To further obscure the edges of the blocks, you can choose an outside strip of fabric that matches the solid blocks. (You can see this in the bottom of the center block.) The static look of block to block matching disappears as an outcome.

Now its time for choosing a backing and layering it up for the quilting.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Where We Live"

Square Foot Garden Series
© Nancy Laliberte

Between moments of stitching on my blocks, I visited a new exhibit at the Center for the Visual Arts in downtown Wausau, WI. Three of my favorite artists have combined their work into an eye-catching display. "Where We Live" features the paintings of Valerie Berkely, and Nancy Laliberte and the furniture of Chis Mosse. The exhibit runs from September 24 - November 7, 2010.

We all draw inspiration from our surroundings. I was delighted by Nancy's grouping of 12" canvases depicting garden flowers and vegetables. (You may notice the LACK of garden inspiration in my work, thanks to the bunnies and chipmunks, deer and turkeys in my surroundings. Or at least, I'll blame them for my not-so-green thumb.)

Great subject matter comes from many sources. Study the patterns, the colors, or the textures of the things in your life. Enjoy the work of other artists and learn from them. Capture your world and translate it into your next project.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wow, Pow, Look at that!

After a second look at the fabrics I have chosen for this quilt, I realize that I have indeed been inspired by the colorful leaves outside my window. God's gentle nudging has again been at work filling my mind with possibilities.

The yellow/orange print is a perfect choice for this colorful, playful child's quilt. I'm having tons of fun playing with bright and cheery fabrics. While the patterns on the fabrics aren't autumn prints, the colors reflect the joy and the uplift of each crisp and sunny fall day.

How are you inspired by the seasons?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Color inspiration

What a magnificent autumn day! When I viewed the scene before me, how could I not be affected by the grandeur of the sight?

We need look no further than God's great handiwork for inspiration.

All of the color suggestions of the past days are unfolding here. The color "stars" and softer "supporting cast", the contrast between light and dark, saturated and toned colors are all revealed.

Enjoy the day. May your cares melt away as you take in the beauty.
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