Random again!

Nothing but random bits and pieces going on right now. We are already deep into the holiday activities and there is no extended sewing time available.

I did get started on those charity quits I found. AFTER I cleared away the mess so I could get to the machine!

Did I tell you that I found another top? So I have really been falling down on the job regarding those. I had no idea that I had picked up that many tops so they really need to get done and ready to cuddle someone. I got a couple basted and will TRY to dedicate one day a week to working only on quilting these until they are done.

This little ghoul doesn’t seem to like being stitched, though!

Holiday decorating……………..outside lights, cutting a tree, inside decorations………..lots of “chores” but don’t we love the finished effect? And the light of wonder in the eyes of children?

My grandson fell in love with this little solar polar bear stake, and did we say no? Of course not! He does a wonderful job indicating the edge of our sidewalk!

Soooooo glad that I am not sewing holiday gifts. No last minute panic or pressure. I’m even leaving those dithering decisions on fabric choices just sit there and wait. Whew! I’m definitely looking forward to a leisurely holiday season, with only fun sewing getting done. Wishing the same for you…and don’t forget to check out those children’s ‘eyes of wonder’ for your inspiration and smiles.

From reckoning to indecision

Last post was all about determination to finish all the quilt tops I have on the shelves. Today is a day of indecision about one of them.

As I was looking at all those tops, I was reminded of this one, which I completed in a class with Heather Jones. I used the fabrics which I brought to class, but when I chose fabrics for the class I was unsure of which ones I would use.

The black and white in the center is what I ended up with, but I was never really happy with that choice. I’m sure it was the best of what I had with me, not the the best I could have used and I have never been satisfied with it. It needs to be replaced.

Unsewing is part of the whole textile work deal, isn’t it?

I have soooooooooo many choices! And it just occured to me that I never thought to try a bright colored solid in the center. Perhaps even more ‘tryouts’ before the final decision is made. And THIS is why it takes me so long to make a decision! Anyway, first tryout is one of the hundreds of black and white fabrics I have, after rejecting text prints and black background/white print fabrics.

Pretty unexciting. Next up were the leftovers from this quilt, which were leftovers from this quilt!

I liked the second one better, but still not the right feel. Tried a few–and I have quite a few– with the same colors as the print in the quilt.

Too blendy, I think, so I moved back to black and white. Of course I tried more than I will bore you with here, but organic prints rather than graphic prints looked better to me than what I started with. This one wasn’t bad, but still a bit too orderly and graphic.

I believe that I have almost decided on this one. I’m pretty sure that I won’t change the skinny b/w border strip to match this, either.

But I DO need to check out a few solids, maybe a block of HST solids, before I make a final decision.

It actually feels kind of good to be going this slowly, this time. Sure, it’s indecisive, but it’s another chance to look at many of my fabrics, to assess what I’m doing and to totally relax………………….without a nap!



Day of reckoning

The time has finally come. I took stock of the quilt tops that I have sitting on my shelves. I knew that I had a lot of them, but it seemed like the piles were taking over the space for my fabric stash.

I took a quick count and there are at least 25! And I think only 2 of them are charity quilts from the guild, that I am committed to quilting. And these are not little art quilts. They are all at least good throw size or larger. I feel like a real slacker for not getting them done and I think I need to make a plan. Obviously I like the piecing better than the quilting, though when I stop to think about it, I really love to do the quilting, too.

The part I really don’t like is hand stitching a facing!

That’s why all my bindings are machine sewn and I look for alternative finishes on my art quilts!

But I also get distracted so easily. Since I finished the first of the Grasslands series, I’m eager to start on the next one. I want to start with these fabrics.

And I started¬† pulling fabrics that I thought would work. I ended up with fabrics hanging all over the design wall…

with no clear idea what I wanted to do with them! Have to spend some time inside my head in design mode before I can proceed.

And that brought me right back to those shelves full of quilt tops. I believe I can make myself work on them in a systematic way. Either small to large, or the ones I like best to the ones I like least. Then pick one day every week to only work on getting these done. No more procrastination. Oh, the obvious pick for starting are those 2 charity quilts. That should get me into the habit of working a bit on the quilting…the day of reckoning has arrived and the plan is made. I WILL stick with this. It must be done.

Amidst all this fabric fun, we took my car in for service and casually asked about new cars…you know, the usual fantasy. Well, guess what? We got serious about it and now I have a beautiful new ORANGE car. I love it…oh, yeah, it has a lot of stuff on it and it can do a bunch of extra stuff, blah, blah, blah…and it’s ORANGE!!!

Fun, fun, fun!

Forcing a decision

My decision making skills are notoriously weak. I vacillate and dither over every little part of my design work. I SEE so many possibilities and each definite decision cuts off one path and sends you down another. The beginning stitching on this piece was pretty easy for me…a bit of stitching to check things out, followed by heavy filling in on the colored part.

And then I got to the solid burgundy part and had some decisions to make. Here is a little trick I have used more than once to force myself to a yes or no point rather than a so-many-directions standstill.

Drawing is another skill where I am impossibly weak. I don’t come to it naturally and I have never devoted time to learning how to draw, so I do the best I can. So….I sketch or trace the design I want and figure out how to get it to the project. Sewing through a paper drawing is the easiest process for me. I have used thin paper, tracing paper and regular copy paper and they all work, though copy paper is the hardest to sew through.

Today I made a sketch from a picture of a sycamore tree that I love. Not perfect, but good enough. I put it on top of my piece and tried to decide what color I wanted to stitch it out with. (It’s much more visible in person than in the picture!)

White, variegated that I used on the other part, burgundy on burgundy for more subtlety, silver or gold or copper metallic…….dither, dither, dither……….even asked for opinions on social media.

Then I realized that I could go ahead and stitch the outline in white and remove that paper. If I changed my color decision, it would be pretty easy to overstitch the white or even remove it. Having the paper gone meant that I would be able to see the actual tree better on the background.

At first I thought my tension must be way off, but I figured out that the burgundy was showing through the holes in the paper, not pulling up from the bobbin!

And here’s where I’m at……….

A couple of things I noticed right away. I don’t like the white going below the yellow line and I don’t like the stitched intersections where I have branches crossing, but I like the white.

I’m not going to fill it in with stitch, but I am going to sketch over it again with the white for a heavier line. When I force myself to make a decision like this, though, I always let things marinate for a while and then come back to them. I realize that it’s a part of my vacillation, but by waiting and re-assessing, I feel confident in my final decisions and can proceed with certainty to finish it up.

Have I done this and totally changed my mind? Yes, I have and un-sewing is a bitch! But making that outline and KNOWING what something is going to look like is much better than proceeding on a bad path and hating what you end up with….because un-sewing a huge amount of stitching is more than a bitch!

Grandson hockey will give me a good break from the studio and time to consider the next step. I’ll be ready to hit it hard when I get back to it.

Bits and bits

The first thing I did this week did not even get a picture! One art group that I am part of is doing a spool book round robin and I got my section done for that. It was spiral and gold and glittery…and now it’s moved on. But my long time buddies in the Wacky Quilters group also are working on a little round robin and I did take a picture of what’s being done on mine!

Most in the group are NOT doing spool projects, but I still feel the need to get a couple of those out of my system, so that’s what this is. Rather large at about 5″ across, but I have a large spool to put it on.

I have simple leaves painted on blue fabric and really want only embroidery on them, so that’s the only materials I brought! They got a good start on it and it will continue to be my pick-up hand work until I get as much thread on it as I can stand!

We also all had a piece of lovely paper from USArtquest and we challenged ourselves to make something, using it. It was embedded with leaves and that’s what I tore out of the paper. I found a piece of hand-dyed fabric for a background and quilted it around and through the leaves a bit.

Then added some hand stitch and beads.

The size is only 12 x 12″ so it went very quickly. Just to show you once again how I finish the edges of these…on this one I went around the edge first with a simple zig-zag.

Not a tight satin stitch or anything that would distort the edge. Then, because I am a hoarder of all things artsy, I went searching for cording or yarn to add to that edge.¬† I found a lovely yarn with a touch of metallic. I use my cording foot and run another line of stitching around the edge and it’s done!

Nicely filled in, not distorted and quick.

In fact, quick enough that I was able to get started with the quilting on my Grasslands piece.

Just the straight lines along the tape, but it’s a start.

And sometimes, trying to be frugal with painter’s tape and save it to re-use just looks silly!

Classroom fun

Took a workshop at quilt guild (Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild) on Sunday and had a wonderful time. Not my usual type of class–working on a specific pattern with a specialty ruler–but it was a ruler I had already used and loved. Check out Sharon McConnell’s Classic Curves ruler.

Why take classes you don’t really need, you ask? My main reasons are 1) a day away from interruptions for just ME, 2) socializing with like-minded friends, and 3) there is always something new to learn in ANY class! WIN-WIN all the way around!

However, I also knew that I would never make and finish a full size quilt with this particular pattern so I went in knowing I was making a baby size piece and should be able to assemble it during class. Another WIN–I did get the top made! Wooooo-hoooo!

My colored print fabric was using up scraps from an old project and black and white is always a good option. And even though I had made a full-size quilt using this ruler, I actually learned how to use it correctly and effectively with help from Sharon. Truly quick and easy and I cut and stitched all day and had a great time.

And as I worked, I drifted away from the baby quilt idea. I have a pile of baby quilts done right now waiting for the babies who will need them, so maybe I don’t need one more. Maybe some embellishments to turn this into an art quilt wall hanging would be more fun.

Some shaggy, raw-edge circles on the sashing intersections or block centers…maybe some cording to emphasize the secondary circle design rather than the ‘flower’ blocks…it’s African wax fabric and probably should have some of those African style beads I have…

And I’m sure that it needs some embroidery stitching, too. Yep, this is going to hang on a wall, not cuddle a baby.

Let’s mention scraps…I had a lot of scrap from the first quilt I made with this ruler and some from this one, too, of course.

I asked Sharon before class to bring scrap ideas and she did. She showed us how to use the ruler to re-cut the curves to fit into smaller blocks. All we would be left with then is tiny slivers of fabric and even a hoarder like me can throw those away. We also talked about using the shapes in more abstract ways and in other designs.

It was a very good day and filled up all my reasons for taking a class. AND I finished a small quilt top. WIN-WIN all the way!