Dots and stitches

The larger of my two turquoise and gray pieces was where I started stitching with those luscious threads. I was immediately disappointed with what I was doing.

Can barely see the blanket stitch edging on the gray, but there will be more and maybe it will be all right….at least, that’s what I kept telling myself.

So I switched over to the heavier #5 thread and turquoise. The running stitch was where I started and took it out after the first 20 or so stitches. Went along the edges with a chain stitch and it was okay.

Visible and the cross stitch section was working all right. Then I tried more gray on gray–you can almost see it at the top of the turquoise strip.

Time to re-assess.

Looking at the whole thing again, it’s spare, graphic and all the separate parts are very directional. It needs straight lines, through the pieces, intersecting the pieces, uniting and extending the pieces in the design. I can do that with hand work if there is a straight line marked to follow, but I hate marking…it never comes out, no matter how vigorously I test. Back up a step…I hate marking because you have to get it out!

It’s relatively easy to do with machine stitching and no marking, using the edges of the various presser feet for my measurements and ‘marking.’ So I’m going to head to the machine and get some stitching done there. Those lines can be guidelines and another layer of texture. The hand stitching can be added afterward. And since I don’t add the backing until the handwork is done, I’ll leave plenty of space for machine quilting the background at that point.

Now this all sounds like it will work, but all my work is simply a series of ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybe this or that.’ I love creating this way, but I know it’s not for everyone. I do appreciate suggestions from those of you who have already tried something that I may be heading toward. I don’t need to re-invent the wheel and will happily learn from your mistakes as well as my own!

Oh, yes…I’m much happier already!

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There’s basting and then there’s basting…

Thread basting…glue basting…my preference is always going to be spray basting. On these first polka-dot pieces I wasn’t sure how I was going to construct them, so I started out with pinning. I knew that I did not want any fusible because it’s harder to stitch through, especially if you have multiple layers.

I picked out some really gorgeous threads to embroider with, too.

As I’m looking at them now, I may have to ask Denise to order more. I took the last she had of most of those skeins and I’m really falling in love with them.

Thinking….thinking…and I got out the glue stick and stuck some pieces down on the smaller piece. It’s about 20″ square or so, and I’ll feel better if that’s spray basted to the batting. If I were only doing machine stitching, it would be fine.

On the larger piece, I basted around the edges of each piece with thread. This piece is roughly a yard square and when I made the decision to hand stitch on batting, I just went ahead and spray basted it to the batting. Life is too short to spend it basting. I’d rather spend my time stitching with the pretty thread!

Ready to go!

So what’s the big deal with the basting, you ask? It’s an art quilt so what does it matter? Well, I have this idiosyncracy that if there is glue sprayed or glue stick spread, the glue must be washed out of the piece before it is hung up. Fusible–that doesn’t bother me at all, but other glues need to be washed. I have no idea how that will affect the threads I add because I usually avoid the issue and work on smaller pieces.

This will be an interesting experiment in the end…but that won’t be for quite a while. I plan on lots of stitching and nothing in a hurry!

Dots and decisions

This what I posted on Facebook earlier today:
I’m thinking of drawing out an idea and actually making templates for the construction…should I go to all that work or stick with my improv and maybe have raw edges and extra texture? I can visualize it both ways. Or maybe I should DO it both ways…so much work!

I couldn’t wait, so I went down, did a quick, rough sketch and started cutting fabric! I picked a background and laid out the design I sketched. I like it!

I didn’t take a picture while I had it on the design wall with the background. It’s pinned together now and I have to decide on my construction method…fusible, glue baste, pin, pin, pin, raw edge, finished with applique or satin stitch…This will sit for a bit while my little brain works through those decisions.

But there were SCRAPS! I do well with scraps because if it’s messed up, so what? It’s only scraps!

Two pieces for the background–

Add the circle cut out from the first project–

And then add a few leftover strips–

Same finishing decisions as the previous project, but this is fun! I’m so happy when I’m using up these little chunks of fabric. Looking forward to some embroidery, I believe, before these are done.

Aaaaah…’making’ again!

Walk away from the cutter…

Started with a blank design wall again today. This is nice! Sooooo…I have a lot of polka dot fabrics and I’ve always thought I wanted to make a polka dot quilt. I started pulling all my dots from the various colorways. FYI–my stash is mostly sorted by color.

Not surprisingly, I have more oranges than any other color.

Aren’t they cute? And they could all live together in one quilt.

But then there are these darker, more conservative reds, and a pile of things that don’t go with anything else.

And these lighter coordinates…

I love all these greens, too.

I purposely eliminated anything that was strictly black and white, but these dots are all in that same family.

Of course there are other things that come to light when you are looking through the stash. I had this stack that was intended to go together into something at some point in the past.

It looks like I even started to put some strips together.

What an eye-gouging mess!!! This may have been when I discovered that if you have a busy print like these are, it needs to be used in big chunks, with some breathing room. I’ll be working on that soon, but it was a bit much for today!

I decided on the softer grays and laid out my pieces and as I was about to make a cut…I just could NOT cut into the fabric.

I laid it all out again and looked and looked and the right combination of ideas simply would not align themselves in my head.

That’s when it’s time to walk away from the cutting table and go think for awhile! That may mean that when I come back to it, I may end up working on something entirely different!

Thinking time….

One more down

Finished the orange and blue quilt top today. Going to find a back for it and get it ready to quilt.

It will have a blue binding. I’m not sure what color thread I’ll quilt it with, though. The background looks yellow here, but it’s a nice soft orange in real life! It’s not huge and will make a good couch quilt.

Hmmm…there’s a wedding this summer…

All the choices!

Yesterday I had a clean slate on the design wall and time to play. I thought I’d start some big new art project¬† or at least transform an old project into some cool new art piece. I looked through piles of stuff that had been sitting on the shelves.

Selected a queen size top to get ready for basting and decided that it could wait until warm weather. Then I can set up several tables in the garage, spread the thing out and make it easy on myself. Went through all the other tops in that stack–nothing spoke to me, but I don’t have as many waiting as I thought–only 8 or 9, not the 17 I thought were there! I guess I have managed to reduce the stack a bit over the years. I have sent a few out to longarmers!

On another shelf, packed neatly away in it’s own little bag, with all the extra fabric, was a quilt I had started in a workshop. I liked the fabric quite a bit, but never quite got back to finish it. By the time I got everything out of the bag and looked it over, I figured I might as well make it a useful size and at least add it to the stack waiting to be quilted!

As I looked over the parts, I remembered part of the reason I packed it away. It was one of those mystery patterns, and you put squares over the end of the rectangle and sewed it and trimmed it to make the triangle at the end…and I did that with the wrong fabrics right at the start. I hate the wastefulness of that, but I did it–and with the right fabrics–and got the thing put together.

I spent most of the afternoon putting together those little cut off triangles because I couldn’t stand to throw them away! They were mostly a little bit different in sizes but I persevered and got them together well enough to use for a little border.

It was frustrating at first, but after a while I slowed down, let go of the frustration and it became a relaxing, repetitive exercise.

And I’m going to use those blue and blue ‘wrong’ rectangles for another border. It will simply read as blue and it will be fine.

And I will be happy because I’m using up that wasted fabric, the top will be a good sized throw and one more project will be out of it’s bag and on it’s way to a useful life!

Not what I thought I’d be doing at all, but simple and relaxing are often the best things for you, in spite of yourself!

Clearing the way…

Yesterday was a day for clearing off the design wall of things that I’m not really going to work on right away. Sometimes there is so much hanging on that big wall that there is no clear space in which to work, or even think!

I pinned up the rest of the pieces I made at the design workshop, mostly to see if I want to expend any energy on finishing them.

This little fantasy daisy may get finished because it’s fun, but not right away. Cute but not inspiring…into the to-finish-sometime pile.

This design is either another fantasy flower or coral.

I like it, but it’s going into that same pile.

This next piece was started in the design class, but it hasn’t proceeded too far through the design process. I know what I’d like to express, but I’m not sure yet how to get there.

Kind of want it be an abstraction of deep in the pine woods at sunset, but it’s not saying that to me right now. And as I was cropping the picture for the blog, I accidentally cropped it a little further and I¬† like it tons better already!

But it’s also going into the finish later pile.

I also am questioning myself as to my courage…or laziness. These blocks from the Sherri Lynn Wood workshop have been hanging on the design board for months.

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them, but since I haven’t done ANYTHING, perhaps the ‘plan’ isn’t really right! Perhaps I’m afraid of working on a very large piece, or I’m too lazy to do the work necessary. I’ve had various plans off and on but none of them came through as the correct way to go. These came down and got packed away, too! It will happen, but not now.

So I have a totally empty design wall today, no quilting commitments and a studio full of fabric……………………the world of possibility is before me. Can’t wait to see what jumps out at me!!!