Discovering UFO’s

Our Creative Seasons art quilt group celebrated 10 years together this week. We were supposed to bring in any UFO’s that were that old or older. Very interesting to see what everyone brought. And I was very interested to see what I had on my shelves! I hung up the ones that I think I might finish someday!!!

There were more than a few that I will absolutely never finish, and those are going to the charity quilt table at the guild.  I will never, ever finish these, but there were not as many as I thought. I feel guilty about putting them on the charity quilt table without finishing them for charity, but I just cannot get motivated to even start on these particular tops! Someone else may really like them…hey! It could happen!

I even found one that I have absolutely NO memory of ever making! I know I made it, because it’s all from fabrics that I had and used, but any conscious thoughts of making it? Nope!

These two were mystery quilts, made at retreats. I had fun making them, but whenever you make a mystery quilt, your fabric choices are not always the best fit for the eventual result.

These next two were a pattern I was teaching at the quilt store. I didn’t like the first one, so I made the second and I like it much better. The first one is large enough for a charity quilt and the second one may make it to a shelf in my closet!

This top was one of the first ones I made when I started doing improv and curved seams. When I got it on the wall, it was quite different than I remembered it! I do still like it, and it may get finished this summer.

I’ve pretty much always been a fan of pink, and this next one is really pink!

I even have the binding made for this one, as well as some others!

To get to the shelf that all these UFO’s were ‘marinating’ on, I had to move the box of unsorted scraps. I have regular scrap bins, sorted by color, but somehow the unsorted box stays just as full as can be! Well, whenever I touch that box, it seems that the elements of another quilt jump out. This time it was bright scraps from many children’s quilts made over the years.

Sigh! Whenever this happens, I feel COMPELLED to get a top made. Hope that box gets emptied someday soon!

Is it done?

There are not nearly as many beads on this piece as I had first imagined that it needed. Actually, I started out with the idea of beads in the circles and then arcing outward.

As soon as I did that, I questioned it! I continued for a while and then took that arc out. I put beads in every circle, randomly.

I cogitated for a while and added some beads as outlines of the big thread circles.

Better–but is it enough?

And will it bother everyone who looks at this that the top is not one circle but two arcs on different circles?

Or shall I call it done and get it trimmed and mounted on a canvas?

My fingers are sore again!

Yep-my fingers are sore from stitching-and I love it! That only means that I have found time to get back to doing what I love the most, hand sewing.

Mostly, though, I started out feeling very disappointed. Planned on stitching on the project-that-I-cannot-show-you. You would think, with all this thread that I brought, that I would have any color needed.

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EVERY color–except black! How could I not have black? Nope–none, and not a store close that sells it. Sooooooo….once again that project got set aside. I need it three days after we get back from this trip, so guess what I’ll be frantically doing after we return? And the sewing machine that I use for finishing my edges is at the spa…I will need to put the thinking cap on and figure out an alternative edge finish for this one!

Good thing I always over-estimate how much time I will have sewing. I brought along two extra pieces that the embroidery thread is also intended for–and I do have the right colors for that!

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This is project one and I have started it! It has so many pieces and parts and colors that I wasn’t sure where to start. I picked a bright, variegated perle cotton and simply started!

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As I finished this first triangle, I made a decision to stick with that same color thread throughout. There needed to be at least one unifying factor.

Going to continue on with this one until I run out of that thread…hope there is either enough to finish or that it’s a purchased thread and not one that I dyed. But since improv is what I do………….onward!!!

Workshop projects?

Workshops are always a fun time for me. I sometimes take them because there is a specific technique I want to learn. I’m always curious about another teacher’s work process. And often, it is simply uninterrupted time dedicated to having fun.

The most recent one for me was from Joe Cunningham. I’ve certainly seen and admired his work for a long time but I didn’t check out his website in detail as I usually do for those with whom I am going to study. I always try to go in with an open mind and eager anticipation of learning and that attitude almost guarantees a fun time.

As we got into the class and he found out that I was already an improv piecer, he wasn’t sure that I would be learning anything. WRONG! Joe has a particular way of working that is quite different from mine.  That is exactly why I took the class! It was very challenging for me to work in the way he does and I truly loved the challenge.

Now, the piece I made still looks very much like my work.

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You can’t leave your style behind, but finding a different route to get there is wonderful. It adds to your toolbox and opens your eyes to ever more possibilities.

But Joe has a particular style, too, which uses lots of bias tape and that was part of what we are ready to explore.

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I am not sure if I will add bias to mine or not. I don’t want to make a piece that looks like I’m trying to imitate Joe, but I do like the idea of playing with the bias tape. I’m really torn. I have the same dilemna with a workshop project from another teacher. It looks so distinctly like her work right now, which was fine for learning the technique, but I want to make it mine now!

Of course, often workshop projects never get finished because they are just that–learning exercises. But for those that you do want to finish, what do you do? Go ahead with the style of the teacher, or absorb their techniques and make the project your own?

For me, right now, it’s bias or no bias……………..

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Facings and holes again!

The subject of making holes in a block–on purpose–has come up again! I wrote about how I make them here, here and here but I’ll give it another go with my current pile of scraps…just because someone asked how to do it and I really, really want to use up those scraps! I’ll try to keep it short and illustrate with pictures, but it’s quite easy to do.

WHY would you want to do something like this when it’s so much easier to fuse on a shape or applique it? Well, sometimes you don’t want the stiffness of the fusible or you don’t like to applique or you might like the added texture of the facing as a frame. Or it’s fun and different…

I had some leftover triangle blocks and will demo with those. First thing is to choose a shape and get it on a piece of fabric that will be your facing. The facing fabric will not show, unless you really want it to and press it that way.

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Place your facing fabric on the right side of your block and sew all around it on the line.

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You will then cut out the hole, inside the line, pull the facing to the wrong side and press it down.

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Circles need to have the seam allowance clipped all the way around. Squares, rectangles, triangles, etc. only need to be clipped in the corners, but right up to the last couple of threads in that corner!

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Once it’s pressed, you are ready to audition fabrics behind your hole. The piece of fabric you choose only needs to be large enough to cover whatever hole you have made.

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After that, you get to decide how you are going to make that fabric stay where you want it. Sometimes I reach into my jar of fusible scraps and fuse them to the facing. Then I throw on the hole fabric and it’s all fused together, waiting for the next step.

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Sometimes I use a glue stick, or glue baste or liquid thread. I almost never use pins and if your hole is no larger than these (the whole block size here is about 7.5″) you probably don’t need anything but your final solution. And that’s where the fun begins!

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You can do any number of things to your lovely little holey block! I used one of the built-in stitches on my machine and a metallic thread here. I’m not 100% sure that it’s gonna stay that way! But since the fabric isn’t fused, even if I rip this out the holes will close up with a little spritz and ironing.

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I love to embroider and bead around my openings and so I created this piece.

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And that’s why the subject of holes in quilts came up again! I’ll be showing everyone in my Creative Seasons art group how to do this Monday evening. We’ve had it demo’d to us before, but if you don’t do something right away, you forget how to do it! Or what you see in a demo doesn’t appeal to you or have any relevance until further down the line…I know that I’m going to have fun with these small blocks and their little holes! And there will not be one little scrap left when these are finished!

 

 

 

Aaaand….we’re going THIS way!

Well, I persevered and did not take a nap instead of sewing! Decisions were made, though I did not get as far as assembling the quilt top.

Yesterday, my design wall had this layout of blocks. Not a true design layout; just put up on the wall as the blocks were made.

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I made some multi-fabric blocks and added them to see how I liked them.

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Yep-worth the time it took to make them, but I’m not going to have very many of them. And I will NOT be placing the blocks randomly. I only want it to LOOK like I did!

The blocks are all trimmed now and ready to start assembly. I trimmed them to the same height so rows will be easy to put together, but the widths will be different. The columns will not line up and I think that will be much more interesting.

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There is still a small pile of fabric left. If I were a pillow person, I’d make some pillows to go with the quilt. For now, I can let the pile sit there–without guilt! But that fabric WILL NOT be returning to my stash. I am done with it!

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Bag of scraps will be going to another home, one way or another!

One more day of sewing should get this top finished. First full size quilt in a long, long time and it feels good!

 

Which way to go?

As you are reading this, I am in the phase of the design process where I seem to have more questions than answers.

Should I trim the blocks to all the same exact size? Or, due to the way I made them, it would be easy to trim them to all the same height and have some variety in the widths. You know I’m good with things not lining up exactly as they would with the first option.

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Do I want the blocks edge-to-edge or do I want some random strips of fabric here and there to break the rhythm of all triangles?

And color–do I want truly random? Or do I want it all planned out and then get freaky if things get out of order? (I think you can tell which way I’m leaning on this question!)

And here’s the hardest question of all…I have NOT used up all the fabric in this group. I have not made any funky triangles out of the smaller bits. That’s quite time consuming but could be the sparks of interest to use instead of random bits of color thrown in. Yes, all the fabric could go into the quilt back–and probably will–but I really hate piecing the backs. Would my time be better spent fussy cutting for the front or the back? Or throw/give away the rest of the scraps? Or make them up into a second, smaller piece? Or make my quilt top bigger?

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There are so many questions to answer when you are making things up as you go along. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to follow someone else’s pattern and measurements and simply sew, after they have answered all those questions and served up a design to you!

Okay, back to the design board. I am going to stay strong and answer those questions, NOT procrastinate and take a nap!