Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February AHIQ Linkup and Designing a Quilt Back

The kaleidoscope quilt needs a back and I want to use fabric on hand. Making large blocks like the planes on the back of Propellers and Planes is fun but nothing seemed to work with this top.

Finally I pulled orange/peach fabrics. There were two one-yard pieces and a quarter-yard remnant. That fills up half of the 77-inch back. Then I sewed all the leftovers into long strips. Finally I cut the first set lengthwise about one-third of the way across. These sections go on either side of the strip set. (Hopefully I can get a full photo later. Sorry.)

Width of fabric yardage creates half; then leftover strip are sewn randomly to fill in.
Large WOF fabric cut lengthwise and filled with leftover strips to form a quilt back.
It occurs to me that this is a simple recipe for a back.
  1. Create a large WOF unit from one-three large pieces.
  2. Cut this unit lengthwise and/or width wise.
  3. Fill along the cuts with leftover strips and/or blocks.
  4. The original unit forms the outer sides or outer corners depending on how many times you cut it.
Enjoy the day, Ann


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Improvisational Quilts in the Bay Area

The computer died again. Fortunately, the maker decided to replace it this time. Unfortunately that will take a week or two.

I've been sewing daily but took time out to see Eli Leon's exhibit at the Museum of California in Oakland. Yo-Yo's and Half Squares: Contemporary California Quilts is a small but delightful exhibit of quilts Mr. Leon purchased at various East Bay flea markets. Most were purchased as tops; he had a quilter who finished them for him. Focusing on African-American quilters, he amassed a spectacular collection that partly inspired Sherri Lynn Wood's work and current book. As as side note, many of the quiltmakers originally hailed from Texas and the South, moving to California in the 1960s and '70s.

Many of the quilts were denim. What fun to see blue jeans incorporated with their pockets and welting. Kaja's recent finish reminds me of them. Some quilts were velvet; they had a surprising depth and shine. Photography was not allowed at this show but Mr. Leon has a website well worth visiting.

Outside the gallery was L'Atelier by Lucien Ladaubt. Notice anything?

L'Atelier by Lucien Ladaubt at the Museum of California, Oakland
Yep. She's sewing sideways! Lucien had a successful art and fashion business so he should have known better. What was he thinking? This painting highlights the workers who created the gorgeous clothes in his murals on the circular staircase at Coit Tower as well as those at the Beach Chalet in Golden Gate Park.

This weekend I'm pulling fabric for a two-day workshop with Maria Shell. She will guide us through abstracting a favorite location or place. Friends heard her speak at a SAQA convention last year and others took workshops. It will be such fun!

Don't forget out next improvisational and utility quilt linkup is this coming Tuesday: here or at Sew Slowly.

Enjoy the day,

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Rhythmic Grid Results from the Study Group

Wow! This was one of our most successful scores. Everyone was so excited by their work, in part because we used our favorite fabrics and/or colors. All these tops blend so well, they could go into one quilt, couldn't they? Clockwise from upper left in the photo below are MK, Tami M-N, and mine.

Four variations of Rhythmic Grid score
M-N surrounded cream with beautiful blues. She and I read the directions to mean eyeball measuring each block. It took me several days to estimate the various widths and sew sashing so each was in the planned location. MK and Tami didn't worry about that aspect at all. Isn't it funny how differently we read {and hear and see} instructions?

MK picked up discarded fabrics at her last guild meeting. The squares were already cut so she spent time arranging the pieces to please herself. Love the cherry reds! Because her centers were the same size, it was easier to create a zigzag design with the sashing.

Tami's fabrics are her favorite colors. What a beauty! She used narrow strips of filler to fill openings along some of her rows. I hope she'll write a post about her process soon.

Here's my finished top.

Center section in cream, brown, orange, pink. Outer borders in green and blue
Rhythmic Grid top
I like the combination of creating strong borders with the blue gingham and softening the same borders by extending some dark browns across. Running out of the first green border fabric was another lucky event. The two replacements are even better choices. The tan on the right also softens the delineation of the border. Definitely a "yes, and..." experience.

I deliberately buy smaller amounts of fabric for this exact reason. Running out forces creativity IMO. This quilt used a total of ten fabrics, a very small number for me. All that remains is a fat eighth of the center cream and the blue gingham. How's that for using it up?

Enjoy the day,

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bordering Rhythmic Grid

Adding the borders to Rhythmic Grid this week.

There wasn't enough fabric in original green centers (bottom left.) Someone had cut the piece on the diagonal and refolded the remnant. So I got to add two leftovers from kaleidoscope to fill it out. I like them even better than my first choice.

BTW, you can see at the top how I'm waiting to cut the final rectangle for the border until the other pieces are sewn. I want to make sure the width is close to what's needed.
Adding the border, Rhythmic Grid
But now the blue gingham jars. I replaced some with the last of the brown. It's coming along

Dark brown replaces some blue gingham in the border of Rhythmic Grid.
Enjoy the day,

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Rhythmic Grid Begins and AHIQ Wrap Up

Another great AHIQ link up. Kaja and I are delighted with the response. The projects cover a broad range of improvisation highlighting its diversity. Several people told us how happy they are to have a place to share their interest. We can tell: viewers click the links and leave insightful comments on many blogs. Conversations begin; others join in. Thank you so much for making this linkup a success. We look forward to our next one, February 22. What will you have to share?

This month's score in my study group was Rhythmic Grid. From the moment I saw it on the cover of Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, Sherri's bold boxes in strong, clear blues and apple reds had me chomping at the bit to try it myself. However, the month got away from me. Okay, grandbaby cuddling took precedence but {I thought} I had a plan. Turns out I had a lot to learn.

The peachy-cream polished cotton came from the Britex sale room. It was supposed to be the border of my selvedge string quilt. The leaves looked good against the fabric but it did not work with the top. Not awful; just like they were two different tops.

Selvedge leaves as a possible border
The polished cotton should have gone into a box. Instead, it only made it as far as the to-be-filed pile where it caught my eye daily. When MK sent a reminder of the meeting, I knew I had to get busy. Starting here I pulled five other fabrics that {seemed to} go together but also had a definite color shift for the permeable border of rhythmic grid. And immediately forgot to take a photo.

The inner sashings were pink/green/tan stripe and brown with coral polka dots. When laid out, the brown had too much contrast. The stripe turned out to be a fat quarter and was almost gone.

Original row for Rhythmic Grid
Next I pulled a coral red batik and a large floral Alexander Henry. After unsewing one brown side, I set the others aside. That turned out to be a wise decision.

Adding the sixth row to Rhythmic Grid
As the quilt progressed, it needed some darker areas. Back came the original sections, reworked into diagonals. By the sixth row, only some floral and a bit of the cream solid remained.

Surprises:
  1. Not checking fabric amounts carefully before beginning.
  2. Quilt size affects the color values. The brown was too strong for a small section but perfect as the quilt increased in size.
Discoveries:
  1. Construction worked best for me when I cut the sashing strips first and then filled in the solid center. 
  2. Wait until the two-, three-, and four-sided units are sewn before determining the width of filler units, those with no colored strips on any side. All those seam allowances take more room than I planned. Good thing there was enough cream filler.
On to the borders!

Enjoy the day,

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January Progress on Quilty 365

Eighty-nine circles through the end of January. Much brighter colors this month. I didn't realize I'd used so much red and orange.

Quilty365 circles for January 2016
I'm enjoying this project on my own terms. Which means:
  • Pulling background fabrics from hither and yon, cutting them into squares, and stashing them in a ziplock. 
  • Putting smaller remnants in ziplock #2 for circle consideration.
  • Occasionally sewing crumbs into a piece large enough for a circle and adding those to ziplock #2.
  • Writing an event and date on each finished block.
  • Keeping a stash of red fabrics for "red circle days."
Equally enjoyable is seeing the many different ways people have approached this QAL. Especially notable to me are Stephie's fabulously artistic, expressive creations. Her abstract pieces convey so much emotion that I could look at them for hours. On the other hand, Shasta's style runs to the fun, funky side. Her circles make me laugh as I wonder what she'll pull out of her hat tomorrow! What a treat to see how two artists with vastly different styles work within the same parameters.

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Be sure to check all of the current work at Audrey's Quilty365.

Enjoy the day,

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kaleidoscope of Butterflies Link Up

It's time for the kaleidoscope of butterflies to take flight! Cathy and I are excited to see what everyone posts. Knowing how clever quilters are, there will be many different takes on this subject.

It's a bit early for caterpillars and butterflies around here but QS (my quilting sister) kindly sent this photo. She's such a good photographer. How fortunate I am to have the BEST sisters!

Caterpillar photo by QS
I found two new places for butterfly watching.

  • Habitat restoration of Crissy Field Marsh in the Presidio of San Francisco began about twenty years ago. Western blue pygmy butterflies returned in 2008. They usually prefer the salt marshes of the east bay. These tiny butterflies have a half-inch wingspan, making them one of the world's smallest. They range through the southwestern US, Hawaii, and the Persian Gulf.
  • Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont has an enclosed nectar garden. Several benches and easy walking make this a destination for young and old.

I'm keeping my ears open for restoration or release events but haven't found any yet. However, Seedles is a California company selling wildflower seed bombs to help bee habitats. Wildflower mixes have been created for six regions of the US. Their colorful balls would be a great favor for your child's birthday or school party.

What's going on in your neck of the woods? Help us spread the word worldwide.

Lastly, my progress on the current kaleidoscope. By Day 8 the wedges are sewn. Time to create many-colored tulips, realistic or not. Some need to be purple.

Dark purple tulip added to the kaleidoscope
The bright orange is such a happy color. I also like the softer green tulip and the way it blends with the tan print below it.

Tulips across the first row
Tiptoeing through the tulips, the red is a keeper. The blues are made of two wonderful fabrics I've stored for too long. The light purple tulips are fish fabric that look like trout. I'm always amazed at the changes in this design as it's filled in. It actually loses its definition; that will come back as I sew it up.

Multicolored fabrics create a cheerful, bright kaleidoscope quilt.
Filling in the corner triangles of the kaleidoscope pattern.
For the third purple tulip, I tested the dark stripe on the left. In my opinion, it's too dark. Sophisticated but not happy. The choice on the right works much better.
Setting variation for kaleidoscope quilt blocks creates a tulip or star shape.
Two  purple choices.
Linked to Scraptastic Tuesday where you'll find loads of scrap projects.

This is where my kaleidoscope stands today. How are your butterfly and kaleidoscope projects coming along?

Enjoy the day, Ann