Tuesday, February 28, 2017

AHIQChineseCoins and AHIQ #18

Can you believe it's been a month since we started #AHIQInvitational?

Originally I called this a challenge but there are enough challenges of every sort in the world right now. So, let's call it something friendlier and more inclusive: an open invitation. For the first quarter of 2017 we hope you'll explore at least one variation of the Chinese Coin design. If this is your first visit, refer to the inaugural post here.

I've been working on a Chinese Coin quilt that will be a housewarming present to my niece. As usual, it's a learning opportunity. There are many variations but I felt she would prefer something quiet and restrained. Her colors are light blue, yellow, grey, and white. {Not my typical style. Not my personal choice of colors. A good challenge on many levels.}

In keeping with a quieter quilt, I used a striped effect. Each column was originally composed of a single pair of blue, yellow, grey or white fabrics pulled from my stash. When those ran out, I took strips from the scrap bag. For the final column (far left) I snapped this photo to help decide between the two lights. The top light is too beige so I used the cream with yellow poppies on bottom.

Columns of Chinese Coins ready to arrange

Once the columns were done I had to work out the order and decide whether or not to add sashing. Here are some of the fabrics I tested. The only one that seemed to add anything to the conversation was a dark grey hand-dyed remnant from Jonathan Shannon. Since that has only enough for one or two sashings, this quilt won't have any.
Some possible sashing choices for Chinese Coins

Moving the blue columns further apart while keeping the soft columns on the outside looks better. Although this top was ready to layer and baste, I realized I'd never shown some of the strip sets that were discarded. 
I thought this top was done

All I did was  position a few strip sets on top for a quick comparison. One is the yellow and brown plaid with floral while the other two were still lurking in the scrap bag.

Chinese Coins quilt top with darker sections laid on it

They are too dark and dull but made me realize I like the way these block sets break up the long columns. Once they were taken off, the quilt looked awkward. Trying to use good art principles, I positioned variations a quarter or third of the way in rather than at the midpoint. But a good plan for a single column makes a problem when several a sewn together. The middle has a "bare" look and the darker blue column on the left and this middle column change colors at the same point.

I also noticed I sewed the right-hand blue column upside down.  {If I'd sewed that correctly it would have added more coin change variation.} Those seams were cut freehand so there's no turning it now.

After an hour playing with various strips {some of which were too short to use} I finally replaced one section of three. It's easier than it sounds. I unsewed the original trio, sewed a new set, pressed both, overlaid the original on the slightly larger new, and cut the new to fit that shape. No worrying about individual strips; it's the final size of the group that matters.

Replacing a section of one column

And here's the result. A very minor change: two whites substituted for two yellows in the middle. But it adds a bit of change in the middle of the columns.

Chinese Coins quilt top, final arrangement

That middle column still contains only three fabrics: blue, yellow and a Marimekko print. I've only reordered it a bit.

Value has been an object lesson for this quilt. Although they don't cover the entire spectrum, the quieter colors still need a range of values. Another discovery is that prints react differently with lower contrast colors. The grey and white column on the right and the yellow floral and plaids {that I excluded} are cases in point. As yardage these prints appear quite different but when sewed, they blended together more. Some were almost mushy. Value is more important than color.

Now I look forward to reading about your projects. Please include your current work, whether or not it's a Chinese Coins project. Everyone is welcome: beginners to experienced quilters. Over the past year we have noticed a wide diversity of construction techniques and specific areas of interest. It's not just a "photo op." Share what you've learned and join our exploration of improvisational and utility quilting.


Enjoy the day, Ann

34 comments:

  1. I love this! Your limited color palette has just enough variation and I'm so glad you decided not to use sashing. It's very soothing, but not dull or boring. Nice job!

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    1. Thanks, Laura. It's harder to use a color palette not your own but this is a soothing quilt. And the colors look better in person. I think she'll like it.

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  2. Prints are never exactly predictable, which to me makes them endlessly interesting! This is an excellent project to show the possibilities of improv with prints -- deceptively sophisticated. Great quilt, and a great post!

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    1. I think that's why I like prints too, Monica. Thanks for writing. I'm glad you're enjoying this.

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  3. Thank you for showing your process; it's great to see how it has turned out, but just as interesting to see what you have discarded. Thanks for the tip about colour value; I needed that!

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    1. Thanks, Marly. I was surprised that some of them didn't work out. And I've been thinking about why some light prints don't work together. Perhaps it's because all the printing is light, too. So we must be careful about print scale and background color variation. Still thinking.
      I think yours is a good start. Have you ever noticed that if you like it halfway through, you hate it at the end. But if it's dissatisfying at the midpoint, it's much better finished? That happens to me frequently. Perhaps we pay more attention when we're unhappy with something. Julie's Quiet Time reminds me a bit of yours - batik, long coins, narrower value range.

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  4. I really like how I see narrow bands of color go across the quilt--even in areas where the color is discontinuous. Does that make sense? To my eye it's like they are laid over the columns.

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    1. I now see what you mean. Like a slightly windy day at the lake. I didn't plan that effect but am glad it appeared. It must have something to do with "striping" the columns, don't you think?

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  5. I hadn't thought about it like that, until I read JanineMarie's column but I too can see horizontal bands. How interesting. I struggle sometimes with the idea of making a quilt without using prints, but this is a great example of why I love them. I think these soft colours might have lacked something for me without the extra levels of interest that the prints offer - changes in scale and shape, unexpected little highlights; it works so well.

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    1. You and me both, Kaja. I have made Amish-style solid quilts in the past and may again but I really love prints. You're right; this quilt would be blah without prints to spice it up.
      The other thing I found was that I can either go to grey or brown but not both when the colors are this soft. Mixing browns with the greys just made mud.

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  6. I can appreciate the difficulty of working with colors that aren't necessarily your preference. I'm not a pastel person but Quiltdivajulie's low volume Chinese coins quilt has my mouth watering. I love the interest you've added with the insertion of darker strips.

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    1. Julie is a master quilter and her work always interests me. I think the darker strips helped this avoid being washed out. I'm glad you like it, too, Sue.

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  7. Thanks for sharing your process. It has inspired me. I know have a few ideas brewing in my head.

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    1. You're welcome, Em. I hope to see the results of your brewing soon!

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  8. The link-up tool seems to be taking a long time to load. I'll come back later and try again.

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  9. Fun to see how you arrived at your final destination! It was kind of like being on a quilt tour with Goldilocks...you found one layout that was just right. I kind of liked some of the pics with sashing but I can see how it would not fit into a quilt for the intended recipient.

    I work at my quilts a little differently since I don't have a design wall and am not as limber as I once was to layout, pickup and layout quilts on the floor. I also hate ripping, thinking, rearranging, dithering... So that's the fun of blog hopping and challenges (yes, I LOVE a challenge but don't often accept invitations)...you get to see different modes of transportation that all arrive at the same destination (but maybe a different tourist spot at that "same destination").

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    1. A quilt tour with Goldilocks sounds about right. I liked the grey sashing and really like the different sashings Patty used in hers. If I'd thought of that I'd have used it. No going back now though.
      Blogs are a great way to try different things; like armchair travelers, we can accomplish more than we imagined.
      Sorry the Web Services are down. I'm not sure what that means but it's still saying it. Perhaps tomorrow.

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  10. P.S. - Link gives message that "Amazon Web Services is down"...try later". So I will.

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  11. Although it's not my asthetic, either, I really like the end product. I can see how value can be more important than color even though at first glance it seems all the fabrics have the same value. You really have to play with fabrics to get a good sense of what works when everything is alike--a good challenge! One you handled very well, Ann.
    I'm also getting the same message as Cathy, so I'll be back later to try again. Thanks to you and Kaja for hosting AHIQ.

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    1. The top is prettier than the photos though I can't quite figure out what is wrong with the photos. It's a good learning experience made better by the fact that my niece will like it a lot. Thanks for writing, Mary. I hope the linkup is active again soon.

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  12. Thanks for sharing your thinking process with us. I get really excited when I see us all growing together and understanding color better. Those little pieces behave differently large blocks of color, say on a dress. I really have to take some time and study it from a few steps back. Also taking a break seems to give me a new view. I read that the rods and cones in our eyes tire of looking at one color, so that is why we get an afterimage of the opposite color. Your post really shows what these small things do to make a big difference. Like you said, some combos look like mush. A great observation, because we are not trying to produce mush.

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    1. That's the truth, Paula. I also find I like less matchiness in quilts than in my clothing. It adds interest and keeps your eye moving. It's helping me to slow down my construction and, as you write, study it from a few steps back.
      With stronger or darker fabrics it's easier to avoid mushiness. Working with closer values has been a good learning experience for me.

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  13. Loving your 'coins' quilt! The soft palette is great, and I found it interesting reading how you achieved some gentle contrast! It amazes me constantly how the color of a fabric is not really known until it is actually playing beside it's neighbour! 

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    1. Well said, Linda. The color or prints is not known until it's playing beside its neighbor.
      Thanks!

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  14. Your posts on your process are always a delight to read, so informative. Like what and how you're putting this latest Coin quilt together. I won't be linking this time due to health issues - sorry, but back on board for the next link.

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    1. I'm so sorry you've been under the weather. I know you've had to visit the doctor several times and hope you're back to full health soon. Thanks for writing, Maureen.

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  15. This is an absolute joy to look at Ann, it's come together beautifully :) I love your description of your thought process as you worked through colour placement - and I completely agree, value is always more important than colour. I honestly believe there are no colours that don't go together (excuse the double negative!), you've only got to look at nature to discover that. We group colours to create a particular mood, but it's value (contrast) that determines whether our design flows or not. I've recently discovered the art of taking out a central section and replacing it too - who know how easy it would be! x

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    1. You wrote such a good series on colors and values. It's still on your site and I hope people still refer to it. I do. Good point that any colors can go together but it's value that makes the design work.
      It was amazingly simple and quick to replace a center section. I thought it would take a while but all you have to do is match the outline of the replaced piece. Anything can be inside it. Yay for us!

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  16. It was interesting to see and read your thought process on this subtle quilt. Yes, value and contrast are the really important things to remember. It is even harder with prints sometimes. I think you did a masterful job on this soft, subtle quilt. And isn't it hard to work with colors that are not your choice? Good for us though, as it really works those creative muscles!

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    1. Thanks for writing, Sharon. It is good to work with other color palettes. Improvisation is certainly broadening my skills.

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  17. I think you just have a gift with strings! Thanks for the lovely inspiration. Saw your finish today on the next post and the texture for this particular quilt is perfection.:)

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  18. How kind, Audrey. It just matches her decor. She painted and distressed her coffee table that exact bright blue. The quilting was quick and easy but seems to work beautifully. It made a soft, cuddly throw.

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