Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Finally Quilting Chinese Coins II: AHIQ 29

AHIQ Invitation
Kaja and I discussed last year's AHIQ invitations and think they went pretty well. Our goal was and remains to build an interested community of quilters exploring original ideas for everyday quilts. The open-ended topics let each of us develop our own interests at a variety of skill levels. We all  expanded our understanding of improvisational utility quilting and became more confident in our skills.

I noticed that I needed more than a couple of months to work on each idea, especially since I wanted to incorporate the technique into ongoing work. Meaty projects that challenge me on several levels are much more engaging {although I'm in the throes of a group of fairly quick small quilts right now.} However, by the end of the year everyone's energy dropped off. I know my time was overcommitted. There were several projects that simply had to be finished; something had to give.

This year we plan to present only two invitations/challenges. We hope this will fit into your schedule more easily, encourage more participation and longer discussions. Kaja's leading off with a new idea this month. Check her post for all the details. I can't wait to start.

Queued Up
I finished several quilts recently because they were small but I'm still working on two that are pin basted.

Chinese Coins II quilt (CCII) with SID complete

Southern Hairstyles and Quilting
My mother loved to read columnist Marilyn Schwartz in the Dallas Morning News. The way Marilyn poked fun at Texas pretensions always made her laugh. When A Southern Belle Primer: Or Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa Gamma appeared in 1991 my mother was among the first to purchase it.

One chapter dealt with hair. Given a choice, Texas women want fine rather than coarse hair because it sounds classier. Curly or straight? Curly, of course; waves are so beautiful. And thick or thin? Why thick. As Marilyn noted, we just selected the worst possible combination: curly, fine and thick - a mess to style, ready to frizz with the slightest humidity.

What does this have to do with quilting? Well, that's the same way I quilt. Simple or complex pattern? Complex. Print or solid fabric? Prints, of course. Simple or detailed quilting? Oh, detailed, please. And we all know the result. Tiny pieces rarely show prints to advantage (and vice versa.) In fact, echo or parallel quilting is all that really shows on my quilts because those beloved prints hide all the fancy stitching.

So why do I spend so much time agonizing over quilting designs? IDK. Crazy. The longer I dither, the less capable I am of moving forward. CCII is a case in point. Realistically I should quilt an all-over pattern with grey thread and move on. Not much is going to show on this large quilt with loads of patterned fabrics. But I can't bring myself to do that.

Quilting Smaller Shapes on CCII
New Year's prodded me to get busy. The choice was to quilt it or watch is rot in storage. Requisite SID started the quilting. Then FMQ in dark threads since I had {sort of} decided on how to attack the darkest fabrics. The spiral-and-wiggle isn't that great. What was I thinking?  And everything always looks bad at this stage - especially when dark thread traipses across white backgrounds. I keep reminding myself it will look better when the rest is done. I didn't want to worry about threads peeking through. Now I only need to finalize the rest of the designs.

Free motion quilting on Chinese Coins II quilt back

Next up was the star posts combining a spiral with FMQ outline of the points.

Bottom left: Free-hand-and drawn circle with washable marker.
Bottom right: Hold the tails, stitch the circle then start to spiral out. It's slow moving the tails from hand to hand as I circle around.
Top right: Continue spiralling until I hit the base of one of the star points.
Top left: Outline the star points with FMQ. Finish back at the spiral to tie off.

Quilting a star with spiral center

In case you're still wondering: Princess Margaret would not be pledged because she smoked in public.

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.


Julierose said...

This Chinese Coins is lovely--your colors are so fresh...nice to see in this gray dreary Winter...hugs, Julierose

Ann said...

Thanks, Julie. I am on a roll; almost done. I can't believe it's taken a year to finish.

Kaja said...

Funnily enough I've been wondering about more complicated quilting, though unlike you I've stuck at pondering. In cathedrals in the Middle Ages they put as much work into the bits no one sees as the things in clear sight - for the glory of God and the satisfaction of a job well done.

Bonnie said...

I admire that you don't take the easy way out. I'm all about easy if the truth be known! By the way, taking your time with the quilt sometimes improves it... you don't rush to the finish line and do, um, the easy way. (I noticed your comment above. I have a number of projects that have been in retirement that one day will come back to the main stream and I'll get them finished.... Ok, a nice way of saying I have lots of UFOs.

Quiltdivajulie said...

I, too, agonize over design and quilting decisions until I wear myself out! As far as the new challenge (I like the scaling back on quantity) -- Of all my current projects, I think I'll take the Winkel inspired colors and change my approach to fit with this Playing With Scale challenge. Not sure what I'll do, but it won't be a mini spiderweb quilt.

Ann said...

"For the glory of God and the satisfaction of a job well done" are perfect reasons to work on more complicated designs. Parallel and echo quilting shows up best on print. but I see so many imaginative designs. I do try to minimize the starts and stops since each end must be buried IMO. And while I like some of the very dense quilting we see these days, I don't want that much on mine.

Ann said...

Many of my quilts call for easy quilting, usually parallel lines. When I start seeing fancier designs on my quilt tops I have to think if it's worth the effort. Truly, solids show every line but prints disguise most of them.
I didn't think I had many UFOs but I was kidding myself. However, after two years of serious effort I've whittled them down a lot. No more UFO tops but a bunch of blocks still. Deciding to donate some tops broke the dam. The ones that were left were more interesting to me so they inspired me to get to it. Good luck with yours.

Ann said...

That's it exactly. I wear myself out worrying about the quilting aspect. It's really not worth the effort but I can't break myself of this bad habit.
I'm so glad you're planning to adapt a partial project to this invitation. I may have some old blocks that would be useful, too. Kaja has a wonderfully open-ended idea for us to ponder. And I expect all our work to be very different. Lots to discuss and share. Yay.

Glen QuiltSwissy said...

Hey, Your free motion isn't perfect, maybe I am too hard on myself. I should try it again....and learn not to sweat it so much.

audrey said...

Your quilts are always so vibrant and full of depth. Love reading about your quilting decisions and knowing that all these details help make the quilts even more 'you'. I'm a simple stitching sort of gal, but I have much to learn from those of you who do things in a more complex way! Was very excited to read the next improv. prompt this morning! It's so encouraging to know that as always, the both of you are invested in things/ideas that can easily fit into all of our current 'work'.

Ann said...

Far from perfect. I need to remember that when I put of using applique. Thanks.

Ann said...

That's my opinion of your quilts, Audrey. Thanks for the reminder that my decisions are what make a quilt my own. It applies to each of us, doesn't it? I think that should become my mantra, "Will this help me identify with this quilt? Will it make it my own?"
You hand quilt with interesting thread which I always think is complex.
Kaja broadened the scope of this prompt. There are so many ways to interpret it - almost like choosing whether to use the microscope or the telescope. And we all need to fit things into our own work. We certainly don't need completely new stuff to do.

Wendy Caton Reed said...

I LOVE this quilt. What fun! I think I need to "improv" my quilting. Mine are starting to all look the same.

Ann said...

Thanks, Wendy. I feel like my work is more mathematical than Kaja's but I've become reconciled to that. We all have different styles but what Kaja and I are suggesting is adding unexpected details, planning on the fly rather than planning everything out ahead, and using some casually cut and pieced units. Whether you use a ruler or scissors is up to you. I fluctuate between them. I hope these suggestions speak to you and that we see your work here soon.

Cathy said...

Again I see how much a border and some special quilting can add to a quilt. Way to go! It's fantastic!

(I'm glad I gave up smoking in public and private in the 70s even though I never had any desire to belong to a sorority).

And I think the new challenge is going to give me a nudge to work on a few UFOs that play with scale in a variety of ways.

Ann said...

So kind of you. I'm glad you quit smoking years ago. I never started because I was too broke in college.
These invitations are a good way to take a fresh look at old projects. Sometimes we just need a new take to reinvigorate them. Yours will be special.

Janie said...

I agree, 'vibrant colors in your quilt.
It will be loved and bring lots of smiles I'm sure.

Ann said...

Thank you, Janie. I hope so.

Monica said...

Well, I have recently decided that an all-over stipple is going to be my new best friend, so I understand the debate! And I also think that busy prints look better with denser quilting, so the visual busyness of the prints and the quilting are about the same. So I agree with your conclusion, but maybe for a different reason!

The word that comes to me now is "unify." Isn't that physically what the quilting does anyway?

So, that train of thought helped me, anyway. Thanks Ann!

Ann said...

Stippling is a good all-over choice, too. Sometimes my quilting choices are simple and easy but other times I can hardly come to a decision. Unify is a good word to remember. Thanks.

Mystic Quilter said...

Following my enforced few days break it has been a happy day to see your Chinese Coins quilt at the top of your post - always a real pleasure to admire and study this Ann.

The discussion following on from your observations on quilting is very interesting, personally I prefer simple quilting and letting the pattern on the fabric do the work, perhaps that is because I become impatient to begin a new quilt asap, the design and piecing is my first love, I admire, and I admit sometimes envy, quilters like yourself who have these wonderful quilting designs on their quilts.

I'm pleased with the decision from yourself and Kaja to have the invitationals every 6 months, life sometimes throws us a curved ball and I know that I struggled with the two monthly target. I've briefly looked at the post from Kaja but a second visit is on the cards after writing this.

Noreen said...

I love your Chinese Coins II! The colors are gorgeous! Is there a pattern for this? Thank you for sharing it!

Ann said...

I'm glad your hands are improving and hope you can type and sew regularly.
I do like fancier sewing but it doesn't show much. As I age, I'm learning to like simpler designs more and more. Still some quilts just cry for special free motion designs. So I guess I'll be doing both for a while longer.
Six months is about all I can manage. We actually kept working on the previous prompts last year; more to say and discover so why should we hurry. We both hope everyone can fold these open invitations into current projects or UFOs. Life is too short to keep adding quilts that we aren't certain about. I'm rereading Kaja's post... for about the fifth time. She has lots of ways to work with scale. More than I'd considered originally. Should be fun to see what everyone comes up with.

Ann said...

Thanks, Noreen. I'm glad you like it, too.There isn't a pattern but you should read through the previous posts. It's based on a quilt by Nettie Young of Gee's Bend. Just make some Coins, set them vertically, and sash them into boxes. Good luck.

Linda said...

A gorgeous quilt! So much to look at, love all the different elements, especially the final spiky border.

Ann said...

Thanks, Linda. I enjoyed making it and deciding which elements to add and what fabrics to use.