Saturday, September 29, 2018

Designing with Half Square Triangles

The blocks on the design wall make me happy. I had no idea they would look this good. The mix of warm solids float on blue and green strips. My last red quilt was the watermelon quilt and that was years ago.

{Of course} I'd made a few extra blocks, so I added them as a partial block border around the center.

Testing HST border around center block

It doesn't inspire me.

For some reason {probably because the fabric was there} I made more HSTs thinking a four block quilt would work. Think of Princess Feathers and other large appliqu├ęs. A four block design is a lovely solution. But not here.

A four block arrangement of HSTs

I don't like this at all. Too uniform; colors and sizes have no variation. {This from the woman who made so many Chinese Coin quilts. They always contain similar size strips. Go figure.} Also, it needs a border but then would be too large.

Now I have a huge amount of these HST blocks. At least they aren't Chinese Coin columns. Is morphing them into a new {but unnecessary} arrangement progress?

On the 20-minute front, I'm still quilting Color Study Chinese Coins and hope to finish soon.

Color Study Chinese Coins still being quilted

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Second Month of Maps

My map process to date - which has been very slow - is posted on AdHocImprovQuilts. I sketched and erased, thought about the yards, the streets, the neighborhoods that hold significance in my life and decided to start with my grandparents' house.

When we were small, the streets were lined with elm trees. Beautiful and mature, they arched over the street, cooling and shading us all. My brother and I whitewashed the trunks every summer. For a quarter. What riches!

Mapping all my memories of the times we spent there may take several quilts but I'm starting with a simple map of the neighborhood. I've redrawn it several times; the last attempts are more freehand. I want to emphasize the roads and their offsets more than maintaining an exact block ratio.

I wanted to be further along but decided the better choice was to take my time. Here are three colorways I pulled for possible blocks.

Fabric choices in three colorways for the map quilt

Meanwhile, I have a bunch of tops to baste and quilt. I started with the largest one and am halfway through the quilting.

Quilting Color Study Chinese Coins
So far I'm stitching in the ditch with smoke nylon monofilament on top and cotton thread on bottom. Then I'll pause to determine the next step.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Half Square Triangles and Scraps

"But wait. There's still more." My quilting sounds like those late night TV commercials!

Although I repurposed the narrow columns from the last attempt at Chinese Coins, the wider columns remain. Those encased columns work better when they are very narrow so the wide ones need a different plan. Taking 6-8" wide columns, I sub-cut them into six-inch squares and got busy combining them with new solids.

Six-inch squares of Chinese Coins

Orange, red, and pink also were cut into squares. Mixing them up made this.

HST scrap block of warm solids and Chinese Coins

I'm very excited about this start, especially because it doesn't look like Chinese Coins!! Amazing. It's a great first day of working on this project. Thanks to Cathy for promoting 20-minute interval sewing. It's helped me slow down and consider multiple possibilities.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Still Clearing the Scrap Bag

I've said it before but it's still true. My tiny scrap bag holds an endless amount of scraps and strings. Even though Chinese Coins XI was intended to empty it, the bag looked just as full as always. More sewing was required.

Extra Coin columns

Arranged in columns, these do nothing for me. Not good or bad, just very boring. What else could they become?

They'd make good borders for a medallion but I finished several recently. However, I keep considering sashing. Now would be a good time to actually try that. Since solids are the largest section of my stash that hasn't been worked with, I pulled some pretty sherbet colors.

Sherbet solids with a stripe

Encasing five Coin columns with a different color,  I sewed them together, added two rows of tulips above and below. Is it still a Chinese Coin quilt? Well, since I started with Coins and sashing is the traditional way to make a Coins quilt, I'm counting it as such. Chinese Coins XII quilt!

Chinese Coins XII baby quilt top

It's also an overdue baby quilt for someone special.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Chinese Coins XI Top

What a fun day! Deep thinking about different prints and how to arrange them to tell the maker's story. I forgot to take photos though but hope to get some as the quilts are finished. That's an advantage of working with your own guild. :-)

This top was sewed just in time for the class. I guess I haven't changed that much: still working to the deadline.

Chinese Coins XI quilt top
Since a collage worked so well last time, I made another with the original grouping next to the finished top. They are both diffuse, fairly random arrangements but the final one works better - a soft sorting in quiet {for me} colors. The original pinup had most corals at the top. Additionally, one fabric group was missing which added several columns to the quilt. 

By pinning smaller "sheets" together I retain the ability to easily move, rotate, remove, and add Coins until it's finished. You can see many changes between the two photos which should give you some idea of the versatility of this method.

Comparing Chinese Coins XI top finished and in progress

Fabrics cut up quite differently than they look as yardage, especially large scale prints. Just like a good haircut frames your face, they look so polished and confident when they are cut to display to advantage.

It's a simple, happy quilt. It cleared out some of my scraps. And it made one more example of fabric sorting for the class. Win. Win. Win.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Demo Day

This is a day of remembrance in America. Despite the political turmoil here and abroad, I think most of us hope to coexist peacefully. We need to work towards that end harder than we merely hope. Everyone we've ever known or heard of has lived on this one small, blue dot in space.

Democracy is not only a form of state, it is not just something that is embodied in a constitution; democracy is a view of life, it requires a belief in human beings, in humanity.... Democracy is a discussion. But the real discussion is possible only if people trust each other and if they try fairly to find the truth. 
- Tomas Garrigue Masaryk

I'll be at the workshop all day and hope my demonstration goes well. I plan to show how to use the Value Finder, discuss print scale and density, and get everyone started with their own Chinese Coin quilt.

I've tagged and bagged samples and demos for the various steps. Planning to teach a technique is quite different than making a quilt. I've stopped at each small step, scratched notes, tried to figure out how and why I made each decision, and made more tops than I ever expected to try to include all these points. Each highlights some but none is perfect. Well, we all know nothing ever is perfect.

Since the participants say they are most interested in how I put fabrics together, one simple layout - vertical columns - gives us more time to work with fabric.

Hearing something one hundred times is not as good as seeing it once. 
- Chinese proverb

I'm taking all the Coin quilts still on hand. The white/yellow/blue/green Coins might help others visualize different results from the same pile of Coins - from pale yellow-and-white to background to loud-and-proud. Three others showcase used household fabrics, a selected group of red, pink, blue and green fabrics, and finally clearing the scrap bag.

Chinese Coin quilt examples for workshop

Collaged together, they showcase my fabric choices. We all have color combinations and values we prefer and mine show up here although I definitely cut too many yellow and green strips. {Yellow is not one of my usual colors but I'm coming to like it.} Even though those started from the same batch of scraps, they highlight how we can start with one framework but end with different quilts. {Like the two authors and their books from Throw Mama From the Train... without the murderous intent. Ha.}

Hopefully I can take photos of the day to share later.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Clearing the Scrap Bag

It's too much effort to go through the stash although it desperately needs straightening. Clearing the scrap bag is easier. There are lots of whites, lights, and clear colors that remind me of spring or early summer.

And I figured another way to sort the scraps for a Coin quilt. First I separated them by color then assigned each fabric to one of three groups. Each has the same number of fabrics in each color but they are different fabrics. Does that make sense?

Here's what I have so far. It's only two of the three groups and needs work. Obviously. I pinned the sheets together to get to the length I want but don’t like how they are arranged currently.

Chinese Coins XI in progress

This is the last top I'm making for the very delayed demonstration at my guild. It was rescheduled to next week. I've already given several of these quilts away; I always do. I had to make some more to have variations to show.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bars 4 Quilt Finished

Cathy's 20 minute method is working well for me. Forty minutes total is about all I can do in a day. I like moving two or three projects along, especially when I can only work for short times anyway.

Bars 4 quilt

The back used up larger remnants and some extra strips. Always a win in my book.

Back of Bars 4 quilt

With so many bright colors in the top the only binding that looked right was a dull tannish brown chambray. Ok, several of the darker brights looked good but there wasn't enough yardage. As usual with the size quilts I make it took over half a yard. Note to self: occasionally purchase more than half a yard in order to have binding choices.

Binding and quilting detail, Bars 4 quilt

Basic straight-line quilting with the walking foot is still my preferred design. These strong graphics don't need competition. This time, the stitching runs across the quilt. Perhaps that will keep certain gentlemen from breaking the threads as they pull the quilt up. {Naming no names.}

Quilt Details
Size: 78" x 65"
Design: Bars variation of Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist Blue Ribbon100% cotton
Thread: grey Gutermann cotton thread
Quilting: Straight lines with walking foot

Previous posts:
1. Piecing the top
2. Quilting Bars 4

Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Chinese Coins VII: Strewing Roses Top

Hand-turning the leaves took a while but machine applique went much faster.

Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses quilt top

I thought turning the blanket stitch around would imitate the hatching on the rose leaves. It wasn't that successful. The stitch pulls the background fabric up a bit. Temporary paper backing would have helped except I forgot about it till now. A darker green thread would have better shown the jagged edges.

Some thorns were added in a solid lighter green fabric. {A friend pointed out the thorns are lighter than the rose stem.} However, unless the thorn sits on white or light blue, it really doesn't show. We always hear "value is more important than color" and here is the proof. The thorns and the background are equal value.

Chinese Coins VIII: Strewing Roses detail of machine applique leaves and thorns

Happy Labor Day weekend. I hope you, your family and friends enjoy time together.

Enjoy the day, Ann