Colorplay as therapy

The carefully chosen palette for my next current project has been sitting there on the cutting table since I took a picture of it to share, over a week ago (it has now entered “current” project status, as you’ll see). It’s not that I don’t want to work on it, I do, other things keep getting in the way, including my own “quilt design block.”

Short “house” update: the heating/hot water system is working about as well as it’s probably ever going to work, after the plumber’s visit last Friday during which he finally figured out that a 5″ section of copper pipe was almost completely blocked by water deposits and cleaned it out. He’s coming back though, with the owner and a service person from Vaillant, the manufacturer, to replace the section of pipe, and figure out why else it’s not performing up to par. And of course, it’s a bit hard to tell if it’s going to heat the house to my satisfaction in winter anyway, since it’s the end of April and it’s not exactly cold here right now.

Other than that, there are various other things, some small, some not, that the owners need to take care of for us before they take off for Canada in mid-May. I’m still making weekly trips to the hardware store for this and that, and yet another trip to Ikea is probably on the schedule for this weekend. I did get a really great office chair for a lot less than I expected to spend there last weekend, so that was an unexpected pleasure.

Back to this project on my cutting table. I’ve been thinking about working on it more than actually working on it, and part of the reason for the delay before actually setting rotary cutter to fabric has been due to a niggling little feeling that something’s not quite right. I did make templates for a couple of pieces, and actually traced one of them onto the border print, but I wasn’t keen on taking that next step, so I kept turning my mind to other things. I finally decided that the lovely border print was the big problem and had to go, because it’s just not fitting in with my (admittedly slightly foggy) vision of the finished product.

After that flash of insight late last night, I was determined to progress today in the studio, and I had all day to do it in since I had nowhere to go. I spent all morning drawing trying to draw appliqué designs for the spaces that I’d planned to use the border print for, only to be soundly defeated by fusible web by early afternoon. I HATE that stuff! I don’t know why I ever bother with it, truly. I didn’t even get past peeling the paper off of it after fusing it to the appliqué piece. I could only get some of the paper off, and the rest stuck terribly and never would come away. Into the trash bin it went.

Still determined to get something done today, I started cutting, and threw eight pieces up on the wall. I looked at it and lost my nerve, or whatever it was I had left at that point. Maybe I just didn’t know what to cut and place next color-wise. I decided to break into the Hoffman Watercolor Wraps that I bought for this project before the move, and play with the colors, since the embellishments that will go on the quilt will be made of these fabrics. This is how I spent a very happy hour or so in the late afternoon:

fabrics from the Watercolor Wraps

There were 160 different bali fabrics in the eight tubes that I bought, and I sorted and played and pared down until I had 128 left. I thought maybe I’d have a better direction in mind if I could visualize more of the whole thing, or at least more of the whole color scheme. The row on the left is winter/spring and/or air/water colors and the row on the right is summer/fall and/or fire/earth colors. I hope. I think it helped the whole design process a bit though I’m not entirely positive, but I do feel better now. It’s possible that I feel better because I played with all these fabrics and colors though, and not necessarily because I’ve made any great design decisions!

The appliqué patterns I spent the morning agonizing over may become quilting designs, though I’ll hit the Arts & Crafts shop tomorrow for a different kind of fusible web and perhaps torture myself some more at a later date if the design really needs the appliqué. Hopefully life will allow me a bit of studio time tomorrow to see if my color play today opened the floodgates to design heaven. At least it’s officially a “current” project now, since I have cut into the fabric. 🙂

6 thoughts on “Colorplay as therapy

  1. Nadine,

    I love fusible web – love it. So I wonder if it is just different likes or what. I use Steam-A-Seam 2 but have better luck if I slightly warm up the glue before I first put it on the fabric. Otherwise the paper sometimes falls off while cutting out the shape. I just use a warmed-up iron – not much heat at all – quickly “warm-up” the steam-a-seam piece and then peel off the first paper. I have had no problem with the final, permanent ironing of the cut out shape. I loved your fabrics in this blog. Were they 5 inch squares or bigger?


  2. Hi Kelly—I wish I could love it, but it just never seems to work exactly as it’s supposed to, and I’m absolutely fanatical about things working properly or as advertised. Despite following the instructions I’m fighting it all the way from beginning to end. I even tried the Steam-a-Seam, and still didn’t feel that it was fuss-free, or that it was any better than plain old Wonder Under, really. I think I’m just fusing-impaired…the Fabric Fusions Velcro hasn’t worked well for me either…

    I picked up some Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite today (since that was all the shop had in stock), and may torture myself in the next couple of days with it, so thanks for the tips!

    The fabrics are 7″ squares, so there’s lots of fabric there, though I’m only going to need a 2½” chunk of each one.


  3. The fabrics are wonderful. I mis-wrote. I first draw the shape on the paper and affix it to the fabric. Then I take a quick lite swipe across the paper with my warmed iron to warm-up the glue on the paper that is fixed to the fabric. Then I cut out the shape with really sharp scrapbooking scissors and then affix the whole thing to my background. But I also always satin stich the shapes because I can’t bear to never wash my quilts.


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