Naturally Neutral – NOT!

I promised myself that I wouldn’t bore you with further tales of settling into the new house, or the lovely day I had today visiting with the washer repair man, the transportation inspector from the Army, and the plumber, all of whom were here today, trooping through the house in wet shoes (it’s raining here in Germany, go figure!) to see me for various reasons. So, on to more soothing, quilty topics:

Neutral/green palette

See? Sooooothing to the eyes. This is the base palette that I’ve chosen to work with for my next project. I felt a bit of trepidation about this project—well, to be perfectly honest I think I still do, but I’m diving in anyway, as per the usual way of things. I’m not a “neutral” person, you see. I like color, lots and lots of color, in varying shades and hues all together, all the time. BUT, I like the colors to blend well, like the crisp, slightly sweet taste of a cool Cosmo on a warm spring afternoon. Mmmmm.

What? Oh, sorry, got a little sidetracked there. Ahem. Similarly, I’m absolutely NOT neutral on other things either. Most things, I either like it a lot or I don’t like it at all, with none of that namby-pamby-in-between-ambivalence-thing going on. This goes for just about everything: foods, politics, books, people, cars, movies, etc., etc. If I don’t have a “like it or hate it” reaction to something, it’s probably because it’s just not on my radar and I haven’t thought about it at all. Continue reading “Naturally Neutral – NOT!”

The power of hasty decisions

Misery Quilt border with background quilting

Have you ever considered how much power a small, seemingly insignificant decision can have? Even when you’ve thought and planned and imagined what the outcome would be, sometimes the smallest little pebble can make the deepest waves. There are times you can move backward and reassess, and then make changes and move on in a different direction. But sometimes, for either good or ill, you’re stuck with it, as well as all of the other decisions you’re then forced to make because of the first one.

Don’t get me wrong, some small decisions turn out well or even better than planned, and have positive effects on other things, and we call those “good” and perhaps even “serendipitous.” It’s the ones that have, dare I say it, possible negative effects, that I’m concerned with today, and we call those decisions “hasty” or “rash.” Funny ol’ world, isn’t it?

Friday evening I was bound a determined to progress on this quilt, and I was at a point where I didn’t know where to go next. I know how I want to quilt certain part of the quilt, but some parts are still a bit fuzzy, and have to wait until others are quilted to see how it looks. I’d finished the quilting in the medallions, adding a little clamshell edge just around the inside edge of the ovals, which added the perfect finishing detail to the radiating lines. (Okay, so that was a hasty good decision. 🙂 )

Clamshell edging on medallions

I decided to start adding the little tiny pearls quilting at the very edge of the green border, since that was a plan from the beginning. Problem was, I didn’t know exactly what color thread to use. Choosing one and diving in, I quilted about 25 of these little, teensy, tiny circles, and then decided they were the wrong color thread, and had to spend at least an hour taking out microscopic stitches in silk thread. NOT fun. Gee, if I’d tried the circles first on the sample, I’d have known that the color wasn’t right, but did I do that? Nah. A hasty decision with negative results. Continue reading “The power of hasty decisions”

Trunk Show: Twisted Tails Mystery Quilt

Here’s an oldie but goodie that hangs on the wall in my stairwell. I completed this in 1999 (or so it says on the back; this one actually has a label of sorts, unlike many of the other older quilts around here—shame on me, I know), but it was probably started long before that. I remember piecing the top, and then putting it away for a while because I didn’t know how to quilt it. I even had a place to hang the thing when I pieced it; our bathroom was decorated in these colors, but by the time the quilt was completed, the decorating scheme in the bathroom was on its way out the door due to a move since the new bathroom didn’t have wall space.

Twisted Tails Mystery Quilt

While I was preparing this post, I searched on my hard drive for the instructions for this, as it was from a pattern I thought I had found on the Internet. Couldn’t remember the name of course, so I never did find it. Lo and behold, when I looked at the back of the quilt, there was the name of the pattern! Dang, I amaze myself sometimes, and it isn’t even that hard. 😉 I have to be honest, it probably wasn’t forethought that made me note the name of the pattern on the back of the quilt, it was more like being unable to come up with some other creative name for the quilt!

Anyway, the Twisted Tails Mystery Quilt pattern is still available out there as a quick Google search proved, though Quiltzine was not where I got the pattern way back when. Now that I’ve really thought about it, Birgit from Patchcom gave me the pattern, but she did tell me that it came from the Internet, so maybe she picked it up there. Continue reading “Trunk Show: Twisted Tails Mystery Quilt”

More than one way to skin a … UFO!

Hands All Around block(I purposely did not say “skin a cat” because we don’t skin cats here! And where the heck did that saying come from anyway?) I sent one of my creative works in progress into the wild yesterday, with everything needed to finish it included: pattern, cutting and piecing instructions, and necessary fabrics (except batting and backing, though I can donate those too when the time comes and not even miss them out of my stash!). Other members of the Black Forest Quilt Guild will finish the quilt, and the Guild will raffle the quilt at the Quilt Show next April. I had a quilt plan for this project at one point, and then when it came down to it, realized that I didn’t have enough of the print fabric to make that plan happen, so I had to call in reinforcements to redesign the thing yesterday, when it’s already partly done. Nothing like designing under pressure!

Hands All Around is a block that I just love, though I don’t think I’ve ever finished a quilt with the block in it, now that I think about it. Piecing-wise it’s a bit difficult; I would call it intermediate, but I’ve been told that’s putting it mildly. The curved seams in the middle have to be pinned every step of the way, and then there are bunches of three way, “Y” seams around the outside edge. I can deal with it and most of the time enjoy the precision sewing, but some folks (students in years past when I taught this block in quilting classes) think I created this block as a torture device just for them. Just for the record, I didn’t design the block, I just modified it to look a bit prettier, and at this late date I can’t remember where I saw it first. Continue reading “More than one way to skin a … UFO!”

Intimidation by Freezer Paper

Finishing a quilt top is a great feeling and definitely a milestone in the quiltmaking process but “getting to the quilting part” from there is not as direct as one would think. How do you know what quilting designs will look fabulous and “make the quilt?” How do you know what to quilt where? Sure, there are lots (like hundreds? thousands?) of quilt stencils out there, and I seem to have my own private collection of them, but for some quilts stencils just don’t cut it. Yes they make the quilt easier to mark, but how many times are you going to find the perfect stencil, in the perfect size and style, for a particular part of the quilt? Not many, in my experience. For some quilts, you need other tools: pencils, freezer paper, rulers, compass, flexible curve, circle and feather templates, and ink pens. Oh, and erasers, lots of erasers. Let the intimidation begin.

tools of torment

Freezer paper is one of the essential ingredients to this torture. You know, that stuff that people who hunt their own food use to wrap meat? I’m no hunter, but I go through a wicked amount of freezer paper when I quilt. I use it for everything. The rough side makes great drawing paper and though it’s strong it’s also fairly thin, which becomes important later. You can just tear off a chunk in whatever length you need (great for long border designs) and when you run through the whole box, the grocery store has more.

What could possibly be intimidating about freezer paper? It’s something akin to writer’s block, I think. This step in the long road finds me staring at a white piece of freezer paper, seeing a hazy picture of the quilted quilt in my mind and trying to get that picture to flow through my pencil onto the paper. I’ve said before that I’m not so good at designing my own quilting patterns and I’m not much of a doodler, at least with paper and pencil. So I’m staring at a blank sheet of paper Continue reading “Intimidation by Freezer Paper”

Designing from the outside in

Some quilts are meant to be, and some aren’t. Some fly together in flashes of inspiration, but others can take up hours and hours of time (not to mention the yards and yards of fabric) and still fight you all the way to the last stitch on the binding. Some quilts are labors of love, while others call forth emotions of a far less complementary nature. “The Misery Quilt” is truly living up to its name at this point, inspiring those “less complimentary” emotions at every turn. Last week, I threw in the pencil and got back to the machine to stitch up what I thought would be the perfect borders for this quilt. I put two of the finished borders on it last night, and I wasn’t happy with it. Again. I decided a retreat to my bed was in order, since it was late, and I was hoping things would look better in the light of day.

Nope. Didn’t look any better this morning. It’s not that the borders are bad, they’re not. In fact, they’ll be beautiful—on some other quilt. I took a picture of it on the design wall, and played around in PhotoShop for a bit, and decided I really was back to square one (or is it square three? I’ve lost count…), needing to figure out a curved appliquéd border. *sigh*

Kristin wrote a comment on the last entry about this monster of a quilt, about whether I’d retreated into my comfort zone when I decided to make the borders with the border print instead of the curved appliqué:

Don’t think of this as a retreat to the old comfort zone, but as a confirmation that your first ideas were the right ones. Sometimes the cliché or obvious ideas are the first ones you come up with, so you need to work through the problem to get to a more interesting solution. But often, our gut instinct knows what to do right away. I’s still beneficial to work through the options though — to confirm that your gut really did know what it was talking about.

Um, where does that leave my gut instinct now? 😉 I have no idea, but I think I just heard my friend Dawn say “I told you so!” I bent her ear about what to do weeks ago (on the phone long distance with pictures, no less), and she said it needed curves in the border. Okay, you were right! Continue reading “Designing from the outside in”