The New Plan Pays Off

At least I think it pays off. Here’s the latest view of the Inchie Quilt on the design wall:

Inchie Stars Quilt

You can see the other design stages here and here. There are no more changes in the plan coming though, since it’s all sewn together. I think I like it. Though I hope that feeling isn’t just because the piecing went extremely well; all those little fussy points matched up perfectly, and it’s remarkably flat considering the number of pieces and seams.

Each square in the quilt will have an Inchie attached, so this dramatic black, white and grey quilt will burst with color when complete. The original idea required that the quilt design stand on it’s own perfectly well without the Inchies, and I think it does. I still have to tackle the border piecing, but I have to draw it out first. The background of the border will be a black fabric with a bit of linear silver metallic overprinting, and there will be more places for Inchies in the border.

So, have you figured out where this quilt is going yet?

Another New Plan

Inchies Star with grey fabric background

I spent most of the last week deep in the creativity zone, trying to solve the problem with the background for the Elemental Changes quilt. I feel like I must be on Plan Z by now, though it’s really not quite that bad, I suppose. If you recall, I’d decided that the pale green and white palette wasn’t going to work, and I thought it needed more color, lots more color. I spent an entire day fleshing out the the fabric choices, starting with the Bali fabrics that I’d used for the Inchies themselves, and adding fabrics in between them to expand the palette. Here’s Plan B on the table:

The expanded palette

Of particular note is how many of the original background fabrics made it into Plan B’s color palette: absolutely none. Not. Even. One. Validation in it’s purest, simplest form. The first background fabric choices were obviously not even close to right if none of them made the cut for this second plan. Despite the validation though, the plan fizzled after I put some of the parts up on the design wall. While playing with all the colors was satisfying, I couldn’t figure out if it would all work as I wanted it to, and it was going to be a huge amount of work and fabric to get it all up on the design wall just to see if it would work out. The more parts I put up, the less I liked the result anyway.

The good part about Plan B: I laid hands on every single piece of fabric that I have in the studio, except the scraps*. Really, every single one, right down to the fat quarters. I’ve got some really awesome fabrics in my collection, I must say. Of course, now that I’ve pulled out hundreds of them and decided Plan B’s not working, I have to put them all back. *sigh*

*I didn’t go through the scraps, because the huge tub that my scraps are in has been missing since the move. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s kind of bugging me that this giant Rubbermaid tub is nowhere to be found. How could a giant Rubbermaid tub be hard to find?

I thought about many other directions at that point, including starting completely over with a more limited palette to begin with, or even scrapping the entire plan altogether and using the Inchies for something else. I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to finish the project before the deadline if I started over, so that was going to be a last resort, but every day that goes by without a decision or some progress is one day closer to that deadline anyway. In the midst of all this, I started to wonder why I do this to myself, but that’s another whole rant by itself.

Beyond Charm Quilts - The Ultimate Challenge
Beyond Charm Quilts – The Ultimate Challenge (affiliate link)
Along about Thursday, I think, I decided to look at Beyond Charm Quilts: The Ultimate Challenge, a great book from the mid-90’s. The Ultimate Challenge was to start with a charm pack of squares of many different fabrics, and make as many charm quilts as you could from the original set of squares. Each quilt must have an identical piece of every one of the original fabrics in it.

I’ve always wanted to do this challenge, but just never gotten around to it. The point is, the authors started with a charm pack of 100 Jinny Beyer Palette fabrics, which span the colors of the rainbow and are widely varied in value just like the Inchies for this project. I perused the Gallery in this book with an eye toward identifying the unifying element in each quilt. How did they turn this rainbow of hues into a cohesive whole?

I discovered that many of the quilts, perhaps even the majority, used shades of grey, black, cream or white in the background. Okay, fine. Fine. It’s not what I had planned at all but having nothing to lose at that point, I gave it a go. I pulled out some black, grey and white fabrics and slapped it up on the wall, and came up with this:

Inchies Star with grey fabric background

It’s still missing some background pieces, but you get the idea. I think I like it and it will work, and I’ve ordered some other fabric to use in the setting spaces and border, so hopefully it will show up double quick and be the right color when it does. It’s much better than it was, in any case. I’m off to make more Inchies; I have about half of them done now!

Who’s in charge here?

Here’s where the current project, Elemental Changes, is at the moment:

Elemental Changes in progress

This is one quarter of the quilt on the design wall, minus some background/fill in pieces. I finally decided that I needed to see it on the wall instead of just imagining it in my head, so I put it up this morning. My first thought was “Okay, maybe this is going somewhere,” but that turned into “It’s not speaking to me.” Well, it’s speaking to me but it’s not saying the right things. In my head I keep seeing more color behind the Inchies parts, instead of this fade-into-the-background greenish white thing I’ve got going on.

The idea in the beginning was that the quilt needed a background that was subtle and didn’t fight with any of the colors of the Inchies, because the Inchies are the main thing. I chose this neutral green/beige/white color palette so that it would be quietly in the background, but it’s just not looking right now. I keep seeing color, lots of color, in the background so that the colors can interact with each other more and I can play with the transparency and luminosity of it all.

When I look back at some of the quilts I’ve enjoyed making the most, here’s what they’ve all had in common: gathering lots of fabrics, cutting piece by piece, playing with the color and shape interactions on the design wall and letting serendipity make the magic happen. I haven’t done a piece like that in a while. I guess it’s time to dive into the stash and pull out hundreds of fabrics and let fly the creative spirit!

I have to laugh about this kind of thing whenever it happens, because I remember a conversation I had with a fellow quilter years ago. She said that she thought that so many women were drawn to quilting because it gave women something they could control, when so much of their lives is just beyond control, or even controls them. I told her I couldn’t speak for all women, but I don’t control my quilts, they often control me, demanding to be made a certain way or with certain techniques or colors, happily tossing my plans out the window without second thoughts. This one’s a case in point, right here. The quilts are in charge, and I’m just along for the ride.

Sunday Patchwork: Scraps, just scraps

Here’s a short update on the scraps and bits that are the work in progress of life right now:

I’m still working with the lighting in the new studio, trying to get enough of it where I need it. I’ve come to the conclusion that halogen spot lighting is essentially useless, at least it has been for me for everything I’ve tried to use it for. It’s dim and yellowed, and casts shadows in all the wrong places. In other words, while the light that I bought for the studio looks good hanging up there on the ceiling, it’s not much good to actually light up this large room. I actually Googled to try to figure out how many watts I should have in here based on the space, and came up with 900 watts. Heh, 900 watts is a really long way from what I have now, I must say. No wonder I feel like I’m in a cave at night or if it’s cloudy! Back to the hardware store we go…

The owners of the house we’re renting asked us if we would let them leave their household goods in the garage until the second week of May when they would pack it into the overseas shipping crates for the trip to Canada. It was going to cost them 100 Euro per day if they had to pack the crates and then have the stuff stored somewhere until they were ready to ship it all. We agreed thinking it was a great way to build goodwill with the new landlords.

Unfortunately, the stuff is still here in the garage at the beginning of June, and there is no definitive date when it might be leaving at this point. There is evidently some issue with their move and they are awaiting some paper from the Canadian government before they can proceed to pack things up and get on their way. And to top it off, when we ask about it, we’re told we need to be more patient! Patient was two weeks ago, and now we’re on to irritated, and rapidly approaching something even more vehement and ugly. I think I’ve filled up the goodwill account now thanks, and I want my garage so I can park my car in it. Yesterday, if you please. Grrrr.

The heat and humidity makes it difficult to concentrate, or maybe it’s just difficult to want to concentrate. I’m still tossing around the idea of an air conditioner, but I’m worried about the power consumption. I’ve figured out why we’re spending so much more on power and gas: the power company here, despite being the same company that we had in Stuttgart, charges more per kilowatt hour here, and natural gas is just plain expensive when compared with oil. So, I think melting is on the schedule this summer until I figure out if I really want to spend the kind of money it would take to have an air conditioner. Another Grrrr.

And since my new front yard is full of perennials, I’m now suffering from the worst allergies I’ve had in years. When we moved in there were a few daffodils and some hibiscus and that was okay, but now there are huge numbers of flowering “things” out there, and while most of them are pretty (except for the ugly mounds of Iris. Don’t get me started on the ugliest color of Iris blooms I’ve ever laid eyes on), frankly I’d just as soon they all died. Quickly and without throwing their pollen around on their way out! I can’t keep the windows shut of course, or the melting might turn to expiring without even the little bit of relief that the open windows provide. *sigh*

So, with melting and sneezing on the schedule every day right now as we experience the heatwave that is late May and early June in Germany some years and my front yard continuing to bloom in all it’s pollen-laden extravagance, I’ve found it difficult to motivate myself to do much more than the bare minimum, which is why it’s been a quiet week in the blogging department. Maybe I need to become nocturnal for the duration.

And lest you think it’s nothing but bad stuff and complaints for today, the good part is I have 216 Inchies done (of 510 needed) for my current project. I originally hoped I could manage to finish 20 Inchies per week, but I’m feeling pretty good that most weeks I’ve done 36, and some 72 even! Thus I’m way ahead of schedule on this project, which is undoubtedly a good thing since I’m still tossing ideas for a pretty critical part of it around in my head and can’t seem to see the right way forward just yet. Thankfully, there is time. Photo shooting of the 72 Inchies I completed since I put up the Gallery is on the schedule for tomorrow.

Here’s hoping for cloudy with a huge chance of rain! All week!!!

New! Gallery of Inchies

I’ve made a gallery to feature all the Inchies made for Elemental Changes. I’ll be adding photos to the Gallery as I finish the Inchies; I have 144 Inchies done of the 510 needed for Elemental Changes.

The Gallery is powered by a lovely piece of open source software called Highslide, made even easier to use by the Highslide JS Plugin for WordPress. I discovered Highslide through Kristin’s blog.

Enjoy the Inchie Gallery! More to follow…

Sunday Patchwork: Mail, moves, and melting

In leftover news, bits, and reviews from the week:

Mail delivery is always interesting around here. ITMan picks it up on the Army post where he works, and is usually mystified by the contents of the various packages and envelopes he carries home. Take this weeks’ loot: one package of polyester fibers from Embellishment Village and one mystery package from a person or place called goldenflyfisher. He couldn’t imagine why I was ordering something from goldenflyfisher and “polyester fibers” totally stumped him.

Angelina Fibers and Pigma Pens

The polyester fibers proved to be Angelina Fibers, which I finally decided to plunge into. I saw the fibers about four years ago at the Houston show, but I’ve never been able to think what I’d do with them since. And guess what? I still don’t have any idea what to do with them! I bought them to use for Inchie embellishment, and while the fibers are pretty cool when you iron them together to make the fabric, I realized that if I put the Angelina fibers on Inchies and then iron the Inchies at high heat to attach Velcro, the Angelina fibers are just going to completely melt, fizzle and die. So much for that idea. Hopefully I’ll use them for something else at some point…

The little box from goldenflyfisher was not hooks or lures, oh no. You all know I’m an indoor girl! I scoured the Internet looking for a complete set of Micron Pigma Pens in all the colors, and finally ordered from ebay. Don’t ask me why an ebay seller with a name like goldenflyfisher sells Pigma Pens. He just has the best price, and shipped it here with no problem at all, unlike the first place I tried to order from, which couldn’t be bothered to ship anything Postal Service to the APO address. I needed the pens to touch up the corners of Inchies, where the thread sometimes doesn’t completely cover the batting and stiffener inside.

Speaking of Inchies, I’m still working on them, and I have 128 done of the 510 that I need for this crazy project. I’m going to create a gallery here to show pictures and detail shots of all of them at some point, but I haven’t photographed them all in small groups yet. Until then, here’s at least some proof that I’ve been working at them:

128 Inchies done

I was looking for a way to display them temporarily while I’m working on them all, and I originally had them on the design wall stuck to the Block Butler. I guess they’re a little heavy because they kept falling off, and I was afraid that my buddy Shadow would make them disappear at some point. Figuring that they’d stick fine if the background surface wasn’t completely vertical, I cut a couple of chunks of cardboard from leftover moving boxes and covered them with spare bits of Block Butler. Now I have two small display boards that I can just lean against the wall behind my worktable so I can see all the Inchies I’ve done so far at a glance.

I spent most of Saturday moving my studio around, trying to figure out how to take advantage of the better lighting and cooler temperatures in the other room on the side. I started with a card table in there to see how it felt, and it seemed lovely at first. I could open the window wide for fresh air, the lighting was wonderful, and my chair even moved better on the linoleum floor than it does on the carpet in the studio. We moved both the sewing tables in there, transferred all the machines and assorted cables and supplies, and then I promptly decided to move it all back, accompanied by much head shaking and rolling of eyes from ITMan.

Coolness and lighting aside, I just don’t like it in the small room. I like my wide open spaces out in the studio, and it feels too cramped in the other room once the tables are in there, and I hate the cheesy floor despite it’s rolling chair friendliness. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m afraid it’s not “run out and buy an air conditioner for the studio.” We got our first power bill, and it was huge. I fail to understand how we could be using half again as much power here in this house as we were in the old house. We have all the same electrical items as we did before. Sure the house is bigger, but it’s heated with gas, not power (and don’t even get me started on how much more natural gas for this house costs as opposed to oil at the old house). It’s all mind boggling, and I’m not sure I’m willing to pay for the power to air condition this giant room. At this point, I’m hoping I don’t melt in August!

ITMan and the girls are on their way out the door for most of the day, so I’m spending the day working on Inchies, of course, and maybe I’ll get some of that Inchies photography done!