Monday, August 31, 2015

Triangle Dancing

 I finished cutting all the whites for the Triangle Dance.

Then I paired up a dark with a light, and to make it easy on myself, I layered the dark on top of the light, made sure to line them up and then sliced through both at the same time. I decided that I would sew each pair to itself and make two identical blocks.

Then I stacked them all up and set them aside to sew.

I fed them through the machine without pinning, because, um, I wanted to get them sewn up in a hurry.

Then I pressed them and started throwing them up on the wall.

I'm pretty sure I can tinker with this a fair amount, but after doing the math, I realized I have enough fabric for almost THREE quilts, so I don't have to worry about making a decision right now, so I just kept making this basic layout bigger.

My idea is for a quilt 9 blocks wide by 16 blocks tall, which would make a quilt about 58" x 72", so this would be just over half.  I took a photo with my cell phone, and when I moved the phone I had an idea...

Rotating the image 90 degrees really makes it. So I'll make this arrangement, 11 blocks tall by 13 blocks wide. I'll make the rest of the blocks, and then start rearranging and fine tuning where the fabrics should go. Then I'll sew it up and move on to version number two!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Triangle Dance

In my ongoing effort to use up the fabrics in my stash, I've been looking at it and trying to figure out what I have the most of, and then how to use it in an interesting way. That was what got me started with the Petals quilt.

 This is the next project, one I am tentatively calling "The Triangle Dance."

When I looked at my stash, I notice my "Black and" fabrics were taking up a lot of room. These are the fabrics with a black background. Those were going to be next on my list. But how?

As usual, serendipity intervened, and I received this book from my good friend Julie.

Browsing through it, I saw this quilt. Yes, the photo is fuzzy, but you get the idea. I thought "Oooo! I like that!"

So I spent the evening cutting long rectangles of these Black with Colors fabrics. Each stack has 10 rectangles, which is a hell of a lot more than I need, but what the heck!

Looking back at the stash, I knew the "White Ands," would be the perfect foil for the Blacks, so I have been cutting rectangles of those. I just got started.

I have a lot more to cut.

So here's how this is going to work.

Yeah. Like that's hard. (Not!)  Oh, this is going to be so much fun.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Backing and a Gift

These three fabrics make up the scrappy backing of the petals quilt.

Now the quilt and the backing are folded up and ready to go. I'm also working on the backing the the Blue Boy Rail Fence.

Charlotte asked me a while ago why I blog. It's a long story, but mostly I do it to share what I do. Quilters are all over the world, and blogging helps me find other quilters like me, and gives me ideas and inspiration. I always knew I was an oddball, that I look at the world differently, that my work, and my quilts were different from anybody else's. Blogging gave me an opportunity to explain how I got here, to show how my worldview affects my work. How I get from point A to point B. Because most people look at my work and can't figure out how or why I did it. 

It's like talking to yourself in the dark. You never know if anybody else is out there, or really listening, or if anybody even cares. Or would notice if I stopped.

But there are folks out there listening. Caring. Reading. Thinking. Experimenting. I've made my best friends through blogland, and I am not joking. Blogging has changed, and in many ways, saved my life.

Go read Valerie Levy's post today. It's here:

That pretty much sums up why I do what I do, and why I have tears in my eyes right now.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Digital Pinwheels Redux

Back in the Fall of 2013 I made 48 Digital Pinwheel blocks, 4 each of 12 colors: Red, Red-Orange, Orange, Yellow-Orange, Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green, Blue, Blue-Violet, Violet and Red-Violet. Each twelve-inch block has three values of the color, and a WOW. Each block has a different WOW background. I made all the blocks, but then I got involved with the Chicken quilt, then my son got married, then I bought a house and moved, so work on this quilt stalled.

 After sewing the Petals flimsy together, I pulled out the digital pinwheel blocks and played around with them. I wasn't exactly thrilled with this more or less arbitrary layout.

In this layout (above) the 12 tones start at the upper left with the yellow, go down to the blue violet, then up the next row from violet to yellow orange. Then the design repeats. My design wall is only big enough for five vertical columns, but the plan is to have six.

In this layout, I moved the blocks around so the warm colored blocks were in one column and the cool colored blocks were in the next one. The quilt was always destined to be for my son and DIL, so when my son told me he liked the second option, that's the one I sewed together. 

The flimsy is 72" square.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Two by Two, then One, Two, Three

I had Friday afternoon off, so I went right into the studio and started putting the Petal blocks together.

I could have sewn the blocks together in rows, but I was worried I'd get the blocks mixed up because their orientation was so important to the design, so I sewed the blocks together in pairs, one pair at a time.

Then I sewed them into short rows.

And big blocks.

Seven hours (lunch, two loads of laundry, dinner and a bit of rearranging) later...

It's a flimsy.

Or rather, it was until I realized that I had altered the arrangement of the teal and gray blocks on the bottom left of the quilt, and not done so on the upper left, where you can see three gray blocks too close to each other. I hate when that happens.

So that had to change. NOW it's done.

Off to the stash to find fabrics for a scrappy backing!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Seven Minutes

They say the devil is in the details. I'm not sure about that, but I know that sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference.  Shown below are four photographs I took the night I designed the layout of the Petals quilt. I had all 108 blocks on the wall.

 When I took the first photo, I thought I had it. Then I looked again.

I made several changes. I knew the big flower print in the inner pink ring wasn't working, so I moved it. Three minutes elapsed between the first photo and the second one.

I swapped two blocks, and took another photo. One minute between the second and third photos.

 I didn't like the fragmented outer pink ring. I couldn't make a complete second ring, but I didn't need to. I didn't need to have a complete one to get the effect I wanted. I moved a few pink blocks and created a partial "ring" below the main one.  Three minutes between the third and fourth photo, and I knew I had it.

Seven minutes.

It doesn't seem like much, but those seven minutes made the quilt. Here's the thing. We all know when we've got it right. That's the easy part. The hard part is getting from "OK" to "Nailed it." You can get there through trial and error, or what geeks call "brute force." That takes a lot of persistence, patience, and a willingness to experiment and fail. It's also a recipe for frustration.

I find it much easier to verbalize what isn't working. If you can't figure out WHY you don't like it, you'll struggle with how to fix it. After all, how do you know what you have to do to fix it, if you don't know what's wrong with it?

Now, I had no freaking clue what I wanted it to look like when I first started laying out the blocks. I knew I'd get started and things would happen and I would change my mind as I went along, but that was OK. I did get a design I thought was interesting, but I couldn't make more blocks (ran out of gray fabric, challenge was NOT to buy more). So I had to use what I had.

Looking at the third variation, I knew the placement of the pink blocks in the "outer" ring looked clunky and didn't suggest a ring because they were too far apart to connect with each other. What to do? Put the ones I DID HAVE next to each other to suggest an outer ring. And the only place to do that that made sense was BELOW the pink center, because any other position would have made the design look unbalanced.

Seven extremely worthwhile minutes.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Grand Rapids?

My quilt, The Black Box, arrived home yesterday and when I opened the box, I saw show books from AQS Syracuse and AQS Grand Rapids...


I thought I had missed the deadline for the AQS Grand Rapids show, but apparently not!

So if you saw my quilt at AQS Grand Rapids, I hope you liked it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Shuffling Along

So I really wasn't impressed with the Petals layout when I went to bed last night. I most definitely did not want to make traditional "flower" shapes.

I played a little bit with pointing the blocks all "upward," but that didn't sing for me either.

Dunno quite how I ended up with this, but I thought it was an option worth exploring.

I thought it might be fun to make the pink a focus, but I knew I didn't have enough blocks to make a complete "ring."

After about an hour and a half, I had this, and THIS, I like. I like the fact that it's NOT symmetrical or completely predictable.

And believe it or not, except for two, these are the same blocks as in yesterday's post.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Petals on the Wall

I started putting the petals blocks up on the design wall. 
 At this stage of the game, I'm not doing a whole lot of "designing." I'm just getting the blocks up on the wall to see how many I have, and to get a feel for how they work together.

I knew I wanted to have the pink blocks in there somehow, but hadn't given it much thought.

This is eight blocks by ten, and it looks OK, but I have more blocks, so I decided to throw them up on the wall and see how they'd look.

All these fabrics came from my stash, and the point was to use fabrics from the stash and only from the stash. I'm a big believer in that a limited number of options increases the potential for true creative work, so I won't make more blocks, but I'll use the ones I have and make them work.

If you look closely, you'll find a change I made from the photos above. There was one area that was too mushy - the fabrics blended together in a bad way. I changed one block and it looks better, but I've got every block I made up on the wall, so there's not a whole lot of wiggle room.

Numbers are not my strong suit, and I found I have 108 blocks. This is nine block by twelve. I must stress I haven't really played much with the arrangement of the blocks and colors. Now that I have a starting point, I will move them around. In the beginning, I didn't know how many pink blocks I'd use, and found as I put the blocks on the wall that I had to use them all (or make more.) There is more pink at the top and bottom because of that. I'll definitely try to redistribute them throughout the quilt.

These look a bit dark to me, and in the evening light, they look darker. These photos were taken with a flash, and the layout looks better in the camera than on the wall. I'll be eager to see how they look in daylight.

OOPS! I just found two mistakes in the layout!  Too funny. Well, too late now. I'll leave them there and see how they look later. I've said quilts have a way of telling you what they want. This one definitely isn't done talking to me.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Blue Boy Flimsy Complete

I finally spent some time in the sewing studio this past weekend.

In addition to sewing up 104 petals blocks, I sewed up the Blue Boy Rail Fence quilt.

I like it very much.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It has arrived

The iPad I won has arrived. The company ordered a custom case for me. 

I am still figuring out how to use it. 

Good thing: it's easier to surf the Internet than on my iPhone. Bad thing. I need to pay more money if I want to read the New York Times on my PC and iPhone and iPad. Haven't decided yet. 

Lots to do and play with!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Little Zip

The blocks were just a bit too monotonous for my taste, so I had to add a little zing! We'll see how it all plays out.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


OK, I had to try something.

These are eight inch squares.

This is four of them, stacked and sliced,


... stitched

... swapped, and thrown on the work table.

 Hmm. I need to see more...

I think this has some potential.