Thursday, August 31, 2017

When It's Not Okay

Sometimes you do stuff and it doesn't turn out the way you thought. I wanted the word ART to be the wing of this bird, but there was something I didn't want in the lower right corner, so I thought if I inserted the two color chips it would look ok.

It did NOT look OK, and the more I looked at it, the less I liked it.  At times like this you have to ask yourself if you're willing to leave it as it is, or if you are willing to take it apart. For me it's simple. If it doesn't "work" then out it goes.  So I unsewed the seams surrounding the part I didn't like, and then pulled out the fabric I cut it from, and checked it out...

As you can see, the possibilities were endless... With a little judicious cutting and sewing I could continue that brown line into the tail and it would look better than that clunky pair of color blocks.

This is -ever- so much better.

Since I've put my brother, sister in law and mother in this quilt, it stands to reason I be in there too.  This bird will represent me in the Colorado quilt.

If you want to make birds, you can get all the information you need in my tutorial for sale here, on my Etsy shop. It is an instant download so you can get going right away.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Chickens, Real Ones

P & J keep chickens in their barn in Colorado. I knew I wanted to make chickens for their quilt.

They have a couple of black chickens, and a few tan ones.

 So of course I had to make some of those.

There were some brown ones.

and I had some fun making those.  

 There are some really cool black and white chickens, and some white and black chickens.

I had some fun with those.

A black and brown one.

That was fun to make too.

I decided the chickens would all have red beaks and gray legs. I have a plan for the chickens. I may yet make a couple more.

If you want to make your own chickens or free pieced birds, you can buy my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop. Here's another review. This gal's right. I -DO- want you to play with them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Black Bird

After driving around the high desert of Colorado for a few days, I looked at my mother, "This isn't a place to be a woman alone." She mentioned that to my brother and he told here that there were a lot of men who were alone in the area. I met one of them.

There is no photo inspiration for this bird, but this is based on a real person. I don't even know the guy's name, but he worked at the "country store" in the Hot Springs Resort. I don't know what prompted him to tell me the following story, but it stayed with me.

"My wife and I got along very well, and we only had one fight the entire time we were married, and that was actually the night before the wedding. She was Navajo, and was very agreeable, but when she got mad, she went all out.

"Well after a while I thought the grass was greener on the other side... and I screwed up.  She found out and took everything I owned, piled it outside and set it all on fire."

He paused.

"I tried apologizing, and asked her to take me back, but she just laughed."

He shook his head.

"Biggest. Mistake. I. Ever. Made."

He sighed. There wasn't much to say after that. I left, and never saw him again for the rest of the time I was at the Hot Springs.

So yeah, a black bird.

If you are interested in making some of your own birds, you can get my tutorial here, at my Etsy shop.

Monday, August 28, 2017

From The Beginning

As I have been writing these posts, I have come to realize that it might be helpful to bring you through ALL the steps I go through when I select fabrics for my birds. So here I will bring you step by step how I selected, discarded and eventually decided what fabrics to use for a bird.

Here's the inspiration photo of J & P. I was attracted to the teal shirt J is wearing and the contrast with the rusty red shirt my brother is wearing. Originally I thought the beak fabric would be the tan of the ground.

I first picked the teal on the left, but it was kinda bland, so I picked the one with the slightly larger print. I don't have a lot of muddy colors, but this brick red seemed the best match.

Yeah, I like this brown for the beak, but there was something else sitting nearby I wanted to try.

As soon as I set it down, I knew the gold would NOT work the way I wanted it to as a beak.

OK, so I know what COLORS I want, now I have to make sure I have the right FABRICS to tell the color story.  Time to go back to the stash and see what's hiding in there.

This is left over from the backing of the Treasure Trove quilt. There are a lot of bird wing possibilities here.

Then I saw this Philip Jacobs fabric from my I-just-bought-this-washed-it-but-haven't-ironed-it pile. Oh yeah, this turquoise flower has bird wing written all over it. (And you thought I bought it for something else?)

Time to review the brick red...

Oooh... this red ruler fabric would be VERY cool, especially since it looks like tape measures and my brother is a carpenter, but that's not quite the color I want, so back to the stash I go.

WELL! The dark areas of this fabric is exactly what I am looking for. I already know the color would work with my turquoise, but I'll have to arrange the fabric precisely to get the look I want. (It's called "fussy cutting").

OH YEAH! This looks perfect. ... But then I noticed that bright green in the middle of the turquoise flower, and I thought, Ooooh!  What would that look like?  Only one way to find out.


Now, almost any of these combinations would have made a good bird, but I don't want to make OK birds. I want to make AWESOME birds, so I even though what I first choose is OK, I keep pushing to find something better. That's the real lesson here. Don't settle. Keep pushing those ideas around.

The first idea you come up with is invariably not particularly original. Keep trying new things. Try different fabrics with different patterns and different scales. Move the color around too. If you are using a turquoise (which is a light blue green) try fabrics closer to blue or green. My brother's shirt is much closer to the color of fabric I eventually selected, but either of the brick red (dark red orange) would have been equally successful.

Also, a bird with either of my final beak choices would have been worked. I particularly like my birds with beaks that have a nice contrast and add a little ZING, but a bird with the tan beak would also be very beautiful. (You could also have used that purple from the flowered fabric.) The answers are usually sitting right in the fabrics you have in front of you. You'll never know until you try.

A great IDEA is only an IDEA until you make it happen. Execution is just as important, and is often quite another kettle of fish! Here, I've placed the beak wrong, so when I add something to the right side of the block, I'll end up with a snub-nosed bird. Argh.  and the size of the wing triangle cut off the green part of that turquoise flower, so the green beak doesn't connect to anything. It doesn't need to, really.  And I am having doubts about the combination of wing and breast fabrics.  When I get thoughts like this, it's time to take a break. I'll stop and have lunch. Then I have an errand to do. When I get back, I'll reassess.

 I've decided I like the fabrics and colors even though the bird is a bit dark. I unsewed the beak panel from the rest of the bird, and then took the beak apart from it's a background and then put it all back together, making sure I'd end up with a pointy beak and enough room for a seam allowance.

I'm happy with it.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mom & Poppies

One evening, while my Mom and I waited for our dinner in Colorado, P & J brought us some poppies from their garden.

The poppies themselves were gorgeous, but the picture they made with my Mom was even better.  Why? Orange is the compliment of Blue. What that means is blue and orange lie opposite each other on the color wheel. Orange is made up of Red and Yellow - the other primary colors that are NOT Blue. Compliment pairs make visually exciting color combinations, and since the blue here is a pale blue, the combination is more relaxing and more pleasing.

I took a picture right away, and it turned out to be one of the best ones of the whole trip. I knew it would have to be interpreted into a bird.

 Searching through my stash for just the right orange and just the right blue, I found this large print I bought several years ago. It's pretty clear this is the right fabric for a bird based on the photo of my Mom and the poppies, but how to decide what part to use?

Try them out, of course! Taking photos and then comparing them side by side helped me figure out which one looked best.

I used the blue of my Mom's sweatshirt in the beak of the bird.  As for the striped legs... well, I had made so many dark legs for birds for this quilt, I felt it was time for a little fun. For this bird, I think it is well suited, and this bird seemed to need LONG legs! I'm really happy with it.

If you would like to make some of these free pieced birds, go to my Etsy shop and buy my tutorial. It explains everything you need to know to make your own birds.*

*One of the reviews of the tute made me laugh:

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Where Did That Come From?

You've seen the birds, and the photos that inspired them. I thought it might also be useful to see the full pieces of fabric I used to make them. This also gives you an idea of the potential I see in the fabrics I buy.



You too can make free pieced birds. My tutorial tells everything you need to know. You can get it here, at my Etsy shop.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Decisions, Decisions

This is the inspiration for the newest Colorado Bird.

These are the fabrics I pulled from my stash and the scrap bins. At first I selected blenders, but I was worried the bird would be too bland.

Here is the finished bird.

You can make birds too. Get my tutorial at my Etsy shop, here.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Dead Head

The garden really got the better of me this year. I've been so busy I haven't given it the attention it deserves. All I've been able to do is keep it watered and dead head the flowers. I just toss them on the top of the big stack of stuff in the recycling bin.

Last night I cut down some geraniums, hyssop, salvia and some daylilies. This morning as I dragged the trash can out to the curb, I walked by and actually looked at it. 

Wow. Those colors! The bright hot pink of the geraniums, the purple salvia, the yellow orange daylilies, the green leaves and light purple of the hyssop and the brilliant blue of the recycling bin actually sparkled! Add some greyish beige to represent the dried stuff, and some greens and you have a knockout color combination.

You know how I always tell you to watch out because you can find inspiration anywhere?  Well, this was in my trash. I made sure to take a picture before I got in the car and drove to work.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Easter Basket is Finished

My Tumbler quilt is finished. I've been sewing the binding down in the evenings. Because this quilt has summery colors, I wanted to finish it so I could use it on the dining room table while it is still summer.

I made it to use in Springtime, but why wait?