This past Thursday I took a workshop from Sandy Klop of American Jane patterns and fabric fame. The pattern used in class was her Flying Circles. The title Flying Circles and reminded me of the phrase Flying Circus, conjuring up in my mind the concept of barnstorming and free-wheeling. I web surfed a bit trying to capture an image of barnstorming that appealed to me. I came across this work by artist Robert La Duke that captured my mood – flying high with bright, clear colors.
The description on the back of the Flying Circles quilt pattern states "Cart wheels, spinning tops, ferris wheels and polka dots all spell fun!" The fabrics, pattern, stories, and class were all fun. The class could be freeform with the relatively intimate number of eight participants. Sandy started by describing her teaching style as relaxed. From her view and experiences, students tended to fall into three categories - rabbits, turtles, and puppies - all equally enjoyable to her. Rabbits rushed through the lessons trying to accomplish as much as possible, very goal oriented. Turtles took their time, more concerned with process than results. And puppies? They just wanted to play, running from workspace to workspace seeing what others were doing and being social. Her introductory statements set the pleasant tone for the day.
The fabric requirements on the back of the pattern were very detailed and frankly a bit overwhelming to figure out, especially with my final dimensions still to be determined. I decided to just wing it and make those circles fly by picking different color combinations spontaneously along the way from fabric I've been
I pulled coordinating colored fabrics from my stash – pure reds, true blues, apple greens. What a collection! I always lug too much fabric to a class. Hmmm. Looks like I’ve got green pretty much covered but could use some more reds. Red can be tricky. I want a bit of variety but not too orange or too pink or too brown. In looking at this picture now I definitely need to incorporate some of that linen look blue in the center; it really repeats the blue dots of the drape fabric both in color and visual texture. Instead of the cream and tan neutrals used in the pattern, I went for a scattering of greys. I will use some of the greys from the Moda fat quarter bundle shown in the upper right corner called Putting on the Ritz.
Here was my first circle. I like the way it came out. It is like an optical illusion. When you stare long enough, it can be a star or a pinwheel, and can flip back and forth between the two interpretations. And alright – you caught me. That cute blue check was not from my stash. I did purchase it additionally from Sandy Klop’s fabric line A la Carte.
Next up was making one of the neutral circles. Instead of using three colors it uses only two and the effect is totally different. Looking closely you can see that the white fabric has little hearts on it. I needed to be careful that they all faced consistently while I was cutting out. To add to the challenge, it is a white on white fabric and distinguishing between the right and wrong sides requires paying added attention. I do like the crispness of the block, though. That white will be a staple throughout, even if I do vary the greys.
This entire pattern is like the one block wonder concept. There is only one piece to cut out repeatedly. For the moment, ignore the circles that are appliquéd on afterward like buttons. Here is that one triangular piece. I cut out pieces for my next brightly colored star block. The red and white sort of chain link graphic is a Pezzy Print, one of Sandy Klop's fabric designs for Moda.
Sandy sold a template in her class to cut this triangular basic building block out, but instead I opted to use the Hex N More ruler I’d brought with me. (See, I do not travel lightly to class.) By taping off the correct height I could use it. This method lacks the handy-dandy hole at the point that Sandy's template had for marking where to stop the Y-seam. But I already had this larger ruler and I’d paid much more for it than Sandy’s so I’d better well use it!
I assembled my next three colors into another block but did not like it as well as the first. The blue with green dots and next to the medium green, although they went together, just seemed a bit too heavy for my taste, maybe because they were in equal proportions.
I tried rotating the blue and then the green to the outside instead of the Pezzy Print but that Pezzy was so graphic and cute it kept commandeering the attention. I set this block aside for a while.
When I got home I googled it and found out it was Mercedes Benz.
Here the logo and triangle block are superimposed. Why that car logo was familiar to me is a mystery. I briefly wondered, "If I did not spend so much money on fabric, could I own a Mercedes Benz?" It is a moot point. I would rather have the fabric.
The next day after class I put the blocks up on my design wall. I thought if I broke up that dark blue and green so they were no longer all clustered together, perhaps the block would look better. I liked both of the two fabrics, just not ganged up in the same area. I dispersed them out to the tips of the star block and the results appealed. Voila, I liked it!
As our group cut and stitched away we discussed sewing related topics: Y-seams, binding around odd-angles, loyalty to Pfaff sewing machines, seam pressing directions, assembly consistency in clockwise versus counter-clockwise orientations, being a fabric designer for Moda, being prolific in creating quilts, upcoming Moda fabric lines. But our topics also strayed to a myriad of common interest subjects: grandkids, wrinkles, flab, baby safety, sore feet, cats, TV remotes, and even Brussels sprouts.
At the end of class I asked Sandy, "Well, was I a rabbit, a turtle, or a puppy?" She hesitated and adroitly dodged answering. I do not know if she had not categorized me or if she did not want to risk offending me with an answer not of my choosing. I decided I was a lark - because I was as happy as one. The origin of the phrase "happy as a lark" comes from the fact that some birds only sing in the early morning and in the evening, but larks sing all day long, and the song is pleasant and cheerful. I got to quilt all day long and it was pleasant and cheerful. ♬ I was a lark. ♬