Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Resurrection of the Orange and the Grey

I started this quilt from a Fat Quarter Shop kit back in November 2015. Fabrics and pattern are by Lotta Jansdotter. Then I stalled trying to decide the backing. The history of this quilt's construction is captured in my two posts
November 4, 2015 caving-in-and-starting-something-new.html and
November 11, 2015 easy-sewing-but-challenging-cutting.html

This quilt was small enough, 40" x 50", that I could use one continuous length of fabric and would not have to piece the backing. I dislike piecing quilt backs and usually buy one continuous length of fabric to avoid seaming it. Each potential color for a one-piece backing had its drawbacks – a grey (too dull and boring), an orange (very bright), or a white (pretty impractical). I found no prints for the back in my stash nor on the shelves of the shops matching the crispness of the graphics on the top that also combined two or three of these colors. Shades of grey I could blend, but that tangerine-ish orange was a unique shade. Here I am, eight months later, finally decided on the backing for this quilt. The best solution was to piece it. Aargh!

The following fabric choices I rejected as being too strong an orange or not having enough yardage. The greys were too cold and steely, not warm and soft-toned. The oranges were just wrong.

I dug into my Pezzy collection of half-yard cuts from American Jane. Sandy Klop's pattern and fabric designs are nostalgic and playful, but I would not categorize them of the modern bent. Her orange and grey were perfect but I had limited yardage of each. I placed them central on the backing. I added an orange and a charcoal irregular polka dot at the top and bottom. Since these two dots were weightier, having less white, I used less than one half-yard of each and placed them at each end. Shown in the next photo is a quarter-width of the seamed backing and a half-width of the quilt top. I am bemused that classic, modern, and funk fabrics can all play together nicely.

I had planned to spray baste my quilt sandwich and have some FMQ done for this post. But the slowest part of my quilt making is my decision making. Instead of FMQ, I am going to share my thought process for FMQ deciding. Here is my spray basted quilt sandwich on my sewing room floor and ready to be quilted. Note how even though the blocks seem to follow a diagonal placement in fabric combinations, the alternation between portrait and landscape orientation and off-center format keeps it fresh. I really do like the simplistic surprise of this pattern.

I knew I want to outline-quilt the bold graphic in the center of those blocks that have them – such as the tulips with beads, the tree with leaves, and the grey large floral. The plain cross hatched and diagonal bead centers would need another treatment.  Just what to do with the sashing around each of those blocks? I once had advice from a machine-quilting teacher to not have too many competing patterns on your quilt top – unless it is a sampler, I guess. I could do the sashings all the same but the centers are offset which somewhat complicates the path for a repetitive linear pattern. Here are some of my musings. I sure hope my quilt path is smoother than my drawing path.

On the tree center block I would outline the tree and leaves (BLUE in photo).  In the outer sashing I think I like stitching lines aligning with the stripes (RED in photo). On the top and right I took a castle path - down across, up across. On the bottom and left I took the piano key approach – up, down, over. This is faster and definitely preferred especially if you use a ruler. The ruler really helps stitching back over the same line.

For the blocks with central tulips and beads (my terminology) I would outline those (BLUE in photo). In the surrounding sashing, I tried both straight lines between the strings of beads (RED on the left) and scallops that follow the beads contour (RED on the right). I think I prefer the scallops. Yes, it is another quilt form but I think it is enough related to the previous striped sashing that it is will not be too distracting.

For the floral centered block I would outline the flowers and perhaps echo once around them. In the loose weave patterned sashing I am undecided between following the softly undulating lines (BLUE) as on the top and right or using a ruler to put a more controlled wave pattern (BLUE) as on the left and bottom. Frankly I am not thrilled with either and since the orange mesh lines are a smaller scale print I may not need to distinguish direction as I needed to do with the stripes and beading sashing. I will at least get started on half of the blocks as I wait for inspiration to strike on the remainder.

The other two sashing prints I have not considered are the charcoal dots and the tipu birds. Since they and the orange mesh are small scale mini-prints, I may treat them all alike. I can minimize the busyness of too many FMQ styles and cut down on my decision making in one fell swoop. In case you have not seen one of my earlier posts, check out my July 25, 2016 post  to see my husband's candid shots of me "thinking" about FMQ.

I have been traveling and had house guests so it is now time for me to get engaged with the quilt community again and participate in Let's Be Social #135.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

OKC Purchases

I just returned from Oklahoma City visiting my daughter and her family and celebrating a grandson's first birthday. Of course I took in a quilt shop while there. The Oklahoma Quiltworks' entry for their 2016 shop hop was titled Bricktown and I was very impressed with it. The intermixed shades of tone-on-tone mini-print reds are very subtle but very effective.

A closeup of the channel quilting reveals how it sets off the angularity of the quilt pattern itself. The blockiness is very masonry and bricklike.

They had a pattern for this beauty for sale and I bought it.

The title Bricktown is an appropriate allusion to the downtown restoration of former a warehouse district in Oklahoma City into a thriving dining and local entertainment area. There are canal boat rides, pleasant waterside esplanades to stroll along, a ball park, movie theatre, and a bit of shopping.

Oklahoma Quiltworks also had jelly rolls for sale from Robert Kaufman Blueberry Park fabric line. These jelly rolls are not pre-cuts from the manufacturer but were custom cut by the store staff. What patience! I loved this set of twenty-four 2½" strips from just the pink and purples portion of the line.

The lighter colors are to the left and the darker ones on the other side of the roll to the right. I love that they are a two-color combination of crisp white and only one other color and that the hue variation occurs among the strips. Blueberry Park fabrics are a white overprinted on Kona solids. These prints may become another one of my "reads like a solid" options and I will treat them as I do my polka dot collection.

The store was sold out of their custom assembled jelly rolls in blue tones otherwise I might have sprung for that one also. I passed on the roll of golds and olives. The  palette for the entire Blueberry Park line contains greys, blacks, browns, and beiges. I am glad there was this down select option that omitted the more neutral tones.

I also bought these two patterns for bags and baskets, each made from 2½" strips. They are from Aunties Two Patterns: AT284 Camden Bowls on the left and AT285 Camden Bags on the right. The Aunties Two website is a treat to visit and also has some free patterns, so check it out.

Each bowl or bag uses only part of a roll of double sided fusible webbing called Bosal Duet-Fuse.

I thought making a bowl or bag would be fun. I would use a bowl to corral small items in my sewing room, or perhaps remotes, etc in the TV room. It is a small project and a new learning medium and technique. It would also be a diversion from a large quilt undertaking. I do not necessarily plan to make a bowl or bag out of the Blueberry Park strips I just bought; but I have a fairly generous supply of jelly rolls to practice with already home in my stash.

So, I did not buy a ton of fabric and I did not buy any kits! So far, I am holding on strong to my "no more than two kit purchases in 2016" resolution. Even though my daughter had to be at work while I was at the quilt shop 😞, I showed her my purchases in person 👍. Nevertheless, I am keeping the tradition of blogging about what I bought.

Oh, and by the way, here is the grandson who turned one during this visit to Oklahoma. His new Little Tikes Cozy Truck was a first birthday present. Isaiah is definitely a climber!

Monday, July 25, 2016

FMQ – Easier to Do than Decide

I recently completed a quilt titled Overlapping Squares. My husband and I just got back from a trip last week and I was downloading photos from his cell phone when I discovered this trio of candid photos. He'd taken them of me last month while I was deciding how to do the FMQ on Overlapping Squares. I'd wanted the quilting to be effective but within my skill range so I had to really think it through. What was the optimal quilt path, most attractive stitch spacing, etc.?  Hmmm...

He always teases me about my classic hands-on-hip pose when I start to concentrate on figuring something out.

The frustration must have been setting in at this point since I have progressed past the hands-on-hip phase. Aargh! I do enjoy my hobby – honest, I do!

Hope this triptych gave you a laugh and that you are able see a bit of this aspect of quilting in yourself occasionally.

For those who missed the actual FMQ post, it was published June 8, 2016 and titled Overlapping Squares Completed.  Here is one of the photos of the quilt under deliberation in the previous photos.