Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Basket Love, A Completed Improv. Quilt Top

First off, I'd like to say congrats! to Paulette from The Way I Sew It blog. Her comment came up as the winner to my 7 yr. Blogiversary giveaway! The whys and wherefores of what might motivate any of us to comment on blog posts made for great conversation! The main thing that stood out was that most of us like to feel a connection, however that might come about. Time is too precious to comment just for the sake of commenting. And that's okay. We all seem to prefer those comments that feel heartfelt and sincere.
Improv. basket blocks
It's time again for the AHIQ monthly linkup over at Kaja and Ann's. These lady's are so talented, it's hard to keep up! I love the open ended style of their link-ups though, and the fact that they actively encourage learning and growing in personal technique and style, plus instinctual decision making. After over a year of dipping my toes into this adhoc. improv., I have to say that I'm having so much fun with it! Not ready to quit yet!
The green string columns

This particular project was in response to the 2-block challenge set up by Kaja last quarter. I determined to make free style basket blocks and then join them with vertical columns of strings. As usual around here, I pulled my fabrics in advance, tinkered with them awhile {weeks actually} and then started cutting and sewing only after I felt satisfied with the newly blended palette. The interesting thing about these colors is that I didn't choose the sour greens until all the other colors were stacked together and seemed to be missing a necessary spark. Then they just sort of jumped into the pile as though they couldn't help themselves. Okay! I'm game for about anything that looks intriguing, even if I'm not sure why!
Sewing the first set
It's so much fun to drag difficult fabric colors out of the stash totes and try to give them their moment in the sun. Really quite addictive in its own way. I'm always confident that playing with them one more time will give me the clues to getting all sorts of kinks worked out. This time could be the magic moment when that perfect blending of colors is found!

After I had enough baskets prepared, I added a darker coping border to the blocks in order to bring them all to the same exact size. Then I moved on to the green coins {or strings}. With these, I free cut strips--in sets of 2 fabrics each--until I ran out of at least one of the fabrics. That determined the length of each particular color blending as I decided to leave the string sets in two color groupings {sewing them length to length} rather than mix up single strings throughout an entire column.

Since I was working strictly with the greens for the strings, it was easy enough to divide them into rough groupings of light, brights for one pile and medium, darks for the other. That value change is stronger in some sets, but subtle enough not to make the quilt read as a super bold 'stripe' quilt. The columns actually read more as a background and allow the baskets to steal the spotlight, which is totally what I was hoping for!
Basket Love--Approx. 70" x 91"
It was only after the entire length of the string columns were sewn, that I went ahead and added the setting triangles to the basket blocks. I wanted high impact, heavily saturated and light or bright colors that would 'pop'. Initially I intended to mix them up a lot more and have all four corner triangles be a different fabric. Then for some reason I changed directions and decided to make it less busy, which meant cutting more fabric repeats. Sometimes that makes for a stronger look. This is probably the most purple I have ever intentionally put into a quilt and the crazy thing was, it didn't even make me wince. Not my favorite color! The more I quilt, the more it seems that there isn't any truly ugly color, just meh! {to me} color palettes! And yes, I'm well aware that I don't always get it right! lol
Looking at the quilt with the sun shining on it!
An interesting side effect of sewing such long lengths of strings together was having the seam allowance rip out here and there from the weight of the fabric. I pinned at every single seam, tried to be very, very careful in the way {and amount} I handled the columns, and even went back and backstitched where it was coming apart too far into the seam allowance. Hopefully next time I'll remember to use a smaller stitching length when sewing the original string sets. This was NOT fun! And after the entire quilt was together, I sewed a basting stitch on the sides of the quilt too. Fingers crossed that will stop any more unraveling!

So that's it. I'm calling this a completed quilt top. No borders for this one! I'm proud of how far I've come feeling comfortable in free cutting my string sets, excited to use up some oddball green fabrics, and thrilled at ending up with such a bold {for me} looking quilt! And, drum roll..... there was almost no waste with these string sets! Yay! I'm starting to get the hang of that basic math which makes me feel like the super, good, frugal quilter lady.*sigh  Gotta take our victories where we can!

Linking up to Kaja and Ann for AHIQ #23. Moving on, I'm pondering yet another 2-block improv. quilt, perhaps a Sherri Lynn Wood score? the next interesting AHIQ challenge {of course}, and oh yeah, trying to make a Kaja style improv. quilt--one little unit at a time. Oh well, there's a couple weeks to make that decision. So many possibilities.....

Friday, July 21, 2017

Progress on the Vintage Coxcombs and a Giveaway!

This week is the 7th blogiversary for Quilty Folk! When I first started blogging, months would go by without a single comment. Sometimes I would post pictures of the current project, other times I would just chat into the wind {which was totally okay by me}.  But the whole premise behind why this blog was started, remains the same. I quite honestly love to be talking about quilting!
Giveaway!
So for all of you who keep dropping by and encouraging me to keep going, it feels like a good time for a giveaway! For one lucky winner, there is the latest issue of Primitive Quilts & Projects {the fall addition}, Bring Me Flowers pattern book by Jen Kingwell and 1-10 1/2" applique basket block by yours truly. It's a leftover block from the Gather Ye Roses quilt top made earlier this year. If you're the winner and you don't want it included, don't worry, it won't hurt my feelings one little bit!

To be entered to win, answer the following question and be sure I have a way to contact you! The question is: What determines whether or not you actually take the time to leave a comment on someones post? I'm so curious because I lurked on lots of blogs {for about two years} without ever leaving a single comment. Then I just caved and started commenting here and there--for all sorts of reasons. Now I follow a ton of blogs on Bloglovin' and could never begin to leave comments on them all. There simply isn't enough time!

If you're a follower of this blog, feel free to leave a second comment telling me how you follow for a second chance to win! I am willing to ship to an international winner as well as a winner in the USA.
Vintage Coxcombs
So on another note, about the Vintage Coxcombs quilt shown here? It's starting to take shape with a light, bright sashing. I'm so happy with the way it brightens the quilt and makes it sort of sparkle. This was always in the back of my mind and I was positively delighted to have enough of the sashing fabric on hand. It really needed something special to give those soft browns, taupes and faded grays a bit of a boost.
So happy they aren't all perfectly the same....
Now I'm eyeing the more colorful leftover fabrics with a border in mind. Of course. Because it's telling it desperately needs to have a border? lol  First off I pulled the softer pinks and then quickly dropped them. Uggh! Next up were the blue-greens. Maybe I could piece them with some of the softer grays?
Such a mellow looking quilt...
That wasn't doing anything for me at all, and so I did a deep dive into the stash totes, started pulling some stronger blue-greens. Ahh... now we're talking. Or rather I'm thinking. The fabrics are simmering! One day next week or so, we'll get together and have that little discussion. I can tell you it's leaning heavily towards a simple, sawtooth style border, but we'll see. Nothing is ever truly settled until it's all cut and sewn on. Even then, it's not totally out of the question to get the seam ripper out if it feels necessary! Much better to take a little time and get it right the first time though....

I'll pick a winner for the giveaway probably next Tuesday. Don't forget to leave a way for me to contact you or I'll have to move on to the next person! Good luck!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

This Was a Fun One

So it's been a fun week, squeezing this applique project into little bits of spare time. I put it off for such long time, but once I finally determined to dig in and attack the details, it all went very smoothly. This was one border I had no trouble dredging up the interest to stitch on!
Border work for Peachy Cameo Medallion
It's hard to believe, but the entire quilt was started because of this solid peach fabric. Bought for a backing, I decided it was entirely too bland to work properly, then was left with a big chunk of weirdly colored fabric. Not that peach is truly strange and unheard of, but it's not exactly something to spark an entire quilt. Until, of course, it somehow does! Still scratching my head over this one....
Getting the borders sewn on
It's hard to say no to a good challenge! And although I drew up a rough draft of how I thought this particular quilt might look, it has, as usual in my quilting experience, taken it's own meandering journey. The peach fabric was thinking it might not join the quilt after all, and I had to coax it to play along for maybe just one border? After all, what is a challenge if you succeed in eliminating the core challenge element?
So fun looking
When drawing the birds for the applique border, I remembered seeing a similar bird in one of my pattern books. After a quick look-see, I found what I was looking for in 'Garden Dance' by Jan Patek and Cherie Ralston. All I had to do was chop off about an inch or so to the length of the tail, and the bird fit perfectly into my border! I drew up the little branches after thinking the birds looked pretty silly hanging out there on the spindly vine--basically just levitating. I love how they give the birds more gravitas. They are much more in charge of their surroundings now!

So on to the next section--the top and bottom part to this round. This border in the medallion was scheduled to be a little different than expected, not just the normal four sided repeat. I drew up a mock border a couple years ago and hadn't quite found a use for it yet. Why not slide it into this quilt? It's very similar to the Benjamin Biggs quilt Lori finished up earlier this year and I think the light, airy look will be a good contrast for the rest of the quilt.
Prep work for the next border
If, {a very big IF}, I can figure out how to get it pinned down in fairly consistent repeats! Ahhh... this is the part that makes me want to pull my hair out! Truly though, it's never quite as difficult as we often make it seem. Just have to find the method {and measurement} and make it work.

 It took one whole, green fat quarter to make just 2/3's of the bias vine, so I added another slightly darker green fabric for the rest of the bias length. I get tired of always trying to be matchy matchy. Weighing back and forth, do I want to add all the darker green at the very end and totally, completely break the colors up? No, maybe not. I impulsively mixed the darker green in sporadically with the lighter color while I was sewing the bias length. If you look closely, the two colors randomly start and stop within the 18 1/2' lengths cut for the applique border--an absolutely, delightful look. Makes me so happy!
Trying to figure it out....
And once again, the applique projects are starting to pile up. I'm starting to think that's my current comfort zone.*wink

Linking up to sew stitch snap share #8 with Linda and Julie!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Learning Curves is Finally, Finally a Finish!

At long last the binding is firmly attached to Learning Curves. And so, it becomes another quilt checked off the list this year! Woohoo! The list is maybe not shrinking by much, but it's also not really growing by leaps and bounds either. But lets not worry about that today. You would not believe much I absolutely dreaded starting the quilting process on this quilt, but ironically, that all fell into place quite easily.
Another good finish
It's all relative of course. I didn't venture into any complicated quilting, just kept it super simple so hopefully it would drape well in the end. Stitch in the ditch on the outside of every 16-patch and then hand quilting with various colors of #8 Perle Cotton a scant 1/4" on the inside of every single curve. Once the stitching was started, I had to question 'why the dread'? Perhaps because of the size or general disconnect with the quilt? This is a fairly large quilt at 80" x 96" with a more contemporary look than I generally attempt to do, so perhaps that's why the normal exuberance and excitement wasn't there. The different than expected outcome was purely a side effect of the entire quilt experimentation, but something I feel comes off well in these vivid autumn colors. It turned out to be quite okay.
Learning Curves is done! Funny how after the picture taking was done,
we notice the loose board on the siding. Uggh....
I started this quilt early on in the spring of 2013, cut all the drunkards patch blocks completely out of the stash and slowly started learning how to properly sew them together. By the time I was midway through sewing the units, I had it down pat and could sew every curve with only one or two pins. Amazing progress is what that was! And I can safely say that curves are tremendously less anxiety-producing little units than they were prior to this quilt. Mission accomplished!
So much color
It's a very warm, cozy looking quilt with a surprising amount of bright, vivid pockets of color. When my son was helping me hang it up on the outside balcony, I almost caught my breath at the rich color. Then later today, I hung it up in the stairwell {as per usual with most of my picture taking} and meh! The color was a lot more subdued. So glad I ended up using the very darkest green fabrics in my stash for the binding though. It really helps pull out that darker green color used in the quilt--makes it feel like an intentional 'background' fabric look. I had to really dig deep in the stash, but ended up with about seven different fabric pieces for the total amount of binding length needed. Any other color would have been far too busy a look for sure and this is an 'old' color. Not easy to find in the quilt stores today.
A little more subdued looking
I seriously considered giving this one away but my husband and youngest daughter have {probably} talked me out of that. They think it's a perfect quilt for using in my youngest sons bedroom when we have guests. Not girly looking like most of my larger quilts and simple enough to avoid intimidating those that worry about inadvertently 'ruining' a lovely quilt. Gotta appreciate the guests who care, but yeah, it's nice to not deliberately scare them away with a heirloom sorta quilt! Which, by the way. I do NOT have in abundance! Not my style. And if someone ever goes bonkers over this particular quilt, I'll probably bundle it up and happily send it home with them.*wink
Looking at it from the side
Despite the vibe you're probably getting from this post, I truly have developed a sort of fondness for this particular quilt {after all our struggles together, how could I not?}. It's just not one of my all-time favorites, never-gonna-pull-it-out-of-my-arms-till-I'm-dead kind of relationships! Sad but true. They can't all be the beloved favorite.

Still, I can love and admire the simple beauty of it all the same. It honestly happens to represent hours and hours of sewing {and learning} for me. That has indescribable value. It has lots of fabrics incorporated into the quilt that individually are interesting and lovely for me to look upon. It was actually very pleasant to see draped across my lap while quilting and I can only imagine how nice it will be to use on a bed. This quilt has an unexpected coziness factor stitched right into the quilt and it has to be a direct result of the the colors and fabrics used {various homespuns and reproductions--make-do mixed fabric use in several of the blocks?}. Nothing else explains why I keep getting that feeling, because the design itself does not read 'cozy' to me until I get close. And I'm proud of that. That feels like a 'me' element. One other things that makes me happy is that it's not a cookie-cutter quilt. Not boring at all. I really, really like that quality in a quilt!
And one more pic for good luck
And I know, I know. Ten years ago I would have pretty much been doing hand stands at getting a quilt like this to the completed quilt-top stage. And now I just admire it, check it off the list and then quickly move on to the {much} more exciting quilts currently in progress. Nary a pang of regret in sight! hehe  Can't ever please a 'process' quilter can you!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Folksy Flower Coming Into Its Own

Finally, all the diagonal borders are attached to Folksy Flowers! It's been a a long, drawn out process as I started this quilt way back in 2015. Some quilts just take longer than others to come about. The full idea of this quilt apparently needed to marinate and simmer, slowly growing into its own. Either that or I was just practicing avoidance. Sometimes I honestly can't quite tell the difference!
Adding on another border....
At the beginning, there was a stack of fabrics that I kept pulling from. Occasionally I had to dig into the stash in search of another fabric, but mostly that initial fabric pull stayed true. The large flower with smaller flowers scattered across the middle was initially inspired by a piece of embroidery? I saw on a random blog one day while blog-hopping. I was never able to properly back-trace my steps {although I tried valiantly}, and there it was, stuck in my head, eventually sparking this entire quilt idea.
Finally getting to see it with all the diagonal borders...
I've been wanting to play with this sort of medallion for years, but was a little bit nervy about the idea. You know, because of possible bias stretch issues? And yep, it definitely happened with this quilt. The outcome is not completely horrid. I'm giving it the Pollyanna talk for now, assuring it that 'lots of hand quilting should help tremendously'. And really, I'm okay with that. It is a 'folksy' quilt after all.
Never know where a seed of an idea can take us!
At this point I'm considering whether or not there will be one more border to finish the quilt off. I briefly toyed with the idea of a one-fabric border in perhaps a lighter color, even dug into the stash for possibilities. Finally, I had to throw up my hands in defeat. There isn't anything lurking around in these stash totes that will do the trick and frankly, I'm not convinced it will settle for a wimpy simple, one-fabric border. After all the other border-work, why not finish with something a little more interesting? So I'm thinking hard about this one. Sometimes 'simple' really is the best option.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Always Something Going on Around Here

Scrappy Tulips is the quilt in the hoop these days. Since each red block is 22", I have to move the hoop a couple times in order to stitch each tulip in the block. I probably could have stitched the middle sashing down at the same time as the middle tulips, but was unsure what to do there.
Scrappy Tulip quilt starting to get some stitching
Lots of pondering about that and now it's starting to come together in my mind. I started out stitching every other string in the tulips and after about five of them, found myself going back and filling in. Finally I just gave up and am stitching through every single string. Much faster to do them all at once! Loving the look though. It's one of my favorite strings quilts ever.
A closer look at the blocks. It's amazing how different the
red looks depending on the light!
This afternoon also found me doing very basic sashiko mending on some summer capris. When the holes wear through to the point of showing skin on my upper thigh, it's a no-go. I had to go back and touch up the patch on the left as I didn't stitch quite far enough out on one side. I also clipped a few of the white threads so the patch could show through--just a bit. It's a fun, casual boho look. I don't mind it at all for hanging out at the house or going grocery shopping etc.

It's so hard to find capris that I feel look okay on my middle aged shape--I often give in and buy the ones with the pre-distressed look if necessary. {If they're cheap enough!} The mending is an annoying task, but also kind of interesting as I often play with different colors of thread and/or the shape of the stitch. Plus, it holds up really, really well. I taught my daughter how to do this several years ago and then wondered, why not do it for mine as well?
#sashikomending
And here's the next quilt project that persuaded me to jump in and play. I've been eyeing this stack of fabric for awhile now and quite by chance, stumbled on the green/turquoise stripe fabric the other day. I only bought a 1/3 of a yard {since they didn't cut fat quarters} and all of a sudden, the quilt started making sense.
My new quilt project that I'm calling 'Hey Grandma!'
because some of the fabrics remind me of prints she used.....
I know there's some 'ugly' looking background fabrics appearing in the quilt, but it's so intriguing to try and blend the old with the new. It just never gets old to me, unless I start churning out failure after failure of interpreting my ideas and inspiration. I'm also very interested to see if I can use that oldy, lighter turquoise print that I'm auditioning there for the border. That one was a fabric that almost got moved down the road when it was first gifted to me! Then I had second thoughts, 'Nah! Maybe save it for a backing fabric?' And now I've dug it out of the totes for something totally unexpected. We'll see. There's a lot of work to be done before I reach the border, blocks to cut out, applique to prep, stitching to happen. Well, you didn't really think I'd make something this colorful without applique did you?*wink

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Blue Plumes

This applique was intended to be used alongside some wide coin sashing. That didn't work out and so I went in a totally different direction. Basically split that project into two and brought the blue applique into a lighter, more serene looking setting.
Blue Plumes getting sewn together into a quilt top
Some would say it's boring, but there's just something about the cream and blue, plus that blue/white ticking fabric that seems peaceful to me. After getting the initial foundation piece of the applique stitched onto each individual block, then I sewed sets of two rows together. This helped me to easier manipulate the long pieces of quilt as I hand stitched the 'plumes' onto the overlap areas. Saved me a lot of hand cramping if you want to know the truth of it! Once they were all stitched down, except for the top applique units, then I sewed all the rows together into one large quilt top.

At this point, it was time to determine the fabric for borders. Yes I know some of you most often vote for no borders, but this is my quilt. Most quilts around here end up with something extra on the outside edges. Once again I was drawn to that blue/white ticking fabric. Is it that old fashioned, vintage-like vibe? It makes me want to curl up with the quilt already and it's not even done!
Auditioning border fabrics
But it needed something more. I played around with options and finally determined that it needed a thin blue sashing. This peppered cotton isn't the exact perfect color, but I kinda like it anyway. It clashes just enough to give some much needed energy to the quilt. I do hate to be predictable, plus there was enough left without having to make a run to the quilt store. That decision always implies that there is something out there more perfect and 'making do' isn't good enough anymore. I hate that feeling. That making do has somehow become second class.

I had already took a dive into that shallow pool early on, broken one of my most steadfast rules. This is, quite seriously, the first quilt in a very long time where I had impulsively quite deliberately went and bought fabric specifically for a particular project. I mean a lot of it, like all the ticking and small floral fabric. Not that I'm judging what you do! And yeah, I do buy binding and border fabrics all the time, when absolutely needed, but rarely ever go buy a large chunk that helps make up the look of the entire quilt. It just makes me feel queasy. I much prefer piecing a bunch of smaller stuff together to try and make that scrappier look.

Normally, I buy {or have odd bits of fabric given to me} for the stash and then make directly from there, challenging myself to blend and use what is already loved. Around here, the stash is KING. The theory being this: I'm convinced that it helps me make more unique quilts. Also, I love the occasional odd result, which is what 'making do' often leads to! Making from what I have already acquired as 'fabulousness' or at the very least, 'interesting', will ensure that whatever is made will be appreciated down to each and every fabric included. That is the necessary connection to me--loving all the little bits and pieces, bringing them together into a brand new, hopefully more charming unit! Somehow though, this project seemed to demand a little more continuity than making from those random pieces of stash fabrics and honestly, I couldn't let the project go. No matter what. It was just too intriguing and different.
Considering sashing fabrics
Okay, sorry about the sidetrack. So then I was back at the question I've been mulling over and over in my mind. Do the top applique pieces need to be continued even if they extend over into the top border? For the entire time the stitching has been happening on this quilt, I've been convinced they would need to just like the other blue plume units.
Auditioning having the applique extend into the border...
Now I'm not so sure. It feels forced to me and makes the quilt look a little awkward. Maybe if I leave off the plumes on those top blocks and add a few plumes in the corners of the quilt? It's definitely something to think about while I fuss about with adding on the sashing and outside borders.
Or maybe doing something altogether different!
There is just enough of the blue/white ticking fabric for outside borders if I make them narrow, which is really all it needs. Just enough to tie back into the center of the quilt and make for a more cohesive looking quilt. This has turned out to be such a surprising departure from my usual quilting, such a quiet looking quilt. And it all started from a motif I saw on a piece of fabric. So interesting where we get the seeds of our inspiration!

Linking up with Linda and Julie at Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share #7! They asked an interesting question this week 'What's in a Name?'  We often wonder don't we? I first started blogging with my family back in 2006 and of course had to come up with a name for my blog. Everyone had these cute names that tied back in with their individual interests and personalities. They all knew I was the obsessed quilter lady in the family and so 'The Quilty Folk' was an obvious choice. Later on when I wanted to start a blog strictly for my quilting, it simply became 'Quilty Folk'. You can read my first Quilty blog post here. I obviously STILL like to talk and talk and talk about quilting. It seems pretty funny now, but I didn't start getting regular comments until two years in. Who says blogging is easy?

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