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Showing posts with label Color. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Color. Show all posts

Friday, March 2, 2018

Quilting is learning

Every quilting project is a learning experience. My latest one, an incomplete project, was no exception.

I actually wrote about this quilt –my calendar block of the month quilt--last month when I decided to finish it. I love doing block of the month (BOM) projects because they tend to keep me interested. Every month is a challenge. Because I started this in 2012, there were some real challenges for me because of some techniques I had never done before. I had never done paper piecing and hadn’t done too many appliques either. This had both.

This was the first BOM I ever did. I really enjoyed learning new techniques and practicing the skills I already knew. Piecing was difficult for me back then, as was matching seams and achieving perfect points. To be sure, I did neither in this project, but I did the best I could at the time. Thankfully, I have improved since then.

Although I loved making the individual blocks, I wasn’t so enamored with the quilt itself. It was smaller than I would have liked. It never occurred to me to add blocks or borders to increase its size. If I was to do another one like this, I would probably do both of those things. I thought this project had little cohesiveness. I was bothered that it all seemed so helter-skelter.

Now that I have finished it, I really like how it turned out. I am no longer “afraid” of all the colors in it. I’m pleased that it has a theme—months of the year-- which really is its cohesiveness. My thinking has evolved since I first looked at all these unrelated blocks. I’ve also grown in my color appreciation. I am no longer turned off by the many colors here.

Quilting the quilt

One of the hardest things to do for myself and many other quilters is to decide how to quilt the quilt. I’ve often heard it said, and I now agree, the quilt will tell you how to quilt it. I know how hokey this sounds, but it is true; the quilt will speak to you.

For example, I had no idea how I was going to quilt the February block.

I knew I wanted the cats to stand out. I was rather fond of this block because I happen to have four cats. So, I used a tiny stipple to make the background dense. I also densely quilted the hearts, so the cats themselves would come forward.

One of the cats had a seam that had come loose. So, I decided to quilt an outline around the heart shape, which in turn, would tame that seam. Worked out great. This remains one of my favorite blocks.

Another one that gave me fits was the July block. I decided to use a red, white, and blue variegated thread. Big mistake, but I didn’t learn until it was way too late.

The blue stars didn’t turn out quite like I wanted them too. The red and white portion of the thread shows up on the blue background, but the blue does not. The problem with the feathers was that the white portion of the thread just looked like an unquilted space. I decided to do what so many quilters tell you to do if you are unhappy with how something turns out. Just throw more thread at it. I did that and they look so much better without the blank spots. 

I had no idea what to do with those pesky bird houses depicting June. There were no holes for the birds to fly into, so that was the first thing I had to do. I wanted to quilt them all differently, so I looked at the fabric and let it tell me what to do. On the blue/yellow one, I quilted wonky lines, following the fabric grid. I did the same on the yellow roof. In order to add some cohesion to the block, I added diagonal lines for the background. So, all of them look like they belong together, but remain all different.

Another place I used the fabric print to guide the quilting was on the jar that is the September block. I’ve been asked what the significance of that is. I assumed the jar was chosen to depict jelly making or canning vegetables from the harvest. My quilt is mine though, so I chose my jar to be filled with bugs. It reminded me of catching lightening bugs when I was a little girl. The fabric has bugs on it. So, I simply drew circles around them, in a form of pebbling. I like how the texture turned out on this block.

And that was the approach I took to all of the blocks. I enjoyed thinking through some of these issues.

This was the biggest project I have made with free-motion quilting. Everyone says it can be done, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Normally, I do quilt-as-you-go project, where the quilting is done on each block and they are assembled afterward. This was done traditionally. Truthfully, I didn’t see any real problem with quilting the whole quilt. Oh, it did take a little more muscle to fit the bulk of the fabric in the tiny space, but it wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. I’m no longer afraid of quilting a large quilt.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hold my breath, close my eyes, and hope for the best

Washing a new quilt is like making magic

CHQuilts: freshly washed 1
Last night, I decided to hold my breath, close my eyes, and hope for the best. It was time to wash my newly-completed quilt. I had put it off all day, nervous about this final process. So much work and time went into this quilt that I couldn't bear to have to do any of it all over again.

I don't know how I would feel if any of the fabric raveled, stitches fell apart, or colors faded or ran. So I just held my breath, closed my eyes, and hoped for the best. Because of the vast contrast between the palest yellow and most vibrant turquoise, I also tossed in a color catcher.

I never pre-wash fabric before making a quilt. There is something about working with material right off the bolt that I really like. Not only that, but I despise the wrinkles, knotting, and needed pressing afterward. When I finally make my fabric choices, I want to get right to it. I do admit though, I'm growing more nervous about new fabrics however, since we all know nothing is as it used to be.

When I took my quilt out of the washer, a cursory glance made me feel better. The color catcher was a pale blue-green color, so I am glad I used it. I put my quilt into the dryer and followed the same procedure--held my breath, closed my eyes, and hoped for the best.

CHQuilts: freshly washed 2I settled into my favorite chair and watched some television as I waited. (I opened my eyes for this part.) About 30 minutes later, the dryer alarm summoned me. I unraveled the jumbled mass and much to my surprise and pleasure, my quilt had been transformed. I liked it before, but I love it now.   CHQuilts: freshly washed 3
CHQuilts: freshly washed 4 
I know instinctively that washing a quilt is like making magic, but I'm always cautious. No need. The quilting, which was somewhat dense in some areas cause the open spaces to pouf. The stippling that was so prevalent in many of the blocks turned out great, with just a hint of what I refer to as the stipple ripple. Even the border, which I was so unsure about, came out great. The stiffness in the white fabric I used for the backing was softened. The entire quilt felt rather stiff before, but now was soft and pliable. 

Still warm, I wrapped myself up in it, and settled back down into my chair. Soon, I had a cat come to snuggle, then another, then another. Finally, I had three of our four cats cuddling on my lap. Then one left and the other appeared. This is by far, one of the greatest moments of this quilt's history. I absolutely love quiltmaking.