22 March 2015

"Skill-Sets": My Set In Seams Extravaganza!

I have been working on this for a few weeks...maybe a month.  It's called "Smitten" from Jen Kingwell. I am calling it "Skill-sets" since I wanted to make it as a way to become very comfortable with set-in, or 'y' seams. After making this quilt I no longer have any reservations about sewing them anymore!

I wanted to use fabrics that were in my stash, and I am blessed to have a collection 1930's prints. Many are Marcus Brothers brand fabrics from the 'Aunt Grace' lines by Judie Rothermel. I had been saving these prints for years. The look of this quilt is far from my 'comfort zone' and, truth be told, it is just a bit too "cute" to be 'my' style. Vintage 30's prints have always appealed to me though - with their happy colors and  whimsical designs. They make happy to look at. I just have never used them much in my quilts.
What I discovered in working with these prints is that there are not many high contrast fabrics in 1930's reproductions. They are mostly medium to light values. Of course, I had to use some of the brightest, and perhaps darkest, that I could find in my stash. I still struggle with the 'low volume' look I guess. 
I came close to trashing this quilt as it hung on my "decision" wall. I played endlessly with the placement of the pieces until I found what I thought was a decent balance of color and density, but I still was not impressed and I felt sure that I would be burying this quilt under a pile of tops. DH said that he thought I would like it when it was done. I hated to waste the effort and so I hung in there as I stitched it all together. When it was put together I had to decide on the set-in sides pieces. Nothing worked to my satisfaction until I held up black! The black magically settled the busy-ness of the quilt and brought the eye in and provided a resting place. I was so much happier with it. I may keep it after all. 
I managed to pair rainboots and umbrellas. Cats on aqua with hula-hoops, black cats with Halloween pumpkins on a cream background. Pairing these happy prints was great fun. All in all, I am happy that I carried on and finished this quilt. It was more colorful, in the end than I had thought it would be, I no longer fear set-in seams at all, and I did some decent problem solving along the way. This quilt provided a great many lessons - perseverance (I DID get bored of those set-in seams!), patience, problem-solving and the need to carry on despite ennui and dislike all were good lessons!

  • How do you carry on when you are working on something that is not coming as you had hoped it would?
  • Do you generally complete projects or do move on to something more pleasurable? 
  • Do you try to find ways to make a "ho-hum project better?

15 March 2015

Snippets and Another Catch Up!

"The Smitten Quilt" blocks by Jen Kingwell

Here we go again. Another chunk of time has flown by leaving me in the dust wondering how it can be that hummingbirds are returning and it is just about Saint Ptrick's Day. Have you ever felt tht you are standing still in the midst of a whirlwind? That's how I feel about time lately. The less of it I have the faster it flies by!

My life has been devoted to sewing every day and I hve to confess that it feels good. I have, however, been in the midst of a bit of color confusion lately.

We have already enjoyed our annual quilting retreat at fabulous Camp Burton on beautiful Vashon Island where we enjoyed stellar, warm, sunny weather. The bad news is that our beloved "Island Quilter" (home of the largest Kaffe Fassett collection anywhere!) has to move because their building has been sold. They may have to move off of the island and that could inpact local business' as well as possbi;y our wanting to return next year. Enjoing trips to this amazing quilt shop is an everday highlight of time on Vashon Island each year!

I have been working on "Smitten" by Jen Kingwell. The blocks in the top photo above are all from the pattern. All of the blocks are completed and I am putting the rows together today. The pattern and pieces are available from one of my favorite vendors- Paper Pieces, but I used the Marti Michelle Template Pack "H" and made this pattern by machine althpugh it lends itself brilliantly as  hand project.  I am a big fan of templates and I use them whenever I can find them for a pattern. They make my life happier! I made this quilt to conquer my lingering fears about 'set in', or 'Y' seams. Let me tell you - making this pattern will teach you to banish that fear in a hurry! I also wanted to use what I had on hand and that happens to include a large stock of 30's reproduction prints. Although I love the happiness of the 30's prints they did not offer much use of contrast and I found myself longing to add some stronger colors - which have not have worked in the least! I told DH that I was not too happy about this quilt but I will finish it. I plan to spice it up a bit by adding a border. He thinks that I will end up liking it (he decided tht he liked it after looking at it for while), but I am unconvinced at the moment.
I have also been doing a lot of hand work. This is the 'La Passacaglia' quilt from "Millefiori Quilts" by Willyne Hammerstein (at this time it it on sale). It is an English Paper Pieced project and both the book as well as a set of acrylic templates and all of the paper pieces that you would need for this project are available from Paper Pieces. There are scads of images bout this intricate quilt on the net. FaceBook has a great, inspirational group and Instagram offers a wealth of photos too.
This is an idea of how two of the rosettes will interact. I have a long way to go! Oddly enough I find that I am enjoying the fussy cutting that seems to go hand in hand with making this pattern. It's quite fun to see the possibilities in even 'boring' fabric designs! I think that, in the long run, I will be happy with this effect, but it has left me longing for  brighter colors!
I chose to use reproduction fabrics for this quilt for several reasons:

1.  I had  these fabrics on hand and did not want to spend more on more fabric.
2.  I was thinking that if I used my normal, more punchy pallette, the quilt, 
     when complete,would be  bit overpowering with nowhere for the eye to rest.
     I am rethinking this a bit now,  but I am loathe to start all over again!
3.  I just could not decide on a focal fabric!
This image of the cover of Willyne Hammerstein's book, ' Millifiore Quilts',
 is from the website of thewonderful Linda Franz' 

My need for more vibrant color?! Enter the wonderful world of Katja Marak's 'The New Hexagon'. Once again Paper Pieces is in the forefront of this new quilt experience. They offer the templates and paper pieces for this fun Quilt Along hosted by Katja. Katja owns a quilt shop in Kamloops, BC. She has a FaceBook Group for the quilt along and each month she releases a new 'rosette' pattern  which is a combination of blocks from the book (the rosette patterns are available, if desired, as a 'block-of-the-month' from Paper Pieces).
The beginning of my first rosette. This then, is my "lack of color" antidote! I am playing as much as I want on this one so, in the end, I will have a muted paper pieced quilt as well as a vibrant one
I have to admit that when I first got this book I thought that it was a bit 'ho-hum'. That was before I saw what amazing, colorful, rosettes were being made. Each month a new rosette is released and each rosette is composed of different combinations of the hexagons in the book - hence you need to have the book in order to play. People are making some amazing things from this. Again, many images can be found on FaceBook and Instagram.

I continue my fascination with monthly embroidered circlets. I use simple embroidery stitches with wool and cotton threads worked on a wool base. This was my very first attempt to add a shisha mirror. They are fun to do !

I have a nagging feeling that I am not accomplishing much despite sewing lot. I think it is partially the usual slump that seems to fall upon me at this tangential part of the year. Not quite Spring but I can feel it coming. As I said the hummingbirds sound as if they are arriving in force and I will be adding several more quart feders within the next couple of days I think!

Share your thoughts!
  • How do you manage this time of year?
  • Do you experience somewhat regular "slump times"? 
  • Do you have barren "art mind" times? What are you stratagies for breaking out of them?

Happy sewing! Happy Creating! Happy Spring!