Friday, July 8, 2011

Rainy Spring....Top Assembled!

I've put a lot of work into this quilt over the past week, culminating in sewing the sections together this morning.
Here is what's been happening.....

I wanted some flower motifs to go inside some of the patches in the outer blocks.  These white flowers are from M & S Schmalberg in New York.  Did you know you can order flower "components" from them now, not just already-made flowers?  Have a look!

May the cat helped me out the morning I painted.

She was good company during a pleasant hour of painting with Dye-Na-Flow.

I realized that in the middle of a wet spring there just aren't those nice warm reds and oranges in the flowers outside yet.  So those colors didn't belong on the quilt either.

Oops!  A false start.  I had thought that some viney embroidery would look nice between the blocks, but itjust looked chaotic.  There is plenty going on in this quilt without adding another element to it, so instead I made very simple floral motifs in some of the patches.  These tie in with the white flowers in the center section too.

Simple, but fun...and they add some overall unity to the quilt as well.

When those were all completed (and some more raingdrops added), I put the finishing touch on the center.

There was just too much blank space in the center....but it turns out it was just waiting for these luminous blue flowers.

I do still want to add some more raindrops, but the quilt had to be assembled for me to do that, as the beading will go between sections.  So, time to sew the quilt together!

I came up with a neat strategy for making sure my blocks met up precisely at each corner.
Rather than sewing the whole long seam and hoping for the best, I pinned each "intersection", sewed about 12 machine stitches (set at 3.0) over it, then opened up the quilt to see how I did.

Looks good!

Oops.  Looks not so good.  It was an easy matter to pull out that short bit of stitching, repin, and try again.

Much better.  Can you see the difference?

This shows two big chunks ready to have their intersections sewn.  When all of them lined up just right, I sewed the whole seam, just sewing over the areas already stitched in the intersections.

I was feeling quite smug and pleased with myself....

...until I realized that the raindrops were going in opposite directions.  Bummer!  So I had to take it all apart and start over.
I will say here that having the blocks interfaced, trimmed, and their edges zigzagged really simplified this task.  There was no shredding or distorting of the blocks as I manhandled them with seam ripper, iron, more pinning and sewing.
Good grief!

Humbled, I tried again, and here we are.  Click on it!
I'm going to live with it up on the designwall for a few days to see what else comes to mind...I know I need some more raindrops but don't want to add too much more.  It is feeling pretty complete.
I probably won't do the finishing until later in the fall, as I will be taking this with me to a couple of teaching engagements, and it will pack much easier as just a top than as a finished quilt.

It has been so much fun and did truly get me through my rainy spring!

Now......some brief thoughts about judging CQ's in competition....

I went into detail above about lining up my intersections for a reason: when you enter a quilt in a show, the craftsmanship has to be as perfect as you can possibly make it.  It doesn't matter how gorgeous your stitching is, if your blocks don't line up you will not win.  Or if your binding isn't "filled" and those miters in the corner at a perfect 45 degrees, you are out. When the quilt is folded into quarters, all four corners must meet perfectly.  Competition is fierce, and judges sometimes have no other way to choose between two fabulous quilts than by scoring these technical details. You absolutely cannot ignore them.

As an aside, speaking of binding, I hate it.  I use the French Facing technique to get around it, and I think binding often doesn't look right on a CQ anyways.  Go here to read it an article I wrote about it.


Judges are actually quite helpful in their comments, if you can learn to take them as the constructive criticism they are meant to be.  I know, it stings.  Believe me, I know!  But I will never forget a simple "Design lacks focus" comment on a small quilt that truly helped me change my orientation to my work.  I have put much more structure into my quilts since then, to good effect I think.

We care about how much heart, soul, and passion we put into our quilts.....and that can shine through, of course.  But judges are looking for what kind of a visual impact the quilt has, how well the embellishments serve the overall design, if it hangs straight, use of color and so forth.  They don't have the emotional attachment to our quilts that we do.

Personally, I think the quilt competitions have raised the bar astronomically in the quilt world and they are a true force for good.  Sometimes judges make wacky decisions but overall, I think they push quiltmakers to constantly improve and innovate.  This applies to us crazy quilters too! 

Well, the sun's out....

Time to get out into the flowers....
Isn't the summer grand?










20 comments :

Leigh said...

The link to the binding doesn't seem to work

Gerry Krueger said...

I am hanging on every word... Ger

Elizabeth said...

In the very first photo the first thing I noticed was the sun shining thru the curtain!!! YAHOOOOO!! the quilt is glorious, I love your line up technique!! BRilliant!!! So sorry that the raindrops were d=going the wrong way- so very much to consider when One is putting it all together!!!!
It truly is stunning!!!
Do you use Dyna Flo for painting all of your trims and flowers and such?? So glad that you are able to go out and enjoy your flowers now!!! Congrats on a beautiful stunning work of art!!!

Allison Ann Aller said...

Fixed that link...thanks Leigh!

Vicki W said...

It's exquisite! I love seeing you build your pieces. It's clear that you pay attention and enjoy ever single step. Well, maybe, except binding but you don't short cut it or any other part!

ARLENE said...

It was great fun watching your design come to life. I appreciate your comments on judging. I was sorry I used the binding on my piece. I think it worked well, but it was a devil to get on. Will definitely use your method of zig-zagging around the blocks since I did my share of frogging to line up the intersections. So much to learn! Spent 8 hours beading today at Day 1 of a 3 day workshop with Nancy Eha. Can't wait to use what I learned on my next CQ.

Debra Spincic said...

Very pretty & dramatic!

Cathy K said...

As always, I learn something from you and I love your tip about sewing blocks together from the corners. You are certainly right about the judges’ comments, too. But mostly, I am enthralled by your quilt. This one is a major factor in helping me to grow back into enjoying the color blue (but when paired with the greens and golds and raindrops, etc., how could I not?). This is my favorite quilt of yours to date! Hugs, Cathy

Marty52 said...

le sigh... poifect, Ms. Allie! I really love, love, love those raindrops... they give so much movement to the piece. Hope to see this in person some day!

Robin said...

I don't mind binding, Allie... want me to do it for you?

Totally lovely quilt! The flowers added a lot, without distracting for other goings on... because you cleverly matched their colors +/- to the background. It's beautiful and so evocative of our spring weather, especially this past spring, endless as it was (which I actually like a lot)...

(((((((((hugs)))))))))

Plays with Needles said...

I've always loved the rain and I especially love it on your quilt!

It's really lovely to see this early spring color combination and you've pieced it so beautifully. I'm afraid that you've scared me off of ever entering a quilt into competition but that doesn't mean I still won't make one...

Its such a lovely manifestation of the joy in your heart as you lived through your rainy Spring. I'm lifting my cup to you! Bravo!

lakenreich said...

Your work is amazing-I love looking at it. Thanks for sharing-Leslie K

underatopazsky said...

The quilt is a work of art and of supreme workmanship. It's been a delight to see it develop and the sprinkle of sparkling rain across it is masterly.

Conni said...

I love absolutely everything about this quilt!!!

Cute pic of May behind the curtain...

FredaB said...

Really very pretty Allie. I like your hint about joining the blocks.

Enjoy the sun and the flowers while you can - take time to smell the roses.

Hugs

FredaB

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