Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Rainy Spring"...Working in Sections

The blocks are now sewn into nine sections.  When I want to add a seam treatment, I just take one section down from the design wall to work on it.

This has been working out really well.

From the back, a section looks like this. 
Each block has been interfaced, trimmed, and the edges zigzagged so this is all very stable for working.  Notice the seams are all pressed open.  Less bulk this way.

I've been having fun with it!  Lots of sequins....This is the upper left section.  I finished the edges of the fans pretty simply, the same in all four corners of the quilt.

A close up of one of the seams...

I've been combining machine and hand embroidery, and am writing about that for CQMagOnline's next issue.

Here is the overall view as of today...

You can see the sections.  I get a feel for the quilt overall as I work, but only have to deal with 4, 6, or 9 blocks at a time.  It's a good system.

I went to the bead store yesterday and got a bunch of crystal beads....I keep thinking about raindrops....

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Rainy Spring"...Assembling the Center

As I was trimming my blocks and re-pinning them up on the design wall, I happened to pin one of the center blocks upside down.
It was one of those accidents that changed the direction of the quilt in a fairly big way!  I decided to make the center into a circle, truly representing our seemingly absent sun.

I knew that I had to complete the circle shape though, and that required some fairly technical surgery this morning.

I began by sewing the blocks together, but leaving the seams open where the appliqued little quarter circle shapes would go in.  I knew I had to line them up perfectly, and wanted to have as much control as I could.

 First I had to make the four little corner lace collages.

 Then I pinned them in place and appliqued them along both sides of the corner of the block.

 The ribbon was carefully pinned into place and sewn down, so that when the center blocks were completely sewn, the circle would look round and continuous.  Dicey!!!

Not too bad.

Here is the center sewn together, fairly well pressed, fairly round too.  *Whew!*

But I still needed some sun.  We all know it's there, behind the clouds....

 The Accuquilt Go! cutter is absolutely invaluable when perfect circles are needed, in this case out of holographic and bonded lame.

And then I dove right off the deep end.
A long time ago, I saw a quilt by Terrie Hancock Mangat where she painted all over it after the whole quilt was done.  I thought that was so gutsy of her to do that.  So what the heck, I decided to fuse some Angelina fiber over my finished and assembled center blocks.

No going back! Especially after I fused down my Angelina layer with this great new product from Shades Textiles, a very very fine fusible web called SoftFuse.  I got it at Quilt Market.

Oh my.
Could this have actually worked?

I think so.  When the real sun shines on it this glows.  ;-)  Wish I could capture that here in a photo...the quilt actually looks much more yellow-ey golden green than this... the trees do at the end of the day when the sun slips in under the clouds, sideways, and lights everything up.

I took quite a flyer at this stage of my quilt, and could have crashed in disaster.  But it was very fun to take the risk! Now maybe I can finally sew the rest of those blocks together...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Rainy Spring"...A Whole Lot of Couching Going On

First the trim took me in an unexpected direction, and now the thread has!

These Kreinik metallic ribbons completely beguiled me.
I decided to couch over all of my seams in my 49 blocks with these wide threads (1/8") and other narrow trims. I just don't know what got into me to try working this way but I've had a blast roaring away on my sewing machine.

All the block seams are covered now.

 It started with wanting to cover the light blue seams with this shiny stuff, to symbolize all the rain.

 Then I just carried on the same concept with the outer blocks.  What I liked about this approach was that the decision making was fast and furious. 

Sometimes I would combine threads and trims along one seam, sometimes not.

 It really was fun.

In this picture all the blocks in their rough state are pinned up on the wall.

 Since I took this shot I've been interfacing and trimming the blocks, sewing the fan shapes down, and generally making things much more cohesive looking.  When it is sewn together I'll have a much better idea of what I've really got here.
For all this will function as the basis, or background, for the surface embellishment.

 For the sun IS starting to shine....
...and the flowers ARE starting to bloom....

 I'm sure they will surprise me too!

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Rainy Spring"....Trim Tangent!

Uh oh.....such best laid plans, such pure intentions!!!  I was all ready to assemble my blocks, honestly I was.  But then I thought, "A little gold metallic lace would be nice around the perimeter" but I didn't have any in my prodigious stash.

Aha!  A trip to the Button Emporium and Ribbonry in downtown Portland was just the answer. Yesterday, off I went.

But you can't leave a store like that with just gold's impossible.

Over the past several hours I have put a good deal of this trim onto the quilt. What can I do?  I had to!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Rainy Spring"...Piecing Complete

This has been an extravaganza of piecing!
But now I have finished all 49 blocks. They are pinned up on the wall awaiting interfacing, trimming, and sewing together....because this quilt will be embellished as a whole, not block by block.

I thought I'd show the weird way I've been piecing this project.  One of the key points is that I use clear monofilament thread for the top and a lightweight neutral cotton thread in the bobbin.  The reason for this is that I can switch from flip and sew to applique without having to change threads all the time.  This gives me a ton of flexibility as I am sewing along.

So first I lay out my pieces. This is one of the four outer corner blocks.  They are golden and light colored to show how the sun occasionally comes out and makes everything glinty. Holographic lame, gold embroidered's very fun to use this stuff!

I cut out separate foundation muslin for these fan shapes using my AccuQuilt "Drunkard's Path" die.  Then after I figure out how the puzzle best fits together, I start combining patches.

Because the pieces are pretty small, and the metallic fabrics make nasty seam allowances, I sometimes use this knitting ribbon to cover the raw edges where two sections butt up against each other on the foundation.
Love the sparkle on that lame under the sewing machine's light!

Different lighting entirely here (it was once again very cloudy outside), but you can see the block pinned into place.

And here is the entire quilt! 

Obviously it will tighten up considerably when it is sewn together.  And this is just the first "layer"....the embellishments will help blend the gold into the green, the green into the blue, and the blue into the white to soften those edges.

I've got to psyche up for the next phase...I think a new rotary cutter blade is in order for all this trimming!  Time to change needles on the machine as well...  ;-)

But first, a reward for my hard work! 

Husband made sourdough with butter and orange blossom honey.  To die for....

Friday, June 10, 2011

"Rainy Spring..." More Piecing

It has stopped raining long enough to take time for gardening, and the temps are just starting to warm up, so I haven't been putting in quite as much time on this quilt during the past week.  A few blocks per day has been the going rate.

All those yellow marsh marigolds are flowering in the pasture, and the horses don't eat them.

They have made me want to push on the yellow.
So the blocks are coming along....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Rainy Spring".....Block Progress

This quilt is definitely about the weather.  I'm trying to abstract the colors out of the landscape into my piecing.

You can see we get some great lighting at the end of the day, so I wanted to work those yellows in too.

And some gold as well.  The blue blocks had silver touches.

Here's a corner block.
The whole quilt so far looks like this:

Lots of green piecing is in my future, but I am already dreaming of adding the flowers.....

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rainy Spring...Mapping Out Line

Plenty of inspiration keeps coming from the weather for this quilt....

Although this week-end it is actually supposed to stay sunny and warm!

I've been piecing the next round of blocks outside the center ones, roughing out the blocks on the design wall in order to keep the composition of the whole quilt in mind as I make those piece by piece decisions.
Taking digital pictures and viewing the quilt as a whole very small, on the camera, helps trouble areas pop out too.

The element of line is an important consideration for me in my crazy quilts, so I get that figured out first with the main "line items" (ha ha) first. And yes, I do veto them sometimes!

By pinning them up on the blank blocks, I try to keep things balanced. Not symmetrical, but balanced.

This is where things are as of this morning. To my surprise, some colored lace has crept into the mix. I need to do some more lace painting before I proceed further with the piecing!