Category Archives: Improvisation

Home {a finish}

What do you do when some of your favorite clothes are no longer useable due to wear? This quilt started as my favorite New Zealand t-shirt (red with map of NZ and the word “Home” on it), two striped t-shirts that I associated with my mum, and my favorite work trousers (a pair of woolen plaid trousers) had holes and had worn thin in places that could not be mended.

I really did not want to part with these four items, in particular. I don’t know why but I had an emotional attachment to these pieces of clothing but I did. I had been following Sherri Lynn Wood and her artist in residence program at Recology in San Fransisco, where she focused on reusing fabric that had been thrown out. Watching her work develop, made me realize I could reuse these clothes in a quilt, and hang onto them forever.

Close-up of fabric selections + my Home t-shirt

I added corduroy’s and a rugby shirt as well into the mix. As I was cutting my clothes up and looking at placement, I really wanted to have the a balanced composition. I found as I placed and auditioned fabric on my design wall, I needed to include more negative space. I really enjoyed the final placement and happy with the mix of solid fabrics (or ones that read as solid), stripes, prints and text fabrics and then the light, medium and dark tones of the fabric. I think the word home is placed well too, towards the bottom and really happy its offset than in the middle. It helps you move from top to bottom and then back up again as you look at the details.

Note: most of the t-shirt’s I used Pellon 911F interfacing to stabilize the shirts before cutting and piecing, making that process much easier.

Once I felt the top complete, I was so excited about the quilting (which is not normal for me as this is my least favorite part of quilting). I decided to do some of my usual straight line work but also experiment with some of Jacquie Gering’s Walk & Walk 2.0 designs.

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Example of straight line and grid quilting work.
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Experimenting with Crosshatch mash-up (pg. 46 Walk)
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Experimenting with Four Corner Radiating (pg. 52 Walk)

Finally to finish up the quilt, I auditioned several bindings and this Cotton + Steel dot print landed up being the best red and framed the quilt well.

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Details

Name : Home
Design:
 Original Design
Fabric: Variety of up-cycled clothing and scraps of Kona Cotton
Binding: Cotton + Steel, Kicks, Cleats Red
Backing:
 Moda, Zen Chic, Modern Backgrounds Paper
Dimensions: 30″ x 35″
Quilted: With 50wt Aurifil #2021, using domestic machine walking foot, straight lines.

Orange Creamsicle {a finish}

As QuiltCon Together approaches (02/18/2021) I thought I would share this quilt that made it into the virtual show but had not made it onto my blog so far. 

Say hello to Orange Creamsicle. Orange Creamsicle started with a single block that I had hoped would be a great compliment to the rest of the Sunday Best blocks.

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To be honest the block just didn’t really work with the rest of quilt. Yes, that became the start to Orange Creamsicle.

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I introduced some limits to this quilt after the first block, as I really wanted to try making a quilt top without modern equipment. I wanted to see what it was like for women of the past who made quilts.  Those limits included:

  • Limited color palette (pinks, oranges, yellows, red, purple – a warm color palette)
  • All fabric was cut with scissors (typically scissors less that 4″ so they could travel on the plane)
  • All blocks with hand pieced. Stitched up by hand.
  • The drunkard path blocks were roughly 6″ finished. They again were squared up using scissors.

If any block did not measure 6″ finished I used filler strips. A design decision was made to introduce aqua into these strips to give the eye somewhere to rest. 

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I really enjoyed this project. Much of it was done on work trips or on vacation. I remember stitching blocks in Germany while visiting my husband’s family and in Olympic National Park as we drove from sight to sight.  The best thing is I learned a lot about hand piecing that I had not known before.

  • Back stitch, 2-3 stitches at the beginning and end of your lines instead of using notes.
  • Stay stitch across each seam for stabilization and then also every 1-1 1/2 inches.
  • Mark a 1/4 ” line so your stitch lines are relatively straight.
  • Stitch multiple stitches at a time with your needle. You will get straighter and more consistent stitching.
  • I used a 10 needle and 50wt aurifil thread which worked well for just piecing.
  • Next time I will match my thread to the fabric palette and use a warm color (like orange). I used white as that is what I had on hand. You will see your stitches as they are larger than what you get with a sewing machine.

While visiting my family in New Zealand I laid out the blocks for determining final layout. Once I thought the balance of colors were right the rows of the tip were hand stitched together.  The limits of mostly handwork made this perfect for a traveling quilt project.

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I decided to give this quilt a little something else and pieced the back from scraps. The scraps were in the same color palette as the front but were all prints. They were mostly pieced in a column like fashion, again using improvisation. I was really pleased with how many of my favorite prints were in my scrap bin that made it into the back and shocked to see how much of my scraps were still in the storage jars, after I had finished.

Early on I had made a decision to use match stick quilting with a variety of warm colors. I also wanted to add a few hand quilted lines with a 28 wt thread. It was my first time hand quilting since taking a class with Season at QuiltCon (S.d.evans). I started in the middle and laid down the first few lines….and then this quilt stopped progressing.

Thankfully, I had a fire lit to try and finish some of my WiPs in the middle of 2020 (while in quarantine. Orange Creamsicle made the list.   I have no idea why it took so long to get back to it, as it did not take long to finish. The quilting added an amazing amount of texture. There is also a guarantee, with this many quilting lines, these blocks will never fall apart.

Binding was an easy decision, it was which ever orange solid color that I had a 1/2 yard of. I also used the aqua for the bottom right corner as I love that line at the bottom there and it would almost have disappeared if orange was used.

I am really pleased with how this turned out. I did do a little happy dance as this one came off the machine.

Details

Name : Orange Creamsicle 
Design:
 Original Design
Fabric: Kona Cotton (Variety of warm colors + ? )
Binding: Kona Cotton
Backing:
 Various Print Fabric scraps
Dimensions: 36 x 48 in.
Quilted: With 50wt Aurifil , using domestic machine walking foot, straight lines matchstitck + 28wt Aurifil hand quilted.

Color Play Study {Quilt Journey Part I}

Instead of just posting about my finishes, I thought I would go into more detail on a few quilts. This first post I have touched on before but wanted to talk more about the steps, techniques and process of building these quilts from design to binding.

I am starting with a color play study I did, that was inspired by Stanley Whitney’s work.  As Josef Albers explores color with his work Interaction of color, I love how Stanley Whitney does the same (at least for me) in the placement of the colors in the grid.  Here are a couple of examples of Stanley Whitney’s work:

If you like these pieces, check out this book, Stanley Whitney: In the Color.

There are three pieces in which I explored color and placement. For all, I started with:

  • A large design wall that provided space to organize layout and editing.
  • A pile of larger scraps that were smaller than a fat quarter, and some sorted smaller scraps, sorted by color.
  • I knew that these would be improvisation based quilts; exploring maximalism with color but minimalism in design.

The first quilt, Whitney, I started with a similar grid layout like Stanley Whitney’s pieces. I keep with bright colors but was limited based on the scraps I had in my stash. I did not want to purchase additional fabric.

As I ordered the larger scraps I found common color groupings – Reds/pinks, Greens, yellows and blues. I laid these scraps vertically in the color groups thinking I would add horizontal strips between the rows. Where I did not have enough large scraps I used smaller scraps to create the square (see red and green rows). This is what the initial layout looked like.

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I edited the arrangement and made some decisions:

  • I wanted to have yellow’s, vertically all the way down. Yellow had the smallest variation in color so I feel it draws the eye down between rows.
  • As I sewed up each row, I added “filler” pieces to try and make sure each row was approximately the same size.
  • The stripes between the rows, I wanted to keep within the color choices I made in the columns, so I chose blue, reds and yellow (the primary colors). The colors were ~2″ strips I had in stash.
  • I added stripes to add interest and a place for visual rest.
  • Many of the larger scraps had corners missing so additional pieces were added, or strips were trimmed off, and one I added a triangle which I thought would be great using a green from the adjacent color area.
  • The lighter blue piece added in the blue row separator was not planned. The strip was too short and it was a slice and insert. It was a great coincidence that it lined up the way it did.

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Stanley is the second study I did. I wanted to explore, this time the lack of bright colors with a mostly neutral color palette. Some design decisions for this quilt:

  • I played with different fabric types in this quilt with quilting cotton, linen, denim and feed sacks.
  • I wanted the quilt to move from dark (left) to light (right) – black, grey, whites/creams.
  • Yellow was used as a row separator in this quilt.
  • To draw the eye down the quilt, this time I used the thin blue denim vertical stripe. Its separated with the yellow but I decided not to separate it between second and third rows.
  • The red was prompted from the red in the feed sack. I was hoping that it would make the feed sacks pop a little.
  • The red print was added last as the row separator between black and grey. I decided I liked having the red print also down the side of the third row. I like the jump it forces you to make when looking at it.

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The first two quilts were named after Stanley Whitney who inspired these two pieces; Whitney due to the bright colors (more girl-ie) and Stanley for the more neutral quilt.

If you follow my blog you would have seen the 3rd one in this study – Scrap Dive Study no. 3. This one was not following the typical grid rows and columns layout the previous two explored. I still explored the separation of areas but in a more quadrant layout. The large scraps here I looked at oranges, reds, yellows, greens and a smaller area of blues. The separator is a linen weaved blend.

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After this initial layout, I changed:

  • The grouping of the colors. I moved all the greens into one area. I expanded the blues into its own areas and added some denim off-cuts. The two other segments were the warm colors which are positioned more in a gradation – corals to oranges in one segment, reds/pinks/oranges and yellows in the other.

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  • The center, I struggled with and initially tried a variety of prints but finally decided on a black and white center
  • Also, rotated the quilt so that the green was on top.

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As I take you through the journey of these quilts, I plan to share:

  • Technique: How I baste quilts (where I’ll share reference material)
  • Deciding on Quilting designs
  • Technique: Burying threads
  • Technique: Binding tips

If you have other questions or topics you want more information,  let me know and I’ll try to address them, either in these planned posts or in new posts.