[personal profile] emmne
I highly encourage patternless quilt design as a great way to create real quilted art and unique creations.  I haven'et found  good way to coach on how to do that, so I thought I'd explain how I do it through an example.

t rarely use a pattern, although I occasionally make one.  Most often I have a concept.  Sometimes I make blocks but never the same one throughout except once when I did a one piece quilt, that is, the same irregular quarter of a square throughout, all in pinks and reds.  I've contributed blocks to group quilts and those often used a pattern. I've cone some process blocks - usually multiple ones in the same quilt and scrappy, but I don't know how I;m going to combine them until I get to that stage in the process.  

My latest quilt, latest to finish that is, was a concept quilt I stated three and half years ago (that pretty quick for me.  I've done UFOs that were nearly thirty years old.).  I cut strips and individual squares from 1-1/2 up to 12-1/2 and most of the usual sizes in between.  I sewed the smaller strips side-by-see in sets of one, two, up to six I think strips, then sliced them up and combined them with strips or blocks the same size in one direction (e.g six one inch strips with a six inch block or a pair of three inch squares.  I aimed for rectangles that were 6x8 or 6x9 or rectangles of 6, 8, or 9 by 12 and ended up with more variation than that.  I kept growing the blocks and combining the smaller ones into increasingly bigger ones until I had about a dozen blocks of various sizes plus various leftovers.  

Then I gridded out what I had left, added the leftovers to the sides or ends of the larger rectangles until I could put two next to each other to make another larger rectangle (same length and/or width together) until Ihad four pieces.  I could line up two and two, and then those with one point of zig-zag toward the center to make the two halves of the quilt, and sewed those two together with some care around the zig zag.

I left it at that for a long time but finally got around to the next stage this past November.  I put together a backing that wasn't quite big enough and started quilting, eventually added more backing pieces and shortened the quilt to bring it down to 92 by 98.  The trimmed end pieces were turned into top and bottom bindings.  For the side bindings I used a dark blue print to bring out the blues and provide a sharp contrast to all the yellows and oranges and reds.  I finished the quilting just over a week ago, then the binding, with some painted embellishments and embroidery-type quilting along the way.  Hopefully I will shortly figure out how to post the picture!

UFOs

May. 17th, 2014 10:35 pm
[personal profile] emmne
i was catching up on other things besides sewing after I finished hand quilting an old window pane top but now it is time for our local group to sign up for the annual UFOs (UnFinished Objects) so I signed up for two.  One is a 30+ year old patchwork on an even older blanket that recently decided to shrink drastically.  So I'm adding two towels, fixing the patchwork, and adding more to make it a single-sized quilt again, cotton blanket and towels, mixed fabric appliqued patches, in shades of cool greens.  The other one is a pile of sunflower fabric I've been collecting and "stash" yellows, oranges, and browns to match.  It's going to be design as I go, three to five pictures, including one with a barn and quilts hanging on a fence with more traditional patterns (and sunflower fields in the background) and probably a vase of sunflowers among other related pictures, Then a background and framing in either subtly colored traditional blocks or randomly mixed half-square triangles in shades of yellow drifting to mixed shades of orange and brown.  Maybe some of each depending on how much space I need to fill to make the pictures--in different sizes and borders--fit together.  i figure some will be pieced for the pictures (fields made of stripes or diamonds, etc) but some will have to be appliqued.  How much is machine appliqued will depend on sizes and my schedule.  Easier to watch my shows while I'm hand sewing than when I'm machine sewing, but when nothing is on, I'd just as soon machine sew.  I have no destination for it yet, but that's one of the reasons its a UFO: the annual challenge gives me an incentive to make progress on such deadline free projects that I've had fabric for for awhile, and maybe eventually I'll get my act together enough to try to sell some of them on etsy or something.  Take a lot of them being ready to make it worth a consignment shop or some such, i imagine.  Maybe after i retire and have time to manage a craft shop on the side...
[personal profile] emmne
I was making it for a QOV, smaller than my usual quilts, so it wasn't as daunting, then I discovered it was far easier than I anticipated.  Essentially, it's half a log cabin that looks like a quarter when done, with the center in one corner and the layers on two sides.  I thought it would take a lot of up and down - add a side (half a layer), trim for each block separately, but when you are doing a stack of blocks (I did 35), you can do some modified strip quilting along the way for more efficient flow and less getting up and down. 
  • I made the center squares first, stacked them up next to strips for what was going to be the first side and second side (I suspected I could do that much without squaring off)
  • I laid out the strip first and put the square on top to sew.  That's when I realized I could strip quilt by just leaving the strip on the sewing machine and putting the squares next to each other as I went.
  • After I had sewn all the squares to the strips, then I could iron and cut them apart, squaring as I went, much faster than doing it separately for every single square.  Of course, this only works if you don't mind some repetition.  Complete repetition can be avoided with shorter strips or more different strips, mixing, and more different strips for each additional layer.
  • Repeat with the next layer, ironing consistently
  • Each successive layer requires more strips, and may have longer leftover "tags", which can be used for more squares later or used in some other fashion.  They can be the same or different, depending whether you want a more patterned or more scrappy look but for best effect as a corner, the center square should be a single, high contrast fabric.  It can be the same size or different than the strips that are added on as layers.
  • I trimmed each side as I went then squared off the whole when I was done adding layers.
  • I mixed up the direction of the blocks to maximize the scrappy appearance, but they can all be line up the same direction to good effect, too.


[personal profile] emmne
As the weather turns cool, it becomes easier to lap quilt and more fun to cuddle. Select a color scheme or gather five or six fabrics from your stash that go well together, cut simple strips or squares for a weekend quilt, and try your hand at lap quilting, maybe try tying if you haven't before, or a more complex quilting pattern if the fabrics aren't too busy.
[personal profile] emmne
A bit late, but lots of my life has been running behind plans this summer. September and October are a time for starting school, getting ready for the holidays, and catching up on what doesn't fit the summer weather, so now is the time to start holiday plans. How about a fall, Halloween, or Harvest wall hanging and table runner? Leaf patterns are plentiful: just shift to warm and sunset colors to get the seasonal look.
[personal profile] emmne
It has proven a little more complicated than I expected, partly because I had no idea what I was doing when I started, and I had not intention of having a back entirely made of 4 !/2 blocks. I've decided along the way that color blocks of about 5 or 6 blocks per row is good for the fabric mix I ended up with, and that's how big the backing blocks will be for the quilt-as-I-go stage. Machine sewing has helped especially for the initial strips, but sewing between the raised seams is no easy matter on the machine and would be easier if somewhat slower to do that part by hand.

It has been an interesting color exercise. I thought the least of my colors was greens, but I think it was an illusion due to the lack of variety - I had lots of scraps of the same greens, mostly solid, slightly bluish green, but overall there is lots of it, so I have made only one block of black and gray fabrics, but three blocks of greens and I'm not sure I'm done with them, yet. And that's not counting the certain spectrum of green fabrics that are waiting for me to remake an old green applique crazy quilt. The color blocks will be shifting in color from dark to light, blues to yellows, yellows to roses to purples. It's a true rag quilt to the degree of being years of leftover fabrics and not a purposeful selection. I have too much of certain fabrics I am working on finding ways to use up, not enough of pattern ones that will help blend colors that don't go well, but maximizing the mix within similar groups, the slow rainbow progressions have meant that so far I've only rejected a couple of fabrics that didn't look good next to anything else in the group.

I don't know that I would make another one, but I like to try at least all the basic types of quilts, and I hadn't done a rag quilt before but like the fluffy look of some of those I've seen. I don't care for the ones that have very short, tight seams, as if they were trying to look like chanile (sp?). It looks like I will not have lots of leftovers, so what I do end up with will probably be pillow shams or pillow cases, depending on how many I end up with, the fabrics, and the color spectrum. If it is much of the heavier fabrics, I'll make it a sham for a decorative pillow, as they don't make the best direct sleeping. A proper pillow case should be a light, smooth cotton weave or flannel, not cordiroy or denim or polyester, and this quilt has them all.
[personal profile] emmne
My quilt group has been doing a Round Robin. We each picked out own theme and will end up with a quilt that all the participants contributed one or more squares to. I didn't realize how many different definitions of "theme" there might be. Some chose a fabric theme, like 30s prints or juvenile, in any scrappy design for a sampler. Some chose a focus fabric to match, again in a sampler. I chose a season, to offer the option of color or fabric print or picture pattern. someone else chose an animal and a color, to allow either for maximum flexibility. Someone picked a pattern that everyone was to follow in any fabric.

What followed was almost as much re-interpretation as the starting theme. The animal/color theme is resulting in a batik sub-theme that wasn't even suggested, to good but unexpected effect. The 30s prints, perhaps the first that necessitated buying a bit of fabric, has prevailed in several of the packages that allowed any fabric. The samplers have followed a sub-theme of simple or complex, fully symmetric or wide variety according to what the first couple of participants chose to do.

The results have been great: fairly cohesive groups of squares, lessons in fabric types, color-matching, pattern research, a new curious-trick pattern, subtle colors and bright colors and ideas for our own quilts. All skill levels were allowed and encouraged, and most allowed a range of techniques including applique, paper-piecing, traditional patterns, simple patterns, without requiring anything in particular.

What kind of quilt-of-the-month or other exchanges do you do? How do they work?
[personal profile] emmne
Bring summer into winter with a lap quilt of summer colors in patterns or blocks reminicent of flowers, grass, or summer activities and sports.

Rag Quilt

Jul. 9th, 2013 08:42 pm
[personal profile] emmne
Summer time is sewing time (when even sitting next to the sewing machine isn't too hot) and I have a couple going. One is a Rag quilt. In this case, more true than some. Over the past year, as I ended up with leftovers not much more than a 4 1/2 inch strip, or lots of irregular scraps from fussy cutting, I cut it into 4 1/2 inch squares or strips and added them to a pile. I have pretty bit pile so sorted them loosely by color family (blues, browns, rose-pink-red, mostly white, mostly black, a few greens, yellow-orange-cream), grabbed a pile and started sewing with about 1 inch seams. It is more challenging than one would think, mostly because I have to break all my hard earned sewing habits, stop, put back sides together, sew, do it again.

So, in case you don't know, a rag quilt is a quilt with inside-out seams, which make for a fluffy fringy top of varying degrees. (I've seen some with such small seams, it's hardly worth the bother, and some where there was so much fluff/seam allowance, the base fabric colors didn't matter. It was all the whitish backs of cotton prints showing. I'm assembling by blocks, top only, and plan to quilt as I go thereafter, maybe to a back, batting and front, maybe to a back plus a batting made of old towels, which should help the fluffiness and not need a surface between the blocks and the batting (for where it might show between blocks if I don't quilt all the way to the edges from both sides). It is common to have a back of blocks, maybe even down to the 4 1/2 or other piece size, and sew all the layers like piecing, with no separate quilting, but I'm picturing slightly poofy centers to the 4 1/2 squares, between the zig-zag cut fringes, so quilting of some degree, maybe even stuffing a bit with scrap batting or pillow stuffing.

I haven't decided quite what i will do with the colored blocks yet. Probably see how many blocks they make, then decide how to combine the leftovers, again depending on numbers of each color, to see if they are like half blocks or just onesy twosys for a center block, or some combination suggestive of a pattern or progression.
[personal profile] emmne
Off center squares-inside-squares.

Suggestion: use the same base color for all the outer squares.

Advanced: use different shapes inside or different sized outer squares and rectangles (e.g. 4, 8 12 or 3, 6, 9) Make a stack of each and fit them together.
[personal profile] emmne
http://home.earthlink.net/~wyverns/2013.06.01_arch.html#1370100416827 Today's blog post was mostly about writing, but along the way it draws some parallels and a couple of ideas for taking a scrappy quilt from the generic to the unique and interesting.
[personal profile] emmne
June Block of the Month Prompt: Find a crazy quilt on line or a crazy quilt pattern (yes there are a few out there). Use some stash.

Large block variation: Use the same fabrics in a different arrangement to make four or six different crazy quilt blocks.

Designers challenge: Take several crazy quilt blocks (they can be drawn on paper and colored with crayon if you like, then cut the blocks out). Put them together so that the matching fabrics/colors from different blocks are together as often as possible. Compare that to putting as many contrasting fabrics together along the edges as possible.
[personal profile] emmne
Rambling on a journal post so I thought I would structure and share quilting tidbits. A lot of people confuse scrappy--meaning mixed fabrics on a repeating pattern--with crazy--meaning not much pattern, either, and ideally no pattern, so unique. But scrappy is more widely acceptable in my local observation, unless it looks specifically like a Victorian crazy quilt.

I don't mind the work of a Victorian crazy quilt, but since I hand quilt and embroider, it's not something I would ever expect to get paid a "reasonable" amount for. A dollar an hour for labor is more likely, so I'd keep, gift, or donate those for charity auctions, not try to sell direct with any expectation of finding a buyer. Still, there are things that are not Victorian that are nice crazy quilts, with their own artistic value as well as comfortable for a bed, and some of them can be done with a reasonable time investment, if the style is something other people can appreciate.

Random I don't do with crazy quilts, odd as that may sound. Random is for scrappy, when the pattern or a pseudo pattern (I'm sure there is a word for it but confetti is only a specific style of the type I mean, not the category) is there to hold the thing together. Sometimes I'm sure it looks close. A few too many themed fabrics without some solid or color-on-color will give a headache-enducing chaos even if the theme is fairly narrowly focused. Crazy is odd shaped, but the color and theme combo should help hold the whole together, whether pieced, appliqued, or some combination. The question then is whether my idea of a good balance is anyone else's. So far, I think my tastes may be as unique as the results of my attempts.
[personal profile] emmne
Prompt: Find a star block you haven't tried before.

Large block variation: consider using several small stars to make a larger block, sampler-style

Designer's challenge: integrate two star block patterns into a single, more complex star
[personal profile] emmne
I was writing a blog about writer's prompts and realized that they served much the same purpose as block-amonth type projects: a challenge to try something new or different, to learn a technique or get better at a known one without committing to a whole book/quilt. That it results in a decent sized quilt once all the blocks are made is bonus. (They can also be turned into place mats, bags, wall hangings, etc., and often quilters never quite get around to doing anything with their results, just like writers, who rarely publish their prompt-based "practice" pieces without major modification.)

Along that line, how about a block-a-month prompt: not a specific block (which I have yet to figure out how to post online even when I've developed instructions), but a category or suggestion for something to look up or try from our collection of books, magazines, and free patterns online. Just to show how it works, I'll start with something easy: half-square triangles. Find a block that calls for half-square triangles and make it.

You can do the same size or different sizes each month (or however rapidly I post prompts that you feel like making). You can make matching fabrics or use scraps (the idea is practice, and you can make a nice comfy quilt for yourself even if you don't really like the results, and different sizes can be assembled into a single quilt though it helps if you do 4-8-12 (pus seam allowance on each size), 3-6-9-12 (plus seam allowance on each size) sequential sizes for easier assembly without borders). You can make more than one if you find several squares in the category that look fun.

If you are all too familiar with half-square triangles, look for a different way to make them (I've found at least three, all called the same thing) or invent your own block that uses at least four triangles.
[personal profile] emmne
I was thinking of some series to post and have a mystery quilt that might work but I have to work out how to get the pictures on line. If someone comes across this post and doesn't mind sending me a snail mail address, I'll send it as paper. meanwhile, I'll talk about my favorite topic, which is designing crazy quilts. I've done all kinds, including when I was cluelessly figuring out quilting without class or teacher. (My first quilt is diamond shaped because I didn't know how to square off). A couple of them are true patchworks: an old blanket or a couple of old beach towels appliqued with patches until one side is covered with patches and the other side has either scrap of the base material from trimming off the uneven edges or some closely matching material to peed the back the same color as the original.

Usually I pick a color theme: blue, green, and stick mostly to that with just enough variety to brighten it up. Mostly I pick very close range of blues, solids and patterns, but lately I've been looking at some scrappy quilts that are less close, yet still of a theme, a rainbow of blues you might say, with a rainbow of crams or some other color, matching or contrasting but subtlely so. I'm redoing green quilt that shrank a lot, expanding and flattening the pieces that didn't shrink as much. That I'll keep to the current country green as closely as possible, but the one after that will be more variable shades in the same family, maybe pinks with peach and rose and maroon, or blues from bluegreen to violet to sky blue to navy and see how much color a single color can handle. With that in mind, I've been shopping for fat quarters with patterns but less strong contrasts. Not my usual for shopping, but mostly because I didn't know what to do with them rather than because I didn't like them. With the mixed color patterns, I can more easily incorporate my overstocked stash of solids, perhaps.

Anyway, maybe I'll talk more about that in future posts. i do love a crazy quilt and they offer so many possibilities.
[personal profile] emmne
I blogged about the concept of concept crafts and my idea for a weather journal quilt on my blog, at:  http://home.earthlink.net/~wyverns/2013.01.01_arch.html

in sum, the idea is to "join the fun" or do something "with" friends wherein everyone does the same thing but gets different results, in this case by using the weather as the decision maker for design.  It was originally conceived as a knitting project, but translates and happily expands into quilting.  My quilting concept has several variations.  The one that follows the scarf design most closely is stripes formed by two rows of squares.  Each pair of squares together defines the weather of the day.  Each double row defines the weather of the month, and the trend in weather forms the design for the year.

The other design concept, more easily rendered as "block of the month" with either paired rectangles or half-square triangles.  My main hesitation over it was how to capture the flow of the weather from month to month, but I got an idea for that today: instead of arranging each month like a calendar, start in one corner, go pack and forth diagonally to the other corner for the month, then start the next block in the nearest corner.

I'm not planning to start any new quilts until it's too warm to lap quilt, so I was considering other years that I could do, like my birth year and the year I graduated from college, one for each half of a quilt of four rows of six blocks with a thin sashing around each block.  That still leaves some range for the half square triangles (or bow ties).
[personal profile] emmne
Our current group projects include a Block-a-month Quilt-for-me Round Robin, a fund raiser group project, and a mystery quilt for an upcoming retreat.  It's not the most cohesive group I've belonged to but we work at it and it keeps going,just very variable in levels of participation and agreeing to projects...  I know it's doable even with very mixed skill levels, style preferences, but I never realized how many different philosophies, values, approaches to a group project there might be!  Our current fund raiser project is beyond my comprehension as to how it got chosen. 

It's a very pretty quilt design but one that would be far easier to do as a weekend quilt for a couple of people than one that can be worked on by a dozen people, and it's not like we even addressed the possibility of taking turns - each person doing one step, or getting together for a project day.  Different people have volunteered to shop and iron the fabric, but will one person cut and one person sew, then we're done?  That's not our usual approach and it leaves most of the group out.  Really, it was just the most definitive suggestion (the others were things like Sampler- theme TBD)  and therefore  the only one with a picture, so people decided to go with that because ti was pretty, with no consideration of the idea that it was intended to be a group project at all, or that any of the others would be at least as pretty.

Anyway, it all seems a bit arbitrary and not thought out and sometimes it seems that whoever is pushiest just gets their way, only we have several people who take turns pushing their ideas through and not a one of them quite remembers the idea it to function as a group at least some of the time. 

How does your group work?  What works and what doesn't?  Can any kind of quilt be done as a group?
[personal profile] emmne
I couldn't find a good place to discuss quilt design and related topics so I created this community and hope like-minded artists and craftpeople will join the discussion.

I've been quilting for many years off and on (alternating with other crafts including calligraphy and illumination, pottery, crochet, and embroidery) and am a perennial writer, so thought this would be a good combination.  Currently I'm working on several quilts that I made tops for over the summer, including a space-themed crazy quilt, queen-sized, a couple of Quilts of Valor, and a lap quilt. Mostly I do cray quilts as I love the variety and hate the precision and repetitiveness of many quilt patterns.  If I do patterns, they are usually some form of strip quilting or sampler.
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