This quilt has been done for a while, but I’m struggling to keep up with documentation lately.
The Partitioned Batch Quilt!
57 x 81″ This is the first actual usage of my ice and snow dyed fabrics. At first I refrained from using them so that I could show them as examples during the ice dying session I had. When that was done, it took me a couple weeks to realize they were fair game and were now part of the usable fabric stash.
Then, I couldn’t figure out how to use them. I wanted to make a quilt, but I was concerned that cutting up these pretty fabrics would suck away their special-ness. If you can’t see the whorls and fades of all the dyed colors, why bother?
After a lot of hypothesis, folding, squinting, and arranging, I settled upon this design. I didn’t want to use only the dyed fabrics, nor dyed and solids, so I made it “anything goes” as far as source fabric.
Perhaps I needed a more dramatic difference in the gray used in the background. There are actually two noticeably (maybe?), purposely mismatched shades of the background, but they look more similar now that the whole thing is completed.
I used raw edges on the layered blocks and I will NEVER do that on a quilt again. NEVER, you hear me, Future-Sarcastra?! Don’t fucking do it. Usually, I spend an hour or two finding loose thread ends and removing lint. This thing took nine. NINE HOURS! Even Friday was irritated with me taking so long on “her” new quilt.
Speaking of busy, documentation (blog posts) of projects and life will lessen for the next few months, unless I find some time between the cracks somehow. Work is going to be mad-busy, and after that I prioritize things like Slick, sleep, creative pursuits, and … and .. shit. What else do I do? Occasional social outings, hikes, moonlit walks? Fuck it, you get the idea.
Last Sunday I cleared out the center of our living room to lay out and pin the latest quilt.
The upper right corner had direct sunlight on it and somehow the color vanished in the pic. That corner looks gray for some reason, but I assure you it is not.
It fit with just enough room for me to get around it. This picture shows it pinned, edges trimmed, about to be folded up and taken downstairs for quilting, which I finished last night. Now I only have to bind it and the rest is wash, dry, photograph.
This quilt is also a first for me. I usually piece my backings together from multiple pieces of fabric. This one with so many pieces on the front didn’t feel right do that for, so I (dah, dah, DAH!!) ordered a piece of backing fabric! Woot! This fabric is 108″ wide and made for this very purpose, especially for folks who quilt on a longarm machine – those big, room-eating monsters that allow you the possibility of quilting a king size in an hour. I don’t have one those, but I wanted to have a single piece on the back. This was a conflict to decide for me for a few reasons:
1. I have plenty of fabric. I likely have enough fabric to keep me stocked for the next 25-30 years, seriously. I could absolutely use some of that fabric to piece a back instead of buying more fabric.
2. One solid piece of fabric at that size calls out to me for a purposeful quilting design on it, since that is the only visual interest such a piece will have. This quilt front, however; does absolutely NOT support some free design dedicated to a back. The front is boxy, piece-y and demands quilting that furthers its composition, and deserves it.
3. After some fun, but significant expenditures this year, I am really trying NOT to spend money on things I don’t need. I don’t NEED this fabric.
Those are the biggies, but I did it anyway. In hindsight, I still think it was the right choice. And now I’m even more excited to do a wholecloth quilt one day. The back, being solid black with my quilting in black, looks enticing in a way only monochrome texture can. Yes, despite my love of color (passion?) I do like monochrome. I like the visual fabric interest in all its forms, I suppose. All black patchwork makes my heart race a bit.
Anyway, the backing piece goes down first and I’d started taping it down, but the masking tape I’d grabbed was one of the super-delicate painting tapes I bought so it wouldn’t rip up my watercolor paper. I chose it because I assumed it would still be sticky enough, but it seems their claims of gentle stick were true. Who knew, truth in advertising!?! Anyhow, I went back downstairs, grabbed the regular cheapo, crap masking tape and by the time I came back up, Friday was having a spree. She was taking running slides at the backing fabric, diving underneath it and looking around the new world there – same as cats do when you’re making a bed. I had to take a picture.
That went well, after Friday and Oz lost interest with my yelling at them, and now the quilting is done, as mentioned. I will likely get the binding done this weekend and should have photos up next week. As for naming, there is word that fits this quilt very well, but I cannot bring it to mind. My second biggest problem with having a decent vocabulary is that I cannot always find the explicit one I want – similar to my trouble finding the perfect item in an overcrowded workshop!
That title is wordy, but it was the best title for this quilt.
The Cats Ate the Jam Last Night Quilt
43 x 58″
This poor little quilt was started last year when I picked up a sample log cabin block I’d made when designing a quilt for my niece. Her quilt went a completely different way and this block was sitting in the extras pile for months. I had so many pink scraps leftover from that quilt, I figured I could use them to round out some more log cabin blocks to go along with the lonely single. I added purples and grays to the existing scraps to make it more interesting. The off cuts while working became the Tintamarre Quilt, which I loved so much that I finished it first. Then I got busy the end/beginning of the year and I finally got around to finishing this one this spring. Then it sat for two weeks waiting for a load of laundry to add to, then another week while the weather was bad for photography anytime I was at home. Then add one more week that was too busy at work and home for me to get around to editing and uploading photos. It’s done now.
Each of the edge blocks is oriented so that it is facing up if you are looking at it from the edge nearest you. Not sure if that description makes sense, but it is omni-directional. This is simultaneous with the alignment of pink/purple color corners and gray/black non-color corners of the overall quilt. That took some arrangement fiddling when putting them all together.
While there are multiple cats in these fabrics, there are as many rabbits, and there are foxes and crows – BUT this quilt came to life because it sprang from the creation of the niece’s cat quilt (much the way Greek gods would spring from the blood of other gods in battle) the cats get the title inspiration priority.
This one is also going into the Etsy shop once in the next day or two.
A year ago, I started this project and made almost no progress on it. Since I have a secret project going on right now, I’ll share this one instead.
If you’ve never heard of an ophthalmic migraine, you’re lucky. They are visual accompaniments to migraines, with or without the debilitating headache, sometimes it is merely a bad headache. Like a Charley horse for your eye. They last for around 20-30 minutes, on average and can be quite distracting. They start with a blind spot around the center of your vision, as if you’d looked at the sun or caught a flash of bright light. They grow over the duration, spreading outward in your vision, like a moving frame of visual garbage. The descriptions range from each person, as you can imagine, but the summary is a section of your field of view is replaced with lines, with spikes, of color flashing, moving, wild alternations. Most people regain central vision mostly as the frame grows out, finally with the frame growing completely out of your vision.
The first time I had one, I was concerned, but since I was already developing a migraine, it made sense that this was part of it. Afterwards, some research confirmed this, I’ve had a number over the past few years and generally know how they are going to go.
But if you have one, you should see your doctor to be safe. At least see your eye doctor to make sure you don’t have some other, very serious, time sensitive issue – like a creature growing in your eyeball that will blind you and then eat your brain.
All that aside, I was playing with some fabric scraps one day and thought it would be interesting to see if I could recreate that visual disturbance of an ophthalmic migraine in fabric. This is the first test block for what I hope I can grow into an Ophthalmic Migraine Quilt. The center and edges are a cream tulle, to represent the mostly okay view you still have while the frame is active. I’m going to call it a frame, go with it. The little, contrasty combinations are right, but they don’t cover the light flashing or movement. Yet. Most of the arbitrary sections seem to cycle around withing their space. I’m going to add translucent sequins and sparkly beads, too. That might help. Maybe I’ll add LEDs and some light strips. Maybe that is too much.
It is difficult to make this visual translation and I’ll enjoy the challenge. Perhaps this will be a spring quilt to make.
Winter Checkerboard Quilt
52 x 52″
After seeing some quality green fabric on an overstock sale price, I was driven to use it in a winter quilt. This is a strictly utilitarian quilt, there is no artistry to it. I’d found a nice print of green and red stars to use as the binding and an accent (see previous post) , but after getting it all done with only solid colors, I didn’t want to use it. So, solids (Kona Cottons) all the way down to the black binding. It works. I like it.
I know the photos make it look wonky, but these are all straight lines. It is simply wrinkled and blown about by gust of winds this morning.
Very simple straight line quilting. Again, I don’t prep the quilts before photography – you get the realism! This is straight out of the dryer, after sitting overnight crunched up, with lint, with stray threads, with the occasional cat hair.
And the back. Simple, fast, visually pleasing, and using more of that green. This will give the quilt a more useful life when I’m not in the mood for a red and green winter theme. Green and black is a year round fit.
I’m not listing this one in Etsy – it is for use at home. It now lives on my dining room table, but we’ll see where it ends up. With two quilts on our bed and one on our loveseat, I’ve found I like living with quilts. Once they get a little use they acquire a beat-up softness that rivals anything new.
I’m trying to squeeze in a quilt this week before the Solstice.
That green fabric was overstocked, so I failed to resist it. I wanted something simple and fast, so this is just some blocks in a checkerboard. I got held up on the backing – I am out of black fabric, despite my efforts in that area. So, I will be fighting the snow after work to get some more, then scrambling to finish it and get it in the wash so I can be free to put up the tree and ornaments and general festive decorations and house cleaning stuffs.
I hadn’t intended to finish this quilt so quickly. The log cabin quilt was the next scheduled finish and this was just made from scraps during that work. But then this quilt became much more interesting than the log cabin one and here it is, all done. Honestly, they were both supposed to be done by now, but work got a bit crazy before the turkey holiday and I was going in early and coming home late, so that sucked up my workshop time. Now I’m carving this year’s Legends of the Winter Solstice block, which means the other quilt is going to get pushed even further. Oh well.
49″ x 49″
I love this busy riot of color. As I was making this, I kept thinking about how things that seem impossible at the onset become possible by determined effort. Little bits add up to bigger bits until you’re done. That is a big part of how I accomplish creative work; intuition and tenacity.
Detail. This view shows how easily the tiny bits really come together, if you look closely. There are two massive clues, on the left side.
I went to efforts to make this quilting more spaced apart, bigger, looser. It made for a slightly puffier quilt that usual.
I very much like this quilt, but it also is going on the pile. I might have to list these on Etsy, if only so the possibility could exist for them to depart my quilt dragon clutches.
It’s been almost two months since my last quilt finish. 30 days of button badges really took all other creative focus away.
There were a few inspirations that led to this design. One was the desire to use or be inspired by a traditional block. I’ve always liked the idea of Flying Geese and wanted to do fun things with them. Typically, Flying Geese are aligned straight, with matching color edges. If they are curved, that is considered fancy in the traditional world. I thought my geese might like to fly in a twisty curve, with more colors and shapes.
The yellow geese triangles are from four different fabrics. I wanted to work with blue and this golden yellow was a good contrast. Like glowing lights in the sky. I cannot say why I wanted to use blue since I have an entire blue quilt that is very patiently awaiting its finish, sitting on my work table, taking up precious space, but there it is. WTF?
Seeing the spread now, I think if I’d mirrored the geese and maybe thrown some smaller tails on them they could have easily been golden fish in the sea. Instead of purple, the mid could fade to a deep green. Could throw in some of those gray pearls I’ve been hoarding… anyway. That is for another quilt.
It is mostly machine quilted. For some reason, I decided to do some decorative hand stitching on this quilt. Again, WTF?! I hate decorative hand stitching on quilts. Whatever. I did it, I tried it, I still don’t like it. I won’t do it again – not for a few years anyway.
Oh, look! A stray thread end. You guys don’t get the finished, trimmed and pressed quilts. You get fresh from the dryer, with cat hair, lint, fuzzy bits, and thread ends. Very real.
Who would want this long, skinny quilt? No idea. Maybe my slender whip of a niece – she would fit it, but these aren’t her colors at all. Plus, she has the giant cat quilt already. Well, I don’t make them to be sought after, I make them because they need to come to life and I need to bring them to this existence.
There was an active breeze this morning, so I had to be patient while taking photos. Now you can really see what I meant about the plum blocks being the header and footer of the quilt. This whole quilt came together easily. The idea was there quickly, the colors presented themselves in a serene fashion, the construction went smoothly. For being a partly improvisational / partly planned quilt, the whole process from beginning to end was harmonious. The hardest part was starting another quilt after trying so hard to convince myself I wouldn’t, that I needed to do other things. Things work out best when I listen to the Muse. Don’t fuck with her and she’ll be good to you. Or for me, anyway.
Side view. This crazy bunny fabric is one of my favorites and perfect for this quilt. The spiral quilting for these blocks is in a matching light gray variant thread (which you might see if you click to view larger). It echos their bugged out eyes.
The back. I wasn’t in the mood to do intricate piecing, so I kept it simple, which suits it. It is attractive enough that you could flip it over and leave the back visible, if you wanted. Like, if the bunny stare was getting to you.
The inspiration behind this quilt it very strong and on my mind a lot lately, but I’m not going to lay it out for you here. I am equally interested in what you, the viewer of the finished object thinks about the quilt. Maybe you plainly see a pretty quilt, which is fine. Maybe you see some deep and complex symbolism, which is fine. Your interpretation and perception as the viewer and interpreter here is as relevant and significant as mine as the artist and creator. So say what you think.
Long live the quilt dragon.
And now with pictures and a blog post, I can count this quilt as done.
The front. These bold shapes and colors against the black background gave it a dramatic and graphic impact. Pretty cool. Different that the last one, definitely. The focus here is distinct, where the Summer Pinwheels for example, was an allover design, blending and working together. The shapes here all work together, but they’re specific, focused.
Effectively, I only quilted in the black areas, the background fabric. No color pieces have quilting. This makes them pop up, puff a bit. The interior is all FMQ of straight lines, at angles to form triangles, crosses, and such. The edges are lined on the negative space zigzag, to enhance it. I quite like this visual effect.
The backing is even simpler than I usually do. I was tired of piecing backs and I wanted flannel for this one. It is fluffy soft, and I wrapped the back around to the front to form the binding, which feels interesting – texturally. If you view this photo full size, you’ll see the quilting lines, and the crosses where there are none.
Another quilt done! Yea! This feels good, but I need to do other things for a while. I mean, I want to quilt NOW; I have two new ideas burning in my brain. But, I need to clean the workshop. I have piles of stuff displaced by my work. Thread, fabric, scraps, more fabric, boxes, other (non-quilt) projects, and even more fabric. I need to photograph, clean, store items away, find a home for my growing stack of quilts, build the second set of cabinets and just generally get my workshop shit together. Or really, organized. Technically, it is pretty together, but in a tangle.
You know what I mean.
It is time for another prize bag, I know. Perhaps getting all my workshop shit detangled and organized will produce a fortuitous gathering of items and a contest idea along with it.
AKA: Pastels are for weaklings
That ice dyed fabric looked vibrant in its photo, taken while it was still wet.
But, after it dried, it was much lighter. Too light, really. The reds were a hot pink and it was mostly pastel all over. I don’t like pastels much and find the best way for me to use them is with a lot of black and dark gray, or other strong, bold colors. Thus this quilt was born.
The last two quilts I made (Don’t Let Your Mind Wander and the Green and Black Patchwork quilts) were done in an improvisational style. Meaning, I didn’t have a plan for what they’d look like, how I’d get to the end product, or even what size they would be. The Green and Black was only started with the idea of using black, green with a lime highlight, and squares. My end quilt was a direct result of those limits, but I still love the finished product. This quilt, which I’ve named Summer Pinwheels, was started with the guide of having three color schemes and using strips. This worked out well because there were three main colors in that dyed fabric, pink, blue, and some green. I chose some old (I think I bought them almost 10 years ago) crazy colored crowded prints that are best described as juvenile, and some solids, along with my second favorite neutral of Charcoal. I haphazardly cut strips of all widths, stitching them together alternately, then slicing, realigning, slicing, inserting and generally making it up each minute. When I got some large pieces done, I trimmed them to the same sizes and stuck them all together. This is what happened.
Summer Pinwheels. The colors make me think of summer. The pink screams Kool-Aid and popsicles, while the blue is the same as my favorite (now completely worn out) sundresses that only remain in a few squares of scrap fabric. Everything is too bright for me to be comfortable, the same way I don’t like summer. The pinwheels come in from the purple corner slashes I added to the blocks. They echo the purple, metallic color Mylar of pinwheels on plastic sticks. All very aestival, to me.
The binding is a scrappy one, again because I like the look and because I had plenty of scraps left and wanted to use them up (I am tired of seeing these colors). I stitched it by machine, which I am not too happy with. It is okay, but I think I will stay away from it and do them by hand when I can. Hand stitching looks better to me. Although, this violet spark of color in the dark gray pleases me. Perhaps my next quilt will be darker. I’d like darker.
The quilting is good. It took a while to do it right, but right is better. Done is not ALWAYS better than perfect. Plus, I don’t think this quilt would ever be perfect, by my opinion. It is good, for what it is, as it is.
Do I like it? Not really. I don’t hate it, I don’t think I even dislike it, I just don’t LIKE it. I wouldn’t choose it over any of the other quilts I’ve made. Maybe that Serenity & Rose Quartz Gravestones Quilt – those two are equal for me, equally at the bottom of the list. This was not a waste; it is always good to use uncomfortable colors or restrictions and make something your style out of it.
So, this is another quilt on the stack. Seeing my stack of quilts grow pleases me. I am a quilt dragon.
Maker Talk: Advanced mode
Why don’t I LIKE this quilt? One is the colors. That pastel and busy combo doesn’t appeal to me. It isn’t bad, but I don’t enjoy these colors together. Part of it is the contrast. The fabrics I added to go with the ice dyed ones don’t have enough contrast, or too much. They should either be essentially the same, or have more contrast for a dramatic stripe. Stripes were the second problem, specifically the lack thereof. I made the first stripe fabric, then recut & stitched it into squares. I should have left it a stripe. The squares looked confusing when I further cut them into quarters. The solid dark gray was a good choice – good amount of contrast and counterpoint to the swirly and busy color blocks. Also, cutting the ice dyed fabric into little pieces took away any interest the fabric had from the dying process. The scrappy binding is good, the layout is good. I like the balance; the symmetry is comforting, right, echt. The quilting is perfect, even if I didn’t get good close up shots of it.
end Maker Talk.
I have updated the severely neglected page of Quilts I’ve Made. I look forward to any comments, general or insightful, on this or any other of my works.
As soon as I had finished the last quilt, I wanted to make another new one. I should have been working on the three partial quilt starts already going, but I wanted to make this one instead, so I did. This much patchwork means many seams, which takes some time. Some time in this case equals about 72 hours from start to finish, although that does include cat love fits, meal breaks and an unrelated acrylic painting. This time is also about 107 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episodes.
The front. It measures about 42″ square. These slightly smaller quilts are easier to handle, plus they can be versatile. No need to find a bed to put it on, this could fit on the back or arm of a sofa, over a lap (or a pair of laps), a single’s (or two snuggled) picnic, on a wall, or I guess, the center of a bed. I am trying to make things that can appeal to a wider audience, usage-wise anyway. I’m always going to make the things in the style I want to make. No traditional patterns with ditsy flowers for me.
The squares in the very center are .5″ (half an inch) small. So tiny! The seams on the back of them are exactly as big as the front face. Funny.
The back homes some extra blocks I made when I got a bit overactive. I do that a lot, make a few more than needed. On the one hand, I like to have some options when I go to arrange the layout later; on the other, the only thing left to do with them would be to make a matching pillow. Or, maybe a zip pouch. Or .. okay, yeah, I can think of a number of things it seems. This is fine, all fine.
There we go, another quilt done. I am fond of this one, too. I like having this growing stack of quilts on my shelf. Like a quilt producing and hoarding dragon, I am sated.
For the moment.
This is a different quilt for me – an improvisational creation, without a plan, measurements, or a defined idea. At every step I had to stop and wait to see what I wanted to do next, which I’m not accustomed to. I like it. I like it so much, I am already inspired to start another improvisation – despite having a stack of projects waiting to be finished already.
The front. It is about 4′ (1.2m) wide by 4.5′ (1.4m) high, a generous throw size. The top half is haphazard log blocks, the low middle is black-on-black patchwork, the bottom is a series of shapes made from strip wedges, with some prominent FMQ in the middle. There is a flange along the binding, which is the first time I’ve tried such a thing. Close-up of that on the next two shots.
The quilting decisions took some time since they needed to be separate, but coordinate, too. The middle black section was completed with black lines, the lower section with mutliple colors in sections, with black shapes in the black backgrounds – mostly circles.
Lower left corner quilting, a winged heart. Creation.
The back. This is all strips of scraps aligned in a square, spiraling outwards deasil. The last leg of the spiral is more black patchwork, which is nearly impossible to discern unless you have it in your hands and are looking straight at it. I like this back.
Hell, I like this whole quilt! I am glad it came together the way it did, in pieces and spurts of inspirations. It is currently folded up on a shelf, but I like seeing it even there.
The CAG (Cheyenne Artist Guild – pronounced SHAG [so say I]) show for May is “Anything Goes” which does away with many of their restrictions, such as only paintings, or only 2d work, etc. Donna suggested I put something in the show, so I got moving and did so.
First up, I had started a ticker tape quilt using rainbow scraps. Ticker tape quilts are sorta constructed as you go. Instead of making a patchwork top & back, you start with whole cloth. So the back is a whole cloth, batting, then the top is another whole cloth. Then you arrange the pieces (rainbow scraps in my case) on top of this and stitch them down. It looks a bit like a tile mosaic, or a stained glass window. This is an ideal quilt type for those who have a sporadic supply of scraps and want to do something with them as they are created, instead of piling scraps on the cutting board and overflowing the scrap box, like me. Since I had so many, I arranged them all before stitching many down. It was looking rather dull, and I needed a way to get my black scraps in, so I chose a center focus of a black cat. Yes, I had been thinking of Spooky. She was a beautiful cat and a good companion.
This picture was taken before the binding and before it was washed. In the end it turned out swell, but last Friday, when it was all done and I wanted to take a picture of it finished before handing it over for the show, it was utterly foggy in the morning. As in, murky at ten feet foggy. So I gambled and waited for a spot of sun, only to have it snow the entire day without a single break. Lost that bet. Maybe this week I can find time to swing by the CAG to take a picture of it hung up, in the crappy indoor lighting there. If not, I will get it back after the show and share the picture then. The binding is that same dark gray you see peeking around from the back and I think it framed the piece perfectly.
While the quilt, which I prosaically named “Black Cat in Rainbow”, was in the wash and dry cycle, I whipped up a hanging system for Purpura, the Scrappy Cat. The CAG doesn’t have many spots for art that sits and Donna suggested it would show better if it could hang from the wall. I got to thinking about ways and reasons a Scrappy Cat could/would hang and the most fun and acceptable ones were via backpack or parachute. I liked them so much, I did both.
First, a simple backpack with snap closure and elastic straps for ease of application. I think this is terribly cute, and I am fully aware that it is merely a simple backpack, that it is only cute to me because of its small size.
You are thinking in your head now, “does the parachute work?” and I have to say I don’t know. It was late at night and snowing, so I couldn’t do a good test. I think it will, but I can’t say for sure. When I get it back at the end of the show, I will test it.
There you are, that is what I was up to in the workshop last week. This week I’m working on the workshop itself, which is desperately needed. Some shelves, power strip installations, a couple cable runs, hooks, things like that. If I’m a crackerjack, I’ll get to putting up the track lights over the sewing area and the hanging lights over the map drawers. The lighting in there needs help, if only to improve my quick photographs.