Friday, October 30, 2015

"Life is a Rainbow" for the ROYGBIV Challenge

The classic 9-patch served as inspiration for October's "A Focus Through the Prism" challenge.  Yellow and red remained from my Cherrywood ROYGBIV bundle.  I explored a few different design ideas, but none captured my enthusiasm.  With less than 72 hours until the deadline (and a larger quilt due 24 hours later!!!), I was sitting at my sewing machine and trying to figure out how to proceed and not totally go into panic mode.  I looked away in desperation and inspiration finally struck in the form of 4 curved strip sets made as part of a Curved Strip Piecing workshop with Sonya Lee Barrington, back in January 2012!  I had made these 4 yellow curved strip sets, with the original plan of making a sun rise/starry scene, which fizzled once the workshop was over.  But I never threw them away and there they hung...waiting for the perfect project!
Yellow Curved Piecing Strip Sets
"Nine X Frame"


A quick search of EQ7 for 9-patch designs yielded the "Nine X Frame" block that drew my attention, provided the perfect setting to combine yellow rays of sunshine with blue triangles representing rain, creating the perfect rainbow!    

I enlarged the block onto a 20" square piece of brown paper so I could work out the scale, dimensions, and framing using the yellow Cherrywood fabric.  
Brown Paper Mock Up
Using the curved strip sets made the process fairly simple.  The only glitch was that three of the strip sets had a darker yellow fabric, making the 4th a bit of an outcast.  Some water soluable coloring pencils helped to remedy that issue (you can see the before and after practice piece laying on top of the original in the top left arm of the X below).  The only remaining decisions was what section to use for the rainbow and which fabric to represent rain for the background triangles.  Both were fairly easy now that I had a clear vision.  With only a few seams to sew, the construction was super fast, as was the quilting and binding (done by machine due to time constraints)!
Auditioning Fabrics & Testing Recoloring Yellow Strips
Detail of Quilting Motifs Used
More Rainbow Fun for the Quilt Back
"Life is Like a Rainbow:  You Need Both the Sun and the Rain to Make Its Colors Appear", finished 20"x20"
November will be the final month, and my red Cherrywood fabric awaits!  Can't wait to see the final block reveal!!  But first, I had better get busy with the other quilt challenge that is due November 1st!!  Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ohio Supernova: Ohio Star Modern Makeover

EQ7 Mock Up
This month's Modern Quilts Unlimited's "Everything Old is New Again" block challenge had us giving the traditional Ohio Star a modern makeover.  After being stumped for several weeks, I used EQ7 to experiment with the 9-patch grid and adding some additional hourglass blocks to each corner.

While I used neutrals in the background, the range in values and placement adds great interest and movement.  They also help the acid/limeade star points truly pop!!  Construction was achieved with some foundation piecing of the triangle units and the rest was regular piecing.

Online voting is open and runs through 10/14...hint hint!
Finished 12" Ohio Supernova Block

Friday, October 9, 2015

Midnight Mystery Quilt Along Progress...Ahead of Schedule Too!!

This month's installation of the Meadow Mist Midnight Mystery Quilt Along came out and just a few days later, I had my courthouse step blocks done!!  The caribbean blue center really glows!!

It's been a lot of fun watching the other mystery quilt participants assemble their using different fabrics/color ways.  And while they all look very different, we are all wondering the same things:  what comes next?!?  And how will they all come together as more of the pattern instructions are revealed?!?  Several of the participants have taken pictures with different layouts, but only time will tell!

There's still time to join the fun!!

Some of my finished Midnight Mystery units...how will they all come together in the end?!?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tiny Quilt=Big Design Challenges

The McCall's Mini Madness taught me a valuable lesson:  Just because they are pint-sized, doesn't mean they are easy.  Each of those miniature quilts required just as much time, skill and patience as larger quilts.  Yet somehow I conveniently forgot this lesson when I decided to participate in the American Made Brand Tiny Quilt Challenge.

Without much of a design in mind, I picked up a few quarter yards during a shop hop and combined it with the leftover stash from my Farm to Fabric challenge entry.  Gathering the fabric was the easy part--it was deciding what to do with it all that tested my design skills.
Rainbow of solids made here in the USA
Fail #1:  Interleave Variation
Failed Attempt #1: Interleave variation of an Anton Stankowski print

I chose a fun selection of solids to create the two tops needed for this Interleave.  For this Interleave variation, I rotated one of them horizontally and cut my 1" strips at a 45 degree angle.

Unfortunately this experiment was a big fail as I didn't account for how best to stagger or slice up the tops or align the starts and stops.  As I added new strips, it became clear that this was not going to work.  So this idea was totally scrapped--literally and figuratively.      

Having wasted several hours and quite a bit of usable yardage, I was feeling very frustrated and upset.  So I turned to a hot shower for some stress-relief.  Fortunately for me, inspiration was awaiting in my own bathroom in the form of my portable heater/fan unit!
Inspiration Is All Around!
The back side of the fan really caught my eye as I loved the straight lines forming a grid, that was then framed by the larger circular shape.  So I got to work drafting up a block in EQ7.

Failed Attempt #2:  Bad Color Color Palette/Even Worse Construction!!
    
Excited about this new design direction, I gathered a selection of lime green to dark blues.  But I wanted a more scrappy look, so I sprinkled in several gold and light yellow solids too.  With no real plan in mind, I just sliced and sewed...and it got ugly real soon.  I tried to do some damage control by adding more pops of emerald and aqua, but it was too late.  The construction looked really shoddy and since I lacked a plan, I really struggled laying out the strip sets without identical colors matching up.  Another morning and more yardage was wasted and still no finished quilt top!
Fail #2:  No Plan + Imbalance of Colors + Shoddy Construction = SCRAPS!
Three Times is the Charm:  Hot and Cold Gradations
Losing so much time and yardage, I was starting to panic as the challenge deadline was rapidly approaching.  I returned to my fabric palette and sorted into two groupings:  a warm and a cool pile.  While I love the scrappy look, I've come to the realization that I thrive on order and planning.  I used slightly larger strips making it easier to assemble the strip sets, and created a gradation with each strip set...ahh, finally, some order!  Once my strip sets were cut and reassembled into blocks, I turned to my trusty freezer paper, compass and glue sticks to create my circular frames to reverse applique on my gridded units.
Trusted Tools and Finally A Design I Liked!!
I loved the contrast of straight lines and circular frames, warm and cool colors...and set out to add another layer of interest with my quilted texture.  Playing with the heating and cooling, I chose free motion quilting motifs to conjure up warmth and cooling.  A walking foot with some thread that blended was used to add some straight stitching throughout the grids.
Auditioning Motifs for Heating and Cooling
Quilt Back
Having lost so much yardage in the failed experiments, only the tan solid yielded enough yardage for a solid backing.  Despite its petite size, a 4" sleeve was still recommended.  So rather than lose more of the quilted texture, I added my label information to the sleeve.  After several brainstorming sessions for a witty title, I went back to the heater for inspiration once again and chose "Tiny Thermostat" for a quilt title.

Alas, "Tiny Thermostat" was not accepted into the travelling exhibit.  There were over 220 entries and space to only feature 40 quilts...so the odds were certainly not in my favor.  I am looking forward to seeing the tiny quilts that were selected as I am sure they were spectacular!!
"Tiny Thermostat" finished at 15"x15"