December 29, 2018

Back finished

I spent yesterday and today working on the back for the African fabrics quilt.  My goal was to use fabrics that didn't make it into the front of the quilt (although there a couple repeated from the front), to make an archive of the whole collection. I did my best to arrange the blocks in a way that worked, but I wasn't aiming here for a cohesive composition. With blocks this large, the only way to get that would entail being very deliberate about choice of fabric, and that's not what I was trying to accomplish here. My choice of fabric was limited, and I wanted to include at least one triangle of everything I had left. 

I'm glad I was able to use a couple of fabrics in particular: 1) the "Africa" fabric that is the center block in the 2nd row (click on the image above to enlarge and you'll see the map of Africa in the middle); a different cut of the same fabric used in the bottom right corner, and 2) the peacock blue fabric with embroidery on it, center block in 3rd row. Here's a detail shot so you can see the embroidery:

Next I'll start working on the quilting. I did some sample quilting on potholder-size blocks, and this is what I've chosen, straight-line quilting that echoes the seam lines--horizontal, vertical, and diagonal.

By the way, in this block, only 2 of the 5 fabrics happen to be African, upper left and bottom right triangles. The other corners are fabrics by Kaffe Fasset, and the center block is from a collection of fabric given to me by a former student about 10 years ago.

December 28, 2018

Top finished, back begun

I've completed the top made with African (and assorted other) fabrics; it measures about 50x70." It was challenging to arrange the blocks in such a way that both color and value were balanced over the quilt. I also didn't want any two triangles of the same fabric to be next to each other (unless it was in one of the 35 blocks with a diamond made up of 4 pieces of the same fabric). I ended up picking out of finished blocks a red fabric I had used that looked like rows of apples (below left). I liked having red as an accent, but I found my eye continually drawn to that fabric over others, I think because the pattern was too unlike the other fabrics (as well as being brighter). I think you'll see what I mean if you look at the earlier photo of blocks on the design wall, 2nd photo in this post. I cut back on the number of blocks with red, and I substituted another fabric that I thought fit better into the mix (below right). Looking at it again now, I think I should have left the blocks on the design wall overnight, and taken one more pass on re-arranging, but at a certain point, I just wanted it done.

Now I'm working on the backing for the quilt.  I decided to make very large blocks, similar to the ones on the front, but where the central diamond is just one large square. There will be twelve of these 20" blocks on the back, compared to seventy 7" blocks on the front. On the back, I'm using other fabrics from the African collection given to me, fabrics (for the most part) that I didn't think would work on the front. I thought this would be a satisfying way of "archiving" the entire collection in one quilt.


Here's a size comparison of the front with one block for the back.

December 18, 2018

A cascade of quilts

I only intended to make one quilt, happy to be taking a class with Bill Kerr and to be using African fabrics that I'd been given a while ago, as I've previously written up.

But the construction of this quilt left me with a lot of half-square triangles, so I started playing with the print triangles.  In my earlier post about this, I forgot to mention that I was strongly influenced by a quilt made by Wanda Hanson, using all African fabrics cut in half-hexagon shapes. She first posted about this some weeks ago; here's a post with a photo of the finished quilt. I liked that Wanda put the fabrics right next to each other, no sashing or borders. I also thought that the combination of angled and straight edges added liveliness to the design--more so than simple squares or rectangles--and wondered how it might look using triangles. Well, now I had a chance to try out that idea!  I am still working on a final layout, but I've decided to go with the idea that Kathy Loomis suggested in a comment on my previous post:  "You could put them both [blocks with a central diamond all one fabric and blocks with each triangle a different fabric] into the same quilt!! Would be less predictable if the regular block pattern were broken up."  Thanks Kathy! This way I get the best of both worlds--some stability from the one-fabric diamonds, but with the liveliness of every other block being 8 different fabrics. (I highly recommend a visit to Kathy's website--inspiring work.)

This one will be a lap-size quilt. In the photo below (about half the eventual size), blocks are tentatively placed on the design wall. I won't sew them together until I have more blocks done and have played around with placement.

Finally, I wanted to do something with the green and blue triangles leftover from the first quilt. I pieced them together, thinking I could use them as part of the backing for the first quilt. But I think they look quite nice themselves, so I put on wide borders from some pale green hand-dyed fabric I had on hand, and voila, another top for a baby quilt. It is satisfying to get a very quiet quilt from the same source as the rambunctious one above.

And something I meant to mention in the post about the class I took: Bill brought with him a lot of fabric, books, and kits from Modern Quilt Studio, and I couldn't resist the kit for "Tube Socks." This is the first kit I've ever bought, as for me one of the chief pleasures of quilting is the selection of fabrics. In this case, I really liked their new fabric line, Warp & Weft, but didn't have anything in mind I would use it for. So when I saw the kit for this fun quilt, I indulged myself. 

December 15, 2018

2 options

The layout-on the right is the one I've posted before, the one on the left is new. In the one on the left, I put four pieces of the same fabric next to each other to form a diamond. I like both layouts, and may make both. I'm thinking of starting with the one on the left (with still many more blocks to add and placements to adjust). If you have a preference for one or the other, I'd be happy to know!

December 13, 2018

Using large-scale print fabrics

I have the good fortune of having received a large supply of African and some South Asian fabrics from two different sets of friends, both of whom had collected fabric over years of travels; photos of the collections are here and here. Beyond making return gifts for these friends, I hadn't used the fabrics. But last week I took a great class on using large-scale fabric from Bill Kerr, of Modern Quilt Studio, and I brought along these fabrics as well as some large-scale domestic prints.  Most people in the class worked on a version of Modern Quilt Studios "Follow the Leader" pattern, but we were encouraged to work on whatever we liked, so I chose a pattern by Blair Stocker that I've had my eye on:
"Leaving the Nest" by Blair Stocker, Wise Craft Quilts

I reduced the size the the triangles from 12" (long bottom edge) to 9" and used a variety of solid colors for the background instead of all white. When choosing the solids for each block, I aimed for some contrast between them, in order to minimize the dominance of the parallelogram shape between the print triangles. I used hand-dyed green fabrics that I had on hand, but also added in a couple of commercial solids in blue--fabric that I bought when I took my first class with Bill and Weeks in 2005!  I made a crib-size quilt, 36x55." I'll probably quilt it with horizontal lines, and will use one or more of the African fabrics for the binding. 

I made the flying geese blocks with a method that starts with one large rectangle (the print) and two squares (the solids). When trimmed, this results in 4 half-square triangles left over for each block, 2 solids and 2 prints.  The photo at the top of this post is a photo of the leftover print triangles. I've now started playing around with another quilt top made of just these print triangles. I tried adding in some scattered solid triangles, but I find myself liking the "hot mess" of all the print triangles.

Each of the 2-triangle squares is 4x4"; these are not sewn together yet. There will be a lot more moving around as I make more squares to have enough for a quilt. (The squares above would sew up into a piece only 21x28, so I have a ways to go.)

It is a great pleasure to spend time lining one fabric up with another, with so many choices possible. Not every pairing works, but many do--or they will when put together into a larger mosaic.  To show you some of the possible pairings, I chose four of my favorite African fabrics, and paired each of those with four other fabrics. In the photo on the left, the favorites are positioned so that they make a large on-point square in the middle of the four small blocks. On the right, they're positioned to all be in the bottom right corner. To better see the pairings, click on each photo to enlarge. In some there is a strong contrast between the two fabrics, creating a clear edge between them on the seam. In others the fabrics are closer in color and/or pattern and the contrast is less vivid. But if, when I tried out a pair, they were so close that they looked like they could be part of one pattern, I didn't use that pair. 

Four fabrics, each paired with four other fabrics (4 same triangles positioned in a central on-point square)

Here the 4 same fabrics are position in the bottom right of each pair.

I will be interested to see how this one turns out. . .

December 5, 2018

Using the last bits

I had stamped several bowls on white linen instead of natural, and decided to make a few cards from them, no stitching added. These needed a black or gray background instead of cream.

Then I did some improvisational work, using the scraps generated from trimming the abstract compositions shown in the last post. This piece is about 6x11 inches.

I enjoyed working on this, playing around with what can be made from a variety of related shapes. The fact that the bowl shape includes both straight and curved lines makes for interest in the cropped forms. I think I will leave this as is, without trimming the edges further.

I only have a few small scraps left. Not much variation of mark/texture in what's left, so I'll stop here.

December 4, 2018

More work with printed and stitched bowls

I've continued to work with the bowls stamped on linen, using up all the imagges already stamped.  The photo above shows the first 3 stitched bowls in front, not mounted on cards. These are still my favorites, which I think I'll mount together in a frame. (Thanks to Beth for this suggestion.) Four more stitched bowls, mounted on cards, are along the right side.  The remaining 11 (center and left) are cropped pieces that I got out of the overlaid stamping below.

I enjoy cropping to get new images. This one makes me thinks of two canoes tied up on the shore:

And when I looked at the bowls upside down, I got this, one of my favorites:

This one makes me think of a camping tent:

But I like it better turned 90 degrees, for a still life of a wedge of cheese and a bottle of wine. Click on any image for a close-up view that allows you to see the complex texture in some of these.

Here are a few photos to show how I make the crops. The first photo shows the cardstock window over the fabric, the window cut to the 3 x 5.5" size that I know will work well on the Fabriano cards that I use.

Then, holding the top of the window in place, I slip a quilter's ruler underneath, lining up two of its edges with the top and right side of the window. Then I remove the window, cut those two edges with a rotary cutter, and finish by rotating the ruler to cut the other two edges.

Here's the finished crop. The shape on the right reminds me of a goblet.

I love the complexity of shapes that can be drawn from simple repetition of one shape. And it interests me how difficult it is for the eye to accept something as abstract, but wants to see other objects in the cropped compositions.

These photos were taken before securing the cloth to the card, which I've now done with double-stick tape. The linen was also reinforced with a fusible stabilizer (some before stamping, some after), which makes the cut pieces easier to handle and keeps the edges from fraying. I also did one sample where I deliberately frayed the edges, but it's very difficult to get the composition lined up with the thread lines, making the fringe uneven, so I abandoned that.

I've bought more linen, some the natural color used here, and some white, which I could dye and/or hand-paint. But perhaps this is enough for now. I'll see what I feel moved to do next.