May 25, 2019

Back in the studio

With prepping my studio for painting, putting it all back together again, and then a two-week trip to France, I was out of the studio for all of March and April. Once I got home, I spent a couple of weeks working on small projects, but then a week ago, I put Jeremy's wedding quilt blocks back up on the design wall, and have been working steadily on it since.  I start each day making a block and building up my supply of smaller units. It feels good to be working on it again, and I now have enough blocks up on the wall that I can get a sense of the overall impact.  I am happy with the direction it is taking.

The quilt will be about 60" wide (the width between the two strips of blue painter's tape on the design wall) and about 90" long (marked by the strip of tape on the heat register at bottom left). Right now I have 29 blocks, all cut to 10.5" high, but with varying widths. The blocks are not yet sewn together. I am thinking about placement as I put finished blocks on the wall, but there will be a good deal of adjustment once all the needed blocks are sewn.

I did complete one small top in early April, at a four-day retreat in Chicago with my friends in Quilters by Design:
42 x 42"

This started as a "travel appliqué" project, made with my hand-dyed fabric, and using the design of quarter-circles that I made in another quilt, described here (interesting to see how different the same design can look with different fabrics). For a year or two, I carried around gray squares with basted circles. When they were done, I cut them in quarters and sewed them back together. I chose colors based on my bedroom--this may end up as a wall-hanging for that room.

And here's an account of the small projects I completed after I got home from France:

First up, I spent time designing and basting a new travel appliqué project. I like to have appliqué to do as handwork with me when I travel, but there are requirements: it has to be relatively small, and it has to be working with complete single shapes, not layering one shape on another. I had such a project with me in France, but it was something I had done before--a repeat of a Japanese crest design. It happened to be a relatively challenging piece (many very narrow pieces), and that, along with the fact that it was something I'd already done, added up to a not very enjoyable project.  When I got home, I actually threw it out, about 1/3 completed. I was highly motivated to have another project lined up before my next trip, whenever that may be.  I decided to something along the lines of this quilt, done about 10 years ago from a purchased pattern:

I decided to go with just rows of applique, no striped borders. I sketched out a design in Photoshop, experimenting with shapes and colors, and figuring out the dimensions

I kept the dimensions as designed, including placement of narrower rows, but did further fiddling with shapes and colors. The shapes are now all basted onto rows of yellow fabric. This way, I can take a couple of rows of fabric with me on a trip. I'll sew the rows together once the appliqué is done. 

will finish at 36 x 42"

Hmm, looking at this photo, I think I may need to un-baste the orange triangles and place them a little further apart.

Next I finished up a small "structured improv" quilt that I started at the quilting retreat, using an improv method that Jill Guffy taught to us.
36 x 42"
Then I finished a round table mat for my sister, to go with some placemats I made for her last year; it just needed trimming and binding.

diameter 29"

And then I spent a few days making a large supply of luggage tags--a fun way to use up small pieces of fabric in my stash. I like to have a supply of these on hand, and I had just given away my last one. Usually I make about 10 at a time, but it always takes me a while to warm up and remember how to make them efficiently, so I figured I would just keep going, and I ended up with close to 4 dozen.

17 different fabrics

44 tags total
And soon after my return, I sandwiched up the half-circle applique project (including dyeing some gray fabric for the backing) and started hand-quilting it. Right now I'm doing a grid of ditch-quilting in the seams, and will likely add additional lines of quilting in two directions in the middle of each small square. Each day after breakfast, I do about 20 minutes of hand-stitching, before going up to the studio. Soon it will be nice enough to do this outside on our back deck--it just has to stop raining. . .