Colorwheel Blossom–Blogger’s Quilt Festival

Colorwheel Blossom_front

Colorwheel Blossom, 48″ square

AmysCreativeSide.com

Welcome to the Blogger’s Quilt Festival!  I’m entering ColorWheel Blossom in the ROYGBIV category of Amy’s online contest.

Colorwheel Blossom_quilting detail

Colorwheel Blossom_quilting

 The original finished blog post is *here.*

Colorwheel Blossom_quilting2

It took me forever to find the right colors for the center of the blossom, and I haunted several quilt show booths, combing through their Kona Cottons to find just the right shades, then visited Purl Soho–Irvine to get the right inner petal shades.  I appliquéd it to the white background, and then it took me several months to get up the courage to quilt this.  I settled on a curvilinear emphasis in the middle field and an angular emphasis in the borders.

It now hangs in our hallway right by the front door, a rainbow greeting all our guests, lighting up our home.

Thanks for stopping by to see Colorwheel Blossom. Be sure to head back to Amy’s Blogger’s Festival to see the rest of the quilts, and to vote for your favorites!  Voting begins May 22nd for each category, as well as Viewer’s Choice.

Colorwheel Blossom is Finished!

Colorwheel Blossom_front

Colorwheel Blossom
Pieced, Appliqued and Quilted
48″ square
No. 140 on 200 Quilts List

Colorwheeel Blossom_quilt top

This was the quilt top in April 2014, held aloft by my husband.  Then it went AWOL for a while, as I’ve mentioned before.

Colorwheel Blossom_quilting

Realizing it was do-or-die time, I printed out several of these “faded” photos to doodle on, to try out quilting.  I thought about quilting it all in lines, a la “the hard-edge industrial look,” but I wanted it to represent garden, blossom, flower, soft, and fragrant more than I wanted it to look like it had been scraped by a saw.  I’ve read lots of print articles about how to quilt a quilt.  What they don’t tell you is that starting to quilt a quilt takes massive doses of courage.  Gigantor-sized, even.  Sketching it out helps me visualize what I’m doing and sparks that bit of courage to get going.

Superior Threads Colorwheel Blossom

I have good success with Superior Threads’ line of threads called So Fine, but I filled in with Gutermann, which also works well for me. Yes, I kept filling bobbins to match all the quilting in the flower part of the quilt, but for the rest of the quilt, I used  a neutral-colored Bottom Line (in this case, white) in the bobbin.   Bobbin Statistic: 10 (in other words, how many bobbins it took to get this thing quilted)

Thread Matching

Matching the colors, section by section.  Where did I get this idea?  Look on your iPhone home screen for the Photos button.

Colorwheel Blossom_drawn featheries

I needed to draw on the feathery components with my marker.  That’s called Finding More Courage.  I don’t know why I thought you had to just go at it without marking anything.  Marking (in blue for longer time and purple for shorter time) is my new best friend.  Just keep it away from the iron and out of the sun.

Colorwheel Blossom_inner quilting

I loved seeing the quilting in the last light of day, the deep shadows calling the stitching into relief.  Another Courage-Enhancer.

Colorwheel Blossom_detail2

Colorwheel Blossom_detail1The last two pictures are shots taken outside, for its formal portrait.

Colorwheel Blossom_back

The backing fabric is Wild Garden by Dan Bennett, for Rowan/Westminster Fibers.  Now you can see my hanging system!

This quilt was a turning point for me, in terms of gaining skills for free-motion quilting.  I learned about marking, about when to mark.   I slowed down, remembering what my teacher this summer used to say when she’d watch me: “Elizabeth.  Be more deliberate.”  It helped to repeat that often as I stitched, and helped me avoid many of my earlier mistakes.

I learned to depend on the wisdom available through social media.  Two quilters on IG, Linda, of Flourishing Palms and Leslie, of PlainandFancy were always there with tips and tricks.  But without all the lovely likes and happy face-emoticons and positive comments from all the readers, I wouldn’t have been so courageous, I’m sure.  It was if after every quilting session, all the fans in the bleachers around my sewing room would stand up and cheer me on.  So gratifying, especially as I felt like I was on thin ice most of the time.

Colorwheel Blossom_DadsNote

One day in the mail, a card arrived.  It was my father’s stationary, my address written in his bold Montblanc pen, which in this note he called his Meisterstuck.  My father has been one of my best cheering sections in my life, right along with my mother and my husband. I’ve written about my father before, his courage in renting himself a studio after he retired and pulling out paints and brushes, a good example to all his seven children.  His brief, descriptive note now hangs near my sewing machine, reminding me that my work extends sometimes far beyond my little room, far beyond my own little place.  And, on this day in December, I honor him: Happy 89th Birthday, Dad!  You are a treasure.

Because of you, Dad, because of so many people, and because the creative urge is made manifest in me through quilting, Colorwheel Blossom is finished, and is hanging in my hallway.  It’s a nice feeling to walk by, letting my fingers run across the soft trellising, the vines and flowers.  It brings a smile to my face as I pass by this garden.

 

Home Stretch: an Illusion

final inner corner

I finished up the quilting on the inner white field (background to the petal part) and thought–“Good!  I’m in the home stretch!”  Au contraire, mon ami.

narrow inner border

The next morning I got up and marked the swoopy quilting on the narrow inner border.  Yes, I’m pathetic enough that I feel like I want to mark every stitch.  At this point I’m watching millions of hours of longarm videos, as well as domestic machine (DM) quilting videos and everyone makes it look soooo smooth when they quilt.  I am really trying, but marking also just in case.  I stitch this and as I round the final bend, I realize that my stitching is more fluid and even that in the first foot or two of where I started.  I stop, unpick that section and re-stitch it.

crochet hook trick

Migrating threads can be taken care of by inserting a teensy crochet hook in between stitches in a seam, and pulling the thread out the side.  I’m successful at this about 70% of the time.  When I try this, I vow to study the quilts at the quilt shows a little harder.  Do they have this problem?  Do they worry about it?  I go back to studying longarm photos, seeing how even their stitches are, if they have wobblies.  They do, just fewer.  Is it fair to compare?  Not really, but I do it anyway.

quilting Colorwheel Blossom

I like it best when I can just go and go and the thread whooshes through and the machine hums and the TED Radio Talks are on in the background, not making me concentrate on anything.  I hate it the most when the thread breaks, or the bobbin runs out, or I bobble too much and feel like I need to unpick it and restitch it.

Quilting outer border

I take this photo before I go to bed that night and think “I’m done.” “Not so,” a little voice says.  Something’s just not right.

overlaying paper for ideas

I put that photo up on Instagram (IG) hoping for some feedback and the answer came back: the density of the quilting doesn’t match the inner field.  I knew that.  I just didn’t WANT to know that.  I overlay some transparent paper on the quilt and sketch in what’s been quilted, then try out some more bits and pieces.  I like the simplicity of the grid the best.

marking quilt again

More marking.

quilting done outer border

A ton more sewing.

colorwheel blossom beauty shot

And I finish.

Road Acceptance 2015

Somewhere in here I found about the acceptance of my quilts in the juried show of Road to California.  I’m dancing around on the bed, jumping around the house in complete and utter happiness.  For the last few years I’ve not gotten any quilt in and then to get all three??  I’m over the moon.

removing blue marker2

A very helpful Leslie, a quilter on Instagram, coaches me through the next step of getting out the blue marks.  I find a video on YouTube where the quilter uses a sponge and a cotton swab to get out the marks.  I follow her instructions.

removing blue marker

I’d done a teensy bit of grid right in the middle to tie into the outer border.

different between marked and not marked

As I take off the marks, I can’t believe how different (and better) the quilting looks!  I’m smiling as I swab. And then. . . of course.  I see all the areas where I’d missed stitching–there is one to the right of the vine in the photo above.

Colorwheel Blossom Drying on Bed

I checked my other expert I turn to for help: Linda of Flourishing Palms, and both she and Leslie suggested laying it out and putting a fan on it to let it dry.  So I put down my two cardboard cutting boards for a stiff surface, layered it with towels, then smoothed it out to dry.  Next up is finding and fixing all those missed sections of the quilt, and then the age-old question: how to bind this?  One of my quilty friends suggested a faced binding, and I’m leaning that way, for sure.

I’m pretty pleased with my work thus far, as I see it laying on the bed in the other room.  And I’ve really benefitted from a lot of encouragement from all of you here on the blog and in Instragramland.  But as I said to a friend today, why is it that I see all the mistakes?  And do I need to unpick them and re-stitch them?  I had the same experience with my Lollypop Trees quilt–and my uber-observant husband also found all the wobblies on that quilt (I’ve asked him to not do that again–one of me is bad enough!).  Leanne suggested living with it for a while before deciding, and after a couple of months, I didn’t notice the problems.  As much.

I’ve complimented others on their quilts and in return I get a litany of all the mistakes and the problems.  I don’t want — as Benjamin Franklin said — to look for the worm in the apple of my eye, nor do I want to see those flaws that others point out in their own work.  (BTW, my father always said the correct response when someone compliments you is”Thank you.”) So what is it about human nature that only sees the flaws?  Do you do this too?

All that being said, from the vantage point of the above photo, and my forays into the next room to check on the drying, I’m enjoying this quilt.  And happy to be at this (almost) home stretch.

 

Colorwheel Blossom in Progress

Colorwheel Blossom Quilt_in progress1

Because of all the wonderful and encouraging comments from last post, I kept going.  This is an in-progress update.  Inner blossoms quilted.  Inner background quilted.  Moving on today to small border, then final large border.

Making a quilty knot

Some asked about how I knot the threads to bury them.  When I begin stitching an area, I pull the bobbin thread up to the top, hang on to them and start stitching.  When I’m done, I need to deal with these threads. Before, I used to tie a square knot and then thread the tails through a self-threading needle and bury them.  There is a better way that I learned from Sue Rasmussen.

But first, there are two kinds of self-threading needles:

self-threading needle 1 self-threading needle 2The top kind, where you snap the thread into place, is a more reasonable cost, but occasionally it will shred your thread.  The side-threading needles retail for about seven dollars each (coming in a pack of three), but those who have them swear by them.  I did a search on “self-threading needle” on Google to find these.

But now I tie an overhand knot leaving the knot about a 1/4″ away from where I want to sink it into the quilt.  I grab the tails, put them in my self-threading needle, insert the tip of the needle where my threads originated and come out about 1″ away, pulling on the thread to pop in the knot.  If your knot is too far away, it will come loose.

Thank you again for all your encouraging comments.
Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday.

 

Don’t Let the Process Overtake the Purpose

Narrow Mountain cliffside road

So here’s a dream story. I was driving someone home on a cliffside road, maybe it was the side of a dormant volcano or something–things are awfully hard to pin down in dreams.  The road was carved into the side of a mountain and kept getting more and more narrow until I felt I had only about two wheels on the road, but somehow didn’t fall down the mountain.  I could see the village in the valley below, and the person in the front seat kept yakking on and on like there was nothing unusual, and I’m like, “Hey! There’s no road here!”

Leap of Faith Indiana Jones

And as only dreams can do, it suddenly got worse when a car was coming the other way and I’m like “Are you nuts?  I’m not pulling over. . . I’ll grind right into the mountain.” And the oncoming car got closer and closer and I was sure I was going to be killed–because it was a dream, and that’s how dream things go.

crusades1

I woke into that lucid dreaming sleep place, where you are half in and half out, and thought of that scene from Indiana Jones, where he had to take a step of faith, and then discovers that the land bridge is there, only he couldn’t see it.  I focused on that, trying to stop being so frightened about there being no road, when it suddenly dawned on me that this was all about The Quilt.  The one that has been done since MAY and the one that’s been hanging in the closet, as I was too frightened to start quilting it.  I just didn’t know how, didn’t know if I was up to it.  I had already purchased all the thread in two separate trips up to Utah’s Superior Threads, so it wasn’t like I didn’t have my supplies.

Colorwheel Blossom Quilt Top

I did this-and-that all morning, still avoiding The Quilt.  And at lunch I was reading the New York Times and found an interview with Janet Elkin, with the words from this post’s title: “Don’t let the process overtake the purpose.”  She went on to say that when she motivates her employees, instead of focusing on the negative, she says “Let’s talk about how we’re going to get better.  Let’s get started.”  I ripped out that article and went right upstairs and pinned it to my design wall where I could see it.  It was time to get started.

Quilting Ideas

When I’d taken my class this summer at San Diego, Sue Rasmussen, the teacher, recommended finding ideas even in clothing.  I had drawn up a small sketch of an idea some time ago, and in another “ah, ha” moment, recognized it as being from the skirt I was wearing that day.  So I pulled out that skirt, traced a quarter of my quilt onto tracing paper and started sketching some ideas in pencil, going over them in ink when I liked them.

Colorwheel Quilt_sketch

Although it took me a while to realize this, a lot of free-motion quilters use drawn shapes to help them get the quilting done, so I made some templates of repeated shapes and laid them out on my quilt.  I used a blue wash-out marker to trace them, as I wanted them to stay on the quilt for while, giving myself a road map. I kept saying to myself that I had let the idea of quilting this quilt — the process — get in the way of my vision of a finished quilt — the product.  The universe had delivered two strong messages to me, so finally it was time to get going.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals1

I drew on the design with a purple disappearing marker for the inner petals, found the threads, and stitched those.  Big breath. Keep going.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals1a

I have NO confidence whatsoever in my ability to free motion quilt feathers, even though I have drawn them out about a billion times.  So I drew on that next set of petals, found the threads and quilted those and before quitting for the day, I buried all my threads, using the new method taught to me by Sue Rasmussen.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals2

I matched up the colors for the outer petals this afternoon, but even though I’d made a sketch of what I wanted, I needed another road map.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals template

So I made  another template, and drew that on.

Colorwheel Quilt_petals3

Tonight before I stopped, I had finished up all the colorful petals of my Colorwheel Blossom.  Of course, I’m not out of the woods yet, because I feel like another cliffside road is coming up for the quilting of the white part, but I will go forward in faith, trusting that I’ll figure it out as I quilt.  I appreciate all the encouragement I’ve received from the IG crowd; their enthusiastic comments help to propel me forward.  Lastly, I don’t know if any of my quilts  will ever be “show-quilt” worthy, but I will have tried something hard for me, and traveled down a new road.

driving into the sunset

Sometimes that’s enough.

Goals for Fall 2014

SeptDec2014 Goals

I used to belong to the FAL thing–“Finish A Long” and loved loved it.  But because of my personal lifetime karma of Never Winning a Prize, I decided that while it was still beneficial to make up goals, I just didn’t have to link into an enterprise to announce them.  It’s enough for me to use some colored pencils and write it out.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Sol Lewitt's Patchwork Primer

1. Finish quilting and bind the Sol Lewitt Patchwork Primer Quilt.  I started quilting this at our retreat in July, but it has sat for nearly a month now, partly because of LIFE and partly because I wasn’t sure I liked what I was doing.  If I had to rip it out, I only wanted to rip out a little bit.  Time to get it out, evaluate and finish it up.

Colorwheel Blossom Quilt Top

2. Quilt and bind and for-heaven’s-sake decide on a name for this.  It’s gone by Rainbow Blossom, Colorwheet Blossom, Colorwheel Petals, that iPhone Logo quilt and too many other names to mention.  I bought the thread at Superior Thread the last time we went through St. George so there should really be nothing holding me back (except: how do I quilt this thing?).

Reina Fabric

3. Create and cut out (at the very least!) my Mexican Day of the Dead quilt.  It would be a near miracle if this were actually DONE by the Dia de los Muertos, which is November 1st, but at least it made it onto the list again.
CrossX Quilt Blocks January2014

4. Oh, yeah.  This.  It’s was a cool swap I did with KristaStitched and the top is supposed to be done by September something-or-other (better go and look it up).  The other quilters in the group are going to be done, and I’ll still be lagging behind.

FrontSideYard Plans

5. Redo the front and side yard landscaping of our house.  Here is the *before.*  Stay tuned for the after, when they  will probably have to wrap me up and take me off to some quiet location, and feed me all forms of chocolate and Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls 24/7 until I recover.  (I’ve had Cinnabon on the brain lately.  Good thing they are far away.)  And yes, we’ve already made about 45 changes to the above plans, but it’s a good start.

I’ve added back in some of the usual need-to-be-finished culprits: 3 skirts, the Good Luck Quilt (which I can hardly remember what it is, but I do know where the fabric is), the QuiltCon Pastels challenge (which should be landing on my doorstep anyway).  And you know I’m just like you that I could probably rustle up about ten more projects to throw on this list, but I won’t.

TerrySteegmillerArt Heart(from *here*)

I’m hosting the Good Heart Quilters in a week for Quilt Night at my house on September 5th, Friday.  If you’re in the area, come and join us! (And Good Heart Quilters?  Can you RSVP and let me know how many are coming so I can set up enough tables? Thanks.)

Selvage Blocks Aug 2014

And I’ll leave you with this: my five completed selvage blocks.  I’m not in a rush on this project.  (Good thing.)  It’s nice to have something to pick up for those days my brain can’t handle one crisis.

Finally, some thoughts on finishing from here and there:

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done. ~~Marie Curie

I really enjoy the finishing part of the painting process. It’s like performing the Beethoven Sonata when all the hard slog has been done to make it a possibility. ~~Leoni Duff

Ovid gets the last word:  Either do not attempt at all, or go through with it.