Sunday, March 25, 2018

My Scrappy Spring Garden (Project QUILTING - Season 9, Challenge 6)

The sixth and final challenge for Season 9 of Project QUILTING was "Scraptastic." I logged on to the Project QUILTING site from the hair salon on Sunday afternoon after the theme was announced.  I started planning my project while my color was processing. (I find that letting my mind wander while at the salon is relaxing and, as in this case, helpful.)

With plans to be out of town for four days last week, I knew I'd have to plan a project that could be finished with only a few days at the machine. The challenge required that we use at least twelve fabrics in our finished piece, so I had to take that into account, too.

I have a half-square triangle pattern that I've made several times and really like (see below). One of the smaller quilts has been hanging in our bedroom for a while and I'd been thinking that I might want to make a new wall hanging for the spring.

With the warmer weather, flowers were starting to poke their heads up through the ground--crocuses, bleeding hearts, bluebells--even the forsythia looked like they were ready to make an entrance. An idea popped into my head that I could choose a few colors to represent spring flowers--pink, yellow, orange, white, purple--and make scrappy HSTs with this pattern. In my mind, the quilt would represent my favorite spring flowers: lily of the valley, lilacs, and peonies, as well as the flowers that grace our yard early in the season: crocuses, forsythia, and bluebells.

On Sunday night, I put together eight squares with six different fabrics each, two squares of yellow, two purple, two yellow, one white, and one pink. The friend we were visiting is also a quilter, so I thought I might be able to pick up background fabric if (when) a trip to the fabric store was planned.

Happily, I did make a trip to Stitchcraft in Boca Raton, FL, and I found some lovely green fabrics for the background and binding. My friend and I planned a sewing session on Friday morning, and I was able to smash out all of the HSTs and lay out the top. Thanks to input (and some extra fabric from Chris), I was also able to create a few more scrappy HSTs in pink and white to fine tune the design, and assemble the top (without borders).

The view in Chris' sewing studio is far more attractive than that in my windowless basement sewing area in Brooklyn!

When I got home, I spent all day on Saturday adding borders and getting ready for quilting. Since I prefer to baste with thread, it's always a challenge to find empty floor space in our apartment. Happily, there's JUST enough space in the kitchen for a quilt this size.

I much prefer piecing to quilting (and I didn't have much time to be too creative with the quilting anyway), so I opted for straight line quilting with a variegated green thread.

I finished it off with a binding in fabric that reminds me of grass, finishing up the hand sewing on the binding as I watched this morning's episode of CBS Sunday Morning.

I call my finished piece, My Scrappy Spring Garden. Once I get the hanging sleeve attached, it will hang in our bedroom to welcome the spring flowers inside as well as out. I used a total of 64 fabrics (including the background, backing, and binding), so I more than met the requirement to use twelve fabrics. All of the "flower" fabrics came from the scrap bins of my friend and me.

My Scrappy Spring Garden
38.5" x 38.5"
Various cotton fabrics with cotton batting and thread

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Stitch in...Time's Up (Project QUILTING - Season 9, Challenge 5)

The theme for this week's Project QUILTING challenge was "A stitch in time saves nine." I spent a good part of the week trying to come up with a project that wouldn't bee too literal (one stitch holding the number nine on a clock) or too forced (the number nine hanging from a thread and being dropped into a piggy bank). I wasn't having luck coming up with anything until I was inspired by the challenge on this week's Project Runway All Stars.

The contestants on PR were tasked with creating a red carpet look using their signature technique. One of the contestants used pintucks. I've enjoyed working with pintucks in the past, so I decided to take my inspiration from the inspiration for Project QUILTING and do something that would involve pintucks and nine colors of threads manipulating the tucks.

I chose a black and white Japanese print that I thought would have some interest when pintucked and would accommodate an interesting design for quilting/manipulating the tucks. I started the pintucks and chose a selection of nine thread colors for the quilting.

After I finished the pintucking, I assembled my quilt sandwich and tried a pattern with the quilting. I didn't like it, so I broke out the seam ripper and took it all out. I thought a bit and tried a new pattern. It didn't work for me either, so the seam ripper came out again. 

After four or five failed tries, I ceded defeat and decided to try a different design for my project. 

Sadly, it was Saturday afternoon with the Sunday deadline looming and I still didn't have a good idea. I ran the theme through my brain over and over, trying to land on something that would work, but wouldn't require me to stay up all night.

As I started to realize that I might not be able to come up with something in time, my mind landed on "Time's Up." Not only did that reflect what I was facing creatively, it has also been a timely message this year. Things started to fall together and I decided to make a nine-patch of neutral squares onto which I would stitch the letters spelling out Time's Up (seven letters + one apostrophe + one space = nine).

I cut squares from nine different low volume white, cream, and gray fabrics and sewed them together with a red border. I chose a simple grid pattern for the quilting, thinking that it wouldn't distract from the letters.

I printed out the letters in a bold Times Roman font and used my BritePad light board to trace the letters onto freezer paper.

I used a ruler to help evenly position the letters and ironed them in place, then stitched around the letters in black thread. (Sorry, I forgot to snap a picture of the stitching.)

I had to take Tim Gunn's famous advice to "make it work" this week, but I'm pleased with the way my piece turned out, and I got the nine-patch stitched just in time to save myself from missing the deadline.

11.5" x 11.5"
A Stitch in...Time's Up
11.5" x 11.5"
Various cotton fabrics with cotton batting and thread