Disclaimer: heavy quilting content and possible over explaining in today’s post.
Taking classes in anything helps get me inspired and motivated. After taking Heather Thomas’ “Quick Color Theory Class” at the Golden Quilt Company, I was hooked and wanted to learn more. I was also looking forward to the challenge of completing one project per month for 13 months, I certainly have never finished so many things in so short a time before. The prospect was also mildly terrifying.
The first project was neutrals. This project was due in October, so right away I started thinking about fall things, and spooky things. I knew I wanted to try to do something representational, rather than a traditional quilt pattern. I flirted with the idea of a raven (Nevermore!) but I thought that would be more detail than I was ready for. And then I thought of bats, probably because my husband’s cousin encounters bats at work, and does not care for them at all, and posts about this on Facebook. I think the original idea for bats silhouetted against a lighter background came from here http://www.dana-made-it.com/2010/10/bats.html. MADE (http://www.dana-made-it.com/) is a very cool website with all kinds of neat tutorials.
Photo used by permission, http://www.dana-made-it.com/2010/10/bats.html.
I started thinking about a moon, with scary bats in front of it. And what else is spooky, how about …. corn? Children of The Corn, being lost in a corn field, hmmmmmm. So then I went looking for pictures of scary corn on the internet. And I found one that I liked, I would cite the source but of course now I can’t find where it came from.
And some pictures of bats.
And then I started fooling around with the picture in Adobe Illustrator, because I knew I wanted the quilt to have more than just black and white (we were actually required to use 12(?), I think, different fabrics.) And I made the moon bigger because it just looked cool that way.
And without bats.
I was able to print these out on 11 x 17 paper and cut up the leaves to use as patterns. I am not much of a free hander so this was a way I could do something representational.
Here are a few pictures of the piece in process. I originally had it on a darker solid black background, but I went for the gray, because it was more interesting. (Sorry these pics are so small, I (alarmingly) can’t find the original files….they have to be somewhere.
I had several more leaves cut out, and then I decided there were too many. Good choice, I think.
Here it is almost in its final form.
I had that one leaf hanging over the edge on purpose, to “break the plane” of the rectangle, but I did fray it so it wasn’t such a straight edge. I was also thinking about dry brushing some craters onto the moon, but I think the mottled pattern of the fabric suggests craters just fine.
It was amazing, in our class of 20-some women, the difference in pieces created. There were quilts, jackets, art quilts, beading, a doll, it was amazing. Heather’s suggestion for mine was that I should add some “sky lines” quilting in the background. I was very happy with how it turned out. Things I would do differently: I would add some embroidery stabilizer, because in some places I was quilting very heavily, and that started to bunch up the fabric.
Of course, I haven’t done that quilting yet, because I had to get going on the next project, plus working on several OTHER projects that weren’t for the class……
The next theme, for November, was Monochromatic – take one color and use its variations. Now, you have to be really careful, and take along your book and color wheel, because when you are looking for GREEN, you can’t be using yellow-green or blue-green. I still managed to buy a whole bunch of yellow-green. I was brainstorming various ideas for this piece, and looking at the internets and Pinterest, and I was thinking of either doing something with half square triangles (HST) or something like this piece that I saw on http://crazymomquilts.blogspot.com/2011/09/half-way-done.html. (Please click on link to see, since I don’t like to re-post photos without permission) I had bookmarked crazymomquilts.blogspot.com because several of my friends were participating in a quiltalong that she was hosting.
Well, that night I had a dream that I did a quilt like Crazymomquilts, and all in greens, it was like bamboo. So obviously, since I had dreamed about it, that was what it had to be.
But it couldn’t be JUST bamboo, that wouldn’t be very interesting. Her quilt was interesting because it had many different colors and background colors, and I was only going to use green. So I wanted something with the bamboo. I asked the great hive mind that is Facebook, and my friends came up with everything from pandas to dragons, and that is what made me think of dragonflies.
This block was much harder to put together than I thought it would be. It was hard to get the proportions right, and hard to sew back together after making the “wonky” cuts so the bamboo would be tilted.
So I made 8 blocks, and I slapped that dragonfly up there (painstakingly made out of a bunch of different fabrics), and I didn’t like it, the proportions weren’t right.
So I went back to the great Facebook hive mind, and asked everyone to vote on option A, all 8 blocks,
option B, four blocks,
or option C, three blocks.
I eventually settled on option C, and then put a border around it, which I thought really helped it.
I was very happy with the quilting in the border, not quite perfect yet, but I thought I came up with a cool design.
I also beaded the dragon fly which was a huge pain in the a** and then I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, and I added some beads to some of the joins in the bamboo.
I was still working on clipping threads and sewing on a few more beads the day off the class of course.
So off to class, and part of the class is that you stand up with your project and talk about how you made it, how you chose the colors and design, what difficulties you had, whether you liked it or not, and what you might do differently. So, I think you can imagine from reading my blog HOW DETAILED of an explanation I can give, I am sure some of them wish they had a buzzer to cut me off. Anyway, I got good comments on it, and then the teacher came up front (everybody always says OOOOOOOOOH when she heads up front, because she is usually about to turn your project 45° or 90° or do something with pins and transform it into something slightly different but better, especially in the design sense.)
So, this is what she did:
She converted my wide borders back into just a binding, which she said, correctly, makes it look more modern, more “arty” than “quilty” and emphasizes the dragonfly. She said the wide borders compete too much with the dragonfly. (and that if I wanted to keep the borders, I should add 2 more dragonflies, NO WAY). I DO like it this way, and I like the beads on it WAY better with the narrow border. It is just pinned back for now, so is a little rumply. Plus, I have 5 orphan bamboo blocks that need to find a home. So, of course, I haven’t fixed the border yet, because I am working on the NEXT project for class. Which is complimentary colors.
I chose red and green, partially because I had just purchased a bunch of green fabric, and used less than one tenth of it to make my dragonfly piece, so I started brainstorming things that are red and green but NOT Christmassy. Again, the internets and Pinterest are VERY HELPFUL for this. Just searching on “red and green” brought up all kinds of ideas. And then I would brainstorm more on my commute. My original thought was “rhubarb” but I think rhubarb has limited applications in where I would hang it in my house. And then I thought of red poppies with green leaves – I have always loved poppies, my Grandma had bright orange poppies growing out in front of her house. So, poppies it was, but of course I didn’t want it to be representational poppies, I wanted stylized poppies. Or, I wanted to do something with New York Beauty blocks. I am not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg……I took some inspiration from Laura’s Sewing Studio, which has New York Beauty blocks digitized and turned into embroidery, but they have assembled them into flowers, so I could see that it was possible, but my flowers are going to be much more bizarre.
I was inspired to make New York Beauty blocks by a design I saw (probably on Pinterest at first) for the Cinco De Mayo Quilt by Karen Stone, that is a quilt with WILD colors, and I have it on my list for Someday. I already have the book and I sit and drool a little bit over the pictures…..google “Cinco De Mayo Quilt” on Google Images to see some BRIGHT examples.
I am WAY behind on the poppies because of Christmas sewing, and I already missed our class because I had a work conflict that evening. So I am trying to get the poppies AND the next project done by our January class (since I haven’t actually STARTED the next project, this should be interesting….)