14 November 2015

Thinking... Planning... Getting Ready

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One day in the not so distant future, God willing, I will finish my CQJP 2015 project.  As it nears completion, how to put it together is on my mind with each stitch I take and each new seam that I complete.  There is much thinking and much consideration taking place as to how to put these blocks together.  

While I briefly considered stitching the blocks directly to one another, I realized that I would prefer to put some sashing between the blocks and let each one shine individually. 

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My initial thought was to use some pink/yellow/orange fabric for the sashing.  I have some of this in my fabric stash, though not enough to do the entire piece.  When I visited a quilt shop and we looked at this option, it was thought that the blocks got lost a bit on this fabric. 

I did try some yellow fabric, but I wasn't at all fond of the look.  Too much yellow!  Not to mention that somehow the blocks got lost on it.  Orange fabrics weren't any better.  

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I like the idea of using a bright green for the sashing.   That would help it hang in my home better, since green is a predominant color in my home along with white, ivory and natural linen.  While brighter than the majority of my home decor, at least it would coordinate.  But the blocks do seem to blend in and don't stand out as well.  

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 Then I thought that maybe a darker green was in order.  It does make the blocks stand out, but this particular green is far to muted to work well with the blocks.  This one is out of the running.  

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So what about using a bright pink for the sashing?  It does make the blocks sing and brings up the brightness of the stitching, as well as minimizing the yellows a bit.  What surprised me was the best pink fabric also had a lot of orange in it!  I'm still not quite sold though.  If I use pink sashing, I seriously doubt that I'd ever hang the quilt in my home as it is simply too bright, though it certainly would be joyful! 

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Then I thought about using black for the sashing.  Just narrow bits, about an inch to inch and a half wide. It does seem a bit stark, but I'd use a combination of golden yellow and bright pink stitching along the seams if I did this, similar to this glorious quilt created by Elizabeth Frolet of Georgia (scroll down to the bottom of the post for her lovely,"Elizabeth's Garden, A Tale of a Thousand Threads" quilt)

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Then again, I could use that green that I like and add a simple narrow black frame to each block, rather like a stunning bit of stained glass! 

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Or how about on the pink fabric with the black framing?  

Truth is, I'm still as unsure as ever about how to finish this.  My ultimate goal is to make this the best CQ that it can be, secondary is whether I'd hang it in my home!   I'd love to hear your thoughts on which option you like best and why! 

13 November 2015

September's CQJP 2015 Block

 {nine} 9 (NINE) blocks completed!!!
(it's a big mile stone, can you tell I'm excited to have reached this point at long last?!)

September's block - completed in November.  Getting closer to the end!  

The rick-rack seam that started this block.  Toning down that fluorescent pink is a challenge. A nice variegated orange/yellow pearl cotton did the job nicely.   Above it, a stem stitched vine with silk ribbon Fargo roses, bouillon stitch and beads. These two seams were a great foundation for the rest of the block. 

With two large light patches, I knew I needed to prevent them from standing out too much.  I decided to tackle one of them right away and added this feather stitched and lazy daisy filling pattern.  Love how it turned out.  

This seam is composed of cretin stitch and fly stitch with pink oyster stitched blossoms and lazy daisy flowers to set off the centers of the pattern.  

At this point, everything was looking a bit too linear, so I added this curly vine.  

That dratted small corner is always a challenge.  Another mandala motif to fill the space. 

The second pale patch was filled with a combination seam of herringbone, buttonhole stitch and then a feather and fly stitched floral added with some simple ribbon embroidered blossoms.  

A curving featherstitched vine with orange beaded flowers fills this small corner piece.  

When I looked at all the blocks, I realized that there were few center motifs on the right side of the central pentagon patch.  To make the blocks balance as a whole, I added one on this block with some bluebells and ferny greenery.  

The last seam completed was this random featherstitch with spider-web flowers.  The golden yellow flowers helped to balance the rest of the block.  

Now it's on to the last three blocks.  I've already chosen the rick-rack and placement for each of the three blocks and decided on which side will be the top.  Hopefully this will help all twelve blocks to balance nicely with one another once complete!  

It's time to sign up for CQJP 2016 already!  My project for next year is going to be very different, with blocks pieced of various shades of linen from taupe to ecru, to cream to white.  Birds and plants in my yard will be the theme! I'm eager to get started, but need to finish 2015 first! 

06 November 2015

August CQJP Block (and Autumn in the Garden)

August's block is completed!  Making steady progress and just 4 more blocks to go!  Hoping to get 2 blocks completed both this month and next.  In January, I hope to be able to compile the entire projects!  It feels like the end is in sight at long last!  

The central motif's starry blue flowers are the "star" of this block!  

As usual, I started off with the rick-rack seam.  Orange this time to bring the color into lighter areas of the block. From there, a flower garden grew of hyacinths and painted daisies!  

Next seam to be completed was this golden patch filled with vining buttonhole leaves.  I knew that at some point I wanted to incorporate them into one of the blocks as they have become a bit of a signature element for me.  A nice variegated thread from Weeks Thread Works provided additional interest.  

Each block has at least one or two feather stitched seams and this one is no exception.  This is one of two seams that I had to play with on this block to help it have enough presence to work with the other blocks. 

Right next to it is another feather stitched seam, but this time with silk ribbon flowers.  This seam helps to balance the other, lighter one.  

On a small patch I added a buttonhole stitched fan seam inspired by one that Gerry Kreuger did on a block that I had loved.  As so often happens, it looks completely different.  

Here's a look at the blue star flowers.  So simple to make, though they look complex.  They are all composed of lazy daisies.  Using a heavier thread really helps them to stand out, as well as using little flower beads for the centers! 

 For that troublesome little corner, I added a little stem-stitched motif. 

The other small, sometimes troublesome patch got a leafy treatment.  

This block didn't have any really graphic type seams, so I added this seam in cretin stitch.  This is the second seam that was a bit light and out of balance with the rest of the stitching.  Adding some bright pink to the centers of the lazy daisy petals gave it a presence that it had been lacking.  

The chain stitched seam was added somewhat early on, before I did the star flower motif.  The leafy seam below it was the last seam added to the block.  

This seam was the next to the last seam added.  It needed some noticeable color to balance other parts of the block.  In all, I'm pretty happy with how this block turned out, especially those star flowers a the center!  

July Block Evolution 
I also played some more with that troublesome "bulls eye" that was bothering me on the July block.  Here you can see the progression from left to right.  The first photo was as the block was originally completed.  The middle photo shows the improvements I made to the vines to help keep that light patch from appearing too square.  The bulls eye affect still bothered me though.  So I removed the blue bead at the center and replaced it with a pink flower.  That still wasn't enough, so I carried the dark green out into the outer rings and that made all the difference.  SO much better now!  I'm finally happy with it and will quit playing with it!  

The Autumn Garden
The garden has been amazing this autumn.  Just when I think it's finally cold enough that the roses will quit blooming, they put out yet another flush of flowers!  The white wave petunias and white alyssum have proven to be amazingly resilient and though everything is winding down, they provide a lovely misty foundation to the patio beds.  A walk around the yard revealed that the Bishop's Cap or Spindle Tree shrub has put out it's annual late autumn display of brilliant pink flowers.  Most of the year it is a nondescript large shrub tucked into a corner on the back of the house.  But in late autumn, those brilliant pink seedpods appear, seemingly out of nowhere!  

30 October 2015

July CQJP Block *Update*

I kept looking at this block and it just didn't feel right to me.  At last, I realized that what was bothering me was that central pale yellow block.  It just looked too square and even in a series of blocks that had nothing square and even about them.  As you can see on the right, I made some minor changes.  

This is a composite of all the blocks before I made any changes to the July Block.  That pale yellow square (even though it's really a hexagon, it reads square to me because of that right angle of the embroidered stems)  just jumps out, demanding attention.  That would have been fine if I wanted it to be the commanding center of attention, but I didn't.  

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To make the block come in line with the rest of the blocks, I added more of the little vines and french knots to bring the block out of square and more into a random shape like the other blocks.  It was a very simple change, but it makes the block SO much better!!!

Now when you look at it, that pale yellow block doesn't demand nearly as much attention and provides a much better balance with the rest of the blocks!  I'm much happier with it now!   Now I just need to address the "bullseye" affect of the mandalla motif.  The rest of the blocks flow very well, but this one still has a few issues.  And I also see a bare sport that needs dealt with on the May block as well.  

Looking at the composite, I see that with the remaining blocks, I need to vary the orientation a little bit more to help the entire piece flow better.  I don't want the underlying pattern of the blocks to be quite so noticeable, but rather to have a slightly more random appearance.  

I've also been looking at possible fabrics to use as sashing between the blocks.  The more I look though, the more I think that there won't be sashing between them, but maybe a narrow two or three toned border.  Five more blocks to finish though, before I can truly focus on that part of this project! 

28 October 2015

July's Block for CQJP 2015

July's block is completed!  I also have to say that it isn't one of my favorites.  I can't decide if it should be oriented this direction...

Or this way.

My critique of this block includes the following thoughts.  The two light patches are too light.  I should have used a much darker element for at least one of them.  The little dark green vine helped, but wasn't quite enough to balance with the darks on the rest of the block.  

The mandalla motif should have either been complete or left at just half and stayed within it's patch. 

The central motif has the two longest branches going off at right angles to one another.  It probably would have looked better if the angle had been wider.  

On most blocks, I don't tear much out, but I tore out at least three different seam starts on this block trying to make things work!  

This is one of my favorite seams on the block.  The darker ribbon helps balance the block.  I had to add the little flower on the upper right as it was too much of a bare spot and looked glaringly empty. 

Bullion knots have never been easy for me, but I keep working at theism.  Getting more even, but I need to research how to get more consistent results.  I've heard that what direction you wind the thread on the needle should change depending on what brand of thread you are using, but for the life of me, I can't remember what those guidelines are! 

This little patch is bordered by a simple fly-stitch seam and a zig-zag chain stitch with beads.  

I love this seam!  Although it is one that I started with a different color thread that got lost in the fabric, so got torn out and redone.   You can also see the couched chenille seam that I did. below it.  I hadn't planned on adding beads to it, but the chenille wouldn't stay put and I couldn't come up with another method of holding it in place that I liked. 

I left the purple and pink patch until the last as I knew it was going to be hard to balance it with the rest of the block as it was just so dark comparatively.  Some lovely sunflowers and a vine gave it just the right brightness against the dark fabric and brought into balance with the block. 

French knot grapes or they could be clusters of flowers too!

The troublesome mandalla - first element I stitched on this block after the rick-rack.  I like it but it was really hard to work around and make it balance with the rest of the elements. 

The rick-rack seam.

The lower left seam is composed almost entirely of fly-stitch, which is one I rarely use.  Love how this turned out, but it's one of the seams that I had to rip out and re-do.  I stitched it first in a variegated pink/yellow thread and it just got lost.  

A little floral seam using buttonhole stitch to create little bluebells.

These blocks all have a troublesome little corner.  Most of the time, I've carried stitching into this corner from another seam treatment, but this time, I added a bit dark orange with a silk ribbon bow. 

The center element was inspired by one I saw stitched with wool.  I wanted to see how it translated with cotton embroidery thread.  I discovered that adding some padding under the outer petals really helped give it more depth and interest.  


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