Welcome! We are about to start day seven in this nine day adventure. Over the last six posts I’ve been sharing the journey my dog Sadie and I have been taking. We are here, at my little cabin in the woods (LCITW), for a break from everyday life. The goal is to immerse ourselves in the north woods while sewing up a storm. If you have just joined us, you may catch up by following the links at the bottom of this post. Time now to get day seven rolling.
What an awesome change! It didn’t rain last night! This meant Sadie slept peacefully and so did I. Yippee! The clouds have thankfully moved on and the sky is once again a beautiful blue. Nothing like a ray of sunshine to brighten your day!
Before starting my sewing I took time to look at the pile of projects I’ve made during my stay here at my LCITW. I was so impressed–so happy! How wonderful to see completed items rather than stacks of unused fabrics.
A Little Detour
You know how I said yesterday that I was going to start my day sewing on an improv project–well you probably won’t be surprised when I confess that I took a slight detour. Before sitting down to begin I thought I would browse through my tub of projects to see which ones were left. Inside were three items. The first was a kit I bought several years ago from a fabric store that is no longer in business. The pattern is called Lulu’s Garden.
The second gem is a pattern from Missouri Star’s Fall Vol, Issue 5, Block magazine. The quilt is called Teacup. I would like to share a photo from the book but I don’t want to infringe on any copyright laws. You will either have to wait until I have mine assembled or follow the link above if you would like to see how it looks.
The third little critter is also a kit. Do you detect a theme here? I saw this quilt already assembled and hanging in yet another fabric store. The real reason why I bought the kit is because of the bird fabric. I searched all over the store for the bolt but couldn’t find it. Come to find out it was only available via the kit. I’m really very fond of the other fabrics as well but not so much the quilt pattern they were intended for. Whether or not I will stray and use the fabrics in another way I haven’t decided.
So those were my three options. Want to know which one I chose? The project that led me to establish a new game plan was the Teacup Quilt.
I won’t bore you with all the details but I will share a photo when the quilt top is finished. If you should decide to make this quilt I want to make you aware of a mistake in the pattern. The pattern calls for one package of pre-cut 10″ squares. It should read two. I didn’t realize this until I had my blocks assembled and was in the process of arranging them. If the fabrics I chose were still available I would have purchased more to make the additional blocks. Unfortunately the fabrics are no longer available.
Before Sadie and I turned off the lights I managed to even get the first border added and the fabric strips for the second one cut. By then it was darn near midnight–well past a reasonable bedtime. But who cares!
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Gosh the time goes so fast! I can’t believe I’m ready to start my sixth day at my LCITW (little cabin in the woods). We had storms forecast for our area again last night. They predicted two waves. One was to occur somewhere between 10:00-11:00 pm and the second was due to roll-in around 2:30-3:00 am. Storms make Sadie, my five year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, very nervous. She has anti-anxiety meds that I can give her to help calm her down. I knew the medication would really help her out but wouldn’t last long enough for both rounds. To help minimize her stress I chose to stay up and work on projects until the first set of storms had rolled on by. Sadie kept a close eye on me as I moved from my sewing machine to ironing board to cutting table and back again.
Progress Is Slow
Making improv blocks definitely is a much slower process than blocks made using a pattern. Especially if I’m struggling with my approval of the block. I’ve been working on re-purposing a set of blocks I received through a block swap and the process has been incredibly slow. Sometimes I think their reincarnation may not be worth all this effort. About the time I’m ready to throw-in-the-towel I look at the block from a new perspective and voila, I’m back in business.
A Final Chance
The block I tried to salvage tonight had elements that were appealing. If it were not for those factors I probably would not have taken another stab at saving it. As my evening progressed I made cuts here and there while also adding strips of new fabric. All of the expended energy was suppose to bring about a pleasant outcome. Things don’t always go as planned though.
As my frustration increased I decided to call it a night. Just before turning off the lights I made one last effort to pull together fabrics that just might save my block from the recycle bin. This is a photo of the block with the new potential addition. Hopefully it will breathe new life into it.
Stranger things have happened!
While pulling fabrics to audition with the block I stumbled upon a couple of combinations that just might lead to new artwork. Here’s photos of the two possibilities.
Time to move on from this recap and start making new memories.
I’m not usually a quitter but the block I ended my day with yesterday proved to be a challenge. There were many small segments that really appealed to me and so many others that made me want to gag. I really didn’t want to admit defeat but this block was testing my patience. I set the block on my cutting mat, reached for my rotary cutter and began hacking away.
One of the many ideas I learned during the class with Rayna Gillman (I talked about her class in yesterday’s post) is her philosophy on ugly blocks. She impressed upon us that there is almost no block that can’t be rescued. If you can’t seem to make peace with it, grab your rotary cutter, and slice your block into segments. Using those segments as your new building blocks, begin the process all over again by adding new fabrics, new colors. It’s a clean slate.
I definitely had a clean slate. Do you remember the fabric strip I had pulled to audition as a possible addition to this block? Using the red strip I added it in multiple areas. But, even after making those additions I wasn’t satisfied. I had big hopes for the red because I really liked the design and texture. Oh well, on to the next!
Chosen for my second color was a lime green. Lime green falls into my favorites category, when it comes to classifying colors. The green was chosen because it was already represented in one of the other fabrics. Rayna told us to make certain the colors we used were represented in multiple areas of the art piece. This practice helps to keep your eye moving about the quilt.
After adding the green I was really disappointed. The green seemed to draw all of my attention. It was screaming, “look at me, look at me!” (Insert BIG sigh!) Okay! Now What? Well, I figured I needed to add something that would drastically tone-down the screaming green. What could be more opposite from the green than black?
I rummaged through the tub of fabrics I had brought looking for a piece of black. At the very bottom was a generous sized piece. I laid the black on my cutting board then set my stubborn block on top. The transformation was amazing. The black really made my block seem quieter–more pleasing to the eye.
I cut several strips of the black and inserted them in strategic places then stood back to survey my new item. For some reason I also decided to investigate how the piece looked on the backside. The colors were definitely more subdued and the texture created by the multiple layers of fabric had an organic or earthy feeling (insert aha! moment). Hmmmmm…what if?
What if I designated the back as my new right side, or top? I enlisted the assistance of my camera and phone to take photos. I flipped back and forth between the two sets of photos trying to decide which one was more appealing. The earthy, much more interesting side is the one I chose. Finally I had an art piece that I could fall in love with!
I added additional black strips around my block forming a frame. Some of the strips still have the fringed edges that were there when I purchased the fabric. I decided to leave them because I thought it added more texture, more character.
So there you have it! My new art piece. I can’t wait to quilt it. Below are a few photos of my new piece. I’m calling it Art Quilt # 21: Backwards.
After adding lime green
After adding black strips
A view from the back
Backwards with added outer border
Do I continue rehabbing the leftover ugly block swap squares? Do I work on the three kits I purchased to make pillow cases for my granddaughters? Or, do I start a brand new improv project?
To give my artistic side a break I chose the pillow cases. The pillow case kits were purchased from a local quilt shop. I got the pattern years earlier from another shop. It’s been a while since I made one and I know the directions are poorly written. Let’s see if I can read-between-the-lines.
The first pillow case proved to be a challenge. Reading between-the-lines didn’t work too well. I ended up having to take most of the stitching out because the pillow case didn’t go together correctly. After reassembling the three pieces, this time in a different order, and stitching it once again, I was able to successfully finish. Before proceeding with the other two cases I made notes on the pattern, filling in where the author left off. The other two cases went together perfectly. Here’s a photo of all three.
It’s been a very productive day and I am very, very pleased with all I was able to accomplish. Tomorrow’s another day. Time to turn out the lights. Before I do I would like to thank you for sticking with me to the very end. I know this was a terribly long post but I had so much to share. I hope you enjoyed following along on my journey.
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If you are joining me for the very first time or have been away for a while, I’ve been sharing my latest adventures at my Little Cabin In The Woods (LCITW). This is the fifth posting in the series. If you would like to read the other four I will have links to them at the bottom of this page. Welcome!
I awoke this morning to another absolutely gorgeous day in the north woods. The sun is filtering through the trees creating a dappled light that gently illuminates my work area. I feel so blessed to have this space.
Last night, when I crawled beneath my covers, I took with me Cindy Grisdela’s book “Artful Improv.” After finishing the quilt top for the commissioned project yesterday I wasn’t quite sure what to tackle next. By reading Cindy’s book I thought perhaps it might be the spark to lead me in my next direction. Unfortunately my overwhelming fatigue allowed me to only briefly browse the many colorful and interesting pages.
Even though the quick tour was not really enough time to glean a lot of information it did bring back memories of the class I took a year ago this last May. It was a class led by Rayna Gillman called Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts. I wrote about the retreat in several posts. This is a link to one of the posts. I enjoy creating art through patterns as well as improvisational methods or improv. Since my stay so far had been focused on a pattern I decided today it seemed only natural to turn toward the improv direction.
While packing for this adventure I included, in my project box, the blocks I had created from a previous block swap. The blocks I received were not at all to my liking. Rather than leave them as they were I cut them up and turned them into smaller improv pieces. The new inventions were surrounded by white fabric and stitched together to form a quilt top. To let the quilt’s appearance solidify in my mind I set the quilt top aside to stew.
There currently are 24 blocks that have not been re-purposed and three that obviously have. Big decision now! Do I play with the three or do I focus on the 24?
The 24 blocks, although a much larger undertaking, is the direction I went.
There were many of the 24 blocks I really liked and the rest not-so-much. I decided to sort them into two piles, yes & no.
The ones on the left are the yes pile. There were seven blocks in the not-so-much or no pile. That left me with seventeen blocks.
Down to Seventeen
The seventeen were then sorted by color theme into a pile of nine somewhat subdued colors and the other eight slightly more vibrant colors. The stack of nine were shuffled through several arrangements until I found a color flow that I found appealing.
Next I had to decide if I wanted to leave them in their current size or shrink them down. Eventually I decided to leave the white border as is. The version with the larger white border gave the eye more room to rest. Here’s how they looked after being stitched together.
I’m calling them Art Quilt # 17: The Chosen 9.
The other eight blocks were divided into two groups of four. Each grouping was left as is. No changes were made in their dimensions. Here’s how the mini quilts looked after they were assembled.
This one is called Art Quilt # 18: Four Friends # 1
and this one is called Art Quilt # 19: Four Friends # 2.
One other small block was modified with the addition of a few fabrics and a striking yellow border. This sweet little gem, which I have named Art Quilt # 20: Rising Star, looked like this.
All four art pieces are awaiting the quilting process. I will update you when they are finished.
Before closing today I must share a brief account of my exciting afternoon. I discovered the presence of a winged insect, of the scary kind, inside my LCITW. This was the fourth one I had encountered. To explore where these creepy things might be coming into my cabin I went outside to take a look. Our air conditioners are located on the roof of the cabin. As I looked up at the one above my bedroom I noticed a fairly steady stream of critters flying in and out.
Multiple alarms (that’s putting it mildly) started sounding in my head. There was no way I could let that continue. After a few phone calls I found a local expert that could rectify my situation. Much to my delight he was able to make a service call within hours. Before the gentlemen left he knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to see the nest he had removed. Who wouldn’t want to? I grabbed my camera and went to see what he had found. I was absolutely shocked when I saw the nest. Take a look.
Isn’t it huge!! Thank goodness he took it with him! I was so glad he could remove the nest and not get stung.
Well this brings Day Five to a close. At the beginning of my post I told you I would share links to the first four days. Here they are: Day One, Day Two, Day Three and Day Four. I look forward to our next visit. If you like what you have read and are not currently a follower, why not join in. To sign up just enter your email address in the designated area. It’s location varies depending upon what type of a device your are reading this on.
Thanks for visiting! Until next time, Happy Quilting!