Another Mystery, Twisted Threads, AP # 39


First Anniversary

There is a local fabric store that is celebrating their first anniversary in business. To honor this anniversary they have offered a challenge. The challenge is to create a quilt measuring no larger than 20” x 20”. The deadline to submit entries is March 31, 2018. All projects must include this fabric.

Blue Bar Quilts Challenge Fabric.jpg

So How Come?

Sound familiar? Sure it does! It is almost identical to the challenge I am running on this blog.

So how did I let myself get involved in another Mystery Challenge? I have frequented this store many times to search out fabrics for my ongoing projects. Their inventory includes many unusual prints which makes them a great resource. I’ve often been able to find just the right item to fit my needs. I also receive their newsletters.

In one of their emails they shared information about their upcoming anniversary as well as the opportunity to participate in their Mystery Challenge. As incentive to encourage participation they are offering cash prizes. The thought of winning cash probably draws people in but there is a small catch…an entrance fee. It’s not incredibly expensive. Just makes the cost of a fat quarter a bit much if one doesn’t follow through with the challenge.

Attention Please!

The chance of winning money, surprisingly, is not my reason to join. The fabric wasn’t the draw either because I’m not particularly fond of the print or the colors. Gaining exposure through the judging process is what drew my attention. After tossing the idea around in my head, over and over again, I finally decided to take a leap. So here I am creating another project.

My Example

I’ve owned and read Sherri Lynn Wood‘s book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously for a while now. I find her unusual techniques intriguing. She is an improvisational artist. Her definition of improv encompasses many traits. Some of them are:

  • it is about exploring, not explaining

  • finding your own way

  • making your own decisions

  • improvisation challenges you to rethink your common practices

Those were only a few of the words Sherri uses to describe improv. She also describes improv in this way:

Improv is…

Commitment on the Edge of the Unknown (page 97)

Where Should I Start?

The best place to start with a book is usually at the beginning. Like most books Sherri’s is divided into chapters, or scores, as she refers to them. I have read Sherri’s book from cover to cover many times. Many of the processes in her book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously are very familiar to me. The scores on curved piecing were the most intriguing though. Having already been exposed to the others I have decided to skip ahead and jump right into the fire. I’m going to begin with the “unknown.”

Score # 9

Using Sherri’s book as my inspiration I am going to follow her “Score # 9” to create my first “curved piece.” This will be a learning experience and a great opportunity to expand my horizons. So, let’s get started.

My first task was to harvest fabrics from my inventory to pair with the assigned fabric. I pulled some pinks, greens, oranges and blues. The focus fabric has hints of lime green incorporated in the pattern. Since lime green is one of my favorites I made sure that color was included.

The Analysis

I used my camera to take both color as well as mono photos of my fabrics to analyze them for their values. My hope was to achieve a well-rounded selection from the start.

Here’s how my color choices stacked up.

After choosing my fabrics it was time to get the construction process started.

Lets Cut Fabric

I didn’t exactly follow Sherri’s instructions to a tee. She suggests using a scissors rather than a rotary cutter. I tried doing that but wasn’t fond of how my strips turned out. It is possible that if I had my scissors sharpened I may have been more successful. Not wanting to be bothered with that now I chose to use my rotary cutter. Keeping that sharp is much easier. I also used a ruler. Sherri believes in cutting her fabrics free-hand but once again I wasn’t pleased with that outcome either. Aren’t I a rebel!

I created many sets of wedge strips; here’s one of them.

Twisted-Threads-Wedge-Strips
Twisted Threads Wedge Strips

Below is a larger selection.

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Twisted Threads, Wedge Strips in the Making

Next I stitched groupings of wedge strips together.

Twisted-Threads-All-Pinned
Twisted Threads All Pinned

Notice all the pins. Sherri uses loads of pins to temporarily hold her wedge strips together. This makes it easier to keep the strips aligned while stitching. Of course each pin is removed just before the needle reaches it. The more pins the better.

Twisted-Threads-All-Stitched.jpg

This is what a strip looked like after it was stitched but before it was pressed open.

Twisted-Threads-One-Arrangement
Twisted Threads, Multiple Wedge Strip Sets

I made multiple sets of wedge strips using different arrangements of fabric. The photo above shows some of them.

Composing A Design

After building my inventory of wedge strips it was time to start composing a design. I placed all of the strip sets on my design wall and played around with different arrangements. As I found groupings that I liked I took them to my sewing machine to stitch them together. Many times the attaching of the strips meant there were sections that needed removing. Those were trimmed using my rotary cutter. The removed strips were saved and added in new areas.

The whole process of pinning, stitching and trimming went on for hours. Each adjustment or addition changed my piece in dramatic ways.

TaDa

Once I had a design that I was happy with I auditioned various fabrics to use for the background. I even enlisted the help of my hubby to narrow down the options. He had many great insights to share. I guess he’s been listening to me after all! 🙂 With a background chosen I was ready to proceed with the quilting.

I decided to fuse my design to the background fabric. Before doing so I turned under the raw edges 1/4” and pressed them in place. Next I hand stitched the outer edge to my background with a dark purple thread. Once my wedge design was securely fastened I used a variegated yellow thread to quilt it. On the background fabric I echoed around my center design with a matching, variegated purple thread.

After the quilting was complete I trimmed off the excess fabric; remember my piece couldn’t be larger than 20” x 20”. The raw edges were then protected by facings. A label and hanging sleeve were also added. This is how my piece looked when it was finished.

Twisted-Threads-Finished
Twisted Threads, AP # 39 All Finished
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Twisted Threads, AP # 39 View from the Back
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Twisted Threads, AP # 39 Closeup

The Title

I’m sure you have probably noticed, from the labels on the photos above, that I have given this piece the name Twisted Threads. As I was creating my piece the process of cutting and turning the various groupings every direction brought to mind a vision of twisted threads. Twisted Threads then seemed like the natural choice for a name so that’s where the name came from.

My Evaluation

Part of creating art is the evaluation process that comes at the end. On page 20 Sherri says:

Never judge a work as good or bad.

Instead she recommends that you

evaluate your work in a non-judgmental way.

She uses these questions to evaluate her pieces:

  1. What surprised me?

  2. What did I discover or learn?

  3. What was satisfying about the process or outcome?

  4. What was dissatisfying?

  5. If dissatisfied, what can I do differently next time to be more satisfied?

  6. Where do I want to go from here?

I found the process of creating my curved art piece challenging and interesting all at the same time. The steps taken to make the wedged strips was fun to follow. I enjoyed seeing how the different color combinations changed with the addition of new strips. Stitching the curved pieces together was the area that stretched me the most. Merging the concave edges with those that were convex is what tried my patience. This was a much slower process than I was used to but its results were far more rewarding.

If you had asked me right after I had finished my curved piece if I would be making another I probably would have said, “No!” Now that I have had some time to evaluate my experience and think about what I would do differently, my answer would be, “You Bet!”

As I stated earlier, merging the curved edges together into one was the most challenging. To help make the process easier in the future I would strive to create gentler curves. The curves with the more pronounced angles were the hardest to manage. If those were eliminated the experience would be much less stressful.

I also would resist the temptation to use up all of the trimmed-off segments. My piece, as it turned out, has so many different angles merging into one another. Each one of those sections is screaming for attention. If I had added breathing-room via the use of solid colors I believe my piece would have been much more relaxing to look at.

Moving forward I would like to improve my skills for the techniques that I have learned. I’d also like to explore the addition of bias strips as a means of adding negative space. My next attempt at creating a curved piece will most likely be on a larger scale. There will be no need to stay within the 20” x 20” dimensions.

There’s my evaluation. Time now to enter my project in the contest.

Thank YOU!

I am always so thankful for your visits and the wonderful comments you share. Your participation is very much appreciated!

Talk with you soon!

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Do You Ever?


Do You Ever?

Do you ever come across fabric combinations, while searching for a specific project, that just seem to be meant for one-another? So often I get sidetracked during those expeditions by accidental piles that grab my attention. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you!

I’ve had this happy accident occur on more that one occasion. Shown above, on the left, is a grouping of fabrics I stumbled upon a while ago. Those fabrics eventually became Crossroads, Art Piece # 22 (pictured on the right).

Candidates # 1 and # 2

While scrounging through my fabric scraps recently, these two piles of fabric caught my eye.

The grouping on the left I’ve named A Dark, A Medium and A Light. At the bottom of the pile is a grouping of blocks I had previously stitched together. They were part of an assignment I had during my Rayna Gillman class in May of 2016.

To teach us how to analyze our art pieces for their light, medium and dark tones Rayna gave us an assignment. The assignment was limited to no more than four colors. Each color had to be analyzed for its color value. Within those four colors we needed a light, a medium and a dark. I chose yellow, white, red and green for mine.

Ever since that class my piece has been sitting in my unfinished pile. When I came across the above fabrics I just knew I had to find that neglected art piece and add it to the family. I can’t wait to see what I can create with this grouping.

Blue, Green and Yellow

The small grouping of blues, greens and yellows are the other candidates I’ve singled out. One can only imagine what this pairing will look like when it is finished.

What If Moments

Well, there’s my peak at the possibilities for two more art pieces. These what if moments are the sparks that keep my journey exciting! I can’t wait to see where my imagination will lead me.

Thank YOU

Thank YOU so much for allowing me to share my daydreams! Your participation makes these adventure even more interesting.

Talk with you soon!

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Bits and Pieces, AQ # 33 Part Six


Day Six

I’m in my studio, no music on, sitting in my comfy rolling chair thinking about my Bits and Pieces. I’ve been working on this thing for days now and yet there is something about it that doesn’t sit right. Just when I think things are going great and I see the finish line ahead, the train goes off the track. This train hasn’t just gone off the track, no this train has returned to the station. sigh Yup, that’s right! I’m back at the drawing board. This is how my quilt looked the last time we were together.

Bits and Pieces, AQ # 33 End of Day Five

I really thought I had something going here. I had already sewn many of the blocks together into sections but there was something about it that didn’t feel right. Most of the fabrics I used came from the same company, Handloom Batiks, while the others were retrieved from my fabric stash. The solids were obviously from my stash as well as the red fabric in the bottom right corner, the orange woven fabric with the red floral pattern and the golden fabric with the red scribbles. I was pretty much resigned to leave the solid colors in place. Removing them from the mix would be a huge undertaking and I definitely was not up to that challenge. The print fabrics, though, were definitely doable. So, believe it or not my mission today was to eradicate those from my quilt.

Time to Take it Apart

One by one I took the sections down from my design wall and began disassembling it. I removed all of the stitching that held the various blocks together. Now that doesn’t mean I took absolutely everything apart. Heavens, I think I would have to have my head examined if I did that. 🙂 Just the stitching between the blocks was removed. Not all of the seams were carefully taken apart with a seam ripper either. I did take a shortcut or two with my rotary cutter. snicker The amount of fabric I lost by using the rotary method was so minimal but way faster. The less time I could spend on destruction the better. My gears were itching to turn the corner and get back to positive progress.

Now What?

Once all the blocks were separated and stacked into a pile it was time to rethink my direction. Now that I had eliminated the use of outside fabrics, other than solids, I needed to find a way to be resourceful. The amount of fabrics included in the scrap bag was, for obvious reasons, limited so there was no room for wastefulness. I have been reading Sherri Lynn Wood’s book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. On page 67 she talks about “Making Do.” Let me quote her words:

More often that not, contemporary quilt makers collect a lot of fabric. On the surface, this may seem like a design advantage, but in actuality, this abundance of choice can become overwhelming. On the flip side, when you are forced to innovate with what you have and you do not have a lot, your improvisational skills are honed. One way to create the aesthetic opportunity to make do, even if your fabric stash is hefty, is to purposely limit your fabric amounts on the tight side at the outset of a project.

Note: the emphasis added to selected words in the quote is of my doing.

What’s the Big Deal?

I am so totally guilty of “collecting a lot of fabric.” I always thought the quilter that died with the largest fabric stash won! Just kidding! 🙂 My huge inventory can be overwhelming. With so many choices it’s often hard to eliminate options. It’s like trying to eliminate someone from a team or a group. Even though the dirty deed needs to be done it is hard because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I can just see you rolling your 👀. You are thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Fabric is an inanimate object. It is incapable of emotion. I know, I know. sigh! But in my little head it does. 🙂

Make Do

Anyway, getting back to the quote, not only had I made the decision, at the onset, to try and use all of the fabrics in the scrap bag, but I had also now added the challenge to make do or limit my fabric options. This meant I had to get creative. There were obvious holes that needed plugging in my design and my scrap inventory was drastically low. So, get creative I did. Here’s a photo of my quilt in its current state.

Bits and Pieces-Day Six
Bits and Pieces-Day Six

You may notice quite a few differences. This is what changed:

  • The print fabrics that were not included in the scrap bag have, for the most part, been eliminated.
  • Some of the blocks have been redesigned. Especially the one in the top left corner.

Bits and Pieces-Day Six Block Remake.jpg
Bits and Pieces-Block Option # 1 (I chose this one)

Bits and Pieces-Day Six Block Remake Option 2.jpg
Bits and Pieces-Block Option # 2

  • Twelve blocks are brand new.
  • 99.9% of the new blocks were created with fabric from the scrap bag and added solids.
  • The block arrangement is different.

I must admit I had fun creating the additional segments. I was bound and determined to use as many of the tiny scraps as possible so I drew upon my knowledge of quilting to even make a paper pieced block.

Bits and Pieces-Day Six Trimmed Paper Pieced Block

Itty-Bitty Scraps

There were times when I got really nervous about not having enough fabric. This happened at the very end. My inventory was so low. All I really had left were itty-bitty scraps and of course my solids. Just when I thought I was going to have to resort to the solids I happened to pull out my rolling cart. There in the top bin was a fairly good sized piece of useable fabric. Oh how I breathed a sigh of relief! My discovery meant I would be able to fill in all the gaps and finally call my piece finished.

All Done

To coin an American phrase, “The Goose is Cooked.” If you are not familiar with this idiom let me put it another way, “It is FINISHED.” Hip Hip Hooray! Yippie! 🙂 Does that help?

The Name

Throughout all of these six posts I have yet to explain the origin of the name. Though, you haven’t asked either!!! What gives with that? Aren’t you curious? 🙂 Don’t think I haven’t been dieing to tell you. I have but I thought I would wait until the end. So, this is where it came from.

Bits and Pieces-Origin of Name.jpg

When I purchased my small bag of fabric scraps there was a ribbon tied around the top of the bag cinching it tightly closed. Attached to that ribbon was this tiny piece of paper. As you can tell from the photo the words “Bits and Pieces” were written in ink. This little tag gave me the inspiration to call my newest art piece Bits and Pieces. Kind of corny I know. But hey, nobody ever said names had to come from a magical place.

Gotta Do It!

I’ve had a great time sharing the creative journey I took to birth Bits and Piece, AQ # 33. Along the way there were some highs and some lows but in the end I was triumphant. I managed to almost accomplish my goal of limiting my fabrics. I’m pretty proud of my “gotta do it” determination. My improvisational brain is going to take a bit of a breather for a while. I think I’ve worn myself out. 🙂

Your Thoughts?

Let me pose the often heard phrase, “So what do you think?” Is it a keeper or not?

Thank You!

Thank you for sharing this time with me! I look forward to our frequent visits. Who knows where my art-filled adventure will take us next?

The Journey

Oh, I almost forgot! You are probably wanting to read the first five posts in this journey. Let me share them with you.

  1. Bits and Pieces, AQ # 33
  2. Bits and Pieces Part Two
  3. Bits and Pieces Part Three
  4. Bits and Pieces Part Four
  5. Bits and Pieces Part Five

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Bits and Pieces Part Five


L O N G    S L O W    P R O C E S S

Who knew that I would still be working on AQ # 33: Bits and Pieces after five days? As I have said before this is a very l o n g, s l o w process. At times it almost seems painful. But to coin a famous phrase, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!”

For those that just joined me let me provide links to the other four posts.

Lets Begin Again

Bits and Pieces-End of Day Four
Bits and Pieces-End of Day Four

At the end of day four this is how my art piece looked. Day five presented itself a bit differently. I still did more, “What if,” manipulation but I focused most of my time on actually stitching the blocks together into sections.

Bits and Pieces-Beginning of Day Five.jpg
Bits and Pieces-Day Five-Step One

Shown above is another version of my block arrangement. If you compare the two photos you can see that most of the rearranging took place in the bottom half of the art piece. The changes were pretty subtle.

Bits and Pieces-Day Five Version Two.jpg
Bits and Pieces-Day Five-Step Two

By the time I got to this stage I had begun stitching blocks together. This too takes some thought. Obviously the blocks are all different sizes. Their variety of measurements makes it interesting to fit them together. It is kind of like assembling a puzzle. The only difference is that I don’t have a box cover to refer to. I have to make it all up as I go.

Bits and Pieces-End of Day Five.jpg
Bits and Pieces-Day Five-Last Step

By the time I had reached this point my piece had been stitched together into two separate segments. The one on the left takes in the majority of the individual blocks. The one on the right has not yet been attached because it is a different size. I also still have to figure out how to attach the gold block with the thin center strip.

The made-fabric to the left of the gold block and the gold, flashy fabric below are being auditioned as possible candidates. I also have another possible add-in below the right section. (Does that all sound like mumbo jumbo?) I hope I haven’t lost you?

Lots of Progress

Today was a day filled with loads of progress. By the time my piece had reached this stage I was exhausted. I needed to take a break to ponder my next step so day five ended here.

From Trash to Treasure

Hard to believe this all started from one bag of scraps!

Handbloom Batik Scraps

Isn’t it amazing how someone else’s trash can become another person’s treasure!

This brings to a close another day in the life of Bits and Pieces. Stay tuned for another adventure.

Thank You!

Thank you for showing your support by visiting my blog. Your interest is the jewel that makes my journey meaningful! See you next time!

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Bits and Pieces Part Four


I bet you wonder  how long it will be before this piece is finished! Well, who knows? I’d like to say today but that’s not going to happen. The wheels of progress turn slowly and the wheels in this house are currently on stand-by.

As the title suggests this is part four. Links to the other three posts can be found here:

Bits and Pieces-The End of Day Three

This is how my work in progress looked when we parted company last time.

Bits and Pieces-Day Four.jpg
Bits and Pieces-Day Four

Prior to today I had been using my cutting board as my staging place for my blocks as well as my work area. I got tired of trying to do both on the same surface so I moved them all to my design board/storage area for quilt backs, etc.

This vertical surface works way better. It makes it easier to move the blocks around, to photograph them and to see them. Of course you have to mentally block out the fabric that is directly behind my blocks. It’s a quilt back waiting to be used. I store them draped over my design board because it makes a wonderful place to store them without adding wrinkles.

If you compare this photo with the one directly above you will notice that I have done a bit of rearranging and added in some additional possible fillers. This layout was by no means the final version. As I worked throughout the day my piece morphed at least six more times.

By the time I was ready to call it a day my art quilt looked very different. Take a look.

Bits and Pieces-End of Day Four.jpg

None of the blocks have been stitched to one another yet. I’m still in the process of moving them around and selecting my filler fabrics. This step happens very slowly so there’s not that much to report. I could bore you with photos of all the different versions but I was afraid I would have a mutiny on my hands. There is no way of telling what will transpire tomorrow. Who knows? I may just end up starting over. One can never tell!

This is all I have to report for today. Hopefully tomorrow will be more exciting. Thank you for staying with me on this journey to create yet another art piece. I hope to see you back next time. Have a G R E A T  D A Y ! 🙂

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