Monday, October 26, 2015

Quick Pumpkin Spice Quilt Scrap Project

Here in LA, a pumpkin patch consists of a bunch of hay strewn over asphalt in a corner of a vast drugstore parking lot. Temperatures north of 100 degrees add to the ambiance.

But I'm not bitter. OK, I am. Even after 20 years in Los Angeles, I still suffer from Autumn Absence Angst, missing the colors and smells of my New England youth. Pumpkin spice-flavored coffee/kale chips/shampoo aren't enough.

I had autumn on my mind last week as I was working on a wall-hanging size batik project.
(Yes, that's a fraction of my Pez collection over my design wall...all quilts go better with Pez!) In any case, I was doing improvisational curved stitching of these blocks (a la Diane Hire's Vivacious Curvy Quilts), and a tantalizing stack of scraps started to pile up. 

Naturally, the scraps became more interesting to me than the main piece. Especially after I started arranging them on my design wall....
OMG it's a modern rainbow quilt!? I could just zigzag those bits down to a large piece of white, grey, or black fabric. Lots of modern quilters are doing a version of this; Google 'tickertape quilts'; here's a lovely example by Tisha Nagel. 

But that would require discipline. Plus, missing autumn, I was especially hypnotized by the yellow/orange/pink/red portion of the spectrum. So I decided to make a seasonal tree (recreated from memory, since there are no trees of this color in my vicinity). Thus, this:
This is a perfect project for sit-and-stitch with the friends (be sure to serve pumpkin spice vodka, really!).  It's relatively fast, incredibly forgiving, and, unlike pumpkin-spiced beef jerky, you almost can't go wrong.

Start with a base. I used a 12" x 15"  gray rectangle. I lay down a kindergartener's background (green scraps down south, blue up north). Third, the leafy portion, and finally, a tree trunk.
I brought this to the ironing board, and applied a dab of glue stick on the back of each piece. 
Next: A decision, and you can help (or you can turn the page.)

Choice 1: Cover it with a layer of tulle, to tone down the raw edges and hold everything in place. Then freemotion on top. This is a technique I practiced most recently in Phyllis Cullen's class, described last week. The problem is that tulle tends to grey things down. Compare the vivid color in the images above to the following tests. Medium blue tulle on top: 
 Dark navy blue tulle on top.
Purple tulle:
Counterintuitively, the dark navy tulle did the least greying down! Weird, huh? Your vote counts... [UPDATE: Three more tulle tests are at the bottom of this post.)

Choice 2: Skip the tulle and very carefully freemotion over everything, The problem here is that the foot will inevitably go under a piece's loose edge, and cause tangles. (I could have avoided this by pressing fusible web to the back of each piece and every scrap, but that's way too boring.)

Any other ideas? Suggestions welcomed! 

By the way, I chose to work at 12" x 15" because I happen to have a stretched canvas that's 11" x 14". When the piece is finished I'll mount it on the canvas, but not while constructing it. More on stretched canvas here
Have you made a pumpkin spice flavored quilt? Five easy pumpkin projects for fabric lovers, are here. There's still time to make them!
UPDATE: I raced to the fabric store and bought three more colored tulles to try on my quilt. Tulle is ridiculously inexpensive. Here's purple: 
Here's something called "Sparkle Mesh," in gold:

And we may have a winner: Red Tulle! It makes the hot colors sparkle! 
What do you think?

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