Sunday, June 17, 2018

Accidental Skyscraper Quilt, Plus One for a Quirky Baby

It's amazing how many quilts I make when I'm trying to make something else entirely. Take this one:


Even closer, you can see the Chrysler Building quilting.

(Here's the actual top of that iconic New York building:
Photograph by Leena Hietanen:
I didn't set out to make a quilt about New York City. While scouring my stash for a backing for a different quilt. I happened across a stack of Jan Mullens fabric scraps, purchased in the 1990s at (before it was bought by Amazon), when my children were almost as small as my stash. I had bought a yard of about 6 different coordinating fabrics. Lurid as some of them are (oy, that magenta!), they served me well, in dozens of kid quilts.
I was surprised that I had any left at all, and decided maybe I could make something quick, fun and modern. I added solids, did some improv piecing, and, a little too quickly, wound up with this on my (vanilla batting) design wall (Yes, that's my Pez collection above my design wall. It has an excessive impact on my color choices, so don't try this at home):
And yes, I made the rookie mistake of adding the strips, one by one, to the same side of the first strip, which is pretty much guaranteed to make your quilt arc toward freedom.

What to do? Call it "Quilt for a Baby Who Won't Crawl Straight"? Or maybe hide the bend by adding more strips? The central area looked like ladders, so I started making more improv ladders, this time from solids. At this stage, I was calling the quilt "Stairway to Heaven." I took pictures, and posted them to Facebook to crowdsource whether the additions helped or hurt.
I also took some pictures leaving the baby quilt portion out completely. 
There was no consensus on Facebook - the Russians apparently didn't care - so I decided to leave the baby quilt out.  At some point, I offset the tops of the ladders. They instantly became skyscrapers. The next thing you know, I had the quilt on the top of this page. 

So I still have to figure out what to do with the cockeyed baby quilt. (Yesterday a visitor suggested I call it "Drunken Baby Quilt," but I don't want to encourage babies to drink anything inappropriately.) What it really needs the right mother, one with a sense of humor who doesn't mind a baby quilt whose stripes aren't straight! Does it look any better on the horizontal? Does it look like a toothy smile to you?  Suggestions welcomed!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Mini-Quilt Challenge: Connecting With Hard-to-Love Colors

A personal question: How do you feel about this color scheme?
It was the palette for Curated Quilts magazine's recent "Connections"  mini-quilt challenge.  My first reaction was "ugh!"  They're calling that color in the upper right, in the picture above, "mustard." And the middle bottom is named "moss green." But it struck me how similar they are to the colors of my late unlamented 1960s childhood kitchen, avocado green and harvest gold, which themselves are euphemisms for "overripe avocados" and, I am sorry to say, "upchuck tan."

Still, I liked the "connections" theme. Plus, the whole point of challenges is to force you to do something new, and often, uncomfortable. So I made this 10" square piece:
Everything that isn't white is an applique. The star on the upper left hangs out beyond the edge (thanks to a yellow felt backing):
How did I get to stars? The first things "connections" suggested to me was people holding hands. That made me think of linked paper dolls. Then I thought about linked 5-pointed stars, with touching points. So I grabbed some scrap paper (the informational paper that comes with batting), and did a back-and-forth fold,
 ...and folded that strip back-and-forth into squares...
 Drew a rough star....
 Cut it out, leaving tips intact...
 Unfolded it and out came this....
I was intrigued by the shapes between the stars, so I repeated the exercise, but this time in my graphics program - drawing a star, and flipping it to make rows, then flipping the rows to make columns,  just as I'd done by folding paper, but more accurate. It printed out like this:
There were four distinct shapes: the stars (in yellow, below); the "lozenges" in brown; the teal diamonds; and then, what I thought of as "joined pentagons" - the shapes in light lavender, which look like two pentagons joined at their bases.
This struck me as interesting! Plus I could fancy it up a bit more if I fit smaller 5-sided stars into the pentagons (in pink), and four-sided stars (in turquoise) to break up the big lozenges!
I assigned every element a color from the challenge's official choices. Then I printed out the pattern page, which without color looked like this:
I traced the shapes onto paper-backed fusible web, then pressed the pieces to the backs of solid-color fabrics. Cut out the shapes, and fused them, at an angle, on a 10" x 10" white background square.  I appliqued each shape with the neatest zig-zag I could muster (as opposed to mustard.) All the white areas are background fabric, except inside the mustard lozenge below. (Just thinking about mustard lozenges makes my throat hurt.)
I added a single lighter green star as an afterthought - 
It represents the birth of fresh, new baby avocados to take the place of aging avocados elsewhere on the quilt, and in the unrenovated mid-century kitchens of America.

Check out how a lot of talented quilters turned this color scheme from somber to fascinating, at the bottom of this page. There are some really great quilts! And I'm growing fonder of the palette! (Except mustard.)