Saturday, August 22, 2015

Star Light, Diamonds Bright

My quilting mojo has been in overdrive lately. I'm not sure which came first--the mojo or finishing my orange and grey zig zag quilt in such a short time frame, but I'm sure they're related.

Since then, I have also sorted through and organized all my fabrics. I donated a full (tall kitchen-sized) garbage bag of fabrics I would be happy not to see again. (Perfectly fine, but I am "done" with them.) A lot of them were garment fabrics which I am just not sewing these days (or years).

I now have the fabrics sorted in boxes. (I use paper boxes from work. They're free, have lids, and come in a uniform size.) One for just my reds. One day I'll do a scrappy red quilt. One for upholstery-type fabrics. One for quilting cottons and one for scraps. I just roughly sorted them in "fat quarter" sized or smaller sized. The smaller pieces I put into ziplock bags to keep them from falling all over. One day (maybe soon) I'll do a quilt from the scraps too.

Anyway, I didn't have as much as I thought I might and it felt great to sort through it, organize it (a lot of new acquisitions had been loose on the shelves waiting for a box to go into) and put it away.

But part of the same movement was to consider some projects I had in the planning stages. You may recall that a couple years ago I went crazy buying bright bright batiks and other fabrics when I visited my mother-in-law. I had a a project in mind from the start, based on this great quilt from Wanda at Exuberant Color. It's a Kaffe Fassett pattern from his book Simple Shapes: Spectacular Quilts.

Bolstered by my success in finishing the zig zag quilt, and maybe reacting to my long work hours, I pulled out the fabrics and got started.

First I sorted them into eight "darks" and eight "lights":
There are a couple that could fit into either category depending on what you paired it with, but I put them in one pile or the other anyway. I was emboldened to break some quilting rules by Kaffe's comment in his book, "Although the border strips on this quilt are either lighter or darker than the diamonds inside them, the contrast of lightness and darkness is not very great. Likewise, there are alternate rows of lighter diamonds and darker diamonds, but the feel of richness is achieved by keeping the tones fairly close together."

I have more contrast in my fabrics than he did, but I was buoyed by a general feeling of "it's all good". Likewise, Kaffe's quilt does not use the same fabrics for the diamonds and diamond borders, but I didn't have enough variety to follow suit. So I cut diamonds from each of the fabrics and then cut strips for the borders from the same fabrics.

It looked like one selvage-to-selvage strips was meant to border one diamond, but it wasn't explicitly stated so I did one trial block:
I got the block bordered and had a couple inches left over. That let me know that I had enough. I didn't have to "squeeze" out as much as I could from the strip, but there wasn't a lot of room for error.

I assembled all the dark diamond/light border blocks first. I did them all by "chain piecing" one block after another.
First I put the first border side on all of them. Ironed and trimmed. Then proceeded to the next side, and so on.
It was the perfect sort of sewing for the end of the day when my brain was pretty fried. In no time, I had all the dark diamonds done and then the light diamonds not long after.

This morning I hung a flannel sheet on the new drywall in our bedroom and started placing blocks.
Here is a close up of some of the fabric combinations.
And here is a full view. I have not spent any time rearranging. I like it, but it doesn't knock my socks off. Maybe I have too much contrast? I don't know, but on the other hand it is exactly what I had wanted from the beginning and I do like it.
I changed one photo to black and white so I could judge contrast better.
I'm not sure if I'll move blocks around to spread out the "dark" spots. One thing I notice is a lot of "grey" areas and I'm happy about that. I think it means I got enough of the tones fairly close together, following Kaffe's original design.

The flannel wasn't super sticky, so I'm a little concerned that there will be a lot of pieces on the floor when I go back upstairs, but I haven't invested a lot of time in the arrangement so I think I can handle it.

This will be another exercise in diagonal rows when I piece the blocks together. I managed the zig zag quilt by laying it out on the bed at regular intervals. I'm sure I'll have to do the same with this one.

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ETA: What greeted me when I walked up the stairs an hour later:

Two good things to remember: I took a picture, and I wasn't overly invested in what was there. But I am sad that my design wall solution isn't going to be an actual "solution".

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