Friday, January 8, 2016

Diamond Sky


My two year old daughter has many pastimes, but one of her favorites is to sit on my lap and watch the music clips from Aladdin on YouTube. She watches all of the songs intently, but completely zeroes in on "A Whole New World." Her eyes sparkle, she smiles and she even tries to sing along. There is something about flying, exploring and SEEING on that magic carpet that really captures her attention.

(Princess Jasmine:)
Unbelievable sights
Indescribable feelings
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky
A whole new world!

I've listened to that song a million times, but I never sang along with as much fervor as I did the day after I had a checkup at the doctor's office last month. During the course of a routine set of labs, it was discovered that my thyroid wasn't performing very well. My doctor prescribed me a teeny dosage of thyroid medication and KA-CHOW!!! A whole new world, indeed! Let's just say these quilts look exactly how I feel right now.

I originally chose this color run of 18 fabrics to fulfill the requirements for the Rainbow Mini Swap. I'm not so in love with swaps in general, but I love the challenge of doing something that I wouldn't normally do. This is my first rainbow quilt and I am sorry that it took me so long! Working with these colors was the perfect antidote to winter blahs. This quilt finishes at 12" x 24." I quilted it in a matchstick design with grey Aurifil thread and used a scrap of Quilter's Dream Request for the batting.

I had been considering a different log cabin variation and thought that a making a mini would be a pretty painless way to test it out. I constructed this quilt using a method that I keep coming back to. I made myself a scaled piecing map that I slipped slabs of improvisational piecing into. I've done this in The Lovely Woods, Red Letter Day, Heading West and Tumble. As I've gone along with this process two things have happened--I've gotten a whole lot better about estimating size and my scaled models have gotten smaller. For these quilts, I used blocks of four different sizes: 2.5" squares, 3.5" squares, 2.5" x 3.5" rectangles and 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles. I drew out the whole quilt, colored in my fabric choices, free cut all of my fabric into strips and started building from left to right. After piecing the first small chunk of reds, I discovered that I didn't need to fully complete the last round of background fabrics for every block. I started peeking around at my design wall every time to determine which sides of the rainbow log cabin needed a gray spacer. Not only did this cut down the number of seams on a piece that already had a million of them, it also added to the "soaring, tumbling, freewheeling" effect and disguised the mechanics of my construction seams. You may have to look hard, but there are definitely lots of long straight seams in these quilts!

I was very happy with how the mini worked out, so I expanded my plan to finish one at 18" x 36" to keep. In the smaller version, I had used two different shades of heathered gray for the background. The two-tone effect was very subtle, but still noticeable. I wondered if the difference in the fabrics could be amplified if I concentrated the lighter tone of gray with the lighter log cabin blocks. I think it created a luminescent, shimmery glow in the center, but I'll leave it to you to decide if it was worth the extra bother. I quilted this mini in a straight line design with grey thread and a scrap of Warm and Natural batting. 


I've been struggling with my feelings about my scraps recently. I am careful to save, categorize and store and have been feeling burdened by all of the boxes of fabric scrap stuff that fill up my sewing space. I attempted to actually use my carefully curated collection a couple of different times over Christmas break with uninspiring results. The part of the quilting process that I derive the most pleasure from is the interaction of color. To say that it just didn't do anything for me to start combining random solids together is putting it mildly. So, I challenged myself to use my project scraps to make something/clean up and keep Mt. Saint Scrapmore manageable. I used up every last free cut strip from my basket except for about an 8" strip of the lightest pink. I can live with that. This mini was completely inspired by Nancy Crow. If you also have a lot of strings in your scrap basket and don't feel inspired to use them, I highly recommend her book called Nancy Crow. It isn't an instruction book, just an archive of her quilts. I pretty much have it on permanent check out from my guild's library collection, but I've also seen it in my public library. Look and see if you can find it somewhere as it's definitely worth checking out. This mini finishes at 17" x 17." I quilted it in the ditch with Aurifil thread in dove and used a scrap of Quilter's Dream Wool for the batting.


The weather totally didn't cooperate for my plans on the photo shoot and I was bummed. My neighbors have the most beautifully patterned concrete on their front stoop and I thought it would be a great backdrop for all those rainbow colors to really shine. By the time I got over there, though, a warm snap had started the snow melting, gotten that lovely concrete all wet and completely obscured the pattern. I thought about it all night and was so excited to wake up to a foggy morning and a new idea. I dropped my boys off at school and took my daughter out to the same place where I shot The Lovely Woods. I was able to find a few cooperating branches and used a combination of clothes pins and safety pins to get the shots I needed very quickly. Since coming home I've changed my socks, shoes, pants and shared a cup of hot chocolate with my intrepid assistant. Totally worth it. 

This whole process has been a great reminder to look for the rainbows, the opportunities AND the silver linings. Happy new year!


Linking up to Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

 

40 comments:

  1. they look smashing against that snow and the dark, bare trees! all that thought you put into the photography paid off. i think the nancy crow is my favorite. very nice work!

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    1. Thank you! I like the Nancy Crow mini, too. Without any of the gray to tone it down, it can just be its own bright self!

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  2. The two tone grey background is subtle, but I do like the "glow" effect that you describe. I think it was worth the effort! I like the idea of immediately using scraps from a project for a mini... definitely food for thought for me. And I am so glad to hear that a small tweak has you feeling so much improved.

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    1. Thanks, Yvonne! Isn't it so neat that we were both working with pretty much the same palette this week? Clearly we're in tune with each other! :-)

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  3. Gorgeous quilts, beautifully photographed in the snowy woods - joyful colour. I thought they were much bigger than minis. Could definitely work scaled up too.

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    1. Thank you, Alison! I think "joyful color" is such a lovely description. I definitely felt happy working with them! Yes, this design would work scaled up. I was working with stash fabric and went as big as I dared.

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  4. So pretty! I love the design and vibrant colors!

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    1. Thank you, Vera! I am definitely kicking myself for having resisted the rainbow for so long. How can you not have a great time working with so much vibrancy?!

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  5. love love and more love. I wish I could see the quilts in person to figure out where the seams are. Did you use Y-seams??? I love the Nancy Crow book too. I have several books she authored. I love that her quilts are quilts and usually have the beautiful hand-stitching. Some art quilts just don't seem that quilty to me.

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    1. Thanks, Tonya. Not a Y seam in sight! I'll give you a little hint, in the 18x36 the long seams form a giant letter H. I did everything I could to disguise it. I am kind of hoping to get the Nancy Crow book for my birthday. I tried mentioning it a few times around Christmas, but I think I may try conspicuously reading it in the next few weeks.

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  6. and p.s. yay for the thyroid meds!!!

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    1. You aren't kidding! What a difference!

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  7. What a wonderful finish. Love the colors and how striking it looks in the snow.

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    1. Thank you, Heide. I think I caught those photos at just the right time, too. I drove by the grove today and it already looks completely different!

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  8. Happy new year to you and your family! Glad things started in s positive way for you! Love all 3 quilts and the extra effort was worth it. It totally shimmers! I really appreciate your work, I can honestly say that you are one of myfave quilters along with Gwen. Freddie and Niftyquilts!!

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    1. Wow! Thank you so much for an AMAZING compliment! I love Gwen Marston too. I am very interested to hear what she'll say at Quilt Con.

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  10. Oh what delicious rainbows against a monochrome world! They look fabulous, a magic carpet indeed!

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    1. Thanks Carie! I got lucky with a great foggy day. I was stressed when I couldn't do what I'd planned, but honestly the outcome was much better.

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  11. I am so glad you are feeling more like yourself!! I was so tickled to see a post from you in my feed :-) I knew I'd be in for a treat. And I was right! These are all so cheery and sparkly! My favorite is the 18x36 ~ LOVE

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    1. Thanks, Tracy! I am a whole new woman! I hope I will be able to sew even faster!! I've got to find the perfect spot in my house to hang them, now.

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  12. Wonderful. I am always inspired by your work.

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    1. Thank you, Marla! I hope I can keep it up!

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  13. I like your idea of making something immediately from the scraps to keep things under control. Both your quilts are lovely and look great against the snowy background.

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    1. Thanks Beth. Honestly, I think my scrap tipping point was watching an episode of Hoarders. I was so frustrated with the featured people. "Use it!" "Just get rid of it!" "Why are you keeping that?" Then I walked into my sewing room. Oh.

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  14. I now have the song in my head :) Your quilts are beautiful, I love the rainbow set against the winter landscape.

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    1. Ha ha, Cheryl! I wondered if I should put in a link to the song, but then I figured that you all would be singing along to it anyway!

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  15. Your quilts are always so unique, and I love that. You have great design skills, and equally good execution skills. You really are very talented, and I think you're going to go places in the quilting world. I'm going to watch with interest, and when your even more famous I'll be able to say I remember your early entries in the Online Bloggers Quilt Festivals. Congratulations on this finish.

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    1. Thank you SO much, Wendy. I really, really appreciate the encouragement. I've been trying to find my place and it's still a work in progress.

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  16. Oh this is really something. I love it! And your photoshoot shows it off beautifully!

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    1. Thanks, Debbie! I feel like I spend more and more time looking out the car window looking for the next great spot. I got lucky this time for sure!

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    1. Thanks Barbara! I enjoy taking the quilts out for a road trip and a beauty shot!

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  18. These are all lovely quilts, made even greater with the beautiful backdrops. Bravo!

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    1. Thank you, Shasta. I think I should do some rainbow quilts at this time every year. It was nice to add some color to the world.

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  19. Jill, I recently tucked into your blog, and I adore everything about it. Your quilts, oh the colors, patterns, and aesthetic. And, your writing has a comforting rhythm in the stories beautifully told. Thank you for all of it. ~susan

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    1. Thank you, Susan! It was such a nice, warm comment to read on a gray day! I am glad that you take the time to stop here to read and look. It means a lot to me!

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