Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Following rainbows...

This rainbow palette is a sure remedy for the after-Christmas winter blues.  I have nothing but happy feet while digging through the stash bins that contain these happy fabrics.  When I popped the top off the containers, I actually heard faint singing, birds chirping, a waterfall, and the clicking of tiny unicorn hooves as they frolick on my work table.  Yep, these fabrics sure brighten up the quilt cave.
So does this cute little quilt project!  I love the folk art feel of this little quilt (finished size 36.5 x 45.5).  The hard part for me is narrowing the palette.  I get so spoiled when I work on scrap projects where everything difficult fabric choices at all, really.  I think making fabric picks, especially when I have to limit myself, is my least favorite part of the quilt making process.
I have spent a little time between laundry cycles tracing and cutting out my freezer paper templates for glue stick applique.  I put in one of my favorite Jane Austen DVD's...I've seen them so many times that I don't have to watch every scene.  That makes the cutting out of the paper shapes pass fast.
Then I transfer the paper pieces for each block into a clear sheet pocket protector.  If you have ever read Karen's fabulous blog called Sew Many Ways, you know how excited and creatively motivated she can get from a trip to the hardware store (when I peeked today, she was dressing up an old milk crate - inspiring!).  Well, a trip to my local Staples or other office supply "candy store" is equally inspiring for me.  Some of my favorite quilting tools come from there...sheet pocket protectors (they come in boxes of 100!...), mechanical pencils, ultra-fine Sharpie markers, glue sticks, wipe boards & vis a vis pens, hanging file folders, pads of graph paper, sticky notes, etc.  When I go there, I get that wonderful "shopping-for-new-school-supplies" feeling...priceless.
Now all the templates are prepared and awaiting fabrics.  Here comes the hard part for me...actually picking and assigning fabrics from my gathered rainbow.  I feel like I have a gun to my temple and I hear a voice inside my head saying, "choose wisely, grasshopper..."
Since the background is black for this quilt, I audition the fabric choices on top of a piece of black Kona cotton.  I used Lori Smith's fabric choices as a jumping off place for my decisions, then deviated a little as I locked in the choices for each block.  I made little piles of each color so that I could sort through easily.  I think the original fabrics in the pattern photo are solids, or read as solids.  I choose mostly tone on tone fabrics and tried not to pick anything that would pull eye focus too much. 
A word about my picks for my green pile...there is a lot of green in this quilt.  I love lime green, and at first those were the fabrics I chose.  I quickly realized that I needed to shift to a more acid green, with some light and dark choices thrown in for excitement. 

I started "Stars and Sprigs" last year and put it aside.  I now see that maybe I did that because I was dabbling in the wrong greens with that bright palette...maybe I will keep this pile of rainbow fabrics together and revisit some of those previous fabric choices.

The wrong fabric choice can certainly drain my excitement about a project.  I really struggle with the choosing.  I think I struggle due to fear...OMG, what I wimp I am...afraid of cotton, LOL.
As I choose each fabric for this project, I iron the freezer paper pattern pieces (say THAT 3 times fast...) to the RIGHT side of the fabric, "chunky trim" (leaving room to add a glue under allowance later), then place the ironed chunks back in the appropriate sheet pocket protector.  Later, with more TV time, I will trim each piece, adding either 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch (depending on whether I am gluing under or allowing for overlap of another piece).  At the base of the orange leaf-shaped pieces, you can see where the "stem section" has pencil hash marks at the edge.  I do this to tell myself to leave a 1/4 inch on that edge (that is where the piece is tucked under something else).  That way, the trimming becomes a brainless activity while I am watching Lizzie and Mr. Darcy (for the umpteenth time...).
There are glue stick applique tutorials on my top blog tool bar if you are curious about this hand applique technique.

Working on my applique block pattern, I place the block bits and glue baste what bits I can (to each other, not the paper). If you are doing this step and your bits get stuck to the paper pattern, YOU ARE USING TOO MUCH ROXANNE'S GLUE BASTE!!  Remember, "dot-dot-not-a-lot" and make sure you aren't applying your tiny dots of glue too close to the edge of the piece where your needle will be sewing later.  Gluing what I can now will make block placement easier later (since I am working on a black background this time).

I usually like to work in units, but as album applique patterns go this one is fairly simple, so I can glue baste everything but the leaves...I will place and glue baste them when my black background fabric comes out of the dryer. I can't wait to see how the colors look on black! Happy, happy, happy...

I couldn't resist prepping a second block before quitting for the night.  In addition to block 2, I worked a little on block 4 (skipping around, no discipline, I know...).
The pink and deep purple double center pieces are just sitting there for now.  I will sew those as units first before glue basting to the purple posie so that I can trim away the background behind the deep purple circle.  I like to trim away behind layers of applique so that later hand quilting will be a pleasant (rather than "princess and the pea") experience.

It feels good to focusing on some projects now.  I hate that hand-wringing, cant-make-up-my-mind feeling.  I mentioned last fall that I am drafting an unusual , original album project (shhhhhhh...).  I am also working on prepping some of those blocks.  And, I am going to continue to focus on scrappy, stash-busting quilts this year.  Fine hand applique versus wonky, scrappy...polar opposites, kind of like me!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. This is a fun quilt. The shop I used to work at did this as a block of the month. It turned out great. I know yours will too!

  2. How fun to watch you work! I would not have taken you for a stressor over color choices. Although, if I had your amount of stash, it would take me some time to decide, too.

  3. I love reading about how others approach a project. I've been using ziplock bags for my applique block pieces but have a box of sheet pocket protectors that I'll be switching them to today. Great idea!
    Re: needing to have different types of projects going at once, I think we're kindred spirits. ;-)

  4. Teresa--thank you for going through your preparation steps--I am taking a huge breath and going to set up a single block to begin appliquing. I like the idea of prep work in hand in front of the tv--Julierose

  5. What a gorgeous new project!!

  6. Remember there is no law to be broke on how many fabrics you are limited to in a quilt. So let the rainbow shine! Great blocks. I need to get started on my applique quilt that has been sitting on the table for a year now!

  7. It's gonna be a great quilt. I love the appliques in it.

    Choosing fabric is the hardest part for me too, but then again I think I may be just too picky. I can spend a couple of days stressing about it!

  8. Oooo love this project and can hardly wait to see what you do to make it "yours". I will wait patiently for the project you are designing, I know it will be fabulous and with my 3 second memory I won't be bugging you to "get 'er done" LOL.


  9. Wonderful colors and thanks for sharing the process. I'll be watching!

  10. Your two pasted blocks look so good. It is a nice way to audition applique blocks.


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