November 30, 2015

Closing Out the Month

I'm closing out the month of November with a quick post on my bee blocks. 2015 marks three years for the Mid Century Modern Bee. I love the online connections and friendships I've made in this bee. In three years we've lost a few and gained a few members but I still feel connected to everyone through either their blogs and/or Instagram.

In typical fashion, I waited till the end of the month to get November's block done for Michelle, (@speechyquilter on Instagram). She asked for scrappy house blocks based on this great little tutorial. It was a quick block to make which is appreciated at this busy time of year. Everyone seemed to go with a little fussy cut image in the center so I did the same with this sweet little bird print.

In a very not so typical fashion, I cranked out December's block before December even started. That's a first! It's for Elizabeth (@piecefullife on Instagram). She was really sweet to post her request early and also chose a super easy block. Solid colors and quick HSTs. I don't know what she'll be making but sewing these blocks has me considering something similar with a few prints I'm itching to use.

So that's it for 2015 and bee blocks. I have received all the striped blocks from everyone and put them on my design wall. Now I'm contemplating several possibilites. I'm even considering whether I could squeeze two quilts out of the blocks after I add in my part. Stay tuned as this idea develops. Don't all those stripes look amazing? I can't wait to get started.

By taking a photo without any arranging, I can already see relationships between the blocks that I hadn't noticed just by looking at my design wall. It's hard to take it all in and really see those relationships between blocks and colors when viewing first hand sometimes. That's why I would encourage everyone to use your digital cameras. Then you can take photos of several arrangements and view them side by side on your computer to see where things work and where they don't.

2016 will bring some new members to our Mid Century Modern Bee which also means we're saying goodbye to a few. I'm sad to see Susan, Michelle, Carla and Mary go but life and priorities change for all of us. Thanks for all the great blocks you've made for me. I will miss you being a part of MCM.


November 27, 2015

Analogous Colors

I'm going to venture off my regular individual color posts for a couple of months to explore some color theory concepts just a little. Nothing scientific or in depth. The study of color can be quite complex and there are already wonderful sources out there if you are interested in learning more. Instead, this will simply be another form of color observation. I hope you'll try it. I promise it will get you thinking about color in new ways.

I'm making the assumption you are familiar with the basic color wheel. This one shows the different groups of analogous colors.

This month the color concept is analogous. So what are analogous colors? The most basic definition of analogous is three colors that fall next to each other on the color wheel. Look at the color wheel above and then any three colors in a row to see the variety of analogous color scheme possibilities. Because the middle color in a grouping shares color properties from both of the colors on either side of it, analogous colors are inherently harmonious.

Analogous color groupings frequently fall into warm or cool ranges. These warm or cool color groupings are often found in nature. Fall is a season for warm analogous colors. The changing colors of the leaves are a wonderful example of analogous colors in nature.

Warm analogous colors are also found in summer flower beds like this test bed on the campus of Colorado State University. It's one of my favorite stops when I'm there in the summer.

Because analogous colors are inherently harmonious, they translate well into great color combinations for quilting. I find that one of my first color inclinations when designing a quilt is to select an analogous color scheme. See what I mean . . .

The cool range of analogous colors is a particular favorite of mine. Think water, sky, green leaves and grass. Love those colors.

Most of the examples I've shown use the three color analogous range, but if you expand the color range to four or even five colors you can add a lot of liveliness to the group. When you use five colors you are quite close to having a complementary color scheme depending on the color spread. I'll touch on complementary colors in December.

So . . .  do you have a favorite analogous color scheme you like to use in your quilts?  I challenge you to look around your home, your neighborhood, your work and really see the colors in your world. Look for some analogous colors in your life. Thanks for reading.

As with my single color stories, my intention here is to look for these color combinations in my own personal world. To see the colors around me in my house, my environment and my experiences. For that reason I've chosen to use my own photos rather than rely on the abundance of beautiful photos and color schemes available through sites like Pinterest and Design Seeds. These sites are wonderful places for inspiration on color but I want my series to be personal . . . representative of the color I see around me. You can see all my other color stories under the Color Inspiration tab at the top of my blog. If you'd like to see additional beautiful color images, you can follow my Pinterest color boards here. I've also added a board on analogous colors here.


November 11, 2015

Drunkard's Path QAL; The Free Motion Quilting Begins

For those of you who know me or read my posts regularly, you know free motion quilting is not my favorite thing. I'd rather start a whole new project than quilt the most recent top. But with my drunkard's path quilt I am determined to get it finished by the end of November so I can use it this Christmas. I have 20 19 days!  For anyone just stopping by for the first time, you can find all the previous Drunkard's Path QAL posts here or see the tab at the top of my blog.

Making a block a month worked nicely. Adding borders last month worked well. Now there's nothing left but quilting. I managed to pin baste last week after finding numerous other things that had to be done. Translation . . . PROcrastination. The only good thing is that I get lots of other things done when I'm procrastinating.

The biggest question is how to quilt it?  For this, I looked through a few books for some ideas. Another form of procrastination perhaps?

Next I sketched ideas on paper at full size.

For my Kaffe mini quilt made with the same block design, I used a petal motif in the flowers (purple) and a vein in the leaves (green). Then I echo quilted the background areas.

I decided a variation of this would be good for the Christmas quilt but the petals would need to be more poinsettia like. I used tissue paper over the printout of the quit to see how it might look.

Once I had the basic idea, I turned to the dry erase board to practice a few times and get the general flow down. I find a dry erase board quite handy for practicing at full size. After a few times drawing it on the dry erase, I moved on to actually sewing it a few times on a practice quilt sandwich.

Another option for full size practicing is to place a piece of clear plastic over the quilt and use a dry erase marker to draw your design in the spaces. I highly recommend putting tape all around the edge of the plastic first though so you don't accidentally draw off the edge onto your quilt.

I've created a Free Motion Quilting Guide that includes the outline of the petal shape on one page and the sketch of my quilting motif on the second page for you to play with. Download it here.

Yesterday I quilted all the red petals. Next will be the green leaves. I may do the same leafy vein used for the mini or perhaps I'll just stick with the petal design like I used in the red. Poinsettia flowers and the leaves have the same shape so this seems somewhat appropriate. With such busy fabric it hardly shows anyway but I still want the motif to make sense for the design.

The biggest question will be what to do in the little background areas and along the border.
Any ideas? I wasn't thrilled with the echo look. I think something simple that flattens the areas a bit but is not too dense. There are so many little spots and a lot of stopping and starting without any easy connection from one area to the next. Originally I was going to stitch in the ditch between the blocks to anchor the diamond areas down. Then I realized this wasn't the best choice since I pressed those seams open. So I skipped that part and moved right into quilting the petals figuring something would become more obvious when the time came.

Now that I have finally started, it's not nearly as bad as I usually think it will be and the finish is in sight. So far my machine is cooperating. I have an old Bernina with a very small arm space so even a quilt this size isn't easy to push and shove through. Sometimes I roll the excess. Sometimes I bunch it up. Either way, there's not a lot of room to maneuver.

How about you, do you have Christmas projects waiting completion?
Do you procrastinate when it comes to free motion quilting? If so, why?
Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.