Homeward Bound Quilt Top

Way back in January I posted about some blocks I made for the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Swap and how they inspired me to start a new quilt. After that, I got busy making the individual blocks for the quilt.

Homeward block 1

And I loosely grouped them together.

Homeward blocks

After a few months, I had made 42 blocks and considered that enough for a quilt. So I laid out the blocks on the dining room floor.

HomewardBound1

And the first bits of doubt started to creep into my mind. Hmmm. That wasn’t how I thought it would look. It’s hard to explain, but I thought the patterns made by the white and gray fabrics and the green fabrics would be stronger. It just didn’t look very cohesive.

But I went ahead and sewed it together. Then I draped it over the upstairs railing and let it sit. For about a month I looked at it and tried to figure out what to do next. Add a border? Maybe two? Leave it as is?

As luck would have it, we were asked to bring projects we were stuck on to the April meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild. The plan was to break into small groups and brainstorm ways to help each person along with her project.

Since the quilt top was technically done, I held it up for show-and-tell and tried to explain my misgivings. It was kind of hard to be down on the quilt given the enthusiastic response of the guild members. People seemed to genuinely like it. Maybe it was just me.

Later we broke up into our small groups and talked about the quilt again. It was there that a couple of ladies held the quilt up for me to see from a distance. It was the first time I could really stand far back and look at it.

HomewardBoundquilttop

OK, maybe I could see the patterns better than I thought. During show-and-tell, one woman described it as “sun-dappled,” and I agree. The patterns are there, but they are getting broken up a bit with lights, like it would be on a sunny day.

Then, we happened to notice that the quilt was being reflected in the window of our meeting space. From that point of view, the patterns were crystal clear! I guess it all just depends on your perspective.

So, I’m going to go ahead and finish the quilt as is. Right now, I’m thinking I’ll use orange thread for the center areas and then maybe gray for the rest of it. But I could also see myself taking it a step further and using green thread in the green areas. We’ll see.

Several of the women in guild suggested adding an orange binding, but I’ll make that decision once I get that far.

For the most part, I’m a solitary crafter. I’ll ask Greg’s opinion on things, but I don’t usually go out and solicit feedback. In this case, though, I really needed outside points of view. I was too close to it, both literally and figuratively, to see it clearly. So a huge thank you to the women of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild for their support, ideas, and encouragement! This one might actually get finished because of you!

 

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Happy House Swap Block

HappyHouse1As I mentioned last week, April is my month to bring a block to share in the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Block Swap!

It was kind of a lot of pressure to think of a block that people in my hive would like making, that wouldn’t be too hard, that didn’t need to be super accurate, and that I would like to work with later to make a finished project. I searched online for what others had created for block swaps and searched through my books of blocks trying to get ideas.

For some reason, I kept getting drawn to house blocks. I’d never made one before and never really thought about making one before. But there were a couple of house blocks that repeatedly turned up in my searches. I finally decided on this block from the Bloomin’ Workshop blog that she calls Manor House. She had made it for a random sampler quilt-along, and I liked that it was simple and yet still cute.

So I made up the block above by pulling fabrics from my scrap bin. It was fun looking for bits that were large enough for the house and still went together. In the process of making the block, I was also trying to figure out the parameters I wanted the members of my hive to use as they made their blocks. After making this block, I decided I wanted everyone to use a low-volume fabric for the sky.

Next I decided to make a block with a more monochromatic house.

HappyHouse3Surprise! That house turned out to be orange. With this block, I decided that the members of the hive could use some solid fabrics, but I didn’t want any house that used only solid fabrics.

I was having so much fun making these, that I tried another one.

HappyHouse4This time I used a sky color that wasn’t gray. So with this block I decided that I wanted the sky fabric to have a white background, but it could also have any low-volume color with the white.

And, honestly, I just couldn’t stop making the blocks. I found that it was easy to find pieces for the house and chimneys from my stash bin, but I needed to cut into my yardage for the sky and most of the roofs.

HappyHouse2When I looked at all my blocks together, I realized they were all just really happy looking. So I decided I wouldn’t restrict the hive members to any colors for the houses; I would just ask that the houses look cheerful.

My final instructions to my hive members are:

Please make one Manor House block from the Bloomin’ Workshop blog. Click here for link.
Follow her instructions for creating the block. I found it very handy to print out the block illustration with measurements that she includes in her post.
Special requests:
Use a white background low-volume print for the “sky” pieces.
Use prints (or prints and a few solids) for the house that result in an overall cheerful look.
HappyHousesI hope everyone has as much fun making this block as I did. I’ll get the blocks from my hive at the May meeting, and I’ll show you what they came up with then!

Orange Peel Swap Block

OrangePeelswapblockThe Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Block Swap continues! At the March meeting, Abby asked the members of my hive to make an orange peel block. She provided the template shape and asked that the peels be orange and the background be low-volume grays. And, in her words, “the scrappier the better.”

Abby instructed us to first piece together our four background squares. She suggested that we cut them to 5-inches, but I accidentally cut mine to 5 1/2 inches. But that just gives her more wiggle room for squaring up.

Then we were to trace the template onto the orange fabric and onto a piece of lightweight fusible webbing. With right sides together (meaning the pretty side of the fabric and the sticky side of the fusible), we were to sew around the entire shape with a 1/8-inch seam allowance. Then we were to cut a hole in the fusible, turn the shape right side out, and iron it to the pieced background.

I hadn’t done this type of appliqué before, so it was pretty slow going. My biggest problem was that my fusible was so thin, it kept tearing, especially as I was trying to poke out the ends. I also found it tricky to keep the fusible from showing on the sides of the shape (in fact, I wasn’t entirely successful with that).

I ended up having to re-position a few of the shapes, so while Abby left stitching down the shapes as optional, I did because I didn’t want them to fall off. Plus, I already had my orange thread in the machine.

I love this swap because I’m getting to use techniques I haven’t tried before and make blocks I wouldn’t have made on my own. My block isn’t perfect, but hopefully it goes with what Abby had in mind.

April is my month to be Queen Bee of our hive, so next week, I’ll show you the block I’ll be asking the hive members to make for me!