Saturday, August 23, 2014

Spinning My Wheels, and Dreaming of Grandeur

UGH.  I feel like Ugh.  Does that happen to you?  I had this great idea about how I was going to start working on multiple quilts simultaneously, switching back and forth between projects according to my mood, whether I felt like doing hand applique, paper piecing, traditional piecing or whatever, and this was going to be a great thing for productivity and for creativity, blah blah blah.  And so, for the first time ever for me, I set aside a quilt that I had not finished and started working on another one... and another one... and another one. 

Guess what?  It's not working out for me!  I feel lost when I walk into the sewing room, and each time I switch projects I lose my groove and have to relearn whichever technique I haven't done in awhile.  
There was the Jingle BOM, with blocks designed by Erin Russek of One Piece at a Time:

Completed Center Medallion for my Jingle BOM UFO
I set that aside when I realized that I wanted to set my center medallion straight rather than on-point as per Erin's original design, and I was unsure how to calculate the additional pieced borders I envisioned going between the center medallion and the on-point border blocks.  I can't believe I haven't touched this since APRIL!  :-(

My Jingle Border Blocks, Languishing Untouched
Then I decided that I should learn needleturn applique, since I had so much fun with starch and press prepared applique for my Jingle blocks, so and I started working on a Frankensteined Whig Rose applique block consisting of several magazine patterns that I cobbled together.  That one stalled out when I realized that I do not yet know a good method for appliqueing the tiny circles that I imagined going around the center of my flower:

Whig Rose Thingy, Stumped by Rosebuds in Center
Here's the issue with that one: I liked the idea of appliqueing the fussy-cut rosebuds from my Vervain drapery fabric around the center of my flower, but the rosebuds are an odd shape, not really round.  So I can't use the Perfect Circles templates to make these.  I don't think I can needle turn them and get the edges of these tiny shapes perfectly smooth -- and what's more, I'm concerned about making sure that no ivory background shows at the edges of the rosebuds against the brown background.  I got this block to this point by mid May or early June, and then set it aside so I could mull over the rosebud dilemma for awhile:
Stalled Franken-Whig Rose Applique Block
"Let's do something EASY next, to rebuild that confidence," thought Moi.  So I made 9 Bear Paw blocks at the end of May and then decided they needed little 4" sawtooth star blocks as sashing posts. 

My Bear Paws
First, I paper pieced a 3" star that was a pain in the tushy and too small anyway.  Then I tried to make some 4" sawtooth stars at the beach and realized I can't sew anything at the beach because I can't SEE at the beach.  Then I sewed two lovely red sawtooth stars once I got back home...  only to have the red hand marbled fabric bleed all over the white background fabric when I tried to steam and press the finished block.  Bummer!
Bloody Sawtooth Star
One would THINK I might have learned my lesson when one of my red batik fabrics bled in my Jingle blocks.  One would THINK I would have tested this fabric for colorfastness before sewing it to white fabric.  Whatever.  The photo above shows what the block looks like now, after I soaked it in warm water with a couple drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid.  I was able to get a lot of the excess dye out, but dye is still bleeding from the seam allowances where the fabric is stacked up and I am not sure how to get all of that out without fraying or distorting the edges of my blocks.  I made two little star blocks out of this fabric and I used up all of the fabric, otherwise I would make new blocks after rinsing all the loose dye out of the uncut yardage.  And of course I chose to make stars out of this fabric first because it was my favorite...  

Meanwhile, in another fit of inspiration, I started making paper pieced pineapple blocks for a King sized quilt.  Two of those are finished.  I will need to make 34 more of these blocks to get the California King size I want for my bedroom:

EQ7 Mock Up of Pineapple Quilt from Scanned Finished Block
So I've been working on all these quilts for months now, and I have nothing finished to show for myself except for the school fundraiser quilt and the kids' projects.

And yet I find myself longing to start on two more quilts, both of them totally unrealistic choices for me given my current skill set, my family responsibilities, and the amount of time I actually am able to spend sewing.  I have officially lost my mind and have set my heart on making not one but TWO unbelievably challenging historical reproduction quilts:

"Love Entwined," updated color palette, by Esther Aliu
The first one is called Love Entwined, and it's Esther Aliu's free BOM based on a 1790 British quilt.  Esther fell in love with this quilt after seeing a black and white photo of it in an old book called Patchwork.  The current owners of the quilt refuse to allow anyone to see it or photograph it, so Esther has devised her patterns from enlargements of the black and white photo in her book.  We don't know for sure what colors were used in the original, but Esther's mockup of bright fabrics against a dark background is captivating and reminds me of Scandinavian rosemaling.  Look at this gorgeous Love Entwined quilt currently in progress, made by a Dutch quilter:

Dutch Quilter's "Love Entwined" in progress, from Juud's blog
Isn't that insane?  I have been downloading and printing off the patterns as each month's installment is released, and they are all neatly stored in a binder.  Me attempting this quilt today would be like a failing Algebra I student deciding to take Advanced Honors Trigonometry.  However, it gives me something to work towards, and although the project is overwhelming when you look at the whole thing, how bad can it be if you just take it one piece at a time?

The other historical reproduction quilt that I am recently obsessed with is the Civil War era quilt with 4 1/2" miniature blocks and a striking, unusual pieced triangle border made by Vermont quilter Jane A. Stickle in 1863.  This is the "Dear Jane" quilt:

Original Sampler Quilt by Jane A. Stickle, 1863, Photo by Ken Burris
This quilt was popularized and made accessible by Brenda Manges Papadakis' 1993 Dear Jane book, including all 256 block patterns that she painstakingly redrafted.  In the years since Papadakis' book came out, thousands of quilters have created faithful reproductions or modern reinterpretations of this quilt, and EQ sells a standalone Dear Jane software program that allows you to print out the block patterns in any size for rotary cutting, hand piecing, foundation piecing, or applique.  I really love the border on this quilt, and how fresh and modern it looks when it's made up in bright contemporary fabrics:

"Dear Jane Revisited" made by Gwen, Quilted by Judi Madsen of Green Fairy Quilting
I think Gwen used all Kaffe Fassett prints for her version of Dear Jane.  She did a phenomenal job, and of course Judi Madsen's long arm quilting is magnificent as usual:
Detail of Madsen's Quilting on Gwen's "Jane Revisited"
Madsen's Quilting Completed, Ready for Gwen to Finish and Bind

Madsen spent 70 hours quilting this masterpiece.  Doesn't this just take your breath away?  Please check out Judi's Green Fairy blog here to read more about this beautiful quilt. 

Ah, but what business do I have contemplating Love Entwined and Dear Jane when I have so many more attainable projects underway, and can't seem to make progress on any of them?!

And so, UGH!  :-)

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Barbara Sindlinger said...

I know I couldn't do it. I like to really only have one project at a time. I get stressed if I start something and haven't finished it. However, the BOM's that I'm doing I am more relaxed - I can't finish because I don't have the fabric or the pattern. My bucket list of quilts I want to make is huge.

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I am working on way too many things also and LE is one of them on my list, I started it and put it aside while I am working on other things and really need to get back to it this fall - I really do want to finish it. Sometimes though we need only one project at a time so we can get done - nothing wrong with that. While we are traveling I brought two projects but somehow I think it will only be the tumblers that I will be working on - the stars just aren't interesting to me right now.

Jackie's Stitches said...

I'm not sure I could work on just one project at a time. But i did find out how many wips were too many for me. That number was 19. I've since finished a few of them, trashed one, gave away one and pit one back in not started status. Sounds like you've hit you maximum capacity too!

Dear Jane is one my one day list too. It will either be a red and white or rainbow version. I'm looking forward to seeing what you do next!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Yeah I tried to do this too with similar results-I lose my mojo hopping around. Oh my, how brave you are to dream of that complex Love Entwined-it is SO pretty! COuld you make your own template for the Whig issue by using 3 layers of freezer paper?

Carole @ Fresh off the Frame said...

Oh, my. You really know how to tie yourself in knots, don't you! Okay, I know you didn't ask for suggestions, but here's a thought for your consideration anyway: What about fusing the tiny rosebuds instead of doing needle turn? Can you mix techniques and just get 'er done? Who would know? I think your projects are beautiful. Maybe you could go back to your comfort zone, focusing on one until it's done? (Even if you have to "bend the rules" a bit to get there?) Good luck resisting the urge to start more projects!!!

Carrie P. said...

I know how you feel. I have done the same thing but I am learning to really just work on a couple quilts at a time. I need variety but I don't want to feel overwhelmed or guilty because I have left stuff sitting.
About that odd circle. Since it is not a perfect circle one thing you could do is to trace the shape on melt proof plastic. Then do the same you would do for perfect circles. (sew that running stitch in seam allowance and iron)

colleen said...

Perhaps once the boys are in their school routines you'll be able to schedule regular sewing time. Your sewing machine cover is all yours start to finish your idea your pattern your design your sewing your quilting your...... And you get to see it every day.

Unknown said...

The Jingle Quilt is so beautiful! You must have it finished! Your appliqué is stunning. I think, if you do a simple sawtooth bother with one strip of narrow boarder on each side (to make up length), the math should be very easy because you don't have to fuzzy with the pieced boarder size. When you turn the setting of the centre from on-point to straight, the gap in between is no longer a whole number. It's a number involves the square root. So mathematically it's not easy to divide although you can round up or round down the number to make it up a whole number.