Okay, so from those initial ideas I showed you last time, this was the color scheme my senior liked best for his graduation quilt design, the one with the royal blue flying geese against chartreuse:
The Chosen Colorway
But of course I can't just leave it at that, because, well, ME. Once Lars-of-Ours gave me the thumbs up on the yellow/green and blue idea, I went back to EQ8 for some finessing. First concern: I don't want the finished quilt to look too juvenile, which could happen if the colors are all too bright and pure. Yet I don't want it to be sombre and dreary, either. Solution: the background is going to be the darkest, inkyest purple that I can find, like if the Amish wore purple, this is the purple they would wear. But the geese are going to be lighter/brighter so they kind of glow and float against the dark background. Second concern: If I'm not excited enough about the design, I am much, MUCH less likely to actually get the quilt finished -- EVER -- let alone in time for the Quillow Ceremony in June. The piecing of this quilt is just as straightforward if I'm working with three solid color fabrics as it is if I'm playing with tints and shades... So here's where I am with the design right now:
Now I Am Starting to Get Excited!
I am loving the three-dimensional effect that happens when I simulate using gradient fabrics for those geese! Doesn't it look like chain links woven together? So, how do I pull this off in real life? Well, looking at my Kona Solids color chart, I selected Kona Midnight Purple for that background fabric:
And this is the part where I wish I was shopping in person at the well-appointed LQS (Local Quilt Shop) that exists only in my imagination. I found six different online sources for that Kona Solid Midnight Purple fabric, and the exact same fabric looks completely different on each web site because each one is using their own photo of the fabric with different lighting, etc. Yet I'm confident that I've chosen the right color because I have an actual swatch of it in my hand on the Kona color chart. With these ombre fabrics, they could turn out to be all kinds of darker or brighter or greener or whatever once they showed up in my mailbox. And yes, I know I could just select seven different blue fabrics and seven different shades of the yellow-green to achieve a similar effect, but I like the effect of the colors gradually deepening WITHIN each patch rather than each patch being slightly darker than the patch before. As I've lamented to y'all before, my nearest "local" source for a decent selection of high quality quilting cottons is an hour and a half round trip, or worse if I time it so that I get stuck in rush hour. I know I have seen a few ombre fabrics there in the past, but I don't remember it being an extensive collection so it's really hit or miss that they'll have what I'm looking for. Ugh.
Well, I do have a bit of a shopping list accumulated:
I need to find and purchases a replacement green fabric for the leaves on my remaining Frankenwhiggish Rose applique blocks. I need a tattoo on my forehead that says "ATTENTION FABRIC SHOP: PLEASE SELL ME TWICE AS MUCH FABRIC AS I THINK I NEED BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS DISCONTINUED BY THE TIME I RUN OUT!"
I Did Not Buy Enough of This Fabric Back in 2014, and Now I Am Punished!
I've Been Joining These Blocks Into Rows Intermittently...
...But I Haven't Yet Purchased the Blue Inner Border Fabric
I need a backing fabric for my pineapple log cabin quilt, too.
So that probably warrants a journey down to Sew Much Fun, don't you think? Today and tomorrow it's their End of the Month/End of the Bolt Sale, 25% off any regular priced fabric if I buy whatever's left on the bolt. The dark purple and the pineapple quilt backing are each going to be over 10 yards of fabric, and check out this photo from their shop that they just posted on their Facebook page a few minutes ago:
Reality check: Lars starts his senior year of high school this coming Monday. We are just nine months away from his senior year Quillow Blessing at church. In case you're not familiar with this tradition, the annual Quillow Service at Christ Lutheran is when the graduating seniors parade to the front of the church in their caps in gowns while their baby pictures are flashing on the screens and the choir sings bittersweet anthems about letting go and launching them into the Big, Scary World, trusting in God to protect them. Then the parents wrap a special quilt around the shoulders of their son or daughter, specially made for the occasion (many families do a quilt that folds up into a pillow, hence the term "quillow"), the pastors say stuff that makes everyone cry, and we do a special blessing. This is a day for waterproof mascara, for sure.
Lars-Of-Ours, My Rising Senior
So anyway, Lars is going to need a quilt for this, and it needs to be completely finished by the beginning of June. He and I collaborated on a design for this quilt over a year ago in EQ8, and although I absolutely adore the design we came up with, I've decided it's not suitable for his quillow for a number of reasons.
My Original, Unrealistic Crazy Person Design
What are those reasons, you may ask?
I haven't started it yet, and do you see all those tiny pieces? Let's be real, folks -- there is NO WAY I would get this finished on time.
Lars's "quillow" is going to be a bed quilt for his college dorm, not a pillow, so I need to think about what it will feel like to sleep beneath the quilt. A quilt with a bazillion pieces is also a quilt with a bazillion heavy seam allowances. So I do plan to make the original quilt eventually, but as a wall quilt rather than a bed quilt.
If I locked myself in my studio for the next 9 months, working nonstop with only peanuts and M&Ms to sustain me, and miraculously managed to finish this quilt on time... Then what if something BAD happened to the quilt at college, like it was stolen or ruined in a laundry mishap or something was spilled all over it -- can you imagine how devastating that would be? I need to design a quilt that I can make with a reasonable investment of time so that, in the unfortunate event it's lost/damaged/stolen, my son won't feel responsible for the loss of a family heirloom!
Again, although I love the stained glass inspired cross design on its own, the interior designer in me is thinking about how this bed quilt will fit into a typical college dorm room that my son will be sharing with a roommate. These are small rooms that get cluttered up very quickly, and I think a simpler, more graphic/modern quilt design is more likely to look good in the room with whatever else he and his roommate have going on in there.
Lars, of course, is bummed that he isn't getting a giant stained glass window for his quillow quilt, and he reluctantly gave me two criteria for coming up with an alternative design:
He wants it to be purple.
He also wants it to be "Cooler than everyone else's, and not just because all the squares match up, either."
Hah! I said it's not a competition to see whose parents can come up with the best quilt, but then he explained that I have been making cool things his whole life and he wants his quilt to be something special that only his mom could make... And how am I supposed to argue with that? He has been sleeping under this quilt for the past 6 years, and my quiltmaking skills have improved quite a bit since I made that one for him.
So I'm going to translate "cooler than everyone else's" into "cooler than the last one you made me," because that's what I think he was really getting at.
One of the things I love most about the cathedral window quilt design is that I based it off of a design that Lars created in an EQ Intermediate Piecing Design class we took with Barb Vlack back when Lars was 13 years old. (Yes, EQ software really is so easy that a child can use it!) Wanting my new quillow design to also be a collaboration between mother and son, I went back to that old EQ7 Project File from the 2014 class to see what else I could use as a starting point for the new design.
Lars's EQ7 Design from 2014 Class
I like how this design incorporates curved piecing and is similar to the Drunkard's Path blocks I used in his previous quilt, but with the greater complexity and "cool factor" of the arcs of graduated flying geese. Since I can print my foundation paper piecing patterns directly from EQ8, as well as templates for the curved background fabrics, it won't be difficult to piece accurately, either. So the first thing I did was to resize the quilt to a size appropriate for an XL Twin dormitory mattress, scaling the block size up to 12" for a bold, modern scale (reducing the number of pieces and seams is an added bonus). Each circle is made up of four blocks, so those are 24" circles. Then I offset the rows of circles to create a half drop pattern repeat.
Is It Purple Enough? Is It Cool Enough?
Now, THAT is a quilt design that I am excited to turn into a real quilt! I am not 100% sure what Lars has in mind for the color scheme beyond the Purple Imperative, so I created a few different color schemes for him to choose from. I may even drag him off to the quilt shop with me to select the actual fabrics.
Or Will He Prefer Purple with Red and Gray?
I know I want either solid fabrics or nearly-solid fabrics for this quilt, with a dark, saturated purple background. I like the Modern/Amish vibe that gives me, and I feel like it keeps the quilt from looking too cutesy for a young man. Of course, I've never been one to limit my sons' color choices to brown, navy or gray.
Or Purple With Royal Blue and Chartreuse?
The more I play with different colorways, the more I like this design.
Or Purple With Light Blue and Red?
Wouldn't it be a cool fabric print for drapery panels, printed on linen with a 24" repeat?
If Quilters Designed Drapery Fabrics
Okay, so THAT was probably not the most productive use of my time today... FYI, you can NOT do that with EQ8. I exported the quilt rendering photo as a JPEG from EQ8 so I could share that with you here on my blog, and then I imported that quilt design image into a separate interior design software program and rescaled it so I could use it as if it was a drapery fabric... I am proud of myself for stopping at that point, because I REALLY wanted to PhotoShop a lovely mountain view behind those windows, drape a snuggly throw across the arm of the sectional, and top it all off with a fabulous contemporary chandelier. This is what RESTRAINT looks like. And now, my lovelies, I'm signing off so I can wrap up some last minute errands and details for my younger son's birthday party that is happening this evening! Son the Younger turned 15 recently and is about to begin his sophomore year of high school. Which means I will have ANOTHER quillow quilt to design and create as soon as I finish Lars's!
Birthday Boy Anders, My Rising Sophomore
Anders is going through a phase where he thinks it's hysterically funny to cower in fear whenever Mom takes his picture. Fun times! I'll be linking today's post up with:
There Was a Cutting Table Hiding Beneath Those Mountains of Fabric!
Does your work space ever get so cluttered that it's literally paralyzing? Mine had gotten to the point that I was stalled out on several works-in-progress because I only had about a square foot of this table surface available for cutting and measuring. That was fine for making those decadent little string triangles, but I didn't have anywhere near enough room for:
Measuring and adjusting the pieced borders of my almost-completed Jingle BOM quilt top
I thought I had taken a "before excavation" photo of the disaster that was my cutting table, but apparently I was too ashamed because I can't find one. Anyway, it was bad enough that it took me at least EIGHT hours to organize everything and pack it all neatly away. I know this because, to keep from getting overwhelmed, I used my handy Time Timer and would just set it for 30 minutes or an hour at a time, and then just focus on putting things away until the timer went off without thinking about the WHOLE mess. And folks, I had to reset that timer MANY TIMES over the past couple of weeks... I bought this timer for one of my kids, by the way -- a special ed teacher suggested it as a way to help my then-elementary-age son develop better time management skills for homework. The 12" version is popular for classroom use as well -- it's great because the kids can see how much time is left visually in a red "pie" that gets smaller and smaller. My son was annoyed with me for buying it and refused to even try it, but I love my Time Timer and I use it any time I need help staying on track with a tedious task that I don't really want to be doing. Dusting, vacuuming... I can do anything for thirty minutes, right? If I had dumped everything off the cutting table into a big box and then hid that box in a closet under the stairs, I could have been done in 10 minutes. But these were piles of new fabrics that had been carefully selected and coordinated for upcoming but not-yet-started projects, backing/binding/batting picked out for WIP quilt tops that are almost ready for quilting, and of course the BAZILLION leftover 1.5" strips of fabric that I'd carefully cut for my pineapple quilt... If I just shoved those strips in my scrap bins they would be a wrinkled mess when I wanted to use them and I'd have to iron them. I wanted to store everything in a way that I could find what I needed and use it easily when I wanted it again, so I undertook a reorganization of my stash of (mostly) fat quarters in hopes of finding the perfect fabric that I already own more frequently rather than continually buying all new fabric. And so the fabric strips from the laundry drying rack have been neatly packed away in shallow wire drawer bins where they are ready to go when I need them again:
I cannot tell you how great it felt to finally get that laundry drying rack out of my studio. It has been in my way, serving the purpose of keeping those strips organized and visible for the past five years as I S-L-O-W-L-Y pieced my pineapple log cabin blocks. And my stash of fat quarters is now organized by color in deeper wire bins, like so:
Those wire bins are great, by the way. They allow air to circulate so my fabric doesn't get mouffy, and I can pull them out and easily see what I have in whatever color I'm looking for. As I said, these are just stash fabrics, not earmarked for any particular project. I also have certain wire bins designated for all of the fabrics that were purchased to be used together in upcoming quilt projects. It is definitely time to start finishing some of these stalled-out projects and turn more of my stashed fabrics into finished quilts!
With the butcher block surface of my cutting table finally visible again, I gave it a good wipe-down with mineral oil and allowed that to sink in overnight. Now I just need to knock down a few cobwebs and give the studio a good dusting and vacuuming before I get back to sewing again. Do you have any favorite tips for organizing and storing your fabric stash and supplies for different projects? Or, better yet, any tips for STAYING organized so your studio never gets so cluttered up in the first place? I'd love to hear fabric solutions in the comments (unless your suggestions require me to stop buying fabric, 'cause THAT ain't gonna happen!). Have a great weekend, everyone! I'm linking up with:
Have you ever made a recipe with fantastic results, but then the next time you tried to make it was a disaster? That's what happened to me over the weekend with this King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalog recipe for Apple Cinnamon Scones. I've made these scones in the past and they were stellar, but when I tried to make them again this Saturday the batter was a goopy mess, they spread like muffin tops, and the bottoms burnt. Disaster! So after my family and I begrudgingly ate up all of the burned scones (because even bad homemade baked goods are better than store-bought), I put on my apron and my thinking cap to figure out what might have gone wrong. The number one drawback to this recipe is that it requires some kind of cinnamon chips, and I cannot find them locally. Sometimes stores will have the Hershey's cinnamon chips around the holidays, and those will work in a pinch but they are my last resort since they are full of waxy non-food ingredients -- they don't actually contain any cinnamon, so they don't give that amazing blast of cinnamon. I like to use the King Arthur Flour Cinnamon Sweet Bits for this recipe, so I have to plan ahead and order them online.
So, after driving around to every grocery store in a 20-mile radius, even Target and Walmart, finally accepting defeat, ordering online, and waiting for my cinnamon chips to arrive in the mail, it was especially frustrating to have a Baking Fail!
Here's what went wrong, and what I changed in order to achieve Scone Nirvana with the second batch:
1. The recipes on the KAF Baker's Catalog website always give you the option to measure ingredients either by weight or by volume. I usually prefer to measure my flour by weight, since you can get drastically different amounts of flour in the same measuring cup depending on whether you just dumped a new bag of flour into the canister or whether it's been sitting awhile and has settled. Since the batter was overly wet and runny with the first failed batch of scones, and I weighed the flour for that batch, I decided to measure by volume with the second batch, using the old-fashioned "dip-and-sweep" method for 2 3/4 cups. This yielded much better results, so either something was amiss with my kitchen scale or the recipe requires more flour than the 11 1/2 oz. called for in the recipe. So from now on, that's how I'll measure the flour for this recipe! 2. This recipe calls for chilling the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to baking, to allow the gluten in the flour to relax and to chill the butter. They tell you to scoop your scones onto your sheet pan and then put it in the freezer, but I have a side-by-side fridge and none of my baking sheets fit on those little 12" x 12" freezer shelves! I couldn't remember how I handled this last time, so with my failed batch I attempted to chill the scones on the wider refrigerator shelf instead. In the refrigerator, the dough sank down and spread instead of holding their "scoops of ice cream" shape as they chilled. So, with the second batch, I scooped my scones into parchment-lined Pyrex pie plates that fit into my freezer instead of scooping them directly onto the baking sheet.
How To Chill Drop Scones In a Side-By-Side Freezer
I have no idea how I managed the chilling of the scones the first time I made this recipe, when they were amazing. I might have put them in the fridge for longer, or maybe I made them in winter and just put the baking sheet full of scones out in my screen porch for 30 minutes to chill, but evidently this step is crucial so I'm glad I found a solution that works without having to buy any new gadgets or tiny little baking sheets.
Speaking of gadgets, I used a Zeroll muffin scoop, Blue Size 16 for this recipe. I like the round, uniform "scoop of ice cream" shape it gives me for drop scones, and when the scones are all the exact same size and shape, they all bake the same rather than having the slightly smaller scones overbake while the larger ones are still raw in the center. I also think the round scooped scones look cute when they come out of the oven, and we all know that cute scones taste better than ugly misshapen scones. ;-) (Zeroll cookie scoops are fantastic for the same reasons, by the way, and the speed and efficiency of using a cookie scoop is a godsend when I'm making dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies). Back to the scones!
4. With the failed batch, I followed the recipe instructions to the letter and glazed the scones prior to freezing them, even though I vaguely remembered that I had forgotten to glaze the scones prior to chilling them the first time I baked them. Big mistake! I think that gooping milk all over the dough that was already too wet to begin with (due to not enough flour) and then putting them in the fridge instead of the freezer exacerbated the problem of the too-wet dough, as the milk soaked into the scones while they sat in the fridge and the wet dough became more like a muffin batter, unable to hold its shape. With the successful do-over batch, I waited to glaze the scones until just before I popped them into the oven and brushed much less milk onto each scone, just enough so the sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar would adhere. 5. One more thing -- with the failed batch of scones that burned on the bottoms, I baked them on a sheet of parchment paper using a dark rimmed cookie pan. With the second batch, I used my silver baking sheet (no sides) and a lightly floured Silpat silicone baking mat.
No Burned Bottoms With Silver Baking Sheet and Silpat Baking Mat
Silpat mats are awesome -- NOTHING sticks to them, they don't need any greasing, and you can reuse them thousands of times instead of single-use parchment paper. They are made from food safe silicone reinforced with fiberglass and they promote even browning in addition to preventing sticky batters from sticking to the cookie sheet. I really should get a bigger one for this baking sheet.
And here are the resulting scones from the second batch, just as wonderful as we remembered them from the first time I made this recipe!
Oh Yes, They DO Taste As Good As They Look!
I've amended my recipe so next time I can avoid making the same mistakes. I don't bake very often, and it's such a bummer to take the time and trouble and end up with disappointment instead of delight! Does your family have a favorite recipe for scones or muffins that you'd like to share with me? I'd love to find a great recipe for rhubarb scones, or lemon blueberry... I did manage to get a little bit of sewing done over the weekend, too. I enlisted Headless Helena's help to alter a RTW princess seamed top:
Headless Helena Models Fit-Corrected RTW Anthropologie Top
I bought this top from Anthropologie because I needed something yellow in a hurry that I could wear with jeans for Sunday's contemporary choir dress code. In this photo from Anthropologie's website, you can see how the top is supposed to be slightly fitted through the shoulders and then flare out gently beneath the bust.
It's a textured knit fabric with a good amount of stretch, and I bought a size Medium that fit my upper chest and bust nicely without those dreaded horizontal pull lines. However, like many RTW tops, the fabric BENEATH the bust was protruding on me in a way that reminds me of a maternity top, and that is NOT a good look when you're not pregnant!
Unaltered Size Medium Top On Headless Helena
Initially I thought there was too much fabric in the tummy area, and I planned to take it in from the princess seams on the front of the top. Once I got the top on my dress form Helena, though, the first thing I did was align the CF, CB, and side seams with the seams on the fabric dress form cover. That's when I realized that the extra fabric in the tummy area was actually coming from the BACK of the top. See what happened when I pinned the side seam to make it hang straight down from the armpit:
With Side Seam Straightened, It's Obvious the BACK Is Too Big
Ideally, if I was making this top from scratch, I would have started out with a pattern size Small to fit the upper chest and shoulders and done a FBA (full bust adjustment). That would have given me an even better fit through the armhole and would have allowed me to lengthen the front of the top. I would have LOVED to be able to make something from scratch, but I just didn't have time, not without a local source for decent garment fabric. So tweaking the fit on this one was the best I could do. I pinched out equal amounts along the CB seam and the back princess seams, tapering to nothing.
Extra Fullness Pinned Out from CB and Back Princess Seams
I was very conservative about how much I was taking out, mindful of the disaster of the RTW Diner Blouse Alteration Fail that taught me the perils of overfitting! I tried the top on my own body with the seams pinned, and then I machine basted what I'd pinned in and checked the fit before stitching them with a "real" machine stitch. Ideally I would have serged those seams to remove the bulk of the excess seam allowances, but I was time-starved due to the baking fiasco that had eaten up most of my Saturday. I'm pleased with the improved fit.
Still Not Perfect, But Better Than Before
In order to get the top to fit me the way it fits the Anthropologie model, I'd need to remove some fabric from those front princess seams all the way down to the hemline and that means opening up and restitching the hem. There are limits to how much I want to disassemble and reconstruct something that I bought off the rack. Anyway, I'm pleased that I was able to tweak this top by myself, without calling my mom for emergency backup (although I was tempted!), and that I got it done in under an hour without overcomplicating things. Helena's help was crucial (my customized Fabulous Fit dress form) for realizing the side seams were angling forward and pinning the top on the dress form is the only way I could have pinned seams on my back without help and gotten them just right on the first try. I really need to sew myself some more clothes from scratch instead of wasting so much time and money on RTW that almost sort-of fits...
These Seam Intersections Make Me Happy!
...Oh, and I've been working on my pineapple log cabin quilt in fits and snatches, too. The foundation papers of all 36 blocks were removed during a family Harry Potter Film Marathon and I've started pinning and piecing them together. Since I'm trying to align lots of seams that are all pressed in the same direction rather than nesting, I've been experimenting with different pinning techniques. I seem to be having the most success when I pin right through the stitching line at an angle, like this, although I have to be careful that my needle doesn't deflect against the pins because that creates a little jog in the stitching line:
Angled Pinning to Match the Seams
After taking the photo above, I started placing those pins even closer to the stitching lines and making sure that the pin goes through the stitching on both sides before I start sewing the blocks together. It's slow going with all the pinning, but I've got one whole row of blocks seamed together so far just from Sunday afternoon. By the way, a HUGE thanks to all of you who reached out with suggestions about piecing batting! I ordered two King size Dream Wool precut battings and I'm going to experiment to see whether a whip stitch by hand or a machine stitch will work best for joining them. I don't even have my backing fabric for this quilt yet, but that's okay because I picked up a couple of tops from the charity quilting group at our church and I'm planning to practice pantograph quilting the charity quilts before I attempt to quilt my pineapple quilt. Stay tuned... Oh, and speaking of my church -- my 17-year-old son sang his first solo with the adult contemporary choir this Sunday morning and he did a great job. I'm so proud of him! If you're interested, check out the recording here. Lars's solo begins at 54:20 into the worship service, and as an added bonus, you can see me and my yellow Anthropologie top singing with the choir behind him. I mean, I'M singing in the choir -- tops don't sing... :-)
Well, friends, now that we're all caught up it's time for me to figure out what I'm going to feed my family for dinner! Have a great week, everyone. I'm linking up with: