Saturday, January 18, 2020

Where Do You Get Your Design Inspiration? Appliqué Inspiration From Interior Design Fabrics

I'm still plugging away at my Spirit Song quilt top, albeit intermittently.  So far I have four of the twelve 16" blocks completely assembled:

Four 16 Inch Blocks Assembled, Eight More to Go
It's tedious piecing at this point because I'm matching up triangles with seams that don't nest.  Lots of unpicking and finessing to get those triangle points to match up to my satisfaction!  But meanwhile, my mind is on other projects, inspired by everything I see around me.  If you're one of those sensible people who has made a resolution not to start any new projects or buy any new fabrics in 2020, you should probably stop reading this RIGHT NOW.  You have been warned...

So this gorgeous photo landed in my email in-box the other day in a newsletter from the interior design fabric supplier F. Schumacher

Linen Print Roca Redonda in Carbon and Multi from F. Schumacher, Retail $248/yd
I love how fresh and current this 18th century French botanical pattern looks in this colorway, updated with shades of coral, emerald and turquoise against that carbon gray background.  Wouldn't this be a fun color palette for an historic or traditional appliqué quilt pattern?  I especially love that dusky background color.

Moda's Ombre Confetti in Soft Black, available on Etsy here (affiliate link)
Moda's Ombre Confetti in Soft Black, available from an Etsy seller here, would give me a similar effect as a background fabric.  The black and gold metallic dots are clustered most densely near the selvages of the fabric and are much more sparse in the lighter parts of the fabric, so I'd likely use the middle areas of the fabric for my appliqué backgrounds and then use the areas along the selvages for borders or in pieced blocks.  

If you're not a fan of the metallic dots and you want to stay truer to the background in the inspiration print, you could try Sketch in Charcoal from Timeless Treasures, available on Etsy here:

Sketch in Charcoal from Timeless Treasures, available on Etsy here

Then, for the applique elements themselves, there are all sorts of delicious possibilities.  I could see this Jade Green Batik Blender from Timeless Treasures for some of the leaves:
Jade Green Batik Blender from Timeless Treasures, available on Etsy here
Kaffe Fassett Collectives prints from Free Spirit Fabrics would also work well for the appliqué elements.  
Philip Jeffries for Kaffe Fassett Collectives Bundle, available on Etsy here

I love fussy-cutting for applique from the oversized prints from Kaffe Fassett.  An emerald and turquoise flower or feather can make for a striking appliquéd leaf.  So much fun!  Back to the inspiration fabric from F. Schumacher:

Appliqué Inspiration Fabric, Roca Redonda in Carbon and Multi from F. Schumacher
Although I like Kaffe Fassett Collectives for some of the green and turquoise elements, the other colors in this palette are a bit more subdued.  To recreate the corals, aquas, and ochre shades found in my inspiration fabric, I'd probably turn to prints from Anna Maria Horner's Conservatory collection for Free Spirit Fabrics:
Anna Maria Horner's Conservatory collection for Free Spirit, available on Etsy here
Of course, I wouldn't be using ALL prints for my appliqué   I'd want plenty of solids and tonal solids as well.  I feel like I'd need to mix in a handful of luscious shot cottons for this project:

Peppered Cottons from Pepper Cory, available on Etsy here
In the photo above of Pepper Cory's Peppered Cotton swatches, you can see that different color yarns are used for the warp and weft of shot cottons, which gives them their fabulous color-shifting properties.  They're much more interesting than plain solid fabrics, yet the colors aren't hyper-bright to the point of distraction.  The effect is subtle, especially in an appliqué composition where the shot cottons are combined with batiks, prints, and true solids.

Last but certainly not least, I adore the tiny detailed elements of the F. Schumacher inspiration print fabric, many of which would be too small to execute as applique.  Those delicate vines, tiny leaves, and other details would be exquisite if they were embroidered using Sue Spargo's beautiful threads from Wonderfil:

Sue Spargo's Eleganza Threads from Wonderfil, available on Etsy here
And, while we're at it, some of those flower centers would probably benefit from a smattering of seed beads here and there, so long as our quilt isn't going to be used on a bed and frequently laundered.  My pick, to keep the palette true to my inspiration fabric while adding just a subtle bling, would be these size 11/0 Czech glass seed beads from Etsy seller lanabeads2:

11/0 Czech Glass Seed Beads in Taupe, available on Etsy here
Have I inspired you to start a new project yet?  Here are a few patterns that would be beautiful in this color palette: 

Love Entwined, Historic Reproduction by Esther Aliu, pattern available here
Like the F. Schumacher inspiration fabric, Esther Aliu's masterpiece historic reproduction pattern "Love Entwined" was based on an 18th century antique quilt, so I'd expect it would look amazing rendered in the updated Carbon & Multi colorway of the linen drapery fabric.

However, this color palette would also be delightful for one of Sarah Fiehke's whimsical applique patterns such as her 2017 Down the Rabbit Hole BOM, for which patterns and instructions are available here:
Down the Rabbit Hole by Sarah Fielke, pattern available here
Ooh, and imagine using this color palette for Karen Kay Buckley's Majestic Mosaic appliqué quilt, pattern available on Amazon here:

Majestic Mosaic by Karen Kay Buckley, pattern available here
One last peek at our inspiration photo:

There are a lot of books and workshops out there on color theory, but you really can't go wrong if you choose your color palette based on a mix of colors that speaks to you immediately as soon as you see it.  Interior design photos, fine art paintings, travel photos -- all are terrific sources for selecting colors for your next quilt.  

Where do YOU find your best design inspiration?  Let me know in the comments.

Meanwhile, there are a bazillion coral-colored Birds in the Air blocks waiting for me to sew them together for my Spirit Song quilt...

Still In Progress, my Spirit Song Dress Code Quilt

Happy weekend and happy stitching, everyone!  I'm linking up today's post with:

·       Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts  
·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework
·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·       Moving it Forward at Em's Scrap Bag

·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon

Monday, January 6, 2020

Monday Updates: Spirit Song Quilt, Frankenwhiggish Applique, a New Fabric Shop, and a Puppy Portrait

Hello and happy Monday!  The "little one" (my 6' tall 16-year-old son) is back to high school today, but I still have my 19-year-old son home for a few more days before he heads back to college.  Now that it's Epiphany and Christmas has officially ended, Bernie is taking down our Christmas trees today.  I've been sewing 4" Birds in the Air blocks together over the weekend for my Spirit Song quilt (whose color palette was inspired by the contemporary choir dress code colors for which I never have anything to wear).

First 16 inch Block Sewn Together for Spirit Song Quilt
I'll need twelve of those 16" blocks in a 3 x 4 layout for this throw-sized quilt.  This is a total procrastination project, by the way.  I have no intended use or recipient in mind for this quilt. But, since it's Design Wall Monday, here are all of the blocks (before I started sewing them together) laid out on my design wall:

192 Four Inch Blocks on the Wall, Final Layout
Colors are weird in that photo because I took it late at night and then tried to correct shadows and yellow cast from incandescent lighting, etc.  But that's the photo that I printed out to use as a placement guide as I'm assembling the blocks into a quilt top.  

I'll be working on my never-ending Frankenwhiggish Rose needle turned applique project this afternoon with my SouthSide Stitchers Bee amigas.  I feel like I've been making little green leaves FOREVER...

Hand Stitching for Today's Sewcializing Bee
Colors in that photo are weird, too.  Here's the first completed block:

Block One of Nine for Frankenwhiggish Rose Quilt
Colors are more accurate in this photo.  I completed the first block in its entirety to see how I liked it, and then started making eight more identical blocks assembly-line style: all of the stems, all of the large petals, all of the circle centers, and now I've been bogged down with putting sixteen leaves on each block for aeons...  I am so looking forward to finishing the leaves and moving on to the reverse appliquéd tulips, stuffed berries, and broderie perse rosebuds at the center of each block!

One of my quilting friends and I checked out a new local shop yesterday afternoon, and I came home with some goodies:

Shopping Treasures from a New Local Shop, Stash Charlotte
The store is called Stash (located in the Plaza Midwood area, for those of you who are fellow Charlotteans), and they used to sell only yarn and knitting supplies until they were bought by new owners who decided to add fabrics and Janome sewing machines.  I found out about them at the Charlotte Quilters' Guild, because Stash is one of our sponsors for our upcoming March quilt show (they've donated a Janome sewing machine as a raffle prize) and I've been meaning to check them out ever since.  It turns out that they are the ONLY non-chain quilt shop near Charlotte that is open on a Sunday afternoon, a crucial piece of information that I will be storing away for sure...

Stash is a very small shop and they have a lot more yarn than fabric...  BUT...  the fabric that they do carry is an interesting mix with an aesthetic that I like, and the manufacturer names on the bolts were kind of off-the-beaten-track, not the same lines that are carried by other quilt shops in our area.  I noticed a few Japanese fabric companies that I've only seen in online shops before, and OH MY GOODNESS, y'all -- they carry LIBERTY OF LONDON!!!  I have eyed those fabrics online, but with a skeptical eye due to the higher price point.  Now, having seen the fabrics in person, I'm officially a groupie.  

Liberty's Strawberry Thief Print on Tana Lawn
The crisp clarity of Liberty's highly detailed prints reminds me of the magnificent (and stratospherically expensive) screen prints from Scalamandre.  And the cotton lawn fabric that Liberty prints on has the softest hand and drapes like silk charmeuse.  I know that Liberty is a favorite with quilters and crafters, but I'm thinking of using it for a light-as-a-feather blouse, skirt, or dress -- maybe in Spirit Song colors so I'll finally have something to wear to church!  :-). Wouldn't this fabric be luscious for a blouse like this one from the Danish pattern designer Personal Pattern?  

Blouse 4253 from Personal Pattern, available here

You might have noticed some yarn in that photo of my shopping treasures, too, even though I have never even considered learning to knit.  I picked two of the thinnest, most interesting variegated wool yarns because I couldn't stop petting and squeezing them like I was that crazy lady in the "Don't Squeeze the Charmin" commercial!  I'm planning to experiment with them in my bobbin with decorative machine stitches, and if that doesn't work, I'll play with them in my serger loopers, and if THAT doesn't work, well, I might have to sign up for a knitting class at Stash!

I have one final picture to share with you before I wrap up this post.  I have to show you what one of our pastors surprised me with after church yesterday.  He had seen my Facebook post about losing our dog Otto to cancer just before Christmas, and he painted this for us from one of my photos:

Painted by Drew Goodson, Associate Pastor at Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC
I was so overwhelmed.  I had no idea that Pastor Drew was gifted with artistic talent in addition to his gifts for ministry.  I so appreciate the outpouring of love and compassion from my blog readers as well.  Thank you all so very much.

Well, once again I've lost track of time while writing a "quick blog post" and I'm on the verge of being late for my sewing bee!  

Linking up today's post with:
·       Slow Sunday Stitching at  
·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework
·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·       Moving it Forward at Em's Scrap Bag
·       BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts  

Friday, January 3, 2020

Spirit Song Blocks Nearly Completed, Only 38 Blocks to Go

So, in the midst of my sadness over losing my dog to cancer, I have not yet loaded the Jingle quilt that I was planning to start quilting between Christmas and New Year's.  That is a challenge that requires more positive energy than I could muster right now.  Instead, I've been piecing more of those Birds In the Air blocks for my Spirit Song Dress Code quilt, which is a total tangent (squirrel) from the projects I'd intended to be working on and finishing right now, but it's cathartic.  I had intended to use these HST blocks as leaders and enders, but the bright colors and frustration-free simple construction are cheering me up.  I think to myself, "I'll just go up to the studio and sew for 15 minutes," and then two hours slips by without my noticing it.  Just what I need right now.  And so the collection of blocks on my design wall has grown to this:

Spirit Song On My Design Wall: Only Three More Rows to Go
To recap, this project is made up of traditional 4" Birds In the Air blocks and I designed the layout and scrappy color scheme in EQ8 quilt design software as an experiment.  


My objective was to design a simple quilt that could be made with my Accuquilt GO! dies, so each block is comprised of three 2" finished HSTs (Accuquilt die 55393) and one 4" finished HST (Accuquilt die 55031).  

50 x 66 Design Rendering Created in EQ8
I used the EQ8 design printout as a rough guide as I was choosing fabrics for this project, since the virtual fabrics loaded in my software are similar to but not identical to the actual, physical fabrics in my studio stash.  I ended up not using as much purple in the real quilt and my little blue triangles are true blues rather than teals as in the design rendering, but I still love how accurately the software tool helps me predict what a quilt will look like BEFORE I cut into any fabric.  EQ8 gives me super powers!

Yes, I spent some time fiddling around on the computer before I came up with this design that I liked enough to commit to making it, but I tried out lots of different color options and layouts before settling on this one.  Without the software, I would have been making the first idea that I came up with, the one that I did NOT like when I previewed the design in my software.  It takes so much time to cut, piece, and quilt a project from beginning to end.  Even without factoring in the cost of materials, the software is my most valuable quilting tool because it ensures I'll never again get 3/4 finished piecing a quilt top and realize that the color/value/scale aren't working the way I envisioned it in my mind.

Piecing WIPs on My Design Wall: Spirit Song and Beware the Ishmaelites Sampler
You can see the scale better in this photo for how much I've got done and the size of the finished quilt.  I know that the seam allowances between all of those 4" blocks are going to shrink this down dramatically.  If I feel like it's too small once the top is assembled, there are always borders, right?  The huge blocks off to the right are for an in-progress FPP (foundation paper piecing) project, my Beware of the Ishmaelites Queen sampler quilt for my younger son's bedroom.  The last quilt I made for him was for his Twin size "big boy bed" when he turned two, but now that he's 16 years old and 6' tall, he needs a bigger quilt for his BIGGER boy bed!  Hah!  I'll return to piecing that quilt after I finish the Spirit Song blocks and clear away the debris of pink/peach/coral fabrics that have taken over my cutting table.

To make the 50" x 66" throw size like my EQ8 rendering, I need two more blocks to complete those partial rows near the bottom plus three more rows of twelve blocks each, for a total of 38 more blocks.  I have already started chain piecing all of the remaining blocks so I should be able to finish them today.  Then I'll fine-tune my layout, borrowing my sons' and husband's eyeballs to help me check for balance and avoiding two patches of the same fabric placed adjacent to one another.  I don't know how I'll quilt it yet, though.  I think it would be a perfect candidate for a lovely computerized edge-to-edge design, but my longarm machine isn't computerized and it won't be computerized any time soon.  Wouldn't this one be perfect?  It's called "Dave's All That Jazz" and it's available from Urban Elementz here.

Dave's All That Jazz Digital/Paper E2E Quilting Design from Urban Elementz
Dare I attempt another paper pantograph on this one?  Dave's All That Jazz is available to order as a paper pantograph, but it's definitely not in the Beginner/Easy category.  My initial experiments with paper pantographs taught me that following the paper pattern with a laser light is not as easy as it looks!  Stay tuned...

OMG: One Monthly Goal(s)

It's a new year, and that makes it a great time to try something new with goal setting.  I'm going to set THREE goals each month, one for Piecing, one for Quilting, and one for Garment Sewing (something I'd like to do more of this year!).

  • JANUARY PIECING GOAL: Complete Spirit Song Dress Code Quilt Top
  • JANUARY QUILTING GOAL: Load Jingle BOM Christmas Quilt Top and Begin Custom Quilting
  • JANUARY GARMENT SEWING GOAL: Set up a dedicated garment sewing work station in my former guest room.  I don't have room in my quilt studio to be working on garments and long-term quilt projects simultaneously, so I'm thinking about setting up a separate cutting table, ironing board, serger and cover stitch machines in the spare bedroom along with the dress form.  That way everything is ready to go for quick mending, alterations, or whatever knit dress or top I might want to whip up...

I'm linking up today's post with:

·       Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  
·       Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
·       Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty
·       Finished Or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
·       UFO Busting at Tish in Wonderland
·       One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts

Thursday, January 2, 2020

One Less Bell to Answer, One Less Egg to Fry, One Less Dog to Pick Up After... Saying Goodbye to Otto

I've been putting this post off for awhile now, but I might as well get it over with.  This post has nothing to do with sewing or quilting and everything to do with why I haven't been sewing or quilting lately.  

The canine love of our lives was a joyful, ball-chasing, howling-and-singing companion full of energy.  He followed along behind Bernie every time he mowed the lawn, as if the two of them were patrolling the yard together.  He slept at the foot of my bed, and I swear his gentle snore was the best sleep machine noise ever.  Whenever I started singing anything, especially anything in a minor key or anything with "Alleluia" in it, he'd sit up, wag his tail, and howl along with me like a canine Andrea Bocelli belting out his favorite aria.   

Our Sweet Otto, Jan. 5 2011 - Dec. 20 2019
At nearly 9 years old, Otto was the absolute picture of health at the beginning of December, except for a troubling limp that was getting worse instead of getting better, despite restricting his activity and giving him anti-inflammatory meds.  We took him to the vet on the Tuesday before Christmas for X-rays and were totally blindsided by a diagnosis of advanced osteosarcoma, an aggressive and very painful bone cancer with close to 100% mortality because it tends to metastasize before it's even diagnosed.  Our choices were to either amputate his affected leg and put him through chemotherapy, which would eliminate the tumor pain but only give him another 4-5 months, or manage his pain with medication for as long as possible, likely 1-3 months.  

Otto and Lulu Snuggling With My Son, Lars (Otto in Foreground)
Even with that awful news, we expected to have a few months to pamper and love on him.  I was researching his bone cancer online, ordering him special orthopedic beds from Orvis so he'd be more comfortable and getting recommendations for veterinary oncologists.  But I didn't even get a chance to take him to a specialist -- his initial diagnosis was on Tuesday, and by Thursday afternoon he was absolutely leveled with pain that was beyond control, with vomiting and bloody diarrhea and so extremely ill that there was nothing we could do for him but let him go on Friday.  My sweet, loving dog who wanted nothing more than to be glued to our sides, constantly supervising us and snuggling with us, was at the point that he was hiding beneath the deck steps at 3 AM in 20 degree weather, unable to pick up his head.  He wouldn't come in the house, he wouldn't/couldn't come when called.  And when we brought him back to the vet on Friday he was so severely dehydrated, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, gums were pale and did not pink up when pressed, still having bright red bloody diarrhea, suffering so badly...  All of this happened only three days after receiving the bone cancer diagnosis, with a dog who had been full of playful puppy energy and joy up until that point.

Happy Boy Just a Few Months Ago, Visiting Lars at College

To say that it has been a sad couple of weeks for our family is such an understatement.  Even Otto's sister Lulu, our other Rottie, is grieving.  At first she seemed agitated after we took Otto away and didn't bring him home, and she would run to the door whenever someone came home like she was hoping they'd brought Otto with them.  Now she seems more depressed and anxious, even though we've been trying to give her lots of positive attention and distractions.  She won't play, she doesn't want to go outside except to go potty, and she's been licking at her forelegs a lot.  I got her some tasty chew bones for redirection and that's helping, but she's definitely affected as much as we are -- she and Otto were together since birth, she's never been an only dog before, and her personality is totally different now.

Lulu Snuggling with Lars's Feet on Christmas Morning
I just wanted to share some of my favorite Otto pictures and memories as a final goodbye to the best little choir dog and quilting supervisor ever:

My Sweet Baboo, Otto, Supervising Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt Construction
I loved it when Otto would hang out in my sewing room with me.  Such a cutie pie.

More Hanging Out With Mommy in the Studio
In the Studio With Me For the Last Time, The Day Before We Lost Him
Otto had three favorite humans on this planet: Me, my husband Bernie, and our oldest son Lars.  My younger son Anders and my mother were also in his "inner circle" of humans from whom love and kisses were tolerated.

Another Puppy Pic, Back When Bernie Could Still Scoop Him Up in His Arms

Snuggling With My Husband Bernie, In My Office.  Lulu on Left, Otto on Right
As ferociously as he could bark at would-be intruders and door-to-door salesmen, Otto was incredibly gentle and loving with family members.  He was such a snuggler!

Lars and Otto Had Such a Special Bond.
More Snuggling With Lars
On his last morning, once Bernie got Otto out from under the deck steps, he was able to get him into the garage where it was a little bit warmer, but he wouldn't come in the house and he was unwilling or unable to pick up his head, even when I started the car right next to him.    

When Otto Wouldn't Come In the House, Lars Came Out to the Garage
It's so strange not having Otto in my house anymore.  No howling when I sing.  No snoring in my bedroom.  No supervision in the quilting studio.  No furry friend appears in my kitchen, looking up at me with hopeful longing the instant I take out butter, chicken, or peanuts.  No one scratches the side of my desk chair impatiently to tell me "Enough computer -- time to throw my tennis ball!"  The worst is when I glance down at his favorite places where he used to lay and no one is there.

I Smell Butter.  Or Chicken.  Or Peanut Butter.
Raising this dog has been a wonderful experience that I would do again in a heartbeat, despite all of the challenges and inconveniences that come with owning a strong, powerful dog who is distrustful of strangers.  I wrote about my dogs the day we brought them home as 9-week-old puppies, I have shared their antics and adventures here over the years, and it seemed only fitting to give Otto a eulogy here on my blog.  

Selfie With Puppies On the Car Ride Home From the Breeder.  Otto on Left, Lulu on Right
Nine years was not nearly enough.  

No More Puppy Kisses For Me
Goodbye, my sweet Baboo!  We will never forget you.