Sunday, May 28, 2023

Halo Progress, Welcome Home Kit NewFO, and A Creative Tangent with the PhotoSketcher App

Hey there, quilty peeps!  Hope you are enjoying a wonderful Memorial Day weekend if you're in the United States, and I hope the weather is nicer where you are than it is in Charlotte, North Carolina right now.  Rain, rain, and more rain!  Good thing I have a bright and cheerful project on my design wall since the view outside my window is so drab and dreary.  

Halo Blocks Still In Progress

This is a Jen Kingwell pattern that is suitable for either hand or machine piecing.  The pattern is found in Kingwell's Jenny From One Block pattern booklet and you can find that on Amazon here (this post contains affiliate links).  

I'm fascinated by the way Kingwell organizes her seemingly random scrappy compositions so studying the way she alternates between "organized chaos" vs careful control within the same quilt is my primary fascination with this project.  The curved piecing challenge is just the icing on the cake.  In Kingwell's version of this quilt, most blocks are totally scrappy except for three blocks that are created with all one fabric for the backgrounds, all one fabric for the rings, and all one fabric for the triangles surrounding the center square.  Whereas the circles at the block intersections predominate throughout most of her quilt, those three blocks that have planned matching fabrics pop out as squares that help your eye travel across the surface of the quilt.  Here's one of my blocks that I'm hoping will function that way in my version of Halo:

One of My Favorite Recently Finished Halo Blocks

The dark pink arcs were cut from one of the Tilda fabrics in the fat eighth precut pack that started me off on this tangent.  The rest of the fabrics in this block are treasures from my stash.

Similar to the way Kingwell strategically placed three planned/matchy blocks throughout her quilt to create visual rhythm, she also planned three places in her quilt where four block corners come together to create a complete circle where each block uses the same fabric for the quarter circle patch and the same fabric for the arc.  That makes those three circles pop out in a way that directs the viewer through the quilt.  Here's one of mine that I've planned that way:

Yes, I Meant to Do That!

These block corners that meet up to form matching circles are going to be trickier to plan.  The layout of my blocks on the design wall is constantly evolving as blocks are finished, but the matching corners thing locks four blocks together that can't be moved apart without wrecking my circle.  I think I need to make my corner units (quarter circles sewn to arcs) for the other two or three matching circles, and then wait to sew them to blocks until I have a firmer idea of how the blocks will be arranged when I sew them together into a quilt top.

And then THIS happened:

I Had Absolutely No Business Buying This Quilt Kit

In my defense, I was left unsupervised in a gorgeous craft store...  

Welcome to Stash Charlotte!

I blame my friend Kathy for telling me that Stash Charlotte is her favorite place to shop for quilting fabric.  If you're local to the area, you should definitely check them out.  They're in the Park Towne Village shopping center (with Total Wine, QDoba, etc) on the upper level and they are only open Thursdays through Sundays, 11 AM to 4 PM.  What do they have?  Tons of luscious wool yarn and high quality supplies for knitters and crocheters, Janome sewing machines, and a moderate assortment of cotton fabrics with a modern vintage aesthetic.  They have all of the top Moda Bella Solids colors, Tilda prints, and LIBERTY OF LONDON(!!!!) by the bolt.  (Did I mention they stock LIBERTY OF LONDON?!!😍  I'll be back for that next time...)

Anyway.  I went there to get my little sister some crochet yarn for her birthday and "just to peek" at what all fabrics had gotten Kathy so excited, and I walked out with the Anna Maria Horner Welcome Home Quilt kit that they had hanging to such spectacular effect right where I would see it when I walked into their shop.  (If you want to make this quilt with me and your local quilt shop doesn't carry it, I found some of these kits from Etsy sellers here and a few of them are even on sale).  There are also a series of videos for making the Welcome Home quilt on Free Spirit Fabric's web site here.

Okay, why did I buy this kit when I have SO MANY other projects that are all in the early stages (and too many are still in the bought-fabric-but-haven't-started-yet stage)?  I really love fabric designer Anna Maria's botanical prints and this quilt had caught my eye when it popped up on social media last year during the quilt-along, but when I saw that unfinished quilt top floating in the air at Stash I was just DYING TO QUILT IT!  I briefly considered offering/begging the shop owner to let me quilt their sample for them, but then I walked around to the back of the display and was struck by what a simple quilt it is, really.  It looks a lot more complex than it is, but there are really just eight giant log cabin blocks to piece, fussy-cutting of the lush floral and border prints, and very few seams.  The scallop borders (pink around the center block and light blue on the inner side borders) are fussy cut and appliquéd but really, compared to the other projects I'm engulfed with, this should be a piece of cake.  Since this is last year's kit, the shop was in the process of disassembling their remaining kits to sell off the fabrics individually and I got the last intact kit.  I won't be starting Welcome Home until after my Halo quilt is finished, but it should come together fairly quickly and then I can play with custom quilting it.  

Other Creative Tangents: PhotoSketcher App for Mac

I would love to tell you that I drew this sketch of my husband and my two sons -- like, actually drew it with a pencil or charcoal or whatever.  I wish I could draw like this!  Nope.  It's computer-generated from a photograph, using an app called PhotoSketcher that I just started playing with after downloading it to my Mac yesterday.  (This app works with Apple desktop and laptop computers only, not with iPhone or with iPad).  I'm excited about what I might do with this!  Spoiler alert: I'm thinking of printing the images on fabric to use in some kind of mixed-media collage quilt.  You know, when I finish all the other projects I've started recently...

Bernie, Anders and Lars, December 2022

Even though I didn't draw that picture, I can still claim a little bit of artistic responsibility for it.  The drawing was generated from a candid photograph that I furtively snapped with my phone while we were waiting for a table at a restaurant last December.  I take sneaky pictures like this of my family members all the time, and although they strongly prefer posed photographs of themselves smiling, I like to catch them lost in thought, unaware that they're being observed.  We all look more like ourselves when we aren't smiling for the camera, I think. If you take a few thousand photos of someone, eventually you get a really good one!

Here's the original photo:

Original Photo.  Not As Compelling!

One thing I noticed in playing with this app is that my favorite photos are not usually the ones that turn out to be my favorite "drawings."  Other photos that are crisper and more detailed converted into more obviously computer generated images.

So anyway, things I liked about this photograph other than the three handsome subjects themselves: I like the composition, as in the way they happened to arrange themselves when they sat down on that bench.  I like that they are all three so deep in thought, that I can see everyone's faces and hands clearly, and that none of them are looking at their phones.  My subjects' expressions of worry, sadness, and cautious optimism (in Lars's case) are intriguing and invite the viewer to speculate about what might be on their minds.  Spoiler alert: they are thinking Deep Thoughts like "Will we EVER get a table?"  "What if the kitchen runs out of food or the restaurant closes before the hostess calls our name?"  And Lars is thinking, "Maybe someone will take pity on us and let us order food from the vestibule?"  This photo was taken on a Friday night over Winter Break when all of the college kids were home on break and it seemed like EVERYONE in our town had decided to go out to dinner.  

Now, what will I do with this?  I will experiment on fabric, of course!  I uploaded my PhotoSketch "drawing" to Spoonflower and I'm having them print it on a fat quarter (18" x 22" for the nonquilters out there) of cotton fabric.  Looking forward to seeing what that looks like, and will think about whether I could use it in some kind of art collage wall quilt piece -- either using it as is, or adding some color with the Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils that have been on my Amazon Wish List for three years...  Hint Hint, Husband!!  Nudge Nudge!!  ðŸ˜‰ I saw these pencils on someone else's blog a long time ago (was it you, Pam, or maybe LeeAnna?).  Inktense isn't like ordinary colored pencils or ordinary watercolors because they are made with permanent ink pigments that activate with water and add intense, vivid color to fabric, and they are permanent when dry without needing to use any chemicals or fixatives of any kind.  I originally put them on my wish list thinking I would use them to add shading and detail to my appliqué, but they would be REALLY COOL for this PhotoSketch-to-Fabric experiment, too.  After coloring the fabric, I could also add some hand embroidery embellishment or appliqué details...  Stay tuned!

So much for the "short and sweet" blog post I was planning to write today...  Thanks for hanging in there to the end!  I'm linking up today's post with my favorite linky parties below.  Happy quilting!


Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


Bonnie said...

Hum -- I have a Mac laptop... I might have to look at PhotoSketcher. Your store sounds wonderful but yikes those shortened hours might make it hard to get to for some people. Have fun with your new pattern. said...

Great progress on your Halo quilt. I wondered how you were going to plan the corners. I like your plan. What a fun kit/new project. It's good to have a simple project to alternate between a project that takes much more decision making. I loved the app's rendition of your family photo. Looking forward to seeing where the photo will take you.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

I love how Halo is coming along, and all the thoughts behind your decisions. It's going to be a gorgeous quilt.
Love this family photo too, and I can't wait to see what you will do with it! A fabric collage sounds pretty fun.
Thank you for sharing your process and tips, and linking up

The Joyful Quilter said...

Halo is looking lovely, Rebecca, and that computer generated drawing from your candid photo is amazing! Did I read that right? You sent it to Spoonflower, but I thought I heard they were closing. Color me confused!

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

love the photo and before you said where it was taken at I thought maybe y'all had been out when you wanted to stop and check out that fabric store and they were all waiting for you - thinking "how much longer is this woman going to be looking at fabric - surely there isn't that much interesting things to look at in there". Or you are like me trying to do that when by myself when I have all the time in the world!!
the quilt is looking great.

Sandy said...

It looks like your Halo quilt is coming along so nicely! That PhotoSketcher app looks interesting .... :)

Judy Hansen said...

Your halo quilt is beautiful - love the fabrics. I looks like fun to plan little surprises like the complete circle within the quilt design. And your photo sketch app is amazing. Looking forward to seeing what you do with your fat quarter “sketch” of your family. Thanks for blogging, it’s always a pleasure to read your blog. Hugs, Judy

LA Paylor said...

I've used inktense a fair amount, and you can blend them in with water or textile medium. Water in my experience makes them more intense but also really moves on fabric. You can also use prismacolor pencil to color in photos like this. I have loved them for years and they are my go to for shading and coloring. Like most applications it's best to press them to set color so it won't crock off in handling.
with spoon flower you could color your app drawing before sending it to them too, then high light again on the fabric item

Pat at Bell Creek Quilts said...

Your Halo quilt is so bright and cheery! I love it and the fun surprises you have sewn into it! Looks like a great place to shop and an awesome kit to sew up!!

Rebecca Grace said...

From the Spoonflower Facebook page announcement dated May 10, 2023:

"A Note to Our Community:
This is a hard announcement for us to share. Spoonflower is closing our Durham manufacturing facility this summer, and we will be saying goodbye to many talented coworkers and friends. These folks helped make Spoonflower what it is today, and we are deeply grateful for all their contributions. This decision was purely made to scale up and expedite processing and shipping by combining forces with the larger manufacturing facilities available in Tempe, Arizona and Fort Mill, South Carolina through our parent company, Shutterfly. Spoonflower began producing and shipping wallpaper and fabric orders from these factories in August 2021; as of August 2023, all Spoonflower orders will be fulfilled from these locations.
As we continue to grow for the future, our focus is always on artists, makers and customers like you: We are here to support your endless creativity. Shutterfly’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities enable us to get your orders to you faster. Every order supports an independent artist. That has not changed and will not change.
Additionally, Durham, North Carolina will continue to be a part of Spoonflower’s story as our home office. It’s an honor to be a part of this community.
Finally, this would be the part when we say, “the future will be bright,” but we’re also feeling sad that this change is painful for so many people we care about. So today, we’re holding space for both of those feelings. 🧡
It’s important to note that while we will be saying goodbye to our Durham factory, we’re also saying hello to so many new faces in Fort Mill, South Carolina and Tempe, Arizona, who will proudly be manufacturing Spoonflower products going forward. We look forward to introducing you to these wonderful folks as we continue to write the Spoonflower story together.
In gratitude,
The Spoonflower Team"

SewingAdventures said...

I love the kit- in fact I had to find it online and buy it. I also have no business getting any more kits. I have so many and no time to make them.
Also love the Halo quilt progress-- I had never thought about having "calm" spots in a scrappy quilt.
Thanks for sharing all your work and talent. You inspire me with every post.
Lu Ann

Sara said...

Lots of fun on the horizon. And yes - I can't be left unsupervised in any craft or quilting store either.

Chopin - A Passionate Quilter said...

The more I see the Circle quilt I am sooooo tempted! Yours is looking great! Hugs

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

Beautiful blocks, and progress on your Halo quilt!!!! I look forward to your AH quilt in the future!!!

Linda @ kokaquilts said...

Loving your halo blocks! And those carefully planned bits are a lovely feature!

Ramona said...

Your Halo quilt continues to be gorgeous! By the looks of the blocks, you have the perfect stash to make this one. Your new kit is a beauty, too. I'm trying not to be swayed by your post! :)

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

Love how thoughtful your process is. So fascinating to read about. Thanks for sharing on my weekly show and tell, Wednesday Wait Loss.

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Bwahh haha - you were left unsupervised!!!! That is the best!!
Love your Jen Kingwell quilt - those circles look complicated - but the way you are setting it up is gorgeous!!!!

Karin said...

Oh, the mind goes into overdrive with that drawing of the photo. Such an interesting shot. Would be so interesting to commit that to fabric.