The Octagon Nine Patch is ready to go to Colleen and I put the Stepping Stones blocks back on the design wall. The last time I talked about this was only in March, so not an eternity ago. There is a lot of work to do on this piece: more cutting for the border. I am tempted to sew the upper patches into blocks and then sew the upper blocks together. I can’t really fit the whole piece on my design wall and that seems like a good solution. I am afraid I will end up with some blocks with all the same fabrics next to each other, however. I know it will look a lot better sewn together. It looks a lot more defined in the photo than it does in person.
I can’t decide if I am determined to get this done this time or not. I started this in about December of 2014, so it has been hanging around awhile. I should get it pieced and off to the quilter. I am not quite feeling the love. What a shame.
I have been cutting a lot of fabrics for this quilt. As a result, I was reminded of why I like Hunting and Gathering. I have not hunted or gathered fabrics for this project, so I have to cut fabric in order to finish. If I had done some Hunting and Gathering, I would have all of the cutting completed and be on to piecing. I don’t really like cutting a lot all at once. For a scrappy quilt, there is a lot of cutting.
Fortunately, I just got to it, listened to a book and cut away. Since the beast is so big, i can only really work on two sides at a time. In the photo, right, I am working on the top and the right hand side. While only working on two sides, I am still cutting for the left and bottom. Compared to the photo I showed you last week, you can see that this piece is progressing well. You can also see the design coming together.
I finally cut enough fabric so that I could put a couple of blocks together. I just had to do it. I felt like I was making no progress, even though I could see that I was cutting. So, I made the blocks. What a relief. Now I feel like I am making progress. It is just tedious to keep cutting, cutting, cutting all the time.
The block with the green and blue HSTs is one of the corner blocks. With the red 4 patch, you can see how the border integrates into the quilt design as a whole.
As mentioned I was able to piece two blocks. You can see the red four patches and the rest of the blocks in more detail above. While there are some duplicates, most of the border blocks are made especially for one location in the quilt. I designed the border this way, so the center motif would be finished and not cut off along the edges.
After FOTY 2016, I put the Stepping Stones n.2 on the wall. I thought of doing the Blue Gradation quilt, but I needed something relatively easy.
HA! I chose wrong. This quilt isn’t difficult and all the center blocks are finished. I need to make all the border blocks and in the design of the border, I am using the self bordering technique. This means that the border is made from blocks that, when viewed together, form a border.
I had completely designed the border, which was good and just needed to make it. I found that I had no green patches, no blue 4.5″ patches and no HSTs. Basically I had to made the whole border from scratch – cutting everything, making the blocks and finally sewing.
No problem, right?
Well, it was a little bit of a problem, because the quilt is too big for my design wall. Sigh. I have to make part of the quilt and then move the quilt over and make the rest. It is a strategy, but not an ideal strategy.
I have about two complete border blocks done, mostly because I needed to see some progress. The style of the quilt requires a lot of different fabrics, so a lot of cutting.
I spent some time over the weekend working on the Stepping Stones. I am ready to just piece without thinking. It never seems to work out, though. I always have to do some deciding or planning or math.
This past weekend required all three. As you might remember from my last update, I had some HSTs to make and was putting it off. I finally made them when I needed some easy piecing. I made a bunch so I would have some choice when I made a few more blocks to complete the top. After I made the HSTs and completed the leftover partial block, the question of the border came to mind.
I sat down to look at the EQ plan I had and found that I hadn’t completed it. I wasn’t 100% happy with the border I designed for the original Stepping Stones quilt. It is in no way terrible, but I wanted to finish off the groups of squares (red 4 patches set in groups of four, above).
I played around with EQ and came up with a new design. I am not sure it is the final for a couple of reasons:
I don’t know that the groups of red 4 patches in the corners add anything
I am not sure about the blue/green HSTs in the very corner. They add a little something, like breaking up a series of squares, but they don’t have any reference anywhere else in the quilt.
I am absolutely sure that I am happy with the red points that go into the border to finish off the scrappy lines of red that are made of HSTs throughout the quilt.
I want to get the border settled so I can start putting the whole top together via chunking. For chunking, I need to start in one of the corners.
Even though I am planning to work on the Peacock, I am still going to show you the projects I revisted and tell you my thoughts about them.
The Stepping Stones was the first project to go up once the Food Quilt #3 was off the design wall. My other design wall where the blocks have been staring at me for weeks is just not big enough to get a good view of all of the blocks. I really thought I would work on this project next, but the Peacock called to me when I put it up.
This project needs more blocks. I think adding five more blocks along the bottom will be enough. It is a good leaders and enders project, so I will sew the new blocks while I work on the Peacock. After that, the center will be large enough. I want to finish off the secondary designs, which means adding a similar border to the one I designed for my previous Stepping Stones quilt.
As I have said many times, the photos in the book aren’t that good, so it is hard to figure out what part of the design should be emphasized. The edging blocks on the previous Stepping Stones were all different from the center blocks.
In my first version, the “ladders” are much more prominent. In the blue/aqua version, the stars seem to stand out. My colors on this version are a lot more distinctive. My first version was less murky than the book, but more so than this blue/aqua combination.
Here is a comparison of the two quilts/tops:
Looking at the two of them side by side makes me think that I may have already done enough to the sides and can start on the border blocks for the two sides and the top.
As I said the other day in the latest donation blocks post, laying out FOTY 2015 doesn’t make for a lot of tangible production. While I enjoyed making the donation blocks, I did need a little variety and the Stepping Stones parts were handy.
I enjoy these blocks and seeing the way they will be laid out makes me very happy. Turning each on a little bit makes a huge difference.
Even though I may need the squares for the layout of the Carpenter’s Wheel blocks, I have used some of the low volume prints for the white space in these blocks. I have plenty of fabric for the [mythical] Carpenter’s Wheel layout and can always cut more.
Making a few blocks always leads to making more and the six shown give an idea of what the quilt will look like and makes me want to make more.
Based on the layout I devised for my nephew’s Stepping Stones quilt, it looks like I will only need two more blocks and then border blocks for the width. I thought I measured 8 blocks across my bed, which doesn’t account for border blocks. I want to make the border blocks to finish the design. There are two blocks around the whole edge of the previous SS quilt and I could eliminate those if I thought the width was too big. Measuring next, I think.
I am really pleased with how the blocks look. Now to get FOTY 2015 off the wall so I can layout all the blocks I have and see what I am facing. After months of feeling meh about quiltmaking, I am finally excited about several projects! Yay!
Using leaders and enders I made a few more Stepping Stones blocks. They are looking really awesome, I think. I love the way the red and blue really create distinct secondary designs. This was a little hard to see in my previous quilt. From far away the previous quilt looks great, but close up you can’t see the pattern as well as you can in this turquoise and red version.
I have added a few new fabrics to the mix for this quilt. My original idea of using all Bonnie and Camille fabrics is pretty much out the window. They were a good starting place, but much too limiting. With all the fabrics I have added, I still don’t think there are enough. I get annoyed when I see two fabrics together. I am starting to see the appeal of charm quilts.
The picture to the right is the new blocks with a few of the old ones to show you the effect of the whole design.
I thought it had been an eternity since I wrote about this project, but it turns out it has only been about 10 days. June has flown by at mach 10 so I can’t really keep track. Since that last post, I have made at least one more block.
I am liking the blocks better, especially since I am able to see them all on the design wall together. They look ok separately, but the secondary design really explodes into wonderfulness when I put them all together.
I have about 7 blocks now and the urgency of laying them on the bed to see how many more blocks I need to make is becoming more urgent. Why I can’t grab the blocks and walk downstairs with them is a mystery.
The group of 6 blocks together looks really nice. (6 makes for a more even picture than 7.) I am glad I was strict with myself on the colors, because I think it is looking good. There is a rogue red patch, which I don’t understand, but I probably will just leave it.
As usual, despite the wide variety of fabrics, I still feel like I don’t have enough to make the piece look scrappy enough. I probably need to get over myself.
I plan to be a little more precise as I make the blocks so I don’t end up with a weird shaped quilt. Sometime I’ll drag the already completed blocks downstairs and lay them out on the bed so see where I am. I haven’t done that yet, though. 8 blocks does not a quilt make, but they are large blocks and we have a small bed, so I don’t imagine I will have very many more center blocks to make.
I made these two top blocks as leaders and enders when I was working on the borders of the Food Quilt #2. The bottom one is, as you can clearly see, still in progress. I do take my time picking out the fabrics to include.
Even though I had cut about 1,000 pieces of fabric for this project, I was about to abandon this project. I wasn’t happy with my first efforts in the new colors. I determined I would make 4 blocks and then decide on whether or not to proceed. I am glad that was my strategy because now I like the piece.
Part of why I like it is that I see a Sawtooth Star emerging. If you cover up the center and right side with your hand and just look at the right side you will see the legs of a Sawtooth Star emerging – the part that is normally formed by Flying Geese. That secondary pattern adds a design element I did not anticipate and do not see very well when I look back at the first Stepping Stones quilt.
There is better contrast, I think, in this version, though the red 4 Patches coming together in the center are a very strong design element. Looking at the previous version, I know I will have to pay attention to the border so that the Sawtooth Stars, if I want to keep them, will not be cut off. I think that means a different border.
As an aside, I fell down the Pinterest rabbit hole and saw this same pattern done in Denise Schmidt fabrics on the 3and3quarters.net blog. I was really interested in her fabric choices. I think her version looks so great! It makes me wonder anew why the Lintott girls chose the colors they did. I really dislike the examples in their book.
I have been a little on the cranky side lately – not cranky exactly, but a bit out of sorts. I am not sure why, so I blame work.
I have really wanted to sew and haven’t been able to settle on anything that demanded I get myself to the workroom and work on the project. As a result, I thought it would be a good idea to work on a project that would really be exciting to me. I like my other projects, but don’t want them to be #1 right at the moment. I know this means starting something new and not finishing things. TFQ reminded me that sewing/quiltmakingshould be fun and not something I should do. I am taking my advice and her advice.
I dug around and pulled out two Lintott books and the two Kim Bracket books I have. I perused them to see what interested me, but was still enamoured with the Stepping Stones pattern in Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls and Charm Quilts, pg. 72-79. I have been wanting to do this in the Bonnie and Camille fabrics (remember the test?), but wasn’t really happy with the background choices. The B&C greys are a bit depressing. I think they have some taupe or brown undertones I eschew. Bottomline: they didn’t really give me the look I wanted. I bought a solid during a binge of end of the year fabric therapy with the intention of using it as a base for the background. I still want it to be scrappy, but I should be able to use it to compare other possibilities.
One PITA is that there is a lot of cutting that has to go on before very much sewing can happen. The other PITA, which I am sure I mentioned as I worked on the first Stepping Stones quilt, is that the pattern doesn’t say that I should use light medium or dark to get the overall pattern. It actually uses the colors they used, which isn’t very helpful if the maker is using different colors. To make matters worse, the photo in the book is pretty bad and I am shocked that a great publisher like David and Charles would allow such a photo to be used in one of their books.
As I worked through those problems, I realized that I really wanted to push fabric through the machine. But I didn’t want to just sew mosaic piecing; I wanted to sew with a purpose. I wanted to sew something that would make me happy. Two goals a bit at odds with each other.
I started in anyway thinking I could always stop all the thinking I had to do to get the Stepping Stones to a stage where I could just piece. I pulled out my bin of Bonnie and Camille fabrics and started pressing and cutting and placing and looking.
An odd thing happened. I gradually moved from all Bonnie and Camille fabrics to some Bonnie and Camille fabrics and other more turquoise, scarlet and pinky red fabrics. I like the Bonnie and Camille fabrics, but the overall effect of them, for me, was not cheerful enough. They have a vintage look, which I like, but somehow the feel was too calico and not quirky enough. I think of vintage quilts (as opposed to vintage fabrics) as a bit quirky and ones I like do not have the feel of small calico prints.
I really like dark pinky reds and bright turquoises. The Bonnie and Camille fabrics have softer turquoises, tending towards light blue and a lot of orangey reds.
It is interesting how pieces evolve. I am also happy that I was able to give myself permission to use more than just the Bonnie and Camille fabrics. I know that sounds odd, but stuck in my mind was a quilt with Bonnie and Camille fabrics. Moving beyond the idea of a quilt from a whole line (or series of lines) of just Bonnie and Camille fabrics required a major brain shift. I am glad, because I am able to use some non-B&C fabrics that I really like while keeping some of the Bonnie and Camille fabrics that fit in with my new vision.
I finished the Stepping Stones on Thursday night. I was able to take a photo in front of the house when I had a spare young man to help hold the quilt.
I like the way this quilt came out and after I show it off at the guild, I will send it off to one of the nephews.
In general, I am pleased with it. I think it does look better close up. Of course, the quilting is fantastic. Looking at from this distance makes me see how the colors could be done differently.
Sandy, of Quilting…for the Rest of Us, in episode 116 and 117 spoke about the differences between the way Bonnie Hunter and Kimberly Einmo explained how to choose fabrics for their mystery quilt projects. It made me thinking about the pattern for this quilt and I think the same principles apply. The authors of the book assume you are going to use the same fabrics they used, though I think they do mention that you can use any fabrics in passing. They don’t say where you need contrast and where you need some parts emphasized. From looking at this picture, I see how I should have extended the points of the diamonds into the border (the border was my own design) and how some of the reds have too much white in them. I think the book would have more shelf life if more attention was given to the fabrics. Kind of a shame, really.
I do want to make the pattern again so I can try to do better. You know I have been working on sample blocks using various Bonnie and Camille lines. The biggest thing I realized is that I need contrast – a lot of contrast – between the background and the foreground.
I didn’t just take a bunch of quilts to be quilted on Monday a week ago I also got the Stepping Stones quilt back from my quilter. I am sort of diligently working on the binding.
This quilt was so big. The boys insisted that I had to take the photo from the top of the stairs. I don’t know, but I didn’t want to fight with them about a photo. I’ll have to figure out another way to take the photo full on with no banister in the way.
I finally made the second block for the Stepping Stones test (note: when I say it is a test that means it cannot, yet, be a project). I introduced this project test in a previous post.
I finally finished the second block and it helps me see the pattern starting to emerge. It is very clear to me that the flower print with the grey background is not going to work. It muddies the line between background and the big red blob of squares that will end up center the diamond formed by the half square triangles. I like that print, but I’d like the lines to be a bit clearer than the previous Stepping Stones quilt.
I have to be clear with myself that the pattern truly emerges when the whole quilt can be seen. a few blocks just doesn’t do the thing justice.
I am really not starting this quilt, but it is firmly in the hunting and gathering stage. I have wanted to do another Stepping Stones quilts since I made the first one now that I know the color placement.
I thought this would be a good quilt design on which to use the various Bonnie & Camille lines I have (Bliss, Ruby, some Vintage Modern).
The idea has been on my mind and this week, I just got a bug in my ear to try out the colors. Not sure I like the great. It is kind of dark. I like the tone of the grey in the middle patch on the right, but I am not sure about the other greys. I have another block underway and will see when I put the two blocks together.