Monday, July 30, 2018

Building Blocks: Quilting Modern Quilts Blog Series

This is the 3rd of 6 quilts that I'm sharing as part of a series this summer, which explores ways to quilt modern, more minimalistic quilts (than what I usually make). To read a detailed introduction to the blog series, click here. Quilts featured so far: Electrify, Intersection. Read to the end for a giveaway!

This quilt has a long history of several years inside my graph paper sketchbook, just waiting for its chance to come to life. Here was my chance.


"Building Blocks" is a conglomeration of rectangles and squares, sewn together to showcase color and movement. This quilt doesn't have a grid -  a process I genuinely enjoy. Whenever I make a quilt like this (for example, Metropolis), cutting into it and piecing the design in (no applique) is always less tricky than it first seems. In fact, the quilt top came together in just a few quick hours! I really couldn't believe it!

Wish I had dated some of my sketchbook drawings... the historian in me just shook her head. This might be from as far back as 2012.

I specifically chose RJR Cotton Supreme Solids for this quilt, as they have quite possibly the most comprehensive, bright solid selections out there. I had used RJR solids for my "Burst" quilt last year as part of the "What Shade Are You?" blog hop, so I was already sold on their selection. This quilt is wonderful in cool colors; I'd love to make it with warm ones.





I was able to pick out very specific shades of fabric that matched with my vision: Argento for the background, Violet, Jacaranda, and Wisteria for purples, Silver Screen for binding, Kelly Green, Lucky Green, Sour Apple, Wimbledon, and Neon for greens, Robin's Egg and Iceberg for turquoise, and Electric Blue, Lake, Riviera, and Poolside for blues.


Quilting the middle went off without a hitch; it was especially enjoyable due to the constant changing of motifs (if it's boring, why do it?). So many opportunities for pretty filler designs. Every small square (1 in each of the 4 colors) received the echo treatment (see the lime green above).

 This quilt gave me the opportunity to use LOTS of different thread colors, including Aurifil 2600 (Dove Gray), 1320 (Medium Teal), 2735 (Medium Blue), 2870 (Green), 4225 (Eggplant), 5017 (Shining Green), and 1243 (Dusty Lavender).

I was especially excited about quilting my cascading motifs, like in the royal blue fabric above. I think they add a lot of movement, and there are so many options. Adding curves and circles where there are tons of angles always makes a quilt shine. Also, look how this rainbow-y cascade shows up on the back (this pretty purple fabric is called Jacaranda)! I love it so.


Unfortunately, the background of this quilt  (pebbles and wavy lines) has been the subject of a LOT of seam ripping. I am not one to sugarcoat the struggles of quilting something! :)  I wanted the outside/background of the quilt to be quilted densely and somewhat small so as to keep the attention on the colorful shapes. At different times throughout the process, my tension really went off, and I neglected to take out those sections until I was done. It could have been a bit of drag on this quilt (it's not particularly big) or perhaps my speed... sometimes it's hard to say what really set it off. I usually don't let a few spots of loose tension here or there bother me, even if the quilt is meant to be in a quilt show.


However, too late, I realized that it was much more serious. I spent a couple hours ripping out free motion quilting (which is THE WORST to seam rip, ask any quilter!), and quilted those sections again. I'll be honest - it somewhat ruined my relationship with this quilt. I still love the colors and the design, but every time I think about the quilting, I just get annoyed (it still needs more work, but it's done for now).


Overall, though, I try to take things with a positive spin. This quilt taught me about patience. It taught me how to quickly (as possible) rip a lot of pebbles out (which is not quick!). It also taught me that the second time around quilting may still not meet my perfection standards for whatever reason (which, honestly, are pretty low - it's not that I don't care but that's not where I typically focus my crafty energy) - and that's just quite alright. I'd like to give this quilt away or donate it someplace where they will hang it on a wall, or use it as a lap quilt, and never really look closely at the tension on the back.

It's just fabric and thread. I got to make one of my longtime planned designs. So, honestly, I'm happy. But I think in social media and quilt guild worlds, we don't always talk about the struggles. So here's my post about struggling.

Thank you to RJR Fabrics for sponsoring the fabric, The Warm Company for Warm and Natural batting, and Aurifil Thread for the threads. All opinions about materials are my own, honest ones.

Please note: some people have emailed me about releasing patterns of the quilts. While I'm flattered, sharing the measurements and methods are no longer in my plans, as I explained in the introduction post. If you derive a quilt from my design and share it publicly, I would greatly appreciate a link to my website and a caption noting that you were inspired by this design. This also goes for quilt shows. Thank you!


-----------------------------------------
Giveaway 

Today's giveaway is an assortment of large scraps of RJR Cotton Supreme Solids, from the blue and green sections of my quilt.



Giveaway details: Runs from July 30 until August 7 at 12 am EST. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter  - this helps me when tallying votes. Once you comment on the blog, please be advised that it will not appear right away (I have to approve comments due to insane amounts of spam). You can still comment and not be entered in the giveaway if you so desire (just don't click anything in the Rafflecopter). If you won a previous giveaway from this blog series, you cannot win again.

If you have ANY trouble, please email me and I will post the comment for you! Blogger has been really difficult lately.

I will not be responding directly to all blog comments at this time due to volume and issues with Blogger (unfortunately). Sorry, U.S. entrants only, please. I will email the winner and if there is no response within 2 days or winner is not located in the U.S., I will randomly choose another winner. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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36 comments:

  1. I love the design of this quilt and that you had it for such a long time, but finally got to it. You did a lot of fun quilting on it too!

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  2. You might have struggled on quilting this one, but it's great! I have one that has been intimidating me for about a year now. Lots of negative space. It's patiently waiting it's turn, but I have to feel ready for it. So I guess, it's teaching me that it's okay to wait until you feel up for it. I suspect it will be soon - well, as soon as I piece the back.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your difficulties with quilting this one Jess. I quilted an entire quilt before noticing the tension wasn't great on the back. Lesson learned check out the back. It was a donation quilt so I didn't worry about it much. This is a really beautiful quilt.

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  5. Ripping out pebbles is the worst, so thanks for being honest and sharing the struggles behind this quilt. I can also overlook some tension issues and have really been frustrated to realize that I've done a lot of quilting with really bad tension before. Thankfully when tension is bad it can help speed the ripping process... a bit. I love the design and spotted the echo quilting straight away!

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  6. My very worst quilting struggle was quilting a t-shirt quilt. It was so heavy and so big!

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  7. I appreciate you sharing your struggles with this quilt. Those of us who admire both your artistic expression and your quilting skills gain some solace knowing that you share the same challenges when sitting at the machine. (Why is that? What would make me think that even the most creatively gifted people are not human? Silly, silly me...)

    I've been challenged many times, but one I remember quite clearly was when I felt very proud of how well my machine quilting had gone until I turned the quilt over and saw that the backing had flipped over and I had caught the edge of the back side of the backing again while I was quilting away. Figuring out how to fix that taught me things I needed to know, though.

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  8. Thanks for sharing this cool quilt as well as what you learned when things don't go as planned. I've not tried pebbles except on practice squares, but I can well imagine it was not fun to rip those out. Patience, for sure! Still, I really like the quilt!

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  9. Thanks for sharing the struggles - you are so right that people don't discuss that publicly. We all deal with it, so why not share!

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  10. Building Blocks is beautiful. I want to make one! Thank you for the chance at the giveaway. The quilting that has given me the most problems was [is] probably handling and guiding the quilt under the machine.

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  11. A quilt that had tons of y seams and I had never ever done y Sean’s before as a new quilter was what taught me patience. I had zipped through a couple simple quilts and thought,EASY! Then the dreaded y seams taught me there was so much more to learn and I needed to slooow down.

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  12. I love that you shared the journey of this quilt, from doodle to a 3D quilt. As a new quilter I struggled with the handskills of quilting and applique. Color continues to be a challenge and I stand in awe of the folks that can take a flat piece of patchwork and make it 3D.

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  13. My foray into free motion quilting has taught me patience and also that perfection is not necessary in order to enjoy the finished project! maryc76904 at yahoo dot com

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  14. When I told my best friend years ago that I was going to make one quilt , she laughed in my face and asked how I was going to do that when I had no patience for anything. I'd have to say that quilting overall has taught me patience and to take my time and figure things out.

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  15. It looks great from here! I especially like the contrast of the straight lines, almost a log cabin feel in the turquoise square, to curvy textures.

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  16. You are right, Ripping is the worst and sometimes I wonder how I have the patience, but then fingers I’m thinking about after I rip,requilt, how fun it will be to see the on done and move on to the next exciting project!

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  17. i'm now working on quilting a quilt top that i actually pieced about a year and a half ago, at the time, i just didn't think i could do it [ i was probably right!]. so when i decided to try and rein in my lets go engine, make another and another and another, i picked this top to quilt. and then i decided to go beyond my actual skill set, and try and "custom" quilt it with all kinds of ideas i've seen over the past while. what can i say, i'ts definitely teaching me patience, as well as provided alot of joy in the process, not only the finished product. not for all the time, but for now, it has been a great choice.

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  18. I love your quilt. Such great color blocking with all my favorite colors! I think my Wizard of Oz baby quilt comes to mind for teaching me patience... mostly because I was doing a bunch of techniques that I hadn't done before so it was a learning process all along. That and it had a bunch of detailed micro FMQ.

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  19. I have a quilt I just finished earlier this year that was started ~ 10+ years ago. Fortunately I still loved the quilt, it’s was just so big (king size), and lots of paper piecing, that it got shoved to the back of the UFO pile time and time again. I stuck with it though, and now it graces our bed, and I still love it! Your quilt turned out great. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. This is a great design! I often struggle with machine quilting so really appreciate you sharing your experience.

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  21. Sorry for your struggles but your quilt is a delight. Those solid scraps in your giveaway would be a good start of my next quilt. Fingers crossed.

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  22. My first try at paper-piecing taught me a lot about patience! Some of my favorite blocks are paper-pieced and I have a great appreciation for each & every one! Thank you, Susan

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  23. Absolutely love all the colors in the quilt. All my favorites. My first machine quilting project was a challenge. I entered it in a contest and it was my first free motion quilting project. Maybe not the best scenario...

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  24. Janet H. via email: For years I wouldn’t finish a quilt from a class in fear of messing up (maybe 9 classes over the years.) But learning about Modern Quilting and trying an improve quilt made all the difference. I learn not to strive for perfection.

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  25. Michele of Sew What's Moo via email: Foundation paper-piecing kicked my butt! Trying it without know how was a steep learning curve and I conquered it! Michele

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  26. Yep, sometimes it ALL goes wrong. This week I had a terrible time quilting a customer's quilt. It was my worst experience. Thread breakages, tension problems, backing tucks, difficulty with the pattern... everything. It ended up that the machine needed a good oiling and time to sit to let that settle. The next day it worked perfectly. That was great, expect that the day before it had stolen SO much time. Suffice it to say that I was glad to ship that quilt off!

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  27. Oh, my goodness! Quilting that much negative space is intimidating to me. I don't use solids as often as I should for that very reason, but I LOVE they way they look when I seem them used. My solids stash is very, very sad so I would be excited to win your giveaway. Thank you so much for the opportunity. :)

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  28. I love the honesty about the struggles. I feel it normalizes the process of quilting for me as I learn my machine and both its capabilities and my own. Your work is truly inspiring!

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  29. Every quilt challenges me in some way. My newest challenge is using a long arm. Tension and I are not exactly best friends! Let’s nust say, we are working on our relationship. Your work is always amazing and inspiring!

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  30. I love this quilt! I, too, like to challenge myself whether it's Y seams, curves, angles within a seam or something I haven't yet though of. The challenge is part of what makes quilting fun.

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  31. i'm mid-patience quilt at the moment. had a strippy quilt top all sewed and then i decided i wanted to shorten the strips to make it look better, which required seam ripping alllll the strips about 1/2 way..... so needless to say it sat as a top for 3-5 years because who wants to rip apart a whole quilt?! finally managed to do the ripping while sick this summer so it feels good to make progress!

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  32. My Dad’s quilt! It was flying geese in a circle with interspersed stars and the paper piecing took FOReVer! It was awesome when it was complete and he loved it but wow did I want to throw it in a lake.

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  33. Thanks for sharing your quilts and their challenges. I figure if it isn't a bit of a struggle, I'm probably not learning anything new. I've been working on my free motion quilting skills and I often have to decide whether it's good enough and when I need to get out the seam ripper.

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  34. Paper piecing Quiltworx patterns taught me patience
    Cork@pa.rr.com

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  35. Quilting by hand is always teaching me patience, but I really love it too!

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  36. Sorry, not in the US, so count me out for the giveaway ;-)
    Patiently waiting another change to win lovely green fabrics, haha

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Let's start a conversation! I love comments and I'd be happy to reply to all who have an email address accessible. Thanks for commenting!

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