I am finally posting about a finished FOTY 2018. I actually finished the binding a month or so ago, but somehow it never made it on to the blog 9as far as I can tell!). I finished the top in July and took it to Colleen shortly thereafter.
Once I got it back, I had to sew the binding and the sleeve. The piece is ready to hang and I can move on to getting FOTY 2019 quilted.
I finally finished FOTY 2019. It seems like it took forever. I starting putting it on the wall on September 11, but I had just torn the ligament in my foot and I just couldn’t work on it.
I started to make some slow progress starting around October 4. I didn’t really start sewing anything until about October 31.
These quilts usually don’t take that long, but like many things in 2020, this piece took more time. I am going to move away from UFOs and make something I haven’t started after working on a few bags and Christmas gifts.
Part of the process is ripping and I had to rip as I was very close to finishing the FOTY 2019 top.
The quilt top started out correct. It is not sewn together completely in the photo (left), but all of the pieces are where I wanted them.
I continued sewing -and it is a lot of sewing to get these Fabric of the Year quilts together- to make chunks.
When I had about 12 seams left, I realized that something had happened. I had reversed a section somewhere along the process.
I can tell because the letters (white on red serif print) are upside down. I try to get the directional prints going in the right direction when I make these quilts. They do have a top and a bottom. I was nearly done sewing the quilt together. I could have gotten the quilt done before dinner if I had just continued. The question, however, becomes “will I notice this forever?” In this case, the answer was yes.
One good thing about this type of quilt is that I could rip out that one section, resew it and finish the quilt, which is what I did.
Except that I also tried to figure out where I went wrong. I know that on November 14 that section was oriented correctly. On November 23rd, it wasn’t. Sometime in that 10ish day period, something happened and that chunk was turned upside down.
It is hard to keep these pieces correctly oriented. By ‘correctly oriented’ I mean in the place I want them. Most people wouldn’t notice and in 10 years, I might not notice either. I notice now, however.
It is fixed and the quilt top is on its way to being finished.
After sewing all the pairs together, I really started to pick up speed. I spent a few hours on Saturday and a few more on Sunday making progress. I have about 12 more seams to sew before I finish the top. Yay!
It is still large, but I am always amazed at how much smaller pieces end up as the seam allowances disappear.
I am making good progress with FOTY 2019 once the pairs were sewn together. There is a lot of sewing, but the larger the chunks I have to sew, the faster it goes. I am hopeful that I will be done with this soon and can move on.
Despite fighting with my blog technology, it hasn’t really stopped me from sewing. Even if I can’t talk about my project, I still want to make the projects. I am happier when I can talk about the projects, but making them is primary.
As a result, I have been working hard on FOTY 2019.
Even if I have only a few minutes, I have been sewing a few squares together. I have most of the pairs sewn together and will work on sewing the pairs into 4 patches over the weekend.
I finally had a good amount of time to work on Fabric of the Year 2019. I had to redo the math. I spent a lot of time on Saturday sticking squares up on the wall, adding rows and trying not to fall of a stool.
This was really the first time I had gotten on a stool since my foot injury. I have a very stable step stool, which made things easier.
As soon as I got going, I really made a lot of progress and I am happy about that. I still have to rearrange some of the squares, but all of the squares are on the design wall so I am much closer to sewing than I was. Perhaps later this week?
It has been a little while since I worked on this, but I finally got back to it. I had to do the math, which I was trying to avoid. Finally, I just did it.
That gave me a structure, so I started putting all the squares up. I had to redo the bottom left hand corner to add some greys that were hiding. I had to remove some duplicates. I still have to rearrange a bit to add more pink and a bunch of purples that came out of hiding as well. Still, I am making progress and will soon be able to put this piece together. YAY!
The first thing I did was start to move the whole piece down and over so I could reach the top better. I also needed to make the top slightly wider to accommodate the various pieces. I am not quite sure how many rows and columns I need since I didn’t do any math around this piece yet.
After move what I had down, I started to add more of the colored squares to the design wall. I am sure I will have to cut more greys, but I haven’t done that yet.
I went into a presentation yesterday with the fabric in the photo on my design wall. This was not my intention and I was, frankly, embarrassed that I didn’t have more on the wall when I went into the session.
Life sucks sometimes and this is what I had to work with. Life throws curveballs sometimes and we have roll with them.
Fortunately, I have been in CQFA long enough that people know I am not a slacker and we had a good discussion regardless. Also Maureen was great. She was very encouraging and not judgmental at all, so I didn’t feel as bad after talking to her as I did before.
My curveball was a torn ligament in my foot, which resulted in lovely new footwear. it also resulted in me spending a lot more time on the couch with my foot up. It could have been much worse, but I can’t help still feeling somewhat disgruntled.
I recently saw a post by Jolene over at Blue Elephant Stitches called The Secrets of My Fabric Stash. I thought she had a good idea and I am always looking for content, so I am writing a similar post. I did change the name of the post, though I wanted to have a link to her post. I don’t like the word stash. I am, after all, not a drug dealer. I also feel justified in having supplies on hand so I can do my work. I have, however, lost the fight in the quilt world to call my fabric a palette.
How you select your fabric for your projects is correct. I am going to describe the way I do it, but that doesn’t mean your method is wrong.
Jolene said that she gets asked two kinds of questions and writes in her post”… how I choose fabrics for a quilt, and the other one is how I choose fabrics from the store to add to my stash. ”
I have been buying fabric since the early 1990s, so I have a lot. I was influenced back in the day by stupid ideas like “buy ugly fabric” and “always use a fabric you dislike in your quilt.” I say unabashedly that these are stupid ideas, because they aren’t good advice. It isn’t fun to use ugly fabric, so why do it with an activity I love? I dislike brown and beige intensely, so I feel justified in refusing to use them. They do not make me happy when I use them and they do not work in my quilts. I may use fabrics that I don’t like as much as others, but I have given up using fabrics I actively dislike. The other thing is that ‘ugly’ is subjective. What is ugly to me may be gorgeous to you. The concept just doesn’t work.
I always have to remind myself that a group of fabric on display on a website or in a shop is not going to look the same when I get it home. I love the look of French General fabrics. I love the dream of what they represent, but I almost never buy them. They won’t look right, or the same, as they do in the shop with the fabric I have at home. My fabric has a brighter, clearer tone than these fabrics. I know I won’t use the creams and dustier tones included with these fabrics. I might as well not buy them.
I really enjoy fabric shopping in stores. I like to see the fabric. Having enough money to buy whatever I want is wonderful, but I have to save my pennies and be aware of storage space in my workroom, so I am very selective.
When I shop in stores, I am generally not looking for something in particular, e.g. more of a specific background fabric. Usually, I am just looking, getting inspired, hoping to see something that will work for a project I didn’t know I was making.
If I shop online, it is very dangerous. I have found that when I shop online, I am either tempted by something or feeling bad and need a pick-me-up. Neither mean I made good fabric choices. I am a visual person, so I take cues from the size of my stack of bolts. It is easy to just keep adding things to my online cart without realizing just how much I have purchased. It isn’t always so easy to remove the fabrics from that same online cart. I can easily end up with a lot of fabric coming to me in the mail and not realizing exactly how much I bought.
Also, I have a hard time judging the scale of prints. I like having a variety of prints, both in scale and color. In online shopping, those things are hard to judge because they depend on things out of your control. Some shops have rulers showing the scale, but that doesn’t always help me. In the end, it is a crap shoot and I try to shop in person. During COVID-19, that is impossible, so I am happy to have enough fabric on hand.
Like Jolene, I almost never buy a complete line of fabrics. I have in the past and have been sorry. I also have been happy. If I buy a full collection, there are prints that languish and I eventually end up using those prints for gift bags. They frequently go to the guild free table or end up in donation blocks. Sometimes, like the recent purchase of a line of fat quarters of Alison Glass/Guicy Guice, I have been happy. These were tone on tone fabrics that I can use for a variety of projects, though there were some colors (like that orangey-brown) that I probably won’t use.
The other reason I don’t buy (and use) a full collection is because of variety. There usually isn’t enough variety in scale of prints or colors for the full collection to be useful. I remove a certain number of prints from the full collection and replace them with other fabrics that will add contrast and interest to my quilt.
Even with my man, Phil (Philip Jacobs of the Kaffe Fassett Collective), I don’t buy all of his fabrics. Some of the colors are not colors that I would use and a recent horse print he designed was not a favorite. I stick to his large flower prints, because I do love those.
Now, I only buy what I like AND what I think I will use. I don’t have a collection. My fabrics are there to be used. In the past, I bought fabrics that I loved and saved for the right project. Now, I feel kind of ‘MEH’ about some of these fabrics. That is so sad to me, because when I bought them I adored them. Now I try to use beloved fabrics right away. It is awesome to see them in a quilt, especially one that I use.
I have found that I there are fabrics that I decline to buy even though I like them, because I don’t think I will use them. If I can’t envision them in a quilt, I don’t buy them. I also don’t buy fabrics, even if I like the print, if they fray too much. Fraying fabric = imprecision and problems with fitting. It also means I have to pick threads out of seams continuously. That makes me crazy.
Access to your fabric is important. If you can’t pull down your bins or reach your bolts easily, you won’t use your fabric. I use the fabric I can reach most. Climbing up into the top of my fabric cupboard is a production and even though I don’t want to, I avoid it.
Jolene has a much nicer fabric storage solution than I do. Her cupboard is really nice and I would love to have something like that. My fabric closet is larger. 😉 If I won the lottery, I would redo my fabric closet in such a way that all my fabric was out of the plastic bins and I could rifle through it more easily. Still, I can see the amounts that I have based on the number of bins. Nobody who reads this blog regularly will be surprised that I have 3 bins of turquoise.
Storage is an issue. As I said, I have a large fabric closet, but even that is overflowing. Using 100 yards per year is not a whim. I want to use up fabrics, so all of my fabric fits in my fabric closet and I can reach it.
I also want to use my fabric so it doesn’t go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill when I die.
First and foremost, I use fabrics that I like. If a pattern calls for a blue, then I will probably chose a turquoise rather than navy.
Pulling fabrics for a quilt happens in two ways: proximity and value. I will often start with fabrics I have close at hand, especially if I am starting a project without planning. Generally, however, I start by devoting a project bin to a potential project. I toss in the pattern, or the drawings or inspiration pages, and fabrics I want to use. Everything – pattern, fabrics, drawings, special ruler, etc. – gets tossed into the project box. When I am ready to work on the project, I have a starting place.
Once I decide on a set of colors, I will go hunting through my stash to find other colors that are similar, but with different prints. The photo (above left) shows this technique very successfully with the red-violets and somewhat successfully with the turquoises. This is a technique I learned from Mary Mashuta back in the dark ages of quiltmaking. Basically, you use different fabrics in the same value to add interest. I don’t really use neutrals, except occasionally, but I have expanded this concept and use it in the foreground and the background. This allows me to use the smaller pieces of fabric, like FQs, I purchase without a plan, scraps and other pieces leftover from other projects. I don’t have to commit to several yards of a fabric I don’t know how I will use. I think quilts look more interesting with a variety of different fabrics. Also, viewers (at a show, for example) get a reward by taking the time to look closely at a quilt when they find you have used many different fabrics.
I used the ‘pushed neutral’ technique for the background of this quilt. I go back, over and over, to Scrapitude Carnivale, because this is the most perfect fabric selection I have ever done. It is not completely perfect, but mostly perfect. Every time I look at it, I am happy. After several years, I still like it. This quilt made me realize that looking at a favorite fabric in a quilt is much better than seeing it unused on a shelf.
The other important aspect is lighting. I live in a place with fog all summer long. That means I have to contend with grey days frequently. Sometimes I can’t see across the street. If I have quilts on my design wall that are too dark, I start to feel depressed. If want to make a purple quilt, I do it is January when the light is clear and there is no fog. I am currently working on a black quilt and that was a poor choice for this time of year, because that feeling of sadness keeps creeping up on me. Most of my quilts are bright, light and cheerful, because it is grey outside my workroom window and the bright colors reflect light back around the room.
More about brown: there is one brown I have found that works for me. It is a rich chocolate brown, slightly darker than milk chocolate, but not quite as dark as 80% dark chocolate. I have found that using a little of this color with turquoise does work and I don’t want to throw-up when I see it. I don’t use it a lot, but sometimes I’ll add it in. I used it in Calm and liked the effect.
This is Personal
Jolene writes “This is something that is very personal, but I’d say it’s a better idea to buy fabric that works with the quilts you want to make, rather than make quilts that fit with the stash that you impulsively purchased. (speaking from experience).” This is true, which is why I think more about the fabrics I am purchasing now than I did when I first started quiltmaking. I also remember that there is always more fabric and I will like the new fabric as much or more than the fabric I see on the shelf but can envision using.
That being said, I still buy some fabrics that I just like without knowing why I am buying them, without a project in mind and not even sure IF I will be able to use them. This piece of Field Guide: to Art History 101 By Marcia Derse from CURIOSITY. Marcia Derse has an edgy, urban quality that I can’t stay away from but also don’t use much. This print may be telling me to make a drawstring bag from Jeni Baker. For what, though?
I hope this gives you some ideas on my thought process. I am not telling you to go out and buy more fabric. I am telling you what makes up my fabric stash/palette and how I use my fabric. I hope this gives you some insight and helps you with your fabric buying as well.
Work is closed for summer break this week. As a result, I worked like a demon all week and was able to finish the FOTY 2018 top and back. I didn’t need to finish it. Since I was taking quilts to Colleen today, I decided taking four quilts is better than taking three.
The quilt wasn’t difficult to piece since all the squares are 2.5 inches. The difficult part was keeping the pieces in order as I sewed. After I got pairs sewed together, I started using the opposite side of the quilt as leaders/enders and that made the process go faster. I also had a lot of time Wednesday to sew.
This isn’t exactly the way I imagined it to come out. I kind of wanted it to be more like Ellsworth Kelly’s piece. I think to achieve that, I needed more black.
Add the black has kind of reinvigorated my interest in this series. I might continue after FOTY 2019. Stay tuned.
Last week, I started on FOTY 2018, which will be my piece inspired by Kelly’s work.
I have to say that putting the pieces on the wall has been a joy. I feel much closer to it with my new design wall. I also really like the white interspersed with the color. It is making me think of doing one with white squares as well as the slate grey I have planned for 2019.
I am also apprehensive about adding the black. We will see, though.
I am also really excited that I am working on a true UFO!!
Spectrum of Colors Arranged by Chance is a 1951-53 painting (oil on wood) by Ellsworth Kelly. I saw it at the SFMoMA when Julie, DH and I visited a few years ago. I have been wanting to use the idea in a quilt for awhile. Last week, I started on FOTY 2018, which will be my piece inspired by Kelly’s work.