Saturday, February 15, 2014

Delightful Stars QuIlt-Along and Wishing Winter Away

Like much of the eastern US we are experiencing another snowfall. Before this snowfall our total for the winter was 42 inches. This is more than double our normal snowfall. Last night we got another five inches. It is one of those beautiful wet snows (much nicer than sleet and ice). I am hoping this is our last snow for the winter. They predict near 60 by Thursday. I will believe it when I see and feel it. Of course that does not mean it will stay nice. It will most likely be a teaser.

The deer fence gates are frozen in the snow. 

All this snow pretty much eliminates outdoor activities for me. So quilting it is. Last week I shared the quilts I finished. This week I have started the Delightful Stars Quilting-Along designed by Michele Foster from Quilting Gallery.Com. Michele's projects are about accuracy, and of course beauty too. See the link on the side of this blog.

Have you every over thought something, changing your mind again and again, but ended up going with your first idea? That is the story of this quilt. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and use a dark background. I thought black might be too harsh, so I picked a nice deep grey (Kona Steel). I was not sure I liked it. I was also excited about the many other quilters use of batiks for the background, so I ended up purchasing two different fabrics (6 yards each) for a different background. I think one could be my ugliest fabric purchased. I really like the second one, which was a dark blue. But as I auditioned the fabric I planned to use they just did not work, it was too busy. So after a month or procrastination I return to the grey. I decided this project is about new skills and not making a work of art, so I am getting to it.

I choose a dark background so it would look as if my stars are floating. This is a combination of light blue batik and an oriental fabric. This block went together quickly. I used a new process for the flying geese (four in one). It was easy.

Lesson 1

The second block has squares in the center. I see that a challenge is going to be sure that the fabric that touches gray will need to have strong contrast so they my stars float above the background. This photo is not the best representation of the fabric. It does accomplish my "floating" goal. My second goal for each block is to keep it simple. I want the contrast to be between the background and the block, not necessarily within the block. I do want the details in the block to show, so it may be a balancing act.

Lesson 2

Uh, Oh Lesson three was not a piece of cake. I started along with lesson 3 feeling pretty confident. That confidence was misplaced. I did not like the way the block turned out. Can you see what is wrong with it?

Lesson 3 reject

The problems? The method I used for flying geese did not work here. I made the units a little bigger so I could trim them, but that meant that I trimmed off what needed so it would match the corner block. The second problem was the directional light blue fabric. I used this in lesson one and it looked great. Here it seemed to mismatch. I was going to take this apart and try to fix it. In the end I just started over.

lesson three final block.
 Another picture that is not very good, but you can see that the seams match better and I got rid of the light blue fabric, using the beige batik instead. Keeping it simple, I like how both the blues and the beige fabrics carry the color from the center of the block to the edges.

This weeks lesson is lesson 4, which is a more complicated block and borders. I am not sure if I am doing the border. I also want to be sure I have enough fabric, so I am postponing the border until the center is completed.

Lesson 4
When I first saw this block I thought it might be a bear to do. It was not really so bad. I did get off track and reversed my purple and blues, so had to take a few apart. This impacted my seams, because I had already trimmed the blocks. My pinwheels do not meet as well as I would like. It actually shows up more in the photo. I have considered redoing this block, but overall I like it. The fabric I used on the star points actually has the same colors that I used in the center.

Lesson to learn. Find the balance between scant quarter inch and quarter inch. I think I am focusing too much on the scant part, but the blocks are coming out the right size. So I am hoping it just requires a little tweaking to get improvement.

Finally I received two more quilts back from my long arm quilter. This weekend it's making and sewing on binding. One quilt belongs to my granddaughter. I am hoping she is able to come over to pick her fabric for the border and make her binding. Pictures of those next week.

Virginia Sweet spire
What a tough plant. Deer prune it, it's covered with ice and snow. Luckily it blooms on new growth so when spring really comes it will be beautiful. It plants could talk they would say enough already!

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