Wednesday, February 17, 2016

on starting

Hi friends. It's a slow work day (oh my gosh do I love slow work days) and my sewing table is a hot mess of various piles of quilts waiting to be put together, so rather than clean it off, I am here.

I am not sure where it happened, exactly, that blogging lost it's luster for me. Typically, I would say that life "got busy" but all that really means is that in the busy-ness, I chose something else over writing. Because life with 5 kids is always pretty busy, but we make the time for the things that feel good to do.

So today it feels good to write. I know I typically talk about family stuff and just life, but today I am switching gears. If you have read anything I have written, you probably know I like to quilt. For nine thousand reasons, but seeing the end result of fabrics I have pieced together to create something useful is the at the top of the list.

I have had a few friends express interest in quilting lately, and while I am not a great teacher (I lack the patience-- just ask my daughters), I feel like I can handle tips and thoughts. Something I have been asked frequently is about starting. How do I start, what is my first step?

I had to really think about that because I don't know that I really have a method or a system. I think, for me, every step of the quilting process is organic. {I know this term is so overused, but I really cannot think of any other way to describe it}. I generally start with one of 2 things- a color palette or fabric bundle that I want to turn into something, or a pattern idea that I want to make. I could go on for days about where I get inspiration for both, but the short answer is it usually just hits. For example, this quilt above. I wanted to make a simple patchwork. I have been working on a mini quilt for a swap I am participating in and since I don't usually do super well with following a pattern, this one was leaving me mentally exhausted- mostly because I decided to alter the pattern which meant math and angles, all the things that are not very fun for me. (You can see the mini in the picture below). 

I needed something I knew I could do, and do well,  without making me wrinkly and stressed. Also, I will never tire of simple patchwork quilts. I feel like they are vintagey in their classic appeal, but the patterns of the fabric and the color schemes gives you freedom to turn them into more. 

So I started grabbing fabrics. When I make a quilt around a design/pattern first, choosing fabric comes second. I started with just whites and grays and blues, and 2 squares of that dusty rose you see in the top row and in the middle. As I was cutting I realized I wanted to play off that a little more and added in a brighter pink and a soft pink (the pearl bracelet fabric). I threw in the lavender just because. 

I like to lay out my blocks to make sure that no like blocks are touching each other and try and balance color and pattern, but sometimes I just grab and sew. -- my husband is working on a design wall for me and I know this will be super helpful so I am not laying things on the floor and constantly bending down to grab them or hollering at the kids not to walk across my squares ;)--

I don't usually choose a backing or a binding until I am all done. I wanted to back this with minky but the ones I had on hand weren't big enough and I didn't want to cut this down. My husband has been urging me to make throw sized quilts instead of just baby quilts, and this one was measuring 48 by about 60. (59 3/4 inches, to be exact). So I ended up piecing the back in a stripe pattern, and I love it. It's funny how it happens that my plan B tends to make me happier than I think plan A would have. 

I am sure it would be so much more helpful if I was to say that I develop a plan and draw it out and have each fabric chosen and ready to go before I ever sit down. That isn't how my brain works, though. I think I need to see things as they are starting to take shape and then develop from there. 

I just finished a quilt-as-you-go style of quilt last week, and that method also really lends itself to grabbing and piecing as you go. For me, it feels a lot more open and creative for me when I allow myself to have freedom as i move throughout the process of making a quilt.

For the quilt pictured above and below, I decided to do just make each block as I chose. For this one, I knew I wanted pinks and blues with little touches of yellow. I did sort of adjust as I went to incorporate different shades of blue....I originally only wanted aqua but then used the brighter, darker mushroom print and thought I should incorporate some teal-ish blue, as well, to tie it together. 

That is the beauty of creating, and it took me a long time to grasp this one simple concept-- there aren't any rules, and you can't really be WRONG about how you create. When I started quilting, I think I got hung up on how you are supposed to do it. And for me, it put me off. It's not super fun to start a creative venture when you are worried about breaking rules before you ever even start. My Aunt Polly told me on more than one occasion that whatever I did wasn't going to be wrong because it was my creation. ....and, gosh forbid, if you don't like something or make a mistake in piecing, that is why God created the seam ripper ;) 

So, there you have it friends. Or should I say, Jeremiah. Actually, I don't even know if my husband even reads my blog anymore. haha. That's pretty pitiful.  

Happy Wednesday, friends!  

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