Tuesday, December 18, 2018

You Belong

Stan Lee passed away on November 12, 2018.

Photo Credit - By Sidrao21 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74400062

He was remembered on NPR in this story, wherein they mentioned the anthem of the Merry Marching Marvel Society.  Since I was clueless, I had to look up the song - You belong.

You belong
(This quilt was made for a newborn baby boy. The theme was aviation and the suggested colors were red, white and blue.  When I saw this backing, it seemed like a perfect match.)

Backing - Transportation

Listen to the clip here. I found the lyrics here.

The only reason I know about Stan Lee and the Marvel universe is Paul.
Paul introduced me to Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk and the Black widow.  Of course Thor is my favorite, but I digress.

Scraps from all over

Me: Do you know the song - You belong?
Paul: It was before my time but I am aware of it.
Me: It is a great song.
Paul: Yes it is!!!
Me: Of all the comics, all the movies, all the super heroes, why is Marvel your favorite?
Paul: Because they were mostly ordinary people who overcame personal obstacles and shortcomings to become extraordinary.
Me: Each one of them is so different, like Thor is completely different from Captain America.
Paul: Hulk is completely different from Iron Man. But each one of them brought something unique and valuable to the Marvel universe.  Together, they make the Marvel Universe.
Me: They all belong.


Snoopy takes center stage

Snakes, Frogs and Bugs

Such is this quilt. Every scrap brings something to this quilt and they all belong here. Whether it was abandoned on the free table at the guild meeting, came to me in a scrap bag from Sandra, was a remnant in the scrap bin at Joann's, or a leftover bit from binding another quilt.

Happy Tigers

Transportation theme continues

Me: Oh how I wish that our world today was as welcoming where each one of us could belong and contribute to our fullest potential. That would be perfect.
Paul: If the world was perfect there wouldn't be a need for superheroes.
Me (sighing loudly): Yes. But we can do better.
Paul: Yes, we can.

All sorts of planes


Last finish of 2018
Hope we are better persons in 2019. Hope we can make the world a better place in 2019.
With this wish, I bid farewell to 2018. Have a safe and a happy new year!!!

I will be linking with all my favorite linky parties, see full list on the sidebar.  As usual, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Mixed Feelings

A Colorwash quilt is one in which the placement of colored squares mimics the color wheel with the lightest area near the center and darkest areas in the corners.

On a cloudy morning

One thing is obvious - The gradual transition from almost white (in or near the center) to almost black (at the edges/corners) is the essence of making such a quilt.

But everything else is subjective.

Colorwash Layout (almost)

The Colorwash 360 class taught by Wanda Hanson of Exuberant Color came with many organizing tips and lots of guidelines were provided but most of the actual design process is Trial and Error.

This was the first time (I think) this class was offered.  So there were no previous reviews to help me decide whether I should sign up for this class.

At $297, it is the most expensive class I have ever taken.
And that was just the beginning. I also needed at least 300 different fabrics.
A kit was priced at $175. I decided against it.

Organizing (not all my stash)

When I finished organizing my fabric in preparation for the class, I realized I needed more fabric. I bought about 20 different charm packs (from MSQC, FQS, Craftsy, and Hancocks) for a wide range of colors and values. That was about $150.

I begged Jennifer for browns and Mari helped me with dark greens.

At the design wall

Lots more cutting and organizing and preparing.
Lots of time at the design wall.
Lots of trial and error. Place a few squares, step away, notice the issue, come back to the wall and fix it, step away, notice another issue at another place. Repeat.
Lots of do-overs.
Lots of frustration.


One of the problems with such a quilt is that it is never really done because you can always improve it. Swap out that one square, or move that other one so that it flows better, so that there is not a sharp jump from one value to the next.

Are we there yet?

Eventually I decided to call it done. And the final layout met with universal approval.
Breathtakingly beautiful, one of my non-quilty friends remarked.
A co-worker, who has artistic leanings and used to paint (before the mind-numbing number crunching destroyed his soul) said - Don't change a thing.

Almost Flimsy

The sewing together of the squares was not without issues either. Wanda had suggested we make a 5 by 5 square block to practice the webbing. I made one and knew that I needed more practice keeping seams straight and uniform. So I made another and another and one more to get the hang of it.

5 by 5 layout for webbing practice

Clipped and Numbered

No slippage

Begin practice sewing

Continue practice sewing

Webbed but wonky
One thing became abundantly clear to me - This class was out of my league.

Not one but four practice pieces

Generally speaking, I sew two pieces together with a scant 1/4" seam, iron it open, square and move to the next piece. THAT is how my points match and seams stay straight.  But in the webbing process, there is no room for correction. From start to finish you rely on sewing accurate and straight seams. Yeah, not for the (relative) newbie like me. And although I followed the webbing process the best I could, the seams do not match in many places.

Begin actual sewing

Halfway done

Finished Top - So Crooked

Once the top was completed, mismatched seams notwithstanding, I made the binding. Layered the batting and the backing and waited for the invisible thread to arrive in the mail, while I read up on how to quilt with invisible thread.  After reading all the stories about tension and rapid unspooling, I decided against it. I worked on other projects.

The inspiration for the quilting pattern came from Pat Graham, another student in the Colorwash360 class. Wanda had shared some of the completed quilts.  Pat's quilt had a circle in the middle with rays radiating to the edges.

Begin quilting
I chose to quilt an octagon in the center and spiral it out. I marked the top on Friday evening and
quilted on Saturday. I used Aurifil 40 weight thread, color 2600 for the quilting.

Octagon in the middle

The hand binding was completed on Sunday.  I then pinned it to my design wall to admire it.

The Blue/Purple corner

Yellow Green Orange Brown

Red to Red Orange to Orange

The Red Corner

The Blue, Blue-Green, Green Corner

Paul: This may be the best quilt you've ever made.
Preeti: It does have great visual appeal.
Paul: Does it have a name?
Preeti: Mixed Feelings.
Paul: Mixed, how?
Preeti: Because it was a frustrating process with a spectacular outcome. Also, this was an excellent class at an exorbitant price.

Dragonfly caught in the Spiderweb

Paul: Was it worth it?
Preeti: I don't know.
Paul: Oh come on.
Preeti: OK, if I made a dozen colorwash quilts and I could sell at least 3 or 4 of them, then it would be worth the investment.
Paul: Are you going to make more of these colorburst quilts?
Preeti: Not sure. If someone offered me a boatload of money for a commissioned piece, I may be inclined to make another one.

Octagonal Spiral Quilting
Paul: So no?
Preeti (agitated) : Geez, thanks for the vote of confidence, Paul. Occasionally, I HAVE received money for my quilts.
Paul (calmly): Was it a boatload?
Preeti (subdued): Not really.
Paul: So the answer is that it was NOT worth it.
Preeti: The answer is may be it was worth it. May be in 10 years. I can't say.

Bound and Labelled

Paul: Forget the expenses part. Did you learn a lot?
Preeti: Yes, a LOT. May be too much too soon.
Paul: What does that mean?
Preeti: Like a middle school kid taking a college course. I struggled with it.
Paul: Then why did you sign up for it?
Preeti: I wanted to take the class because Wanda Hanson is an accomplished quilter. Her body of work is very impressive. I just did not know what it would entail. I saw no reviews.
Paul: But why not wait a few years?
Preeti: Wanda is 78 years old. She may stop teaching by the time I am actually ready to take the class.

The Tiger lurks in the shadows
Paul: So you had to do it and now.
Preeti: It had to be now and I was ill-equipped.
Paul: You? Ill-equipped? Not possible.
Preeti: If you have been quilting for longer, you have a bigger stash to work from. I did not. More importantly, there are things about color and value that you learn over the course of time. These come naturally to more experienced quilters, but I had to learn in a compressed time frame.  Hence the struggle and the frustration. It was hard work.
Paul (mockingly): And you are not used to hard work, my American princess!!!
Preeti (mockingly as well): Not any more. I am a spoiled American now. When I spend $500, all the work should be done for me, automatically.
Paul: Well, I love Mixed Feelings.
Preeti: Of course you do. You are enjoying the outcome without having to endure the painful process.

The quilt looks back at you

Paul: What process?
Preeti: The process of making this quilt was like a long, painful, and difficult labor with a huge hospital bill. The baby is absolutely beautiful, angelic and everyone instantly falls in love with her.  Only the mother knows the pain.
Paul: Actual physical pain?
Preeti: Yes. My back hurt from standing too long at the design wall - arranging and re-arranging the squares in the upper half.
My butt hurt from sitting too long on a foot stool (placed a cushion on day two) while working on the lower section of the design wall.
And then I was afraid like a new mom, (it took forever to come up with an appropriate quilting design) to not mess up the beautiful baby.
And just like a pregnancy, I am sure the next one will be easier.  It may be a while (or a very long time) before I contemplate a second Colorwash baby.
Paul (walked menacingly towards the quilt): Well, if the quilt reminds you so much of the painful process...
Preeti: Get out. Nobody touches my baby!

Mixed Feelings

I have shared my process, my frustration, my true feelings and the final outcome so that you can make an informed decision. And I ask for the same in return - your honest opinion.
Don't try to be nice, just be true. I will be sharing with all my favorite linky parties, see full list on the sidebar.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Happy Hump Day

Paul: What does your week look like, babe?
Me: Very busy.
Paul: How so?
Me: Well, I have dinner plans on Monday, guild meeting on Tuesday, Yoga class on Thursday, massage on Friday and I am going to Baltimore on Saturday to see Mari.
Paul: So nothing on Wednesday?
Me: Nothing yet.
Paul (mischievously): It is hump day.
Me: It can be.

Quiltwise, Colorwash Flimsy is finished.  I will write a complete blogpost when the quilt is finished.  Sharing with all my favorite linky parties, see full list on the sidebar.

Colorwash Flimsy

Do you know that Connecting Threads is having a fabulous sale throughout the week?
And today you get a free rotary cutter when you make a purchase of $65.

Happy Hump Day, y'all.

This blogpost contains affiliate links.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Woods of Whimsy

I have a finish.


But let's start at the beginning.
When I made All Spruced Up, Julie of QuiltDivaJulie left a comment on the post.

Julie's comment - I want to make one of these - debating whether to go with the Christmas approach or make one for the rest of the year (perhaps rainbow colors for RSC next year).

Me - Try small print florals. It will look like a spring garden. I may just have to try that.

Julie's response - I LOVE IT — what a superb idea! I had thought about autumn trees since I have lots of oranges, browns, golds, rusts, and reds … you do spring and I’ll do fall.
The gauntlet was thrown. The challenge accepted.

Initial Fabric Pull

Grey Background

These should work

When I made my very first tree block pair, I had used Amy's method using two 8.5" squares.  That makes two trees - one positive and one negative.  In this case I wanted to make only floral trees on a dark background. A dark tree on a floral background (negative version) would be eerie, like a ghost of a tree in a garden.

I needed a new strategy.
Instead of cutting out fabric, I cut out shapes from freezer paper (FP) - a tree, a left triangle and a right triangle that fit neatly.  I numbered them 1.
I repeated the process, slightly varying the cuts and numbered these 2.

Set 1

Set 2

Now I could use the tree shaped (FP) unit to cut trees from my focus prints and use the side triangle (FP) units from the background fabrics.

This also allowed me to use fabrics that were smaller than 8.5". Scraps!!!! Yay!!!

FP templates - Trees

FP Templates - Backgrounds


I trudged along slowly.

After I made about a dozen trees with the dark/gray background, I put them on the design wall. I stepped away and reviewed. 
The idea seemed terrific inside my brain. Not so much on the design wall.
It was a very dark place. I needed to get away from it.

Using scraps

Low Volume Backgrounds

I switched to a light background and made trees. Much better.

Much better


Fun Background

More trees grew out of the initial success.

Paul: Are you making a day forest or a night forest?
Me: Well it started at night, but now the sun has come up. Things are brighter now.
Paul: I don't like the grey trees.
Me: Yeah, I am not so keen about them either.
Paul: So what will you do with these blocks?
Me: May be I can throw the dark trees in between the light ones. 
Paul (aghast): Randomly?
Me: Not sure. I can use them on the back to make a pieced backing. May be.

And then it came to me. A forest of light with darkness held back at the edges.

Edge of Darkness

I needed 100 trees, 36 with dark background and 64 with light background.

I also wanted to add an element of whimsy to the quilt.
A fallen tree idea was considered and discarded.
A crashed plane in the woods? No, not feeling it.
A house in the woods? Blah.

But if there was a small clearing in the woods and some farm animals - cows, sheep and chickens - wandered there to graze.  That will work.

Touch of Whimsy

I am sure that they will return to the farm at nightfall.
They are not lost, just wandering. 


The flimsy was finished. It has 99 tree blocks and one block of whimsy.

Finished Flimsy

I set it aside to focus on the Colorwash 360 class.
I completed the Colorwash layout on Thursday and decided to return to my trees.

Love these trees

Light shining through

On Friday, I cut the batting, ironed the flimsy making sure that seams were not twisted, pressed the backing and layered the batting on top of the backing, smoothing as I went.  As I reached for the basting spray, I realized that the can was only half full.  I'd need a new can to complete the basting.  I set the sandwich aside and made the binding.

Red Backing, Green Binding

Green Binding Works

On Saturday I bought a new can of basting spray and finished basting.  I cleaned the bobbin area, put on the walking foot, changed the needle to 90/14, and switched threads from 50wt (for piecing) to 40wt (for quilting).

I began quilting. While NPR played in the back, I thought - if I can quilt one column in about 45 minutes, then the whole thing should be done in 3 days. Perfect!!!

Quilting in process

Threads to bury

A beep on the phone made me look at it. And I saw the horrible, devastating, and gut-wrenching news.

Eleven people were killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue. Tree of Life? Tree???

Me: Oh no.
Paul: Sup babe?
Me: A mass shooting at a synagogue called "Tree of Life" in Pittsburgh.
Paul: I just saw.
Me: Here I am making a tree quilt when I see this "Tree of Life" news.
Paul: Coincidence. 
Me: I believe the universe just screamed in my face. Pay attention.
Paul: You always pay attention.
Me: Just for once, I wish the universe would stop talking to me. Because my ears are bleeding from the cacophony.

I cried, we hugged.

Paul: It was going to be loud when so many people died. 
Me: Why can I not be indifferent to this stuff, just like so many others?
Paul: Because you care.
Me: It keeps happening. I cannot stop it, no matter how strongly I feel about it.
Paul: Maybe not alone. But together with others, we can stop it.

At this time, I had to put away the quilt, turn off the machine and cry for the senseless loss of life.

Eventually the quilting was completed.  I set aside the green binding and chose a black binding to express my grief and anger.

Black Binding

Finished Quilt - 71" by 92"

Trees of Life

Quilting Texture


Hope you find your way back

I have also decided to change the quilt's name from "Woods of Whimsy" to "Trees of Life" with the hope that the misguided and wandering souls may find their way home to peace and eternal life.

Darkness is always with us

And Light will destroy the darkness

My favorite tree
And this too

Thank you Rekha

I will share with all my usual linky parties but I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Please let me know I am not alone.

P.S. I am going to a nearby synagogue this evening to participate in the solidarity service. No, I am not Jewish. I don't have to be.  Paul insists on accompanying me.