Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Guild color challenge

I have taken on the leadership position of challenge committee at our local quilt guild.  I love a good challenge!  I see it as a means of stretching myself further.  We never know what we can accomplish if we don't try!  Challenge quilts are generally small, and give us a chance to think outside the box, or block!
For our first challenge, I decided we needed to do something with color.  And what better color to use than Pantone's 2014 color of the year: Radiant Orchid!

The rules for the challenge are to use Radiant Orchid in a wall hanging, minimum 20", maximum 30".  Any technique (pieced, applique, fabric painting, thread painting) could be used.  There also is no set amount of the color that must be used, it just needs to be obvious that the color was used.  The above picture has the official paint chip, along with fabrics that I found on our recent road trip to Indianapolis to Back Door Quilts and Quilts Plus.
I have several different ideas floating around on what I want to do.  The complement of Radiant Orchid is a lime green; now that just sounds awesome!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Celtic Solstice

First blog post for 2014!  Just noted it has been a month since I have posted.  I don't get overly involved with lots of Christmas doings, so my only excuse is that I have been busy working on a mystery!
Bonnie Hunter for the past several years has been presenting a mystery quilt.  I got hooked on Bonnie through several of my guild sisters who have been doing her mystery quilts.  I decided this year to take the plunge, especially after I heard the name and saw her color scheme!  I have never done a mystery quilt as it was going on...the only other one I did I waited until I saw the finished product before starting it.  So I thought, what the hey, just jump in and do it!
We started out by pulling our colors.  Bonnie got paint chips with the colors she was using to give us an idea of colors that she knew would work best.  I played along and pulled from my stash a nice selection of oranges (as an Illini fan, you know I have orange!), yellows, greens, blues, and neutrals.  WOW!  This was like a free quilt!  I had it already in my stash closet!  I failed to take a picture of my project bucket, but it was colorful!   But then, there was the wait!  Three weeks I believe!
Week one we made 188 Tri-rec units!  I love these little units, and they always add such a great spark when they are used in a block design!  Always an unexpected break from the right angle triangle!  And it was such fun to revisit those blues and oranges that I had purchased for various projects! Three pieces to each unit, 564 pieces!

And it is a good thing that I do like to make those Tri-rec units, as I failed to properly read the instructions for week one.  I made all 188 units at first SCRAPPY!  I did have the orange and neutral centers.  I thought the blue in her pictures was just a red herring to throw us off (this is a mystery, after all!), but then I kept seeing other participants with all blue and decided to reread the directions.  ARG! I considered just going with it, but I decided I had best just put on my big girl panties and remake them. Bonus: I have all these scrappy Tri-rec units for a future project!
Week two we made 100 chevron units.  By the way, every week we are making 3 1/2" unfinished blocks.  100 chevron units that each contain 6 pieces.  600 pieces this week; running total: 1164! This got me to wondering what the finished quilt was going to be!  I was imagining this as a cool sashing or border design.  All along Bonnie was posting pictures of church floor from her recent trip to Ireland which was her inspiration for this quilt. 
Apparently there was some grumbling in the ranks about making the Tri-rec units in week one.  Well, there was some muttering in my studio over having to mark all those flipping units for the chevrons.  I find that a very tedious endeavor, but like Bonnie, I can't seem to sew a straight line from one corner to the next without the line.  But I also have trouble getting the lines marked.  The fabric would shift, and I was always fumbling with picking up the ruler.  That's when the AHA moment came and I thought, why not use that sandboard you bought!  When Becky Goldsmith taught at our guild, she recommended this for drawing applique shapes. Well, it works great for holding your fabric when drawing your straight line.
I also found that if I held my ruler at an angle, I could see both corners, and could then move on to the next square without fumbling to pick up the ruler!  Brilliant!
When Susan Cleveland taught at our guild, she showed how she makes quick work of mitering her binding strips.  She places a piece of painters' tape in front of her needle, then draws a line out from her needle.  I used this line to help center my units to make it easier to keep a steady straight line just one thread to the right of the drawn line. 
Week three we made 200 half square triangle units.  We used 100 to make 25 pinwheels.  The leftover 100 were to be used later.  HMMM, where is she going with this mystery! 400 pieces this week; running total: 1564!
Week 4 we made 120 4 patches.  Except I just got in the zone and made 200!  AH, more bonus parts, I can use them with those bonus tri-rec units! 480 pieces this week; running total: 2044!
Week 5.  Well, I failed to take a picture of the units we made.  Suffice it to say, we utilized the left over half square triangle units, as this was the last set of blocks to be made!  Each block contained 5 pieces (minus the two from the half square triangle block).  We made 100 blue, neutral, yellow, and orange blocks (that looked a bit like candy corn).  300 new pieces this week; running total 2344!
Week 6 we put it all together!  Using the tri-rec units with the neutral center, and the four patch units, we made 54-40 or fight! blocks on the left!  We were cautioned to keep the four patches all oriented the same way, which I diligently did during this process.  On the right we used those chevrons (brilliant!), pinwheels, and the units from week 5 (see them in the corners) to make Birthday Girl, one of Bonnie's designs.  Bonnie gave us pressing instructions, which made sewing the rows together so much easier, as the seams butted together nicely!
So here is the main body of the quilt!  Love it.  Bonnie's directions said to add a neutral border, then using the orange centered tri-recs, make a pieced border that ran like an marquee arrow around the quilt.  Then a final green border. HMM, I don't want my quilt to look like everyone elses, and those circles on the edges look like they want to be completed.....
So I did.  I used some of the orange centered tri-recs and some of those leftover 4 patches, made some blue and neutral half square triangles, added some neutral patches, and made a pieced border that finished those edge circles.  I used orange as an inner border to "stop" the neutral. I didn't have enough of a green in my stash that looked right as the final border, so I used a blue! 
Whew!  It is done.  Now it goes in the "to be quilted" queue!  You can check out the other Celtic Solstice quilts being made at http://quiltville.blogspot.com/2014/01/mystery-monday-link-up-part-6.html.