Friday, October 16, 2015

Retreat UFQ Stitching

Several years ago, I took this beautiful orchid print to my winter retreat to have Kathy and Syd help me "stack and whack" it.  They are geniuses at it and since I do it infrequently, it's easiest to lean on their expertise.  Kathy could probably say exactly how long ago it was, but I'm going to guess 5 years.  I cut it with Marti Michell's Kaleido-ruler. 
Here are some scraps of the print -- forgot to take a picture of the big piece I had left before cutting it up for the border pieces.
Almost immediately, I decided I had ruined the fabric because I couldn't find any other print to use with it for the setting pieces.  This year, I put the project on my APQ Resolution list and it's number was drawn in August.  It's been sitting on my work table ever since as I strained to audition compatible fabrics.   For six weeks or more, it has haunted me so as I packed for the fall retreat last week, I decided to make it my priority project. 
The plan has long been to use Marti's cover pattern from Kaleidoscope ABC's and my first thought was to work with solids for the other fabrics.  After weeks of not making that click for me, I started pulling prints out of my stash that more or less matched the colors in the orchid print.  Two days before I left for the retreat, everything finally fell into place and I was able to pack a stack of possible prints and make a sketch of a potential color layout.
To my great surprise, I was the first to arrive -- look at all this space!!  I entertained myself by contemplating what it might be like to have this entire room as a studio . . . .
I got to work cutting piles of light greens into wedges
and medium greens into corner triangles. 
My sketch had lots of blank spaces and I started stitching with a flexible attitude expecting the values and color choices to become clearer once I saw the kaleidoscopes stitched together. 
The carpet presented a visual challenge as you can see but the sketch kept me on track.  I wouldn't have enough of the kaleidoscope blocks so I added five "stars" in pinks and golds.
Marti's instructions are very specific and piecing these blocks is a breeze when you follow them exactly.  This is the third quilt I've made using her tool and instructions.  At one point, she encourages you to "stop at the dot" and in the past I've struggled with this step.  (She offers an alternate strategy.)
But this time, the Set-In Piecing Simplified technique enabled me to negotiate that stop perfectly!!
A quick pivot and I was all set to stitch onto the next piece. 
What a difference it make in the flatness of the center to be able to swirl the seams and I'm delighted to find another application for the technique!
By mid-day Saturday, it was all coming together and I was excited with the results.  The greens were perfect for setting off the kaleidoscopes which are beautiful!
Here are a few close-ups!
 I've taken pictures of them several times and must not have a steady hand so the pics are a bit blurry.
I'm so delighted with the results, I started daydreaming about cutting up another hunk of fabric?!? 
By the end of the day Saturday, I had everything cut and over half the blocks pieced.
Once I got home, I finished the piecing and arranged the blocks on my workwall (and the floor).
I'm currently setting the blocks together -- thinking I will assemble it into two "halves", then quilt those sections (easier to wrestle with at my machine).  Once they are quilted, I'll join the halves, finish the backing, and quilt the central area.  I use Marti Michell's book, Machine Quilting in Sections as my guidebook when doing this.
It is currently 70" by 90" and I don't think I'll add another border though as I look at the picture, if I could find just the right stripe???  We'll see?
It's a delight to move forward with this quilt and find that I didn't ruin the fabric after all.  I'm also reminded that my "style" is to work with a large variety of prints and not get too tight about the exact shades of color -- close is good for me because value is what makes or breaks the design in my work.   I'm glad I scrapped the solids idea.
I'm so excited about the progress I've made on this project that it just might push ahead of several other pieces and get quilted next!!
Have a pieceful weekend!!
Mary Huey



  1. It turned out lovely! Love the swirling seams ... I took a class recently at our local quilt shop and the lady was showing us a medallion quilt that she quilted using that technique; Quilting in Section. I thought it was interesting, I might want to try that someday.

    1. The "quilting in sections" has enable me to finish more large quilts here when I can't afford to send them out for long arming. Thanks for the visit and the compliment, Maryse!

  2. Love the new quilt! I'd like to try stack and whack, even have the fabric, but I need friends like yours to help me feel ready to cut!

    1. Thanks, Tammy -- I'm pretty enamored with it myself. Here's a link to a you tube video by the gal who introduced American quilters to "stack and whack" -- It's about 25 minutes long and might give you the confidence to go at it!!

  3. The quilt is amazing and so beautiful. I had never heard of machine quilting in sections so am excited to investigate that. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was intimidating to try it for the first time -- read Marti's book four times before I started?!? Since then I've decided that trying out the different "finishing" methods described in the book helps to figure things out and build confidence so I suggest taking that approach before tackling a big project. You may be able to find some tutorial videos by Marti on the topic, too!

  4. I thought the print too busy and then you cut it up and made it gorgeous!

    1. LOL -- prints are seldom too busy for my taste?!? Thanks for the compliment!!

  5. I am glad you have pushed past the quilters' block and are enjoying and making progress on this UFO again.
    That whole space as a sewing room - what a fun dream to have.

  6. This is gorgeous! I love stack and whack. Came by way of A Quilting Reader's Garden and am new to your blog. Will be sure to come back!