Friday, February 23, 2018

Backing for Tickled Pink

Here's the backing for the Tickled Pink quilt. As you can see it is pieced with a big decorative panel and a couple of my free pieced birds.

All you really need for a backing of a quilt is that it is big enough, with enough extra for your long arm quilter. Yeah, I can measure but it's just easier to lay it out and see.

Yup. I have enough.

I am glad to be finished with this backing. Making quilt backings is my least favorite thing about making a quilt, and it's not because I don't like doing it, it's because there is so much fabric it's just more like quilt wrangling than sewing.

PS, all those points are going away.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Bird on Pink

Sometimes I get home from work too tired to do much. Last night I fed Millie then sat on the couch to read for a bit before I made dinner. It was past 9 when I finally dragged myself into the sewing studio.  Of course I couldn't do anything until the pink fabric I ordered for the backing of the quilt completed its run through the washer and dryer. 

I decided to use contrasting pink fabric to separate center the bird on the back panel of the quilt.

Here's what it's going to look like on the bottom part of the backing. I'll use the pink backing on each side of the panel, and then I'll do something similar on the top too.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Little Cleaning Up

It's amazing what you can do in an hour. I didn't have the energy to give the studio the big cleaning it needed, so I set a timer for an hour and started at one end of the room.

I added some pinks to the big decorative panel I ordered. It will be part of the backing for the Tickled Pink quilt.

I made a couple of pink birds.

I like the great big beak on this one, and his pink striped legs!

I spent a lot of time figuring out how to incorporate all these elements in the backing of the Tickled Pink quilt. That wasn't the hard part. It was calculating exactly how much fabric I needed to order that was giving me trouble. Finally I got fed up and ordered a yard or two extra. 

I don't usually prepare the backing of a quilt right after I finish it, and in fact, just before I started, I prepared the backing for the Wavelength quilt. I made it easy on myself on that one and ordered some "quilt backing" at 108" wide.

If you would like to make your own free pieced birds, you can get  my bird tutorial here, at my Etsy shop.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Tickled Pink!

The "Tickled Pink" flimsy is complete. Yeah, I'd say this tickles my fancy but good. As it is, it measures 72" wide by 98" tall.

I have learned something about this quilt, and that is that the TINY diamonds will make or break this design. They - not the large diamonds - are the star of the show.

The colored ones determine how brightly the quilt sings, so there needs to be good contrast with the "main" color. So in this pink quilt the tiny diamonds had to be bright turquoise, blue, deep purple and bright green.

 The "background" tiny diamonds need to blend with the "main" color of the quilt, they shouldn't stick out too much, but they shouldn't be monotonous either. And they shouldn't be "dull". The most successful background prints, in my opinion, were the ones with a pink allover design on a cream background so the fabric "read" as light pink and not cream.

I am very happy with this quilt. You could say I am tickled pink!

Saturday, February 17, 2018


I always say that I do my best thinking when I'm not thinking. What that really means is that sometimes ideas come to me when I'm doing something else. This idea came to me while I was brushing my teeth after breakfast the other day. I had just been in the studio looking at the layout of the Tickled Pink quilt, and when I looked around I saw a lot of leftover pieces that had cream backgrounds.  What would I do with them?***


That night I went into the studio and gathered up some of the leftover bits and tried to see what they would look like. This could be pretty good. I won't work on this right away, and I don't think the quilt would be as big as Tickled Pink, but hey, you never know.

*** I always find it's important to pose a question when I am working out a problem. If I ask a question, particularly if I ask it to myself before I go to bed at night, I often find I've got an answer to the question the next morning. But it has to be a question.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Moving Right Along on Tickled Pink

Since the blocks of this quilt are diamonds, it means two sides are on the bias. Since bias edges stretch, I have to be very careful handling them. Once I've sewn the diamonds into long rows, I put them on the floor. (Check out this post. It shows another diamond quilt in progress.)

I've decided to call this quilt "Tickled Pink."

I've moved the piece on the upper right from the floor back on to the wall. It's sewn together.

I needed the space to lay out this long diagonal row. Just how long is it?

  120 inches! Yeah, that's 10 FEET (304 cm). There aren't that many quilts that grow to that size.

 This quilt has two long rows that size. I had to put them on the floor to organize and sew the big diamonds together. With all the bias edges, it is hard to keep these edges from stretching.

 The two big diagonal rows go in this empty space, and the rest of the quilt is the same size as the big piece on the upper right. I'll sew the remaining diamonds into a piece that size, then sew the three big pieces together and the flimsy will be complete. I should get it finished this weekend.

Here are some more closeup shots of the various fabrics in the quilt.

And I think I have a plan for the cream pieces I didn't use in this one...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Filling In

 The thing about the sides of this quilt is that it has to be filled in with extra pieces on the other side of the diamond four patches. So even though the pieces you see above to the right of the giant diamonds aren't in the layout of the finished quilt I showed you the other day, they still have to be there, and I can't just sew any old pieces.

 And sewing them together is a little bit finicky.

To assemble the rest of the flimsy, I'll make sew the four patch diamonds to the medium sized diamonds to make diamonds as big as the giant diamonds, then I'll sew them together in diagonal rows.

It's kinda boring work, but it will be relaxing to do. I'll enjoy it.

And then, of course, I'll have to clean the studio and the whole cycle will start again.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Messy Pink

I don't know how much pink fabric I bought in terms of yardage, or the number of different pink fabrics. I'm not quite sure how many different pink fabrics are in the quilt, but I do know one thing.

(The design wall is over on the right.)

My studio is a mess. (If you want a tour of my studio, click here.)

Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

This Pink is IT!

Woo Hoo! I got it!

I got rid of all the four patch diamonds with cream in them. Then I looked at it again.

I thought, hell, I'm getting rid of all the medium sized cream diamonds too. Now THIS is IT.

Well. It doesn't mean I won't tinker with one or two things if I think it needs it.

Yeah, I know it's a lotta pink! Now I need a title with the word pink in it.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Pink Shopping and An Experiment

One of the advantages of not making all your decisions about your quilt design before you get started is being able to adapt as you see your work develop. After the last work session, I knew what kind of pink fabrics I needed, and bought these eleven pinks. I was looking for lighter pinks, and pinks with prints that were slightly bigger than blenders (like the one on the bottom left.)

I bought the Tula Pink print on the right two weeks ago, but over the last few days I was worried it was a bit wimpy, so when I saw the slightly redder version on the left I bought it right away. I've replaced it on the quilt, and it's looking good.

The more I looked at last layout I thought it was way too dark, so I tried adding back some of the four patch diamonds I had previously rejected, but after getting the new fabrics, I knew I needed to go back to the drawing board.

So I removed ALL the four patch diamonds, and ALL the medium sized diamonds. Then I cut new medium sized diamonds from the new fabrics, and placed them on the design wall.

Then I started filling in with the small four patch diamonds. I've still got some of the cream four patch diamonds in there.

I started adding four patch diamonds working from the right to the left. Those of you with eagle eyes will notice I swapped a pair of large diamonds. At this point, I am pretty sure the four patch diamonds with the cream diamonds are going to go.

Saturday, February 10, 2018


Here's one of the barns from the class at Quilted Threads on Saturday.

The class was very small, only four students, but it was great. I was able to give each student a lot of personal attention, and helped choose fabrics with a couple. We had a lot of in deep conversations about "What if I..." and "How should I do this..."

We talked a lot about Julie's quilt, and spent a lot of time looking at all the wonderful details. I had a grand time as well.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Replacements

Before I start telling you about the replacement four patch diamonds I've been making, I need to remind you of something.

The quilt I am making - the PINK one - my idea for it was that it would be overwhelmingly PINK. I wanted it to "read" as PINK, not Pink With Other Colors, but MOSTLY PINK. And for this particular quilt, I really don't want the individual fabrics to stand out and sing on their own. I want the fabrics to sing in a chorus. After that sinks in, I want the quilt to slowly reveal its true fabrics, and the underlying design.

That IDEA, is my IDEA, and my interpretation of that IDEA is the thing I have been comparing the quilt that is ACTUALLY in development on my design wall against.

These pink on creams "read" as a light pink and I like the way they look.

What happens on my design wall has not necessarily been BAD or even MEDIOCRE. Many of the iterations of the quilt I have been working on are perfectly FINE, but they do not match the IDEA I have in my head so that's why I have been pushing things around.

I say this because I don't want any of you to think there is only ONE way out of a particular problem or puzzle you set for yourself. Very often there are NO Wrong Answers, and you simply have to choose the one that sings for you.

I live for problems like this. Oscar Wilde said once about creativity, "Oh, the anxiety. I hope it lasts forever."  That's just it. I just LOVE cracking the nut. I LOVE pushing an idea around to reveal that extra something that was hidden. I LOVE finding the way something can be JUST THAT MUCH BETTER. My friend Julie says, "You play for keeps."  Hell yeah.

What I didn't like about the cream fabrics in the little four patch diamonds was the way they commanded your attention. They were the lightest light in the whole quilt, so they popped forward (Light areas pop forward, dark areas sink back. That's not just me blabbering. That is a Design Rule.)

I didn't want them to be so prominent, so I had to do something to them to tone them down and push them back visually. So they had to be a darker value. Since this quilt was to be PINK, they should "read" as pink. We had a snowstorm the other day, so I stayed home to sew. Couldn't go fabric shopping so I had to shop in my stash.

I found two pink on creams, and three other pinky fabrics that were pale enough for me, and got to work.

The colors here are pretty much the same ones I selected in this post, except where I ran out of fabric and had to substitute something else or if I thought there wasn't enough contrast between the pink "background" fabric of the four patches and the pink of the colored diamonds.

This is sorta what I am looking for. The light isn't great and only the giant diamonds will stay where they are, but I think this photo gives you an idea where I am headed, and now the background little diamonds do not look like six million white butterflies arranged like a marching band on top of my quilt. (and hey, if I WANTED it to look like white butterflies in a marching band, guess what? I know how to do that! LOL)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks for all comments, all the time, everyone. You always make me think, and that's good, but I did want to respond to the comments in yesterday's post.

1. Elaine, I have family in LA. Hell yeah I'd love to give a class when I visit. Email me privately and we can work it out. I like to visit twice a year.

2. Melody, like I said above, there is more than one correct answer. I have a requirement, so I want this quilt to meet it. Hey, I could be dead wrong. If so, I'll change it up.

3. Swooze, hell no, I won't dye them. Not only is dyeing NOT my forte, but one of my core beliefs is to use fabric the way I find it. I actually prefer to work within that big limitation. It makes things more interesting, more challenging, and allows me to feel much more virtuous satisfied when I pull it off.

4. Karen, yeah, making quilts on the fly results in a lot of orphans, but sometimes great stuff happens with those leftover bits. The quilt that lives on my bed (and has since 2011) was made by my best friend Julie out of a box of my leftover odds and ends. It's called "Magic Happens." Read about that quilt here.

5. Julie (the best friend I talked about in # 4) Yes! Yes! Yes! Read about Magic Happens here too.

6. Glen, THANKS! It's always fun to write about something I am working on and have somebody tell me they get it too!

7. Sharon, it's actually better with the visual effect of somebody slapping their foreHEAD, which is how I finally "got it".

8. Audrey, thank you. Being a little loose with an idea creatively leads to many more options, and as far as I am concerned, much more interesting and lively quilts.

9. Robby, thank you and welcome. How did I get the eye to put fabrics together? Sorry, I have absolutely no clue. HOWEVER... I have written a tutorial that may help you. It is called "Making Your Fabric Work For You," and you can get it here, in my Etsy shop. It's an instant download, so you can get it right away.

10. And to Sewgirl, from Wednesday's post, who thanked me for sharing the ups and downs of my process, you are most welcome. I really don't think seeing only the end result is much help to quilters who are struggling to find their own voice. We all learn more from our mistakes than our successes, and my strongest reason to blog is to SHARE my process with everyone.

I'm going to be teaching a Barns class at Quilted Threads on Saturday and won't get back into the sewing studio until Sunday, if then, so this blog will be quiet for a few days. I still have six more strip pairs to sew up into four patch diamonds before I can design the quilt in earnest, but don't worry, I'll bring you along every step of the way. Enjoy your weekend.