Squares and Swirls

>> Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wow, last Friday was really dreary. I'm pretty sure I recognized that at the time since, despite plenty of obligations and things to do, it was really hard to get up. While I dislike the early darkness that comes along with the switch to Standard Time, I really appreciate light appearing earlier since my body wakes up much easier (and sometimes too easily) with the appearance of light. Time change diversions notwithstanding, the dreariness produced some pretty crap pictures of what it, I think, a rather lovely table runner.

Exhibit A: The colors are not actually drab but are rather bright and cheerful. Do your best to imagine bright colors leaping off your screen in the image above rather than blah colors.

When I first started thinking about this table runner, I knew I wanted to use fall colors, make improv but not really wonky blocks, and sash the blocks in white. Other than that, I had no real plan. Some of the fabric was in my stash and some of it found its way into my house more recently. I'm pleased to say that I used almost everything I bought (just a bit of the green--which is definitely not Flea Market Fancy but resembles it a bit, I think--remains) and still have some more of the stash fabrics.

The other side -- this is a fully reversible table runner -- evolved a lot. I wanted some sort of free-floating squares design, but that's all I had settled on. Once I made the front blocks, I decided I'd use the remnants for the back blocks. The white makes the blocks pop against the purply background, and opted for some extra strips to keep it asymetrical.

Moving on to some slightly better pictures....I fussy cut the green square above for the back but otherwise cut the fabric and let the design fall where it fell. I free-motion quilted the table runner, in a deep yellow, which I like because it both blends and stands out, depending on where you look. No quilting endeavor is without its exasperating moments and the quilting had one of those. When I selected the thread last Thursday night, I picked it both for the color and because I had an almost-full spool. Or so I thought. Either my eyes deceived me or I didn't pay close enough attention to how full it really was (and while I can't see without the aid of contacts or glasses, I'm pretty sure my eyes don't deserve the blame in this instance). There I was, stippling (mostly, with a few swirls, loops, and even hearts tossed in), making good progress, seeing the crinkly texture take form...and then there was no thread. The spool was empty, I had no more yellow, I contemplated quilting the rest in another color (and thankfully discarded that idea as quickly as it came to me), and resigned myself to a trip to the store on Friday morning since when one starts quilting after stores close, there's no other option.

One of the things I love about this quilt is that it allowed me to use stash fabrics in unexpected ways. Take, for example, the brown floral piece at the center of square above. It's been in my fabric pile for a while, waiting its turn patiently, taking rejection from project-after-project in stride, confidently knowing it would be used eventually, and resting comfortably next to some coordinating turquoise, orange, and pink fabrics. When I went digging for a brown fabric, it jumped out. But its neighbors did not. So while I expected that I would use it with 3 other fabrics that seemed to mesh well together, in the end, I used it with a completely different batch of fabrics, a set that I created/improvised in the moment, and a group that I've become rather fond of tough I never could have predicted it.

The swirly flower-esque motion in the close-up represents my favorite quilted element in this project. Prior to quilting it, I started thinking about spirals, contemplating making big spirals in each of the 5 big square blocks. I wasn't confident enough to do that but decided to experiment with some small spirals instead. I'll definitely make some of them again and look forward to more experimentation. I finally feel comfortable with my free-motion foot, in no small part because I've found the right tension to use with it. It turns out that my machine needs a slight clockwise turn on the dial to a higher tension to free-motion quilt without weird loopy things on the back.

So....Congratulations Emily and Chris! I hope this gift stays with you and reminds you of your October wedding for years to come.

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