On Timing

>> Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In January, I joked with some of my fellow Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild friends about designing a Moda Bake Shop (MBS) Quilt. I had a charm pack I wanted to use, I didn't want the quilt to scream "charm pack" (40 precut 5" squares for those wondering), I wanted to find a way to use one charm pack in a big quilt, and I had an idea for just such a quilt. I confess that there might have been some cackling and goading about what exactly "counts" as a MBS "recipe" (for more on that, keep reading...).

When I got home, I looked up the guidelines for submitting a pattern. I knew I would need an image and for some reason decided I should make the quilt top rather than just draw a mock-up. Making the quilt was easy and let me write notes about yardage and steps and helpful hints. About a week later, I returned to the form, ready to fill it out. At which point I was stymied by how to link my quilt top picture to the submission. I decided to post it on flickr, not add it to groups, and hope that was ok. After I did this, I realized that I should have added it to picasa, made it available only with a link, and sent the link. Oh well, lesson learned.

And then I waited. And waited. And waited some more.* Now I can't pretend that my design was revolutionary. It was not. In fact, it was very much inspired by many of the half-square triangle quilts I had seen pop up over the past year, especially those made with solids. This one (which I love) popped up in my Google Reader the day after I finished piecing my version. My twist, as it were, was using 1 charm pack along with several solids, to allow for pops of different colors scattered through the quilt.

My idea very much built on the work of others -- as, I think, most of the MBS quilts do. It's a useful collection of quilt patterns that often spin relatively traditional patterns or ideas floating around the internet in a slightly new way, or use a slightly new method, or simply showcase Moda precuts instead of cutting from yardage. There's nothing wrong with this -- heck, I was interested in playing too. It seems to be an advertising boon for Moda that simultaneously gives crafty folk free patterns, creates a buzz around bloggers who have a chance to reach a larger audience, and hosts a vault of ideas that anyone with an internet connection can tap into. It is, of course, limited -- its focus is Moda precuts, there is a rather opaque selection process, and its designs are not going to appeal to everyone.

Three months later, I feel pretty confident that Moda isn't interested in my idea. And, frankly, that's fine. Maybe I was cocky in thinking they'd like what I could offer or maybe they didn't like my suggested gender-neutral/"masculine" charm pack option (Salt Air + a bunch of different grays/silvers) or maybe they just had a lot of other applications in line they liked better. If there's interest, I may write up the basics (which is to say size/yardage/cuts, since the rest of the instructions could be summed up as: make half-square triangles, arrange them randomly, sew squares together). Or maybe I won't since this morning Sew Mama Sew posted a pattern that's a riff on what I came up with which is a riff on what others, especially Katie, have done.

Timing, as they say, is everything. I waited, perhaps a bit too long. I waited, perhaps, on the wrong venue. But, I realized this morning, it just doesn't matter. Because lots of people can come up with the same plan. Inspiration can co-exist. Patterns need not be the domain of monopolies (see Rossie on being a copy-leftist.) Credit isn't the point. For me -- a small-time blogger who sews when I have the time (make the time?) because I like to play with fabric and make things -- a free-flowing exchange of ideas is more valuable. However that plays out, as long as it does play out, is fine by me.

Edited to add: talk about timing -- Design*Sponge just posted a tutorial for geometric triangle wall art.

November 2012 addition: tutorial/mini-pattern here.

*To clarify: I received a confirmation of my submission but never heard from Moda again. Apparently others have received rejections but that wasn't my experience. If anyone from MBS stumbles upon this, I would offer the unsolicited advice that some form of clear communication is preferable to none, even if it's simply "if you don't hear from us within 3 weeks of submission, you can assume we're not interested."



>> Monday, April 16, 2012

Way back when, or in January, I started making a quilt for a friend. It was a long time coming and I finally settled on the fabric -- lots of Modern Meadow -- and semi-decided on a pattern. Which is to say I decided to make a lot of HSTs -- half-square triangles -- and then see where that led me. At first I thought I might make a little something like this and then I changed my mind, considering a modified pinwheel along the lines of this. Even as I started sewing, none of them quite felt right. Which ultimately led me to some big flying geese:

I can't pretend me method was precise, frugal, or smart. It was ad-hoc, a tad wasteful, and not-so brilliant. See those extra white flaps on the bottom? Yeah, I just trimmed those off. Because sometimes simple solutions are the best way to cover mistakes uncertainty. Once I got to this point, however, I became decisive. I knew what I was doing and how I was going to do it.

So I did it, at which point I discovered that Denyse Schmidt has a pattern that bears a distinct resemblance to my {clearly brilliant} quilt design. I'm going with great minds think alike, because why else would Denyse Schmidt make a pattern for the quilt that existed in my mind? I mean, her pattern probably uses more logic than my process, but it probably involves a lot more steps and templates and planning and numbers and yardage and whatnot than my, shall we say, intuitive sewing. And I'd show you the whole quilt, but I made the mistake of giving it to my friend and failing to take pictures of the whole front and whole back.

I thought about picture-taking. I thought about it when I plucked it from the dryer and placed it in my backpack. I thought about it when I gave it to Joel. I thought about several nights later when we were both packing again. I thought about it on the plane, after we got on different flights. And I thought about this afternoon as I sat in the Harry S. Truman archives, when I typed in my kickin' wireless login that begins with HST, which makes me smile and reminded me to post. So I will wait, with as much patience as I can muster, until Joel returns from his work trip to Asia and snaps some photos for me.

In the meantime, I'm crossing my fingers that I finish my work quickly enough to sneak in a little trip to the Quilt Shoppe in Stewartsville before I drive back to Michigan.



>> Thursday, April 12, 2012

Purple is a finicky color. Or I'm finicky about purple. I like it, but I don't like a lot of purple fabrics. It occupies the least space in my stash (to put it in perspective, I have much more pink fabric than purple fabric, and I could easily live my life without any pink in it). There have been more "good" purples of late, especially on the cerise end of the deep purple spectrum, but very few deep bluish-purples. But I know several people who love purple and like to find ways to include it.

This challah cover was a long time coming. Or just really really late. Sivan and Igor, a pair of my closest friends, moved to LA and bought a house. More than 12 months ago. And I intended to make them a challah cover as a housewarming gift. When I visited them in November, after they'd been in their house for more than a year, I planned to bring said gift. But it existed only in my head, and even there it was a mere figment, with no real plan other than using some purple.

When I playing with all sorts of rainbow road quilts, I had a few extra purples. Like three, maybe four, 5" squares. Not really enough for much. But they played well with creams and browns, and the purple-brown-cream combo is, I think, adult and gender-neutral and not-frilly and very Sigor. The challah cover now lives in LA, where it is probably stashed somewhere during Passover (two more days...I can handle two more days of always feeling slightly hungry, right?), and will make appearances anew when bread is again permissible.


Suspicious Animals

>> Sunday, April 8, 2012

I could probably win the real-life suspicious animal competition, given how infrequently I'm in the same place these days. I think every phone conversation with a friend begins with "where are you today?" But there are other suspicious animal contests to win as well. In a stroke of brilliance, my friend has a birthday tradition of bringing all sorts of craft materials to a local bar and making the evening into a drinking/crafting spectacular. This year's challenge was to make a suspicious animal, and the bartenders were the judges.

My strategy, if you will, was "use as many materials as possible." And as I noted to Rossie, one of the minds behind this genius birthday affair, I approached the composition of my animal much like I often piece and quilt: with no real plan. So when the glitter playdough and toothpicks didn't play together quite as well as I thought they would, I added some glue, some rubbery discs, some more playdough, and some pipe cleaners. At one point I looked up and realized I hadn't yet used a pom-pom, so I added one, stuck on a googly eye, and then needed additional pipe cleaners as support. Finally, in what was I thin the best move of the evening, I added a crepe paper braid. Indeed, I think it was the zebra-striped crepe paper braided tail that won me the evening's top prize. I mean you wouldn't want to encounter this entity in real life, right?


Warm Spring

>> Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I got stuck -- in a good way -- on improv curves. As in, I couldn't stop making them. When I needed to make a baby quilt, what else was there to do but dive into my stash of warm solids and curve away. But I've also become a huge fan of negative space, so it was time to combine improv curves and negative space into one magic quilt top.

One improv quilt block + one border + a bunch of Moda Snow (which is a touch off-white and looks best with warm colors). This moved from vision to reality pretty quickly, which is one of my favorite things about baby-quilt-making. Deciding on how to back the quilt was also an exercise is serendipity, or at least in serendipitous eye-falling-on-perfect-stash-fabric-not-noticed-for-a-while. {Note: Blogger's spell-check is super unhappy with my German-esque noun-creation.}

I purchased these cuts of Rio flowers and squares (from Marcus Brothers) years ago. Well, maybe about 4 years ago? I had used a small piece of the flowers for a scarf -- which I planned to link to but named the post something clever that I can't easily find right now -- and let the rest sit around for years. I really like the fabric, but its palette isn't the easiest to work with as it's more subdued -- that is, more shaded -- than most modern fabrics out there right now. But never fear: all fabric can be used. The right project will come along. And suddenly, it becomes necessary to use just that fabric (and maybe a little fun orange solid) to back a quilt.

That little purple triangle might be my favorite part of the improv section. It's tiny but noticeable, in a  good way. I quilted it with straight-ish lines about 1-2 inches apart -- off-white thread on the front and orange thread on the back. Except for the one line of maroon thread on the back after I ran out of orange thread. My thread-remaining-on-spool calculations were pretty good, all things considering. Or the fact that I lack x-ray vision considering. "Warm Spring" -- which understates the freakishly warm 10 days we had in Michigan in March -- has made it to San Diego, where Mina will get to enjoy it and where it's warm all the time, I'm told.


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