Monday, August 1, 2011

Tackling the UFOs-Caryl Fallert Small Blocks

Earlier this summer I vowed to tackle the many unfinished quilts/projects sitting in my sewing room, and promised not to start any more big projects until these were done.  So far, I'm making progress.  Number 5, the Visions of God quilt, is finished.  I've been working hard on number 2, the Hawaiian applique (more on that soon I hope), and over the past weekend I finished number 7, the small blocks from Caryl Fallert's class.

I talked a little bit about her class before, it was really a fabulous workshop all around.  The blocks I pieced as part of the design exercises in the early part of her class.  The blocks are all potholder or place mat size, and just this weekend I finished adding borders and quilting/finishing them.

The first one was string pieced, and the purpose of the exercise was to put together a contrast gradient (light/dark) using a single colorway.  We had a giant table of solid strips contributed by everyone in the class, and used those as the source to put together our gradients.  One of the great tips Caryl gave us was to use the black and white setting on your camera to look at your gradient.  Often it's hard to tell which fabric is darker when color is in the way, so using the black and white view removes that factor.  I'm really a fan of having contrast variations, the lights and the darks really make a design pop in a way that all medium tones can't achieve.  I'm not always good at that though,  many of my quilts have lots of bright colors in medium tones without much light and dark.  Another thing to work on!

Anyway, here's the basic string pieced yellow-brown gradient block I made.  You can easily see the contrast changes in the black and white photo.  I added the pink-orange border after the fact and quilted practice feathers on it.  My grandma really liked this one, so I gave it to her.

The next block we made was not a contrast gradient, but was just an exercise in appli-piecing.  This is Caryl's method for combination curved piecing/applique that avoids the stress of regular curved piecing.  The edges are turned under (around a template) and then a very small zigzag stitch is made over the edge using invisible monofilament thread.  This one was potholder size and then I added the purple border and tried to practice some quilting designs.

The contrasting quilting emphasizes how much I still need to work on being smooth when doing free motion work!  I'm probably going to donate this one to the Dallas Quilt Guild mini-quilt auction at their quilt show next year.  It was good practice and I love the colors (especially that print in the bottom section), but you only need so many little quilted blocks hanging around the house.

This last one was an exercise in combining at least two gradients and the appli-piecing technique.  I got a little too complicated and decided to try intersecting gradients in two different colors (green and pink) as well as plain gradients in those colors and a brown gradient.  It looks a little chaotic but kind of reminds me of strawberry fields.  Instead of putting on a regular binding, I thought I would try doing a faced binding in case I ever want to try that technique on a big quilt.  It worked out fine, but the corners are a little more rounded off than I would have liked.  This one is 8.5 x 11, and since it is small enough I might donate it do the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.  They sell small donated quilts to raise money for Alzheimer's research.  They also have a collection of gorgeous large art quilts that they periodically auction off as well.

These were all fun to make and I was glad to have some good opportunities to practice my machine quilting since I have a couple nice tops waiting to be quilted.