Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WIP: What's wrong with this quilt top?

My mom finished her Japanese Tree quilt (she had an earlier deadline than I did), and it's just gorgeous.  Someday maybe a guest post on that one.  I'm still working on mine though and having some difficulties.  My goal for January for A Lovely Year of Finishes over at Fiber of All Sorts was to finish this quilt top.  Most of my quilting time this month has gone towards working on a different quilt about which I haven't been blogging, so I thought just finishing the tree quilt top would be good enough for the month.

Two Fridays ago I linked up my progress with this picture over at Nina Marie's art quilt linky and asked for ideas for how to make it look less flat.  I got many helpful suggestions, including the idea to have some of the leaves and flowers be three dimensional (i.e. only tacked down in the center).

So I sewed down and bobbin quilted down a bunch more leaves and flowers using the green and pink organza (that had been part of my original plan) and then put on a bunch of three dimensional organza leaves and flowers (luckily just with pins).  All the leaves and flowers have edges that are sealed with the soldering iron and it totally helped with the flatness, but the whole thing was just wrong wrong wrong, composition and design wise.  

To help figure out what was wrong and see what there really was to work with underneath, my mom suggested temporarily taking down all the flowers and leaves that were just pinned up, which gave this.

A bit easier to look at, but now all flat looking (because I took down all the 3d ones).  After much discussion, we came up with the following list of things contributing to how wrong this feels to me:

1. All the leaves and flower clumps are the same size (bad!). The leaves are the same size out at the end of the branches as in the middle.
2. There are way too many green leaves for a spring tree, which should be mostly blossoms.
3.  In the one with the 3D flowers all the branches were covered up, and there was just too much on it in general.  I like seeing the branches.
3.  The pink organza flowers are just not giving the flowery look I wanted- the brown fabric shows through too much. 
4. One color of pink isn't really enough anyway.  Based on the picture in the center, there just be more variety of pink and white, and probably opaquer pink and white. I think with the brown background chiffon only isn't going to cut it.
5.  Too much brown at the top.

Unfortunately, there's only so much ripping out I could (or wanted) to do from the picture above.  Each leaf/flower is sewn down twice and then the edges of the chiffon were cut with the soldering iron which means they're kind of stuck down to the brown fabric.  Basically, removing too many of the leaves was not an option.  I did remove four of them that were really bugging me, big green blobby ones covering up branch ends over on the right side.  They left some organza-y residue stuck to the brown fabric.  I'm still not sure how I'm going to get rid of that, but we'll see.

Then I started adding back in 3D flowers, but instead of using organza I used other (opaque) silky fabrics I had around, in different shades of white/cream/pink.  I also tried to make them more varied in size and mostly much smaller.  I sewed them onto the quilt with little tacking stitches in the middle so they're sort of 3D.  When I cropped it down digitally to remove some of the excess brown, I was left with this.

Still not completely happy with it, but better I think.  I'm going to add some more of the white and pink flowers and maybe a couple more branches.  I'm also going to add a few blossoms to the blue center square so that it feels more integrated.

This quilt has not been one of my great successes and I'm definitely looking for suggestions if anyone has anymore design/composition ideas!

It's not finished, but it's finished-ish, and if I hadn't signed up with it for A Lovely Year of Finishes I probably wouldn't have forced myself to keep working on it and it would still be languishing in picture 2 state just taking up space on my design wall.  I'm also linking up with the always fabulous Lee over at Freshly Pieced, and the super creative Art Quilt Linky over at Nina-Marie's.