Sunday, January 12, 2014

Playing the Layout Game

I am busily working on a Bali Wedding Star quilt for a client.  This is one that will probably go onto my list of "never quilt again" quilt patterns, right along with it's cousin the Amazon Star.  Judy Neimeyer makes lovely designs, but I just hate quilting them.  This one is a monotonous 104" of the same thing after the same thing.  I spent over 12 hours just ditching this quilt with monofilament!  I hope it will be gorgeous because it will definitely take me forever once I start on the actual quilting that will be seen!

In the evenings, I have been more busy readying a quilt for the 2014 shows, so I haven't really spent much time on these blocks.  I do them here and there, and when my daughter is at a dance class.  I have 3 new ones -- 17 finished to this point.
For some stupid reason, I decided now (after 2 yards of dark green fabric arrived this week) to play with the design layout.  I ought to be shot!  Now I am plagued with indecision, and don't know what I will do, or if I have enough of the green background fabrics.  Here's the layout I thought I would go with initially.  In many ways, I love it.  It takes a basic-type layout and elevates it with the curved applique (the beige "flowers" are done from the silk Radiance).  It leaves some space for quilting, but not enough that I would feel in inundated.  Some quilters love wide open spaces. I'm not one of them though!  So this layout needs 25 blocks, and until today, I thought I knew how many of each colorway I was doing.
Then I got to thinking that the layout lacked a clear central motif.  The one I drafted below isn't really what is shown.  It would be one of the pieced units, but with an added row or two pieced onto it.  It would have a wider silk frame in the ivory.  The EQ7 rendition shows all blocks being the same, but they are not.  This layout needs 20 blocks.  It's sounding better as I go.  Five fewer.
Then I got to wondering how it would look if I simplified it somewhat.  These pieced block/"flowers" are busy.   Maybe they are too busy.  There is a lot of space here to quilt in (probably more than I really want! and this is a larger quilt by 7-8").  I would probably add some appliqued bias/vine (hard to describe) into some of the more open areas to help break them up.  It has a certain look that is more grounded and less busy.  Not sure if it is my favorite.  Plus it only needs 17 pieced blocks, which means that I am already at the number I need (and they are not in equal numbers to fit the layout).
One last tweak.  I hate straight lines on quilts because they truly have to be straight or else it looks wrong.  It's better to have intentionally NOT-straight lines.  And it is visually more interesting, even if it is not done in that super-pale green as I have it shown.
 Some questions for my 16 readers (he he)...

Is there a layout that you prefer over another?  What about it is pleasing, and draws you to it?

One more question...I want to increase my blog reading and am seeking interesting blogs.  I am drawn to ones with good piecing/applique or good quilting.  I really don't give a flip about the blogs for designers that make ridiculously simple quilts from fu-fu fabrics with mushrooms and trolls, etc.  I am all about the substance.  So, please post and give me a couple suggestions of blogs that you enjoy.

I sent my silk quilt off to be photographed by an unmentioned magazine this past week.  This is all very exciting, but nerve-wracking too.  I always worry when they ship away in the mail.  I am hoping to have it in Mid-Atlantic Mancuso show next month, along with another of mine that isn't quite finished yet.  That quilt's binding will be done early this week. The piping has been giving me fits (not to mention the elephant in the room...the red and orange fabrics bled a bit when it was blocked the first time too!  That is a thing of the past now) No more excuses.  I have a gorgeous blue quilt to share detailed pictures of this week, and if there is good fortune, a Bali Star too.

Ta ta!


Virginia said...

I really like the last layout, the lighter green curved triangles help tie the corner blocks to the center block. As for blogs, I would recommend both Sue Garman and Quiltsalot. They don't post frequently but I'm always inspired.

Cathi said...

I love the first layout with the two greens -- it really draws me to want to stay and study each one of the flowers. It reminds me of a peony garden.
I'm going to be really interested to see which layout you choose.

Emily Breclaw said...

All the quilt options are pretty, and I LOVE how you're putting POTC blocks into circles. I like the first one best, though. Even though it has the most blocks, it just reads simple and lets the fussy-cutting shine.

As far as blogs go, I'd be thrilled if you checked out mine! I laughed out loud when you said no super-easy quilts, I tend to be that way about blogs too.

Can't wait to see how your quilt turns out!

lesizmo said...

I'm barely a quilter, mostly a knitter, so I'm not sure I have the "right" to an opinion, but my grandfather always used to say "the best thing about free advice is, you don't have to take it." So I vote for the first quilt, which I guess is the one you don't like. At least the way you have the layout, I think there's plenty of focus in the center, with the various-colored flowers around it in a pattern. I like it because it reminds me more of a garden than the others--at least a less-formal one--and I guess I feel that the layout is more old-fashioned (but I could be wrong about that).

The quilting blog that I love and that meets your criteria is I think she doesn't post so much currently, but it's sure worth going back and looking at her quilts. She is obsessed with applique, which doesn't fascinate me so much, but I love her sense of color and her quilting is fabulous.

Good luck with your choice.

Emma said...

I don't necessarily think the original is lacking a centre motif - although it's a design feature you often use to great effect, it's not a requirement of all designs. I think what I like about the second layout is the consistency of the colouring, but I'm not so keen on the actual layout; it seems quite heavy where the pieced blocks are. Of the last two, I definitely prefer the one with curved lines to match the layout of the pieced blocks. And I think it would be even better with the vines. So, the last option would be my pick.

Maggie said...

My preference is the last one. My eye keeps moving around it. It's both simple and elegant.
One of my favorite blogs is Excellent quilting, thoughts, and always responds to comments.
Maggie in Arizona
P.S. Will you please share how you get your curvy diamonds? Like on the turquoise piece? Thank you!!

Tracy said...

Like where you are heading with the design, it is interesting to follow your thought process. In the last layout, I think you need to add more of the small light and dark diamonds. When I look at them in the first version, they are a nice accent to the larger flower blocks. A few applique blogs I follow:

Bev said...

I like the first layout. When you add a center medallion, it takes all the attention away from the surrounding blocks. But I have to say, they are all beautiful. I'm struggling with setting my Oklahoma Beauty Quilt and trying to figure out borders. I don't have design software or room for a design wall. I have two shih tzu's that run and lay on anything I put on the floor so am not sure what I'm going to do about figuring it out. Love your quilt blocks! Cheery wave from Bev

Angie in SoCal said...

I'm no help - but at least for me I would narrow it down to the first and last layout. I like Sue Dario's blog. I love those flower blocks - they're fabulous!

regan said...

I'm loving the last pic, mostly because of that curved line. I'm not crazy how that very dark border grabs me, but it's probably because the center colors are so pale in comparison. I'm sure you'd be making them more to the color range of your other blocks. And I'm crazy for those four corner points on the dark green.....would love to see more of them in the quilt. They are a spark!

And I love following, as the others have mentioned, Quiltsalot and Sue Garman's blogs. I also love Cindy Needham and Diane Gaudynski's blogs. I also enjoy Mary Elizabeth Kinch's blog (you've seen her publish with Biz Storms), and Natalia Crane in Russia (not sure you'd get her blog if you googled it, so here's a link:

....she does lovely work both by hand and on her machine.

So much inspiration out there.....including your great blog! Thanks a bunch! And aren't you loving these sunny and warmer days! Woohoo! Finally!

Quiltdivajulie said...

My favorite is the first layout. Rich and full, symmetrical but not overtly "medallion'ed" . . .

And my quilting friend here in TN feels pretty much the same way about long-arming clients' giant J.N. star quilts.

Vicki W said...

I really prefer the first one. I think it does have a center focus. I also like the last one. That one will allow for more quilting space.

dq said...

I like 2 and 4. 4 is better than 3 in my opinion because that extra diamond gives it the pizazz it needs.

I cannot decide between 2 and 4. I think it depends on if you want a simpler, cleaner look or not. I am not sure of the quilt size, but #2 might look better on a bed because the outer shape would fall off the bed.

I am looking to increase my blogging, and like you, don't care for the really simple things that are out there. I have not quilted much in the last couple of years. Now that I've got a couple years of teaching under my belt, I have time to sew again. I met you through a quilt swap (you got my "Italy through blinds" quilt and I got your lovely dolphins quilt).

I LOVE your machine quilting! Your work is beautiful!!

Jane said...

I like the first layout, it seems to sit right and is easy on the eye :) love your work :)

Busy Quilting said...

I prefer the layout with the curved inner border. Can you also put a slight curve to the outer dark green background as well?
Borderline Quilter is another inspirational blog I follow.

Carol from Panama said...

The first one is my favorite - hands down. I don't think these gorgeous fussy cut blocks need to compete with a center medallion. Just setting them on point is a major departure from Lucy Boston's original. Having said that I am sure whatever you choose will be a show stopper!