Monday, August 14, 2017

Any Which Way

Up, down, or sideways.....any which way it works for you.   I shared the development and layout for this water color here.  
 The debate went on in the comments about which way it should be oriented.

   This is how  it was oriented as I worked on it on the design wall.  The center portion was a class sample that was getting a little worn, so I added the gray border.  Then I went on and decided to add an outer border to show how to create a shadow and use the reverse value technique.

 Reverse Value Technique:  My word phrase to describe the contrast of value between the center portion of a wall hanging and the added border.  Where the center area is light in value, the outer border will be dark in value when placed next to it.    Refer to the upper right of the photo.....inner section is light/medium and the outer border is dark.    Lower left corner.....dark value in the center and light in the outer border.
  Opposite values next to each other in this case  are a good thing:)

     And a finished version with the dark shadow at the top.  I like this but had the inspiration to turn it upside down.

    And the personality changed with the  altered perspective.  The weight falls to the base and the shadow shifts to the left.   Sunlight fills the upper border.   The center portion to me appears to be a path now that is  leading me through an arbor of blooms on a summer's day.  

   And if you prefer.....a sideways view would work too...that photo did not turn out. :(   The name was an easy choice.....Any Which Way.  Size is 25'' by 31''.  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Will this fabric work?

  I love fabric, I love floral fabric, but sometimes ....not so much.
  I get gifted with fabrics often....and this was one of those.  It came with the comment,  "It's floral so you should be able to use it."    Not for my

 Why?  In class I will often hold up a fabric, much like this one, and ask will this fabric work in your watercolor project.    Why not?   Common responses are

  • too much background showing
  • flowers are too small/or too far apart
  • too dark
  The correct answer is it is too evenly spaced and at a distance appears to resemble polka dots.  This green with the rose buds went on the back.....not the front of a small project.    Stand 5 feet back from it and you see dotted spots.  Save the polka dots for another project.  The florals/flowers need to blend.  

  Another example.....this is a recent print....much more modern.  While it is a great print, not so much for my style  of design.  The graphics are stark and have no shading making blending to other fabrics difficult.  I did cut some 2'' squares and try to use it, but found they stood out on their own.  They did not play nice with other fabrics.    But it is a great choice for a backing :)

The fabric may be a floral.....but not all florals work for me.  Guess you can call me picky.  

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Back in time to String Me Along


 Going back to  an early project.......String Me Along .
  I love this quilt.   I have it hanging in the sunroom and so enjoy all the details and fun things I learned and used in it.  

Here's the link to the post from 2011, when I finished it.

   I was looking at it yesterday and saw the hummingbird on it.   And that reminded me to check on the hummingbird needed cleaning and refilling.    I enjoy their garden antics....swooping in, darting among the branches, hovering nearby, and then all out war to claim the territory.
  What you see on the quilt is what you can find in my gardens...... or could when things were in good shape :)

And one more critter on the quilt that we watch hopping around and nibbling our weeds, etc.  You might have to look close to find him as I sort of camouflaged him under the flower.

  Another post with a few details about the blocks, stitching, and such.   Most of the information on this quilt is scattered over about 6 posts and sort of jumbled.  It was early blogging days....I did not know what I was doing really:)  Second, some of the post have lost photos, need a fix, and such due I think to the blogger switch/change up format from a few years back.

  Would I do this again?  You bet.....only better and probably not as large.  I recently ran across the templates for the appliques I used.  Most of them were original, so I think that is why I kept them.   And there would be lots more floral fabrics.....instead of leftover bits and strings.

  But right now.....I am working on lots of small items for gifts, and guild boutique items.....more mug rugs:)  I have a couple of wall hangings to pin for quilting and that will be my time eater for the week.     So until I get some things done......happy stitching.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Just a little thing....

    A message this morning from Martingale, the book publisher, brought this notice of free patterns offered.    I thought the table runner was too cute, so I had a peek.  I have won and bought books from this site before, but did not remember free patterns.   Just thought I would pass the info on about this little thing.

  It almost felt like a fall morning today as we enjoy an early cup of coffee on the porch.    Good to enjoy it as I know it won't stay around too long.    My brother and Remy were up for the weekend, and the news is their  return flight was canceled due to the tropical storm and they will be stuck in town until Thursday!  Sounds good to me, as Remy owes Sir Old Man some time cutting the grass.

On the design wall........
  A small water color has been on the wall  for a couple of weeks.  I had added a narrow border in soft gray and then was not sure of how I wanted to finish it.

   I began playing and fusing squares to the interfacing to add.   I love doing a "reverse value" layout in the borders.  By that I mean the center has a dark edge or bottom in this case, so the outer border needs to be light and work up to medium.
   I have the sides sewn here....they go from light to medium to dark.   Across the top is dark, and they are fused but not sewn.  You loose a good amount of fabric in the seam allowances.  


   Once I got everything sewn, and attached I had this.

   Or would this be better??
   Up side down gives a different view on the world.  It is almost like a path leading you thru an arbor.    Just another way to ask "what if...."

   Have you heard about the solar eclipse?  Well, here in Greenville, SC we are in the right place for a view of the whole shebang!  And the news is already starting to go crazy with dire predictions of crowds and traffic.  Guess we will heard 3 weeks of this .....all for a four hour event.   It's not like people will be moving in for a long stay.  But I do need to pick up the free eclipse stylish I hear.
Such is the latest here......happy stitching.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Blog banner quilt is Scrappy Trips

    I have been quieter the last few weeks, slower too.  I had debated on resting a longer while from blog posting and not really starting anything new.   I wasn't going to close my blog, but I did feel I had repeated myself so much that I was boring.
Insight:   Things occur and happen to direct you along the road 
you are suppose to take.  There are signs we can chose to ignore, 
but with advanced age I have learned to be more 
receptive to directions.  At least sometimes. 

   All of this to say......this has been a week for emails and questions....not just requests for patterns.  Questions are a good thing.  Questions ask for help, provide direction, point up details I have forgotten, and they let me know what readers/followers want to know.   So after 3 questions about the quilt shown in the blog banner, I think I needed to provide details.  A hunt thru past posts revealed a big lack of details.  I have no idea what happened about that.

   Trippin'  Thru the Flowers is from 2014.  I began working on this as a Let's Book It project in April/May 2014.  The pattern is from Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville.    She calls it Scrappy Trips.   It is a Trip Around the World variation.....many small trips in fact.  My version is based on value rather than one color.   So.....chains of value radiate around the center square creating diamond bands of value.   Doesn't that sound rich?

  Value......not color.  Value is the lightness or darkness of the fabric.   And the secret to a quilt with the changes in value like this is variety.  You can't have enough floral prints to chose from :)   
 Three things I use to work with value in a water color (or a scrap quilt) are
  •  a value viewer (ruby beholder), 
  • a design wall, 
  • and a camera.   
Learn to sort your fabrics into correct value groups.   I use a ruby beholder viewer.  Additional tip....... Visit Exuberant Color for some good lessons... variety of value  ,  a lesson on value .  I learned great lessons from Wanda's blog, and there is no reason to create my version when she is a master at this.  

Design wall.....big, small, permanent or portable, it is so important.  I can stand back from a design layout about 8-10 feet and see how the values are working together.  In this design I wanted to  see distinct lines of dark and light.  I needed areas of medium value fabrics to blend to the dark and to the light fabrics.  

A camera....if all else fails, take a photo.  Look at it on the computer and amazingly, I can see where problems lie that need to be fixed.  Added tip....turn the photo into a black and white version and you will see instant photo based on value!

Back to the quilt............  
This is how the Scrappy Trips is put together.  4 blocks come together to make up the small trip around the world unit that you see.   If you read thru Bonnie's pattern, you will know that it takes 6 strips for each block unit.    So I had to make several variations for the variety in the full quilt.
   I laid out the strips according to value from dark to light before sewing them together.  It was important to be sure the dark and light fabrics were distinct and not too "mushy".   The lowest block on the left is just a little bit too mushy.  Compare it to the upper corner block that is diagonal to it.  Much stronger light in the center creates the radiating diamond.     So yes, I did have to do some planning--not too much--- to be sure I had light center units forming as well as dark center units.  

 And now a little further along.
   I got better as I went along....selecting fabrics to put together to blend and to have contrast.  
  In the pattern instructions, after you make sub-cuts you unpick a seam to join the rows.  The strongest dark or lightest light fabric was needed to run thru the center to get the pattern.  

   So many Scrappy Trips became Trippin' Thru the Flowers.   And  then became my blog it speaks dearly of the floral fabrics I love.   The blended values  remind me of shadows  in the garden in the evenings.  Movement can be strong and still gentle and that is what this quilt says to me.  
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Older post on Blending Fabrics

  I recently had questions about blending fabrics and where to go for information on it.    There are many books on the watercolor technique and all will have some general information, but there is nothing like hands on, learn by doing.  I went through some older posts and found this one from 2015 to re-post and share.

Selecting fabrics that blend

  I promised a post on blending fabrics last week. Looking back through older posts, I realized I had started covering this topic back in 2012.  So I have selected part of that post and added a bit more to help with this part of watercolor technique.

  On the right are the "light fabrics".  There is more background color---from white to light tan---showing and the design or print is light or faint looking.  Note the low contrast between the background and the print.   These can be hard to find, so when I do discover them, I buy a lot!
  Update note:  Janet reminded me that often the backside of a fabric will work for a light.  When you have a difficult time finding the right fabric, flip it over and see what the back side looks like.  It could be just what you need!  Thanks, Janet.  

   In the above photo...... On the left, are some light medium fabrics.  Again, the background is light, but the print is stronger and has more contrast with the background.  The one on the far left is a great example of a "sprigged" print.  A 2" square of this one can blend into a very light area like a sprig the extends from a branch of a tree.

 This photo shows  a collection of medium fabrics.   These are the work horses in watercolor.....they often bridge from a lighter  area to a darker well as being the most used.  The background may range from light to darker cream, or  tan....maybe a light green even.  The design is darker and in good contrast with the background.  Usually there is less background that shows, making them "closer packed".  

And the dark fabrics......give the watercolor depth and life.  The background color is, brown, blue, green.....and the design has strong contrast.   The areas of light and dark on the dark background provide the way to blend and merge the squares for a water color.      
Added note:  When looking at this type of floral print, do not focus on the individual bloom or pattern.  Rather look at the over all impression.    The dark background color/value will push these prints into the medium/dark category.  But there may be individual squares that are cut that can be medium value or light/medium value.  Those squares will help bridge from a dark area to a lighter one. 

    I talk so much about the right fabric, I thought I should also mention the wrong ones.  These are great fabrics, they just don't work well for blending in a watercolor.  Why?   Mainly because  they are one or two color fabrics.  Either they "read" as a solid or a polka dot from a distance.    Step back from the computer and look at them again.   The second fabric---purple paisley---fooled me when I bought it.  I thought it would work, but just does not blend well because the design is so evenly spaced.  So save these fabrics for another project or turn them into backings.                 

  If you have selected the right type of floral and paisley style prints, you still may face the challenge of making them blend.    Remember the real blend comes the value not the color you are using.  I created a collage photo to help show a simple blend from lightest to darkest.  

Top row------ from the lightest to the darkest.  If the lightest fabric is in the central area of the watercolor, you need to move out to the edge getting darker as you go.  

Middle row---- a close up detail of the first 4 fabrics.  The second fabric is a "sprigy" one that has a lot of background showing and introduces a darker stem.   The third fabric picks up on the background color of the second fabric and has more of the darker stems and leaves.  

Bottom row---  the second fabric in this row is what I consider a workhorse does so much!  Generally it is a dense or packed floral pattern with little or no background showing.  It has strong contrast in the pattern with distinct light and dark areas.  So it can go from medium value to dark value in just one square.  
  The last two squares in this row are dark values with the square on the end having more black background showing.  That is the drama factor.  

     This is one of the Cascade wall hangings.  You can see how I used the above blending technique to quickly move from the center of light to the darker edge.    One other thing to note on this is the effect of large/huge the red at the top left.  By positioning 2 or 3 squares that have a  large flower in similar color next to each other, you create the appearance of a very large flower.  
And the rest is up to you now to experiment and train your eye. 
  •  Get use to using the value viewer.  
  •  If a square doesn't work, give it a quarter turn or flip it over to see if the value is better. 
  •  Stand back....about 10 feet  before you judge too harshly. 
  •  Take a photo and view it on the computer.....changing it to black and white from color is a great trick I have not mentioned.  You will be surprised at the effect of just viewing the value.  
  • That is also a good tip to use on traditional quilts.  Sometimes we use too many medium values and then wonder why the pattern looks flat or uninspiring.

Happy stitching.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Looking back to look forward

Therapy Quilt and The Rest of My Story

  While this blog is focused on my quilting projects, it is also a record of the events in my life.  And hind sight is always much more in focus and revealing to me.    Looking back gives me perspective to look forward.

  One year ago, I was still in rehab and learning to stand and walk with a walker.  I was being treated for a B-12 deficiency, and lead to believe all things would return to normal in a few months!  This last year has included 3 months of occupational therapy for motor skills, 6 months of physical therapy for balance, walking and standing without falling over.  Neurological visits and testing and a clearer diagnosis of Pernicious Anemia and a life time of B-12 injections, and severe carpel tunnel in one hand and moderate in the other.  Surgery on both wrists---enough said--it was a nightmare time.  

   Teaching myself to sew again.....all those fine motor motion skills were weak.  I continue to suffer with the numbness and nerve pain in the fingers and hands.   I walk now on my own for short distances.  It takes a full concentration to maintain balance and not stumble.

    Feet and legs are numb  and the muscles tend to "lock up" and not respond at times.  I think this is due to over stimulation  from the nerves to the muscles.  I pray it is a sign of healing.   The nerves in the  feet are required to sense the ground/horizon for balance.  I have learned a few techniques about keeping my balance and using my toes and my eyes.   Vision changes have improved again....vitamin deficiencies can lead to lost of eyesight.   Since increasing the injections of B-12 to twice a week, I have begun to feel pain in my feet.  Pain is a good thing---some times.  I get thru the grocery store or shopping by having my hands on the shopping cart.  It keeps me grounded while I scan the shelves and look thru racks.   Awkward but vital for me.

  So on days like today, the thoughts haunt me.  Will I ever get better?  How long will this go on?  I want to be independent again.  I want to freely walk in the yard, climb a hill, go to the Farmer's Market......just things to enjoy.   I make myself stop and pause to think again.

  Insight:  From the fortune cookie.......

  Yesterday I cooked breakfast, went to the grocery store, put groceries away, planned the week's meals,  did 2 loads of laundry, and folded clothes.  I cooked the ground chuck for Shepard's Pie, washed up some dishes, made a late lunch.  I had a short nap, answered emails, and sorted more fabric, etc.   Exactly what in the world am I complaining about?  I have improved because a year ago I could do maybe one or two things before I collapsed.  Am I where I want to be?  No, but my life is not a race, it is my adventure.  
      My adventure is slower and less arduous than most.   I am more appreciative of the things I can do, of the people I meet, of the times I enjoy.  I can still challenge myself to try new things, to be the best me I can be.  I look forward to seeing the next year of my adventure.
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