Friday, February 4, 2011

Advice for this newbie?

Hello from cold and chilly Newfoundland! I'd like to thank Victoria for the invitation to participate in the PLAY! blog.

I've done a couple of quilts, always from a pattern, but lately I've been drawn to quilts that are more improvisational in nature, and I'd like to do some experimenting. I don't have many scraps, but I do have lots of fat quarters, and this bag of scrap quarters my MIL gave me a few years ago.


So, with trepidation, I begin this journey to free myself from the quilting rules! I really don't know where to start (and I'm a planner by nature; just "wingin' it" makes me slightly nervous!). I get butterflies when I think of cutting into those fabrics willy-nilly.

I divided the fabrics into dark, medium, and light values

thinking that maybe I'd try a monochromatic scheme for each block, and then arrange the blocks in a cascading gradation from corner to corner. Beyond that, I'm a little stymied. Any thoughts for what size block would be good to begin with? And how do I cut up the fabrics to create these blocks? Thoughts and suggestions will be eagerly received!!

Shine on!
Kelley

12 comments:

Janet H. said...

One of my favorite ways to choose a block size is to base it on whatever size square ruler(s) I happen to own, eg. an 8 1/2" square, a 6" square, etc. Makes it easy to square up blocks are sewn w/o a pattern.
Thinking about values is a great starting point. As for cutting and piecing, you'll be surprised at how well your hand and eye work on their own once you get used to working freehand.
Just keep telling yourself, 'it's only fabric...'

Kelley said...

You're right, Janet; I've got to get over it! I don't own a square ruler; is there a size you'd recommend, kind of an "all-purpose" size? (Can't believe I'm thinking of buying more tools-I'm worse than a man!) Thanks for the new mantra: "It's only fabric"!

Cherry Red Quilter said...

Now that you have sorted your fabrics into lights and darks see if any stand out as not fitting in - don't be too fussy - do they jump out at you as out of place - if not leave them in. Why not try a simple half square triangle (HST) block - if you have a six and a half inch rule make your squares that size - or whatever works easiest for you with your available rulers. There are lots on online tutes to get you started with the HST if you need them. Once you have sewn some you can play around with the layout. There are lots of options. You could combine HSTs with squares. Just cut a few, sew a few and then see how you are going. Lay them out on a table or the floor, stand back and see what you think. It is all a matter of practice and confidence and the more you do the more you will feel comfortable. And you can always come back for a second opinion. Above all - have fun! Happy stitching!

Kathleen C. said...

Using a monochromatic color scheme is a good way to begin-then the color question is settled and you can think about values and contrast in each block. You might cut a shape with 4, 5 or 6 sides (but not a perfect square) and stitch pieces (strips or 'chunks') around this center shape in a log cabin fashion. Sometimes I use a scissors to cut strips or other shapes, instead of a rotary cutter and ruler. The scissors makes me be more intuitive and liberated. You can add as few or as many pieces as you want, then square it off to any size block--6" to 9" is a good size block.Good Luck!

Alexis said...

Hey Kelley! Welcome! I have a feeling that you are going to have fun once you start playing! Start cutting and sewing... then cut that up and sew some more! Hope you enjoy the process :-)

Nifty Quilts said...

Looks like you're playing already, arranging your fabrics and thinking about color! Just do whatever seems like fun.

A fun exercise is to cut random size pieces from a bunch of fabrics and put them into a brown paper grocery bag. Give them a stir, and without looking, pull out and sew whatever you grab.

CharlotteP said...

I think Nifty is right...it always makes me feel less inhibited if I feel I'm working with scraps (even if you have to cut yourself a pile first!)...and it's also sometimes fun to have a wide range if colours, you sometimes find 'surprise' combinations that work really well!

Victoria @ BUMBLE BEANS said...

A few things here:
stop thinking. The ideas in this site are to get you to warm up your creative process. Think of this as an exercise to get you from a to b.

visit the tutorials on the side bar about how go make fabric.
Your focus should not be an a final product but on making something from nothing... The idea is to just sew scraps together, and as you make, perhaps you'll make a piece and you'll like the colors in it , or etc, and then that sends you on your way to making more... ( like my scrappy blocks with the polka dots)
Cut up that fabric to make scraps... Slice it up...
Throw it in a box, don't worry about colors and start sewing....

More later... A refresher might be needed on the process of this site...


Relax, stop sewing, cut sew cut sew..

Chris said...

Hi Kelly~Jump into the deep end of the pool and remember, like they said, it's only fabric! lol - Playing with scraps has been very good at expanding my creativity, instead of planning a whole quilt with a color scheme and set design. After you make some fabric, then you can cut it into blocks, and go from there. Have fun playing!

Janet said...

Hi Kelly, I find it easier to work with small pieces. I collect scraps from my LQS. They keep a little basket for people taking classes to put in anything they would otherwise throw in the garbage. I'm always amazed at what some people throw out, although some of what I get is just too small to use. Where are you in Newfoundland? I'm coming to St. John's in a bit over a week to drive back to the Yukon with my daughter who has been living there for the last while.

Kelley said...

Janet, Newfoundland to the Yukon is a loong drive; hope you've got lots of handwork to keep you occupied:) I live in Summerford, on New World Island; it's a little island off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, but it's connected by a causeway.

Thanks to all for the suggestions. I'm nervous about cutting up that fabric, with no intended purpose, just...because! I'll explore the tutorials and see where they take me. (We've got snow coming tomorrow, so I might get an excuse to play!)

beebee said...

Hi Kelly
Janet has the right idea...start with little scraps first. I bought a little one pound bag of scraps at the Quilt shop I go to. It was fun to see what I could make with those little pieces. You might want to try that and then use your bigger pieces in places where you see they need to be in your creation. Have fun and let the fabric lead you .
Can't wait to see you post a photo of what you come up with.