Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My quilting quandry, what to do?

I'm in a little bit of a quandary. I've finished piecing the last block in my block of the month quilt from Now, I have all these beautiful blocks and no plan as to what to do with them. 
12-block composite Aqua-yellow quilt

It is time to make a decision as to just how to proceed. This is generally the most tedious part of the quilting process for me--the decision making. There are so many options. Each one has challenges. 

I have never shied away from making decisions and I have always loved a good challenge. I never want my quilting to become burdensome in any way, so I generally take this approach slowly and thoughtfully. 

I have to say, I enjoy every part of the quilting process though much of it is about making decisions. 

When all is said and done, I am generally confidant with my ultimate choice. I consider decision-making like walking along a path in the forest and coming to a split in two or more directions. Deciding which one to take is important so as to preclude later regrets. Regrets are against my religion.

I don't know if I am typical in the way I make decisions or not; I just do it the best way I know how. That includes looking at all the options, weighing the potential hazards, and finally coming up with the best approach. 

Allow me to think out loud here.

Periwinkle Blue quilt
Rendering Aqua-yellow quiltI really loved how Periwinkle Blue turned out. That is my most recent completed quilt. So I'm leaning toward doing this one the same way--quilt as you go (QAYG) with free-motion quilting each individual block. 

Thing is, I don't have a pattern to follow, as I did with Periwinkle. That was a Craftsy class taught by Leah Day, probably the best free-motion quilter that ever was or ever will be. I really am in awe of this woman and her work.

The challenge with this option is that I'm a newbie at free-motion quilting. I am also not very comfortable with choosing designs that would enhance and highlight the pieced blocks. Then again, I haven't tried. Picking the fabric to outline the blocks and provide the joining strips would be pretty easy. I'd use the same concept as with Periwinkle, a light yellow sashing and dark aqua joining strips. I'm thinking yellow gingham. (Love gingham)! I happen to have some of that in my stash. I think it would be stunning. It might look something like the photo on the right. Now, if I can only remember how I did that...

A variation of this might be to insert a 9-patch or some other simple patterned block between these complex blocks. That would enlarge the quilt, which is desirable. I could dress up the rather plain blocks with a nice hand-quilted motif. 

Another option I've considered a more random, scrappy-looking quilt by making a few more smaller blocks to add here and there. I really like that look. In fact, one of the commentors in the quiltingboard included her quilt-in-progress photo which did just that. I have never done this technique before, but am totally intrigued by it. It looks so much less formal. It would take making a few more small simple blocks, say four-patches, nine-patches, churn-dashes, etc. to add to a row or column. It would do away with the symmetry, which I rather like. I could either hand-quilt or machine quilt with the QAYG method. Right now, I love both, so I don't really have a preference. Perhaps a combination of both would be good. I'm thinking perhaps hand-quilting a lovely border. I love the feel of hand-quilted quilts, but I love the speed of completion and challenge of machine quilting. With this project, there are lots of seams with all these complex star points, so hand-quilting might be a real pain.

My real stumbling block in making this decision has had to do with illustrating what is in my head. Creating the quilt pictures were a bigger challenge for me than making the quilt blocks. It has been really frustrating to try to figure out how to arrange these blocks on the computer. It seems like an easy thing, but it took me 2 days of messing with it, just to get this image. I don't have a computer program that allows me to easily manipulate 12 pictures. 

I tried to use Electric Quilt 5 (EQ5), but I'll be darned if I can figure out just how to do this simple task. I would really like to have EQ7, which would make simple tasks so much easier, from what I hear, but I'll be darned if I am going to pay full price for it. Electric Quilt does not offer updates to their old program. They require purchasing a brand new version. I simply can't afford that. 

I've tried using various photo imaging programs, but the best so far is simple Windows paint. At least they allow select and move within a larger image. That has its limitations too though. I used to have a program that was perfect for this job--Corel Photo Paint, which would easily stitch 12 images together, but my program isn't compatible with Windows 7. It simply no longer works. I have never been able to find one that is comparable, at least that I could afford. 

This challenge is one that I will simply have to solve. I've been trying to use Gimp, an excellent and free photo editing software, but it is complicated. I'm sure it would do the trick if I just knew how. I simply haven't learned it yet. That will take some time, and I really just want to quilt. 

Perhaps my best option is the old tried-and-true method of colored pencils and graph paper. I'll keep you posted on my decision, if and when I ever make it. 

A post script -- I just loaded all 12 individual files representing my quilt blocks into MS Word. Duh, why didn't I think of this before? 

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