Sunday, January 12, 2014

it all started with a tiny wall hanging...

I've been feeling like our apartment entrance is a little bare.  I hang a wreath on the door that I change for each season (all my super cute wreaths come from this etsy shop), but that's it.  A little boring, especially when our neighbor across the hall always has a festive seasonal display of wreath, flowers above the door, and flowers on a pedestal!  I decided to make a mini quilt to hang on the wall by the door, and I plan to make one for each season, so I can change them along with the wreaths.

First up, Christmas.  I had just received my copy of Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Marston.  I love this book.  I love Gwen Marston and everything about her aesthetic and philosophy.  This book has been so inspiring.  I decided to try my hand at her method for making wonky stars.
My first star and the book that inspired me so much.

I made a lot of stars.  I didn't have a pattern or plan or a certain number in mind, so I just kept making stars.  They were a lot of fun.  Because I was making a Christmas wall hanging, I used a variety of greens and reds for my stars, with various grey fabrics as background.

Once I was done making stars, I started making log cabin blocks in low volume fabrics.  I put together a composition that I liked and pieced together my little wall hanging.  I quilted it in straight(ish) lines.  I was really happy with how it turned out.
Christmas wall hanging, before it was quilted.
here is the wall hanging that started it all, hanging in its place of honor in the hallway.

When it was done, I had a lot of stars left over.  Those stars turned into a small quilt for my mom, and a large quilt that our family is keeping.  I didn't have a particular size in mind for these.  I just kept adding until I felt the compositions were complete.  The quilt for my mom ended up at 84x66.  I would call it a nap size.  The quilt for us is 93x97.  It fits nicely on our queen size bed.

My design strategy for the bigger quilts was basically the same as for the mini quilt.  Festive red and green stars interspersed with low-volume log-cabin squares, plus a few big swatches of solids or prints.  I added random strips here and there to fill in spaces.  It was a very unplanned and organic process.  I hung a piece of batting as a temporary design wall so that I could step back and look at how things were coming together.
laying out the design for my mom's quilt, step one.

adding more stars and solids, step two of layout.
another progress shot... more spaces filled, more seams joined.

I sent the two larger pieces to my trusty long-arm quilter, Sarah Russett in New York state.  She did a fabulous job as usual.  I got them back from her just in time to bind them and wrap my mom's up for Christmas!
christmas stars quilt for my mom
back of mom's quilt

giant christmas stars quilt for us to keep!

back of our quilt.

These projects were my first attempts at improvisation.  For my first time not using a pattern, I was really pleased with and proud of how they turned out.  I think I could have done a better job of choosing fabric for some of the stars.  The values were too close on some, and the stars didn't pop out like they should have.  Aside from that, I really love all these quilts, from the mini to the queen size.  They are festive, funky, fun, and fabulous.  I really love improvising.  I may never use another pattern again. 


KMF said...

They'll all awesome, but I especially love how your mom's quilt turned out! I think you got the color and placement of the stars just right! :)

Elaine Luther said...

Love those! And I love the idea of liberated quilt making, I didn't know that was a thing!