Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Corduroy Obsession - No R & R

The title of this post could stand for No Rest & Relaxation, but it really means No Rulers or Rotary.  OK, that's a bit of a white lie, I did use a rotary cutter  4-5 times to clean up a curve or two in the center of an edge where I knew if I tried to trim it back with scissors it would look like a blind barber cut it.
So how did I get to here?

I started cutting up my collection of pants on Saturday, August 4th.  It was a great day to be outside, which I highly recommend.  The little nubs of fabric create quite a mess.  I got out my sharp shears, cut off the hem, then snipped up along the seam line about 1"-2", then gave it a good tug. This allows the fabric to tear right up the grain line. I made piles of each color and then thought "oh, I'll just start with a test block".

My cutting table quickly turned to this,

.....and the floor in front of the design wall turned to this.

4 blocks 2 starts and I felt it was a bit dark.  By bringing in the apple green twill in the above photo, I got the color punch this needed.  As much as I love red, I only wanted that to be a small color accent. On the 7th, Tues night, our guild had Movie Night, and the first film clip they showed was on Gee's Bend, the makers and their quilts.  How perfect.  This just added to my energy to keep working on this piece. 

This is the first strip of green that I added and loved how it played with the other colors.  As you can see, I'm not cutting exact strips, either width or length.

Really loving the green and I've got the start of a few more blocks.  I might be on day three of this project by now.  I became obsessed with it.  I made sure I had time to work on this every day.

I had to start flipping my camera over to black and white to see how my constrast/value was coming along.  Color can trick you into thinking you have contrast, but this method is foolproof.

Here I'm testing out the dusty pink around my 9 patch center.  I liked it and went for it.

I'm getting closer to having my 12 blocks finished.  My goal was blocks that finished approx. 18" square, and I was using my cutting mat for a guideline.  Mixing up block centers added interest as well.

Back and forth, color to B & W.  This really helped me with decisions, both during the block building process and the layout of the blocks.

Here I"m playing with the last few blocks.  I'm paying attention to what color the strips are going to be on the outside edges as compared to the blocks it will live beside or above.  I'm also trying to orientate the brighter colors so the strips are going in all directions.

Here I am continuing to mix up the block placement, look at the center construction of each block and make decisions on the next blocks.  I usually worked on 2-4 blocks at a time.  I loved how working with such a controlled set of fabrics allowed me to make quicker, better decisions.  I didn't agonize much at all.  I also didn't go to my stash, stare at it, pull out 27 fabrics, audition, ponder, fold, refold, and then put away 27 fabrics.  I felt I could be more productive and creative working with this limited pile of fabrics.

With all the cut offs from longer strips, I started piecing these small sections together.  They were stitched with no regard to the quilt top or how this start would finish out.

Another block in the making.  I now have a pile of small "starts" ready for another quilt, on another day.

Now it was time to put the rows together.  I stitched the top row and used that as my guide.  The second row was put together and added on.  At this point, I could see that the bottom of this section was narrower that the top. When I pieced the 3rd and 4th rows, I measured them up against the top row, and when I added the bottom section, I pinned it heavily and worked in the little extra I needed to straighten out the bottom of this top section.

My finished goal was a top that was pretty flat, straight and square.  I succeeded.  Is it perfect? Nope and I had no expectation of that.  But being off by an 1" or so, I'm super pleased.  Even thought I didn't measure, pin, or rotary cut, I got a very good final project.  By tearing the corduroys, the fabric grain was very good.  When trimming off each round of strips, I learned that I was cutting with the corners curving out, so some small adjustments were made and my blocks were getting better.

This top was finished on Tuesday, Aug 14th.  Yes, I work.  I quilt for others and finished 4 customer quilts in this time frame, and spent a full day with my family.  I got so engaged in this "new" process and I realized how wonderful it was to work with such a limited group of fabric.

Some notes on working with corduroy.

Rip the fabric, but do this outside if you can.
Keep your vacuum close.  I used it every day in my studio, sometimes twice in one day.
Clean your sewing machine, and clean it often.
Use wider seams.
Choose block construction ideas that do not have seams all coming together in corners.
Work seams open when possible.

Here is under the throat plate area, and I had already cleaned it once in this process.

Bobbin area after one session of sewing.

These little bits will go everywhere, and even after you vacuum, you will still find them in nooks and cranny's.

Those small starts I mentioned?  Here is what I already have to work with when I decide to pull out these fabrics again. I'd say that's a good start.

The top is finished, I've stay stitched all around the outside and have a flannel back made for it.
Have you worked in this manner before?  I know I get stuck in the "decision" mode so often.  Having too many choices can sometimes hinder our creativity.  There will be more quilts in my future that use limited choices.  I can always add in something new if I think the piece needs some new friends, but this was a very good lesson for me. I've stepped through a new door in my quilt making process with this piece, and I like it!
What new ideas have you tried this year?
Keep stitching,


Mimi said...

Love it!

Karen said...

I don't think I would find many corduroy pants in Florida. You have made an excellent use of your stash of them. At one time, a guild I belonged to was asked to make some quilts for blind children and to use fabrics with texture. That way they could feel the different parts.

Kyle said...

Thanks for sharing your step by step process. Working with your color scheme was more unifying than limited. I need to remember to use black and white photos when deciding about values and contrast. I can't believe you had so many different corduroy pants, especially the red ans lime green!

Janet O. said...

What a great funky, quirky quilt (those are positive adjectives). :)
I enjoyed following your journey with it. No, I have never done anything like this.
And I appreciate the tips for sewing with corduroy, in case I have the occasion to do so.

Lori said...

I love the finished top and enjoyed seeing your process!! I can imagine how messy that corduroy is.

Megan Flynn said...

Wow you truly are dedicated to your work, thank you for inspiring me love it and the tips is awesome.

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