Friday, October 25, 2013

BQF: once upon a forest {scrappy}

Hard to believe that half a year has already slipped away since the Spring Blogger's Quilt Festival, yet here we are :)  Last spring I opted for a little bit of glitz and bright bursts of color, so I figured I'd start off this season's show with something a little more, shall we say, subdued?

Enter "Once upon a forest," my first piece for the Fall 2013 BGF {scrappy quilt category}:


Since I've already written ad nauseum about this one, I figured I might take this opportunity to shed a little bit of light on my design process rather than rehashing all of its roots.  (Of course you can always just skip straight to the main post if you don't fancy yourself a passenger on a fellow quilter's train of thought.)

So it all started back in April with this fanciful, pink/green wildflower grove:


Then—with the exception of a couple of silver/tan feathers and a lyrical red/tan woodpecker—it all stopped.  Until August (read:  after the bar but before the Forest QAL linky deadline).

By now you've likely noticed I've been using color pairings to qualify each of these blocks.  And that's because looking at the first three blocks together, alongside the fabric pull for the yet-to-be-sewn purple/silver fox, I had absolutely no clue how all these blocks could co-exist in the same quilt and still feel like "me."


For a while I dragged my feet and kicked myself for using such (relatively) bold fabric choices for the grove; I guess its brightness struck me as inconsistent with my original low volume vision.  But at the same time, it had this magical quality that I wanted to preserve in some way.  After several failed fix ideas (one involving Joanna's chameleon pattern), I realized there simply weren't enough hours in the day to incorporate even more blocks, let alone the nine intermediate-my-arse remaining in the QAL!

So I got out my pencil and paper, sketched a simple, sash-free 3x4 grid, and tried to configure a traditional layout based on what I'd sewn thus far.  In doing so, I found I needed designs with minimal whitespace bordering the grove block to offset its otherwise bold vibe.  Of all the QAL patterns, only two fit the bill:  the roaring deer and the pine marten.  So I penciled the grove in the lower righthand corner of my sketch, and contained its color by placing the pine marten to its left, and the deer's chest just on top.  (To help facilitate the transition, I decided to extend the green in the treetops up into the deer, while overflowing the grove's floral path into the pine marten's rock.)


In that manner, I planned the blocks one-by-one, assigning each its respective palette based on some feature of a neighboring design.  And just when I thought I was ready to assemble the top, comme ça...


...my husband commented that (1) baby-size blankets are useless, and (2) we have enough of them.  Wildly untrue on both accounts, **but** admittedly, it did get me thinking about ways to make this quilt more "useful" (read:  husband-size) without compromising the intricacies of the patterns themselves.


As I was pondering my options, I started to aimlessly cut 1½" strips from the countless desaturated prints used throughout the blocks (fortunately, the three shoeboxes-ful of fabric were still quarantined from the rest of my stash).

As the print strips idled on the dining room table, I used some neutral solids to add a 1" white-ish mat around each block.


And then started strip piecing text fabrics... (oh, have I not mentioned that I cut massive amounts of 1½" strips from those as well? :D)


While I was at it, I sorted the remaining strips into color-groups by block, organized them by value (as I've yet to meet a gradient I didn't like), and then strip-pieced the heck out of those, too.  Then, somewhat arbitrarily, I decided a 2" finished frame would add the appropriate "bulk" to the quilt.  ...But just for good measure, I finished off each frame with a ¼" edge before adding the 1" text-y postage stamp sashing.


...And then, to totally shut down any possible "this doesn't even cover my feet"-esque feedback, I churned out 3"x6" wonky-stripey triangle blocks (also color-coordinated), plus a handful of 6" stars to complement the quilting concept as a final (finally!) touch.

The result?


A quilt I love so much that it's been folded up and retired to the cedar closet, where no one—not even the man who unintentionally inspired the design—can get his hands on it :)

Unless of course there's a {blogger's} quilt festival, in which case we can fluff it up for the occasion...

...The irony of a peaceful forest stretched across freshly chopped wood is not lost on me.

Speaking of, if you haven't already, be sure to take in all the other quilty inspiration over at Amy's:

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32 comments:

  1. What? This is in a closest? It should be on display! I still absolutely adore this quilt!

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  2. I love this quilt. You know that. When I saw all the blocks at first, I thought "oh my, that grove is awfully bright compared to the others." and then of course you blew my socks off with the final design and the grove works perfectly. So I love reading the design notes not only because you knew about it, but described how you designed your way out of it. Which is awesome and why I love your blog. The end.

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  3. Such an awesome quilt! So full of details and gorgeous little treasures for the user/observer to find :-)

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  4. Eternal love for this quilt <3 YOU make me love low volume!

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  5. Hahahaha, still laughing at intermediate my arse. This is honestly my favourite quilt made by anyone this year - possibly ever. You are a total rockstar!

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  6. This quilt is stunning, I love every detail. I hope you leave it out of the closet and snuggle under it with your guy. Thank you for sharing it.

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  7. Dude, are you serious?!! It's in a closet? (i would totally keep it in the closet too, but that's beside the point)
    If ever you see pictures of me on my blog with a quilt that looks just like this one, just know that i didn't break into your house and steal it. I made one exactly like this, pretty coincidental eh? ;) (oh and if yours is missing, your husband took it, shame on him. tsk tsk.)

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  8. So nice to see this one again!! Thank you for sharing a little about your process - your take on this pattern is so refreshing and understated. Gorgeous!

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  9. I think unintentional 'make it up as you go along' are the most successful and inspiring quilts to look at. This one is an 'ethereal' example ;-)

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  10. Hi! I adore your quilt! I love scrappy quilts - with lots of colours or with very light/less colours. Your quilt is my favourite for the low volume quilt! You have done fantastic work and so much and ended up with very unique quilt! I'm happy we were together at the Forest QAL. x Teje

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  11. this quilt is so beautiful. I love the low volume prints, and I like the frames around each block!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

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  12. The quilt is lovely and very interesting to hear about the design process. I agree it shouldn't be put away in the cupboard.

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  13. Beautiful!! Good Luck out there! :)

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  14. So beautiful! I was following this quilt along and this is just stunning! I agree, it shouldn't be put away!

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  15. This quilt is beyond beautiful. When no one else is around to get their hands on it, I hope you take it out of the cedar closet and spend quality time with it.

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  16. Definitely one of my favorite of the year!

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  17. Your quilt is just amazing. LOVE the detail of all the added scrappy sashing and borders. Your color choices were absolutely inspired! Wow, just WOW.

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  18. I freaking love this quilt! So so so much. Definitely a fave in blogland. I will be voting!

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  19. This one has me completely speechless. And do not, repeat DO NOT put it back in the closet! This is amazing, stunning, well, I can't even think of the proper words for this one.

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  20. so SO beautiful!!! It's just perfect!

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  21. This is so stunning. I mean, just lovely!

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  22. Stunning and I think the various borders and frames really seat off each block beautifully.

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  23. I am in awe of this beautiful quilt!!! I love everything about it!! I have loved these quilt patterns from the beginning....but your low volume take is just something else!!!! I love it!!!

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  24. it really is so lovely. Such a beautiful quilt!

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  25. You're very brave choosing such low-contrast fabrics - but it works beautifully, and I'm guessing it's even better in person - so get it out of the closet and enjoy it!

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  26. Wow, so soft and simple colors that it screams with beauty!

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  27. I love how you found (and shared) your way out of the woods (grove) with this piece! It is delicately beautiful - and I would have a difficult time actual using it too! I voted for it - great good job.

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  28. Sarah, I'm in love with your quilt! Please take it out of the closet... :) witty writing too - we've all had to 'quilt ourself out of a predicament so your in good company! ;)

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  29. I am very late to this party but have to stop and say how lovely this quilt is. I am very glad that you left the grove trees in. They have so much depth. I keep seeing blocks from this quilt around. I might have to attempt a block or two

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  30. stunning quilt, a beauty, wish I would see it in person.

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