Category Archives: Grey

Class Quilt Anguish

As I’ve documented, I’ve been going around and around with the class quilt for Stitched in Color’s Handstitched Class.  I think I’ve FINALLY settled on a plan, so enjoy a meander through my design process–with pictures!

The teacher’s version of the class quilt is called Modern Medallion and features lots of colors and prints (including one main large print at the center of the medallion), as well as a round densely embroidered with perle cotton (thicker and glossier than embroidery floss).  The main motifs are dogwood blossoms.  This quilt is lovely, as are many of her students’ variations.

I started off gung-ho about it, central medallion and all, though I decided to do a greyscale version.  I picked fabrics.  I couldn’t decide on a white center for the medallion or not, so I made two.  I hated both of them.  I thought I figured out a new motif for the central medallion, but it didn’t work, so I decided on a circle with a featured print, but I had no suitable print so I ordered a few and hoped for the best.

Boring Print in Circle HP

See how the print in the middle doesn’t grab you at all?  Also, I decided fairly early on to replace the fragile embroidery of the class quilt with English Paper Piecing (surprise), since if I ever finish this quilt, it’ll get heavy use as my couch blanket.  I love the corner 2″ Drunkard’s Path blocks (I made my own pieces for these, but they came together so well that I ordered more for the future since cutting them out precisely is no fun)–this was my first curved piecing of any kind, but the “jewels” (which I also drew, printed, and cut my own pattern for) centered in each row just don’t have enough contrast.  I also don’t love that splatter star low-volume fabric for this quilt.  The fabrics on the top are part of my ebay haul.  I thought I might need more variety, since I decided to embrace prints.

One of the prints that I ordered did have a motif that fit in the opening, but it was on a black background, so I used a blanket stitch to add some definition to the fact that it’s reverse applique:

Flower Medallion HPBetter, but it didn’t thrill me, and there still wasn’t enough contrast or interest in the EPP row.  Also, the circle is very slightly off-center, which might bother me over time.  Short story: I didn’t keep it as the center, but I also didn’t rip it apart.  I think I might make a pillow out of it, since I need practice installing an invisible zipper anyway.

Because I was iffy about the prints, I also ordered papers for two full 12″ EPP  blocks, Carpenter’s Wheel and Chrysanthemum Octagon.  I’d been choosing fabrics based on a flowery theme, so I thought the flower in the middle might pull it all together, but I also really, really like the lines of the Carpenter’s Wheel (look at it greyscale!).  Drumroll:

Chrysanthemum HPI decided on the chrysanthemum.  Sorry for the terrible photo; it’s very much a shot I took in haste to illustrate my process.

The light and dark grey petals didn’t work–too much contrast for it to read as a flower.  The black and dark grey worked much better (the photo doesn’t show the colors accurately).  The grey leaf in the corner works well as a lighter grey, but I still don’t like the starry-speckle white fabric.  I also HATE that fabric on the central octagon.  I don’t hate the fabric in general, but it doesn’t work at all with these other fabrics or for the feel of this quilt.

After much basting and testing and tracing new paper pieces and cutting and basting and sorrow, which I will spare you (and I didn’t take pictures of any more of it), I got to:

Chrysanthemum Medallion HPAgain, the colors aren’t true, though that white round is WHITE.  I’m happy with it.  I don’t super-love it and you might notice that the central octagon is now nice pieces, but it’s okay.  I’m sure it will grow on me and it’ll match the EPP round.

I’m very excited to have finally made a decision (and gotten everything basted and even a little sewn together), and I think the fabric choices for the rest of the quilt are becoming much more obvious for me.  Also, these points are the sharpest I’ve ever EPPed, so I’m learning in this block, too, besides all of the color (well, value, since it’s all black/white/grey) theory I’m soaking up by trial and error.

I’m going to call this quilt “Midnight Garden” and will update tags on the previous posts when I have time.

Class Quilt New Plan

Ugh.  Well, the new center was looking a little Pokeball to me.  I think the strips beside the windows were too narrow, so I hacked them out and the center’s now a reverse-appliques circle.  Or, it will be, once I choose a new feature fabric.   <sigh>  Let me backtrack a little.

I’d decided on breaking up the expanse of black-on-white leaf fabric with a connected circle in a circle.  The freezer paper template:

New Freezer Paper Center HPI should have known that those connecting bars were too narrow.  Also, when I folded back and pressed the black background fabric, I had the same problem as with the dogwood blossom, though not as severe: those corners suck.

I agonized a lot (what’s new?) and laid the new black background over the old dogwood blossom that was already appliqued.  I also took out the strips I’d cut for the next borders and the bits of the EPP that I’d basted since I decided to change things up last week.

Class Quilt Mock-Up with New Center HP[As an aside, in thumbnail, this shape of the flower that appears when I have the circle over the dogwood blossom is quite appealing to me.  Maybe I’ll do something like that someday–but not today.]

So, good, circles in the center and little EPPed Drunkard’s Path blocks, dogwood “jewel” replaced with fussy-cut star (the smallest paper piece I’ve used yet!) surrounded by greys.  But the bad was the more I stared at it, the more I hated those thin dividers and the central circle.

Circular Central Medallion HP

So I cut them out.  That central fabric still isn’t “important” enough for this medallion, but I’ve ordered a couple prints with big motifs I think might work.  Since I’m not going to do all of the embroidery, I’m not in a giant rush since I have two more weeks to get everything in the mock-up above done and sewn together.

Here’s a close-up of the basted Drunkard’s Path blocks (each 2″ square), front and back in one picture:

Drunkard's Path EPP HP

You might notice that I still have three square “slots” between each EPPed section in the handwork round.  What do I plan to put there?   I was thinking about doing a HST of greys on either side of the Drunkard’s Path block, then a solid square of the black-on-white low-volume stars fabric, then another HST of greys, but I don’t know if it’ll work.  Something like this:

Handwork Round Mockup HP Colors

But I honestly have no idea what’ll look good.  Suggestions are very, very welcome!

Thanks in advance!

Class Quilt Fix?

I know.  I’m all over the place with this quilt (these quilts).  If I’m going to put this much hand work into something, I want it to be pretty and something I’ll actually use.

I realized that while I’m very excited about the process of learning and practicing all of the techniques, I’m not crazy about the pattern itself.  It’s a lovely pattern, it’s just not for me.  I’m not a super-flowery person and it wouldn’t go well with my decor (hence the outright rejection of color and trying to go black/white/grey with it).

I was also iffy about the embroidered row that we start next week.  I don’t like the dogwood “jewels” and I’m pretty sure the dense rows of dashes in the triangles would be boring and possibly take more time than I have.  I’m also worried that if I used it as a couch blanket that the stitches wouldn’t hold up well with use (especially little-kid use).

I also ended up hating both of my choices of fabric for the central medallions.  My solutions are pretty simple, though they involved more freezer paper and ironing, which I did not love.

New Center Ironed HP

Ta da!  A new central motif.  I’m going to use it with the black-on-white leaf fabric as the main focus.  Since it’ll be broken up into the little windows, the main focal point will be that black circle in the middle, which I can embroider/quilt some concentric circles in and all will be well.

I’m also going to replace the embroidered dogwood “jewels” with some more paper piecing and likely the other embroidery with HSTs.  I’m going to try some curves for the first time!  So I’ll still be learning and doing new techniques, but ones I’m excited about now.  (The embroidery isn’t a new technique for me–I’m sure I could execute it well, but I’m not looking forward to it, which is reason enough to skip it).

I’m only going to do one quilt and I’m going to use all three of the prints I’ve previously shown, as well as the greys I mentioned earlier in the week.

I’m feeling a lot better about this quilt!

Class Quilt Medallion Problems

Welp, this quilt (or these quilts, as the case may be) is not going well at all.

Finished Blossoms HPSure, I have both medallions done.  I did a bigger stitch than Rachel’s pattern calls for, but those pointy inside corners are ugly.  I did a true blanket stitch on the patterned one and the white does help set off the black in the pattern a little from the black of the background, but neither is good.

And see that bright line in the upper left-hand part of the white blossom?

Cut Fabric HPYup.  It’s a cut in the fabric.  I have no idea how or when it happened.

I used some Fray Check on it then darned over it, which I thought was a better solution than appliqueing over it since I still want to do some dogwood embroidery and quilting on the white field, but the whole thing’s a disaster.  The only good part is that I really, really like the Q-Snap frame.  I’d only used wooden hoops before and this thing is a dream.

One more good part: I really like sewing with these needles and the pearl cotton.  They slip right through the fabric and the cotton is glossy and smooth.  I’d crocheted with it before but it’s really nice to sew with, too.

So now I have two centers that I hate (well, not HATE exactly, but they’re far from ideal).  I did cut some greys and white for the next rounds, so I guess I’m pressing forward.  I’ll only do the embroidery round on the white-center medallion (which I’ll likely call “Mended Heart” for obvious reasons) and make HSTs (half-square triangles) for the patterned-center medallion.

Class Quilt Reverse Applique

I’m not loving the reverse applique process so far, but I’m learning a lot.  Let’s start with a cool image.

Freezer Paper on Background HP

This is my black background fabric with the freezer paper adhered to it.  Remember this image, since I came to a realization about it further along in the process.

Reverse Applique Supplies HP

You really, really need that little brush for the starch.  I’m glad I had one handy.

Background Pressed HP

See those terrible corners, inside and outside?  Yeah, I really didn’t like doing this.

More pictures of the ugly, please excuse the shadows:Messy Corner HP       Messy Corners HP

Look at them with the “feature” fabric inside:Two Blossoms HP

Not terrible, but not great.  Why?  Because it’s a MEDALLION quilt and the very central fabric has to be outstanding, not necessarily a busy print, but it has to draw your eye, like the black center in the first photo above.

Duh, I said to myself, but I wasn’t about to jump ship and change plans.  That’s why you’re looking at two medallions.  I did the plain white one first, thinking I’d spice up the inside with embroidery and/or quilting (like a real dogwood blossom–lines on the petals and circles in the center), but it wasn’t grabbing me so I used the biggest black and white print I had, but that print’s not special enough to be the main focal point of the quilt.

I think I know how to fix them, but I need to get them stitched together first.

Class Quilt Fabrics

Greys for Class Quilt HP


Very few of the fabrics I got are a pure grey.  The one in the upper right is greenish and the ones in the middle on the bottom look beige (worse in the picture than in life), but that’s better than the blue-greys on the top.

If I want to work with close solids like this in the future, I think I’ll need to pick a fabric line and invest in a color card.  Fabric selection’s been way more difficult than it should have been.

I also have one more color of pearl cotton coming. I hope it’s more of a true grey than the blue-grey balls up top.

And the prints I got are still sitting in my sewing room, calling me.  I’m agonizing too much about this quilt and I haven’t even started yet.

Handstitched Class Quilt Fabrics

Starting tonight (and for the next nine weeks), I’m taking the Handstitched class by Rachel from Stitched in Color.  I’m really looking forward to it–especially making the hand stitched class quilt, Modern Medallion.  Here, she features some students’ class projects.  It’s nice to see all of the different colorways for the quilt.  Look at this FABULOUS muted and slightly modified version by Happy Go Lizzie on Flickr.  (Please excuse my laser focus on the quilt.  It’s crept into my dreams).

I’m going to do a black/white/grey version, though I still have some decisions to make, like “Should I use the left-hand print in the photo, the right-hand, or neither as my central dogwood blossom?”  The prints are actually shades of grey and black on a white ground–my lighting was not so good.

Black and White Small Prints HPI was thinking about going with a white blossom and embroidering or hand-quilting in some detail and interest, but I really like these prints.  I might use the more open one (on the right) in the central blossom and both elsewhere (there are some little dogwood blossoms in a later round, and the print on the left could easily mix in with the various greys for the square patchwork section).

Shades of Grey HPHere the prints are in the same terrible light with the greys I got.  They’re all sitting on black.  I didn’t include the yards of black and white that I bought in the picture.

I need some good natural light before I decide which of the greys I’m going to use.  Some don’t look pure grey.  I love Fat Quarter Shop, but I wish they’d use stickers to label the individual cuts of fabric, to make it easy for me to identify which grey is which (the names are all fairly similar–different ways of saying “grey”).

Your thoughts about the prints (vs white with embroidery) are welcome in the comments!