Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Quilt - my creative process under pressure

Sewwvivor has come and gone for me. What an amazing ride this crazy adventure has been! I knew I would have to write this post eventually and I have sat down several times to do so, only to be easily distracted by something else. But the time has come where I can procrastinate no longer.

I never realised the great emotions that would come with the Sewvivor competition. When I auditioned for the 2014 quilter’s edition, I was hopeful to get in and when I did I was absolutely thrilled! With inflated bravado from getting through the audition, I put everything into the competition.When I got the news that I didn't get through, I will confide that I took it pretty hard. But, instead of wallowing in the disappointment of falling short of not making the top three (which was my goal) I want to use that, turn it into fuel and stoke my ever growing passion for quilting.

When Gemma and I spoke about guest hosting the I Quilt linky party, she asked me to write about Sewvivor, particularly about the design process and how the deadlines and pressure affected my creativity process. I believe it’s important to reflect on this so I can learn and improve for the future.

So, here goes, I hope you find my thoughts interesting and possibly thought provoking.

Usually when I design and create quilts, I know exactly where I want to go. I rarely sit down at my machine without a plan of attack, unless of course, the plan is that there isn’t one. Sometimes I will sketch the idea out in my note book, occasionally I will draw it on the computer where I can quickly and easily make colour and layout changes. Other times it's just the image in my head that I have carefully cultivated. But, once I’m ready to go, I’m ready.

There is no set length of time for how long it will take to design my quilts. Some designs have spent months brewing and bubbling away. Maybe they have been waiting for a missing piece of inspiration to arrive before asking to be made. Other designs have taken minutes and are almost an instinct. I have no control and they command to be made, often that instant.

However long the idea takes, it's there when I’m ready to sew.

I quite like challenges and themes, they provide boundaries for my creativity. I love this Ted Talks video on Embrace the Shake. Phil Hansen says "embracing limitations can drive creativity". This sentence came around and smacked me upside the face when I heard it for the first time.

I find that having endless possibilities can be a mind block for me as there is no way to settle on an idea. I can feel paralysed by choices when it's too open ended. Occasionally I will add my own restrictions just to help rein it in. Sometimes it can be as simple as limiting the colour palette to achieve the balance between limitations and creativity.

My first project, the iceberg, had a false start. I absolutely loved the vintage drawings on newsprint that I found, but I wasn’t sure how I could turn them around into a quilt in time. I kept coming back to them though. You know that feeling when you have a marvellous idea just beyond reach? Yeah, that. I spent days trying to reach it with no luck. Then it came to me in the shower, where most of my bright ideas eventually find me. A newspaper boat.

The very next chance I got, I made up a prototype with some newsprint fabric I happened to have on hand. I felt like I was on to a winner. My grand plan was to put all these paper boats on waves, so I set to work on them. And it failed. It was dull and flat and miserable. I put the project down knowing that it wasn’t right. Humph. With a deadline looming, there is no time to waste trying to flog a dud idea.

I went back to the drawing board and found a previous idea carefully stored in my journal for the right moment. I knew immediately that this was the right direction. I started and never looked back.

The second challenge, the washi bag idea was there. With a little bit of brainstorming with my lovely quilty friend Jules helped me refine the execution. I absolutely love that bag and get so many lovely compliments when I take it out for a walk (side note - pattern coming soon!).

Now, the third challenge was hard. The idea hadn't formed. I flip flopped between so many ideas without landing anywhere. It was excruciatingly frustrating. I spent hours at the local quilt shop wandering around like a little puppy dog. It was awful. I was lost without a clue. Fortunately my lovely quilty friend Jules gave me a generous helping of harden up and kicked me out of the store with some wool scraps and linen.

I set to work cutting hexies out then laying them out in several different ways before deciding on the final version. It felt rushed and unnatural for me. I was too indecisive and it was driving me crazy. Although I love the final quilt, this certainly isn't the way I like to work.

I like to imagine my quilt and let it percolate until I'm ready to bring it to life, at just the right moment.

I'd love to know your thoughts on how you like to bring your quilts to life. Do you take charge and commit? Or constantly change your mind while creating? Maybe it all depends on your mood of the day. It's different for everyone and there really are no right or wrong ways to design, create and make.

I'm linking up with Pretty Bobbins I Quilt Linky Party this week.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WIP Wednesday - guest blog for the little white dove

Hello! I didnt see you there, you've caught me unaware. Now, where do I start? I've been so super busy with Sew-vivor these days, I have hardly thought about anything else! Rachel from the Little White Dove blog asked me to share some other WIPs with you, and I siimply couldn't refuse.

This week the hexie projects have been revealed and voting is open for your three favourite quilty contestants. Please check it out, you won't be disappointed - all of them are completely amazing! Your votes would mean so much to me (mine is called 'falling into place' - #1) and you can place your votes at the Family Ever After blog.

Now, onto the WIPs for this fine Wednesday.

I wanrted to share a WIP I have from the start of the year. I have sewn it into a top, but haven't found the time to quilt it just yet. It was put together as part of a bee through Quilt Club Australia on Facebook. I just adore it! And I love that the blocks have come from all over Australia too. If you like this block, I posted a tutorial back in January on how to make the Mega Orange Peel improv block.
Yep. Standard behaviour! Love this outtake more than the proper WIP shot.
Did you see the killer cross stitch over at Carrose Creations? 10 years in the making, this cross sticth looks oh so art deco - can't wait to see it all done!
And how about Anorina's new baby quilt at Samelia's Mum? Love those fabrics - and the pattern reminds me of slanted hexagons - or do I just have them on the brain?

Lastly, I just love the kids' drawing quilt that is being put together on the Mealy and I blog. They are so cute and a great idea to keep those special drawings forever in a beautiful quilt. Looking forward to seeing it all finished. I know it is going to be such a colourful and cherished quilt.
 Well, that's it for me, I must dash. Thanks for having me and don't forget to vote!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Sewvivor - falling into place

In some ways it feels like many months  have passed since we started on this crazy ride. There has been so much quilting crammed into the last few weeks and I can't quite believe this little Aussie bird is still in the competition! Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for your support.

You can vote for Falling Into Place at the Family Ever After blog here.

The hexagon challenge had my brain absolutely racing with with ideas, yet I kept coming back to using wool. After a trip down to the local quilt shop and an almost meltdown with the possibilities, I found a scrap pack of assorted wools - bingo! I grabbed some yardage of yarn dyed linen which would make a perfect backdrop for all my lovely wools.

The linen reminded me of denim, so I really wanted to quilt it with bright yellow like the old school yellow top stitch that jeans used to have and I added a spool of lovely thick perle 8 thread for hand quilting to my order. 

I laid the hexagons out in a couple of different ways before landing on the right layout. Then I decided that it was far too structured for me and mixed it up - I was never good at perfect!  I love the way the hexagons are falling into place, finding their place -  some behaving and some finding their own way to break free.

My quilt is almost entirely made by hand. The hexies are slip stitched in place with matching wool thread and I have hand quilted the entire thing, including (pause for dramatic effect) the binding! I adore the way this finishing technique looks - I will definitely being doing it again. The texture of the different wools against the linen is divine and the hand quilting has left it feeling so lovely and soft.

I might not be able to feel my fingers from all the late night stitching, but I am so happy with this quilt, which I am going to call 'falling into place'...

Quilt Label

Quilt name: Falling into place
Made for: Sewvivor quilter's edition competition 2014
Finished size: 40 x 48 inches
Fabrics used: Essex yarn dyed linen; Tula Pink Prince Charming (Dandelion); assorted felted wool, wool felt and dress wools from Addicted to Fabric and Sue Spargo. 
Pattern: Original design by Crystal McGann
Tools and templates: Hex n More ruler by Jay Bird Quilts
Quilting details: Hand quilted hexagons in perle 8 thread, including the binding finish.

You can vote for me (and your other favourites) on the Family Ever After blog here.

Voting closes Wednesday September 10, at midnight EST.
Fine print: the competitors are allowed to use patterns. Contestants are allowed to recruit from their blogs, social media, family, and friends. One vote per device is allowed. The public vote counts as 50%. The other 50% of the vote comes from our "tribal council" aka Judges. The Top 3 will be revealed next Monday, September 15 EST.