Sunday, January 25, 2009

BOM #1 Complete & Classes with Mary Sorensen

Hi applique lovers!

My first block from the Baltimore BOM is complete.  It's set on point so the grayish aqua color fabric is the background.  The green fabric in the corners is another block on my design wall (just ignore it please).  I definitely pushed my color comfort boundaries. However, the most important thing I learned from doing this block is that the most time consuming element (the embroidery around each and every leaf) is all but invisible unless you are standing 18 inche
s from the quilt.  I don't know if I will be investing this amount of time again into a design elements that just disappears for 90% of the viewers.   Apart from the time involved - I wasted precious time agonizing over the right color of embroidery floss - a single strand of embroidery floss that followed all the rules.  Conclusion - Life is too short to follow all the rules!  Enjoy the things you love to do and fast forward over the rest.

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure of spending two days in an applique classes taught by Mary Sorensen.  Mary was my first applique teacher back in the late 90's (1990's that is).  I had seen many beautiful applique quilts before my first class with Mary, but until the actual class with her I had no clue as to how to applique.  Even though I don't use Mary's exact technique, those first few classes with her put me on a wonderful path that has led to the quilts I make today.  For this gift I will always be grateful!  Below is a photo of Mary (redhead on the left) and my friend LaVerne (she's a redhead in her heart).  They are holding a quilt LaVerne made from Mary's pattern Simple Gifts.  

For those of you familiar with my blog know that I am suffering from Quilt Rut Syndrome
 and my goal of the last several months has been to break out of the comfortable range and push myself to try new things.  Mary's class was a wonderful, safe environment to attempt this.  The first class was called Learn to Love Needleturn.  Since I already LOVE everything about applique I used the class to tryout new and different color combinations.  I don't think I was THAT successful because the outcome was not very satisfying.  I took a lot of time to select fabrics, baste them on, cut them perfectly, etc. just to see if they would work. There has to be a better (or at least more enjoyable) way to audition fabrics. That was to come on day 2.  Here is a photo of the result.  The pattern is called Butterfly Fancy and it's designed by Mary Sorensen.

The second day the class was called, Dramatic Darks, and it was a class on selecting fabrics for an applique project where the background is very dark.  By know I was starting to feel a little more confident about my color choices.  In the class, Mary instructed us to cut out shapes from our fabrics to audition them on the background as opposed to just stacking up a heap of fat quarters on the background fabrics to evaluate them.  This was much move effective than a stack of fabric and was sooooo much faster than basting (or worse appliqueing down) a perfect piece down just to realize the color was wrong.  Also, there was something very freeing about cutting a piece of fabric knowing beforehand that YOU WILL BE throwing it away.    This is how I ended up with yellow leaves (versus traditional green leaves) that I absolutely fell in love with.  Below is a mock up with shapes that do not resemble the finished applique but that represent position and proportion of the possible fabric choices.  This can give a very good idea if the colors/fabric will work. Fast AND effective!  I can't ask for more.  Here is my color mock up for the wall hanging we worked on in class, Persian Dusk designed by Mary Sorensen.  Go to Mary's website to see the actual block design - it's beautiful!

Because I feel very comfortable with Mary and trust her design sense I shared with her the angst and melodrama I go through every time I have to pick my own colors for a block, a quilt, or even a single applique motif, and asked for her advice.  For those of you that don't know Mary - she is very sharp, very funny, and very wise.  She responded with a Yogi Berra quote tailor made for anal retentive quilt makers (also known as appliquers)  "If you don't think too good, then don't think too much!"

Happy stitching!
Mercy in Miami aka The Savage Quilter

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