Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tokyo Train Ride Out to the Borders: Design On the Fly

You might call this busy.
I say it's happy.
I like happy!

Design On the Fly

I like not knowing exactly where a  quilt will wind up. Also, I'm honest to a fault about my work, and believe wholeheartedly in showing you the process. It makes me feel very human when someone else shows their me their struggle to design, and I assume I'm not alone. Unless you're following a well tested pattern, there are lots of little roadblocks to work through. Rarely it works like you planned it, but the whole creative process with changes and all is very liberating. It's not really improvisational quilting, or improv. It's more 'design on the fly'. 

What's the most exciting part? I know when I'm on the right path because it stops me in my tracks. Sometimes I get truth bumps, and sometimes tears in my eyes. It's the high I'm after.

The plan on paper involved many triangles. I worked. I figured. I became very frustrated with the math. I knew how easy it would be to screw it up, and I revised my plan. (Yes, I even have EQ7, and it could have done the math for me, but it didn't feel right.) I decided to start with a piano key border, and work outward. 

I've done mitered borders many times before, but it's worth saying they function the same as making HST. You must piece together strips that are longer and wider than your border width to have room for your seam. Trimming them takes common sense, and mine seemed to be missing yesterday as I figured it all out again. 

Most of the fabrics in the quilt have come from a fat quarter bundle, and solids. There were a few others added, but I felt strongly it needed some more traditional fabrics. The top piece came out of my vintage stash, and the bottom stripe is more recent. Colorwise I knew I was on the right track, but unfortunately neither contained enough yardage for borders. A trip to my FLQS was in order.

The top 3 were a good buy on sale, and the bottom 2 safe bets. If they aren't bound for this quilt, they're still my style.

Forever on the lookout for the perfect marking pencil, I saw these displayed by the cutting counters. The brand is General, and a quick check online brought up all favorable reviews. An assortment of colors and a new leather thimble put me on the road home a contented quilter. I'll let you know how they work for me next time we meet here.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.


  1. What a funny block, I like it and also the border!

  2. It looks great. Good luck with the new marking pencils.

  3. Busy or not, if it makes you happy, that's all that matters. :-)
    I like to read about your creation journeys. In my opinion, the journey is always more important than the result, in creation. It's nice to follow a good pattern to enjoy a quick finish. It's also nice to take it slow, from time to time, and learn from our own mistakes. I also like to see that I'm not the only one to make mistakes. ;-)

  4. I think it looks great and not overly busy at all. What a great idea of using hsts instead of mitering corners. I've forgotten the part about proper size before too.

  5. I like your border. And, will be watching for a review on the marking pencils.

  6. I don't think it's busy at all! I say perfect! I love a good challenge and desinging as you go is the way I like to roll!

  7. I love what you have done with these Kaleidoscope blocks! To me, it's not busy, it looks well balanced and I enjoyed reading about your thoughts as you designed this. Oh, and I love your selective scrappy colour scheme! Are you adding more borders after the 'piano key' one?

  8. I love the piece, and I know exactly what you mean when you say you say that you can tell when you are on raw right track with a design. I design on the fly, too. although I am trying to learn EQ7. It's such a huge program that it will take me a long time to get it, but I'm hoping it will be worth it...

  9. This is beautiful, and I love the corners!

  10. This is looking so good!!! Design on the fly? That's my style too. I've never tried mitred borders before but it looks great.

  11. One of the most frustrating things for me is to find a pattern that I want to follow closely and it has errors in it. Arghhh! But I rarely do that: I like to design on the fly and have real fun. Of course, it sometimes costs me, but that's okay. You have done a fabulous job of designing on the fly with this pretty quilt. It's also been fun following your process and watching those beautiful blocks come together. Thanks for that!

  12. Lovely quilt! The border really sets off the center. Great colors...great quilt!

  13. I didn't think it was busy at all when I saw it. I think the background wonderfully balances the blocks and the piano keys border. Thank you for sharing your process. I love to see how others come up with their designs!


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