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linda@surroundedbyscraps.com
Portland, OR

503-997-8958

Handmade quilts and home accessories by fiber artist Linda Nussbaum. See samples of past projects as well as pieces available for sale and inspirations for custom orders. To see what is currently available for sale, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Surrounded by Scraps

Filtering by Tag: improv

Perfect is in the eye of the... doer?

Linda Nussbaum

One of my running statements when I participate in a VQB (virtual quilting bee) is that I am far from a perfectionist. I certainly do my best to deliver a well-conceived and well-executed block to my other bee mates, but when it comes to the blocks sent my way, if a corner doesn't match or a seam is off by a smidge... enh, I'll work with it. No worries. Nobody's perfect.

a BOM from a couple of years ago... all pieced by me, block in the upper left has a couple points missing their marks, the one in the lower right is the same, and you might notice the setting block where I had to substitute fabric after miscalculating and not being able to find more. Making due, man!

a BOM from a couple of years ago... all pieced by me, block in the upper left has a couple points missing their marks, the one in the lower right is the same, and you might notice the setting block where I had to substitute fabric after miscalculating and not being able to find more. Making due, man!

And then it comes to working on layout for a quilt (whether it's a bee quilt or one I've pieced entirely on my own) and I learn something about myself. I'm not a technical perfectionist, but oh my, overall design will getcha every time! And by "getcha" I mean ME.

If you've been checking out my blog (or my flickr or my facebook page) lately you have no doubt been seeing my adventure with the Design Camp 2 improv bee blocks which I have been receiving since last August. In fact, two have arrived within the last week or so!

So, I put these guys up on the design wall about 5 weeks ago to begin working on piecing the top. At least some of the blocks have remained up there all of that time, going through any number of reconfigurations, new layouts, edits and so on while I fill in the blanks.

2/23/13

2/23/13

3/1/13

3/1/13

3/15/13

3/15/13

The first two photos are pretty much just where I left things that day. Many other arrangements occurred in the mean time. I lost count ages ago. And after stepping back and taking in what was going on mid-afternoon yesterday (3/15/13 - the photo above on the right) I realized that this got WAY BUSIER than I had ever intended. And also entirely unbalanced. I don't do well with imbalance in my quilts. See, the perfectionist is rearing her ugly head.

Next step... taking almost everything off the design wall! Undoing a couple of seams that were already joining large areas of the top and just playing again. And I have to admit, one of the decisions that made this new approach possible is to use several of the pieced blocks on the back. There was just too much crowding of the lower right quadrant and I still hadn't brought in the last block to arrive. I hope no one from the bee feels shirked, as I love all of the blocks I have, and am still being very considered in which ones go together on the other side of this quilt-to-be. 

3/15/13

3/15/13

EOD 3/15/13

EOD 3/15/13

The changes are definitely subtle, but hopefully still make a difference. (oh, and please excuse the angle of that last photo... tripod and wall not quite on the same plane - oops).

I may have said this already in a previous post, because I KNOW I've thought it several times while working on this guy, but here it is again: Improv quilts are really tough to put together!! There's something to be said for having a plan going into the process, even if one allows oneself to adapt the plan mid-stream. I think I will be glad to get back to something easily drafted on my graph paper where the parts fit together in a regular way and I just get to play with the variations in color and value again. But I shall see this to the end before I allow my design wall to move on to the next project!! And with that, I am committed!

Chugging along

Linda Nussbaum

Though I have been keeping busy these last few weeks, and there are many fun projects that I am eager to update you on, for now I will stick with the quick fix.

MORE POT HOLDERS!

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and there's more...

This ever-evolving improv quilt. Still on my design wall, and still making progress:

working on the top left corner the last week in February

working on the top left corner the last week in February

where I left this beauty on Sunday evening

where I left this beauty on Sunday evening

And after steady attention all of Thursday and Friday, this is where we left each other:

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And just to give everyone a sense of scale, note that the layout takes up nearly my entire design wall, which is 8' x 8'. This is going to be one big quilt! Probably too big for my bed, but I'll make it work! It has just taken on a life of its own, and there is no question that the blocks and fabrics are telling me where they need to be and how I should be pulling them together. This has led to moving several things around, and in one case even slicing a block in two and piecing it together in a different arrangement in order to find the right balance.

Who knew that making an improv quilt would require so much planning and consideration?? Not I, said the fly! It really comes down to the fact that the process is good for me, though it's been dominating my design wall just a wee bit too long. Oh, and that I am just no good with large areas of solid fabrics. Just can't get the scrappy-fiend to sit tight and be quiet! Must piece!

The Addiction of Something New Again

Linda Nussbaum

I just had to revisit my initial post for the Quarter 1 Finish-A-Long, hosted by Leanne at She Can Quilt. I couldn't remember all the things that I said I'd work on finishing. And as mid-February is sneaking up on us, I can quite definitely say that I'm headed for failure.

On those items.

There is something about the appeal of a new project. Or at least one unearthed after many moons.

I hit a rather arduous deadline on Thursday which had been causing me more stress than I like, and to celebrate I spent all day Friday working on 1.) bee blocks, 2.) the PMQG block-of-the-month from the January meeting as well as pressing fabrics that I prewashed up to 2 months ago (if not more). 

For the  Simply Solids  Bee on Flickr

For the Simply Solids Bee on Flickr

PMQG Jan BOM - Has anyone NOT yet done the scrappy trip along blocks??

PMQG Jan BOM - Has anyone NOT yet done the scrappy trip along blocks??

When that was all complete I stood looking around for something to inspire me. Oh yeah, I keep forgetting to bring back the extension cord and power strip for the sewing machine I'm using to quilt my icy-cool diamond quilt AND my secret wall-hanging, so those are on hold until I get myself together enough to bring those back to the studio. Time is ticking, too.

And sitting there, in the little fabric drawer just underneath the one from which I took the wadded up fabrics to press nicely, was the bits and pieces from my improv bee quilt, for my month of the Design Camp 2 [Think Outside the Block] bee last summer. At some point last fall I played around with the blocks I had thus far on my design wall, but not having them all back it was just a test.

one possible arrangement...

one possible arrangement...

It's now been a couple of months since I received the last of the blocks from my bee-mates, and it all went straight into the drawer for future consideration. Apparently that future is now. The blocks and fabrics beckoned to me, the iron was hot (literally and figuratively)... it's time to break these bad boys out!

A little more refined in my eye

A little more refined in my eye

The next step is to start filling in the blanks. I want to keep a fair amount of background "negative space" going on, but also have so many prints that I still want to incorporate. This will be one heck of an organic process and I wish there were a good way of keeping the block arrangement and size more or less as is without dominating my design wall for weeks. Is that going to be the motivation to busta move on this quilt top?? I left yesterday evening with one little corner coming together, and am looking forward to playing some more with the rest of it in the next few days!

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Am I the only one getting completely sidetracked from the lists I made a mere month ago?? One thing to remember is that we do this for the love of it, and if we're lucky to have something to create using that energy, all the better.