January 30, 2012

Debra--Can we talk?

I feel like I want to chat about my project.  I'm feeling a bit frustrated and haven't come up with a totally clear solution yet.  Or at least one that I am buying into fully.  Maybe if I share some ideas here, it will help me come to terms with an idea.

My Christmas wallhanging--

it has the inner section with the appliqued diamonds of the ornaments--love those.
The plan for those was to do a thick bold seam treatment around the square ---I think that is working out fine.  I'm using gold trims I never would use normally so that's a stretch.

Maybe I should interject here that I am not interested in stitch variations.  I just want to do crisp, bold, multi-layered, geometric, thick , substantial seam treatments--treatments that look like pieces of trim---that was my goal for this project.

I also wanted to use those spools of cross stitch ribbon that I have & develop the trim idea on those. 
Bottomline here is that I want a very regular, orderly piece---I think my patchwork self fights with my CQ self on these projects sometimes. 

So yesterday I laid out the ornament blocks with the CQ blocks and they look horrible together.  The ornament blocks are very regular.  The CQ blocks are not.  There's no coaxing.  I've learned to read Wes's reactions and even though he won't come right out and say it sometimes, he even indicated they didn't work together well.

I can still finish the ornament blocks as a nice wallhanging that could hang over the fireplace.  Instead of the CQ border, I can use a plain border.  I pulled some fabric and it all works well together.  I passed it by Wes and he agreed. 
I would still be doing embroidery but it's not a CQ.  It's an embroidered appliqued wallhanging.
I'm cool with that--not exactly what I had in mind but it's OK.

BUT, I still have this vision in my brain of a Christmas CQ with all kinds of Christmasy stuff.
The catch is that there is a huge disconnection between the traditional Chistmas motifs and my life.  Huge.  No snow, no grandkids,  no Norman Rockwell here.  So why am I trying to make a traditional wallhanging with all those elements?  Is it just therapy?

The second thing I realized when I finished the 1st block is that I don't want to do little tiny seam treatments with added beads.  CQ can bring out the OCD in me very quickly and then I am saving little gold threads to tie into tiny ribbons to put on angel's hair.  I don't want to go there.  It's too fussy.  I need a bigger picture.

In the past I purchased a bunch of Christmas designs when they went on special for $1 each on my favorite embroidery site--(they are so slick on that site--feed right into the mouths of both bargain hunters and "I'm gonna make that someday" stitchers!).
Yesterday I printed out a bunch of the designs and looked at them.  The styles are all over the place!

Wes looked at the collection and his remark was to buy some more designs that would tie them all together so I had a wallhanging I wanted. 
But, truthfully, machine embroidery is a serious amount of work.  The preparation to get the design onto the fabric is lengthy (if you are composing anything).  I don't want to do work that ends up in the UFO drawer because, ultimately, I still have to do something with it!

Still with me here?  I know. Get a grip and move on, right?
I still have the 11 CQ blocks, all the doodads I bought and a bunch of designs that don't relate to my life. 
I have a few ideas--
  • forget the CQ and go with the ornament wallhanging as my primary embroidery project  (I still have the 12 CQ blocks from my beginner's class I am working on . . . .)
  • turn the CQ blocks into Alzheimer pieces with winter/Christmas themes (then I don't have to worry about the designs matching and I can play with all of them) 
  • push forward and do the machine embroidery designwork  (don't stress that this Christmas wallhanging might take the rest of my life to sew!)
It's not like I don't have projects in the queue.  I do and several are quite big.  I still have my Beautiful Garden piece that is waiting patiently for attention.  It now has the "required" 12 blocks for the CQJP so I could work earnestly on it.  And, since I now realize again that I don't like little fussy embellishments, it's probably good I did the warm-up block to remind me before embarking on the Beautiful Garden embroidery.  (The silver lining . . .)

If you have the time for a comment, I'd like to hear it.  Maybe something will push me in one direction or another one.  I'm kind of sitting on the fence here.  I don't want to waste the supplies I have accumulated and I do want them to become a project.  I'm just a little stuck on which project to pursue.  Hey, Sophie, talk about "paralysis through analysis"!


Susan said...

The question that kept coming to my mind was, "Why is Debra putting the CQ blocks away and working on the not-CQ blocks?" As in, why not the other way around? For the CQJP, it has to be CQ doesn't it? I know you already have 12 crazy blocks pieced, so why not work on those and use all the fun things you bought? I don't have the Norman Rockwell life, either. Who does, really? I still like all the traditional Christmasy things, and it seems you must, too, or you wouldn't have thought up that whole plan. So make it.

Alternatively, you could make log cabin style CQ blocks to go with the ornament blocks you made.

Either way, don't get stuck spinning your wheels. =) Slow down, pull up, stop, breathe. What is it you *want* at the end of the year?

Mary-Frances Main said...

I definitely would love to have an opinion! ha ha. Do you have a picture of the entire layout that you're looking at doing now? (link would be awesome).

Peacock said...

I just wrote a novel that this comment block won't accept because it's too long.
Bullet points:
Choose your favorite. That might change from season to season, as you yourself pointed out in December during the planning stages. Maybe as Christmas recedes there is a different project yearning for your attention? (Beautiful Mother, possibly, with Spring on its way...)
Look again at your Christmas projects in October, perhaps?
I get the sense that you would really love to create a PESONALIZED Christmas theme wall hanging that features the elements of Christmas that YOU and your family connect with-- the parts of Christmas that don't match up with the classic European Old World experience. Maybe keep a journal throughout the year dedicated to planning *that* wall hanging?
You mentioned that you have CQ blocks from your Beginners' group. Those could become this year's CQJP if the project that calls you most is the machine-embroidered Ornament blocks (which you say aren't really CQ).
CQJP is optional anyway. It has already paid dividends with the work you've already achieved.
I'll send you the long version of my reply in email. ;)

btw: add your name to your post title? ;) (giggle!)

Suztats said...

Debra, I like the idea of the ornament blocks as a wall hanging. They're gorgeous. But, it depends on what YOU want.
Can you turn your Christmas CQ's into blocks that reflect the meanings of Christmas that touch your heart? If not, then maybe they'd be perfect as a donation for Alzheimer's. You can always save the doodads you purchased as swap items if you don't want to use them.
Maybe the first thing is to decide what you want to achieve with the challenges, and take it from there. If you make a Norman Rockwell Christmas wall hanging, that doesn't mean it has to hang on YOUR wall, if you feel it doesn't represent your Christmas. Ultimately, perhaps you have to follow your heart. Just MHO

Debra Spincic said...

That's true about the Norman Rockwell Christmas wallhanging hanging on someone else's wall. One of my earlier CQs was all western/cowboy & it took a long path through the Houston Livestock and Rodeo (blue ribbon), donated to the American Cancer Society auction ($1500 bid) and now hangs in a camp for kids with epilepsy. When I made it I just wanted to use some western motifs, my western fabrics and do some handwork. I had no idea the path it would travel.

On the same note, my Alz pieces are warmly received & purchased. I do spend alot of time making quilts and small pieces to either give away or donate to a fundraiser so a Christmas themed piece would probably be welcome somewhere.

Debra Spincic said...

I always say that sometimes a project's merit is making you realize you don't want to do it (or another one like it) again!

I think I learned that in a hurry working on this last block. Narrowing down to working with the tiny seed beads just is not going to be fun for me. I need to think of another approach to the seams where I am happier doing the embellishments on a larger scale.

As I was sifting through ideas yesterday those with winter birds kept popping up to the surface. We do have winter birds in Houston. They just don't rest on snowy branches! So, winter birds is a theme I could relate to on a winter wallhanging. And, with the amount of work that kind of piece would take, I could hang it as a long seasonal piece and enjoy it.

There's always my Sewing Blocks too that I am making with the beginner's group. They are turning out quite fun.

And, after I posted, I realized that Duh! not everyone in the group is doing the CQJP--I kind of forgot that.

Thanks, it's fun to brainstorm with people who "get it"!

Debra Spincic said...

Good advice, Susan. What do I want? Someone else to do the work. I'll plan it. *wink*

Deborah McLaughlin said...

It almost sounds like you have to *many* choices. Maybe put it all away for day or two and revisit? Any of your options sound good to me, and maybe a day working on something complety unrelated would clear your mind.

Judy S. said...

Sounds to me like all your options are good ones although I do love your sewing CQ blocks a whole lot. Maybe you just need to put them all into a hat a pick them out one by one and do them in that order? Whatever you decide, it has to be right for you! We have the fun of sitting back and watching...... ;)

Debra Spincic said...

The sewing CQ blocks have been on my To Do List about 5 years so they could be a really good candidate for the challenge. It's funny that I don't have any qualms about stitching them--probably because I am with the beginners!

Plus, I have a little stack of small wallhangings I promised Laura and maybe they are nagging at me too.

I'll get it all sorted out. I will. I will.

Debra Spincic said...

I'm having lunch with a friend this week--maybe that will help!

Connie Eyberg Originals said...

OK, I'm late getting into this conversation but I do usually have an opinion so here goes...

I have to admit I was having trouble picturing your last posted block with your larger motif blocks, but I didn't say anything because you had them in front of you and I only had bits and pieces. Here is an off-the-wall thought that may or may not appeal to you. You like the bold seams but want to use the smaller pieces you have purchased. Rather than treating the outer blocks as individual blocks, what if the outer blocks had a seam that flowed from block to block to form a secondary frame over the central blocks. Add a bold curvy seam through the centers that would look like a scallop (just as an example) at first glance. You could use dominantly red patches on the pieces closest to the central blocks and maybe dominantly white patches or even a striped pattern on the outer area of the bold seam. From a distance your eye would see a scallop, but upon close examination there would be details with your stitches and added on pieces. I hope that makes sense. I have had such a long day. I may read it tomorrow and be laughing at it with the rest of you ;-D

On the other hand, what happened to your beautiful blue with roses original garden blocks? Are they still an option?

Judy S. said...

Hmmm...don't know whether the reply feature will work for me, but Debra, my to-do list grows longer every day. LOL!

Debra Spincic said...

On one of my large CQs, I did a borderie perse border idea down the middle of the outside border blocks and I think that is what you are suggesting.

Here's the link:

At the time I was stumbling around & when I was done, I do remember thinking it had some merit for further exploration.

Hmmm, one of the things I don't like about the ornament blocks with the CQ blocks is the diamond next to the irregular patching. But, I could machine applique a smaller diamond down the middle of the CG blocks & put a small motif in that--maybe classic Christmas motifs--and they could encircle the whole quilt.
I'll have to take a look. I had also thought of embroidering something like holly or pine boughs down the middle of the red blocks to encircle the wallhanging. So, I should play with that idea some more . . .

Yes, the Beautiful Garden one is still on the design wall. I started cutting and pressing bias tape for the seams today. I really need to spend a good amount of time on it. I know I will love working on it.

Thanks, Connie!

Debra Spincic said...

I'm trying to get a handle on that one, Judy!

ladyhawthorne said...

I really like the idea of a separate hanging with the ornament blocks. I also think you should do the Rockwell Christmas blocks into a wallhanging, perhaps use a single simple or large scale cq for the center. Or just arrange the blocks with some borders inside and outside. Whether you do it now or later has to come from you.

Barbara C said...

Debra, this part of your post caught my eye:

"I also wanted to use those spools of cross stitch ribbon that I have & develop the trim idea on those."

I think you might be overwhelmed by trying to incorporate distinct goals and materials into one piece. It's okay to pick one and let the rest wait their turn. Trying to make it fit all together in one Mega Quilt is hard and you may not be happy with the results. Pick the project that will satisfy your creative urges right now. What you want to do later will change, so it only has to be a choice for the moment. Just my 2 cents. I hope you find a direction you're comfortable with.

Debra Spincic said...

I've never even thought of a middle CQ and embroidered outer blocks--hmmm, that's cool, right?

I was thinking this afternoon that I should just go ahead and start embroidering the blocks I like (some will take many hours even with the machine) and then I will have them. I can always turn them into other projects if I don't use them on this CQ project.

Debra Spincic said...

When I did that one little trim of the feather stitch, I realized almost instantly how much I missed counted cross stitch. I do so much thinking on my other daily projects that the idea of having something like counted cross stitch for the evening sounded wonderful. That led me to the idea of using those trims (and some stash reduction) for the upcoming project.
You know me, trying to pile as much into one project as I possibly can. Edit, edit, edit. I need a 12 Step program!

Connie Eyberg Originals said...

Thank you for sending the link and for letting me know what this border is called. That is similar to what I was referring to, but I was envisioning something not so busy for the border and with the emphasis on the bolder seam, with patches and cq stitching being simpler so as not to look chaotic. I guess like mine where the emphasis isn't on the seams, yet it is crazy quilted - if that makes sense? I do like your idea of a diamond shape repeated on the border. What if you did a string of diamonds, like 3-5 across each outer block (instead of just one diamond on each block) and the center diamond of each block could have the classic Christmas motif in it and the others plain...or instead of plain diamonds, put the plaid inside each diamond without a motif and the rest of the block red and less distinct fabrics. The diamonds could be outlined in heavy gold as on your center set of blocks. As you say they could encircle the entire quilt. I also think the holly or pine boughs through the middle of the blocks, encircling the wallhanging could work...maybe along with a center diamond. I do so much better drawing out my ideas.

Mary-Frances Main said...

Awwww, where's the fun in getting a handle on it! ha ha!

Debra Spincic said...

I'm intrigued with the idea of the central diamond marching through the border.
Since these are Christmas tree ornaments, maybe a nice Christmas tree would be pretty for the main central diamond and something like a small sketched ornament for the smaller diamonds with the plaid.

Another idea that is working in my brain came from Angela. I could put the ornament blocks on the outside as the border, a pretty tree in the middle (large) and then small CQ blocks around it (they could even be set as diamonds in plaid fabric, for example).

Now that I have decided I like the space above the fireplace for this piece, I have to be careful I don't get it too large. It would be a nice complement to the Christmas tree which is placed next to the fireplace.

Debra Spincic said...

When all else fails, read the directions!

Having decided that the Christmas wallhanging would be perfect for the space over the fireplace in the family room, I thought it might be a good idea to measure that space.
Uh, yea, the very biggest I could possibly go would be 35". My ornament blocks are 10" (a 3 x 3 arrangement = 30"). So, that doesn't leave any real kind of border options, unfortunately.

I think I will just move on to finishing the ornament blocks as planned. I can think about a tree skirt for all the fun miscellaneous Christmas motifs --and I now have 3 extra appliqued blocks that may become pillows!

I'll have a CQ decision by the next Reveal. Oh, this is so much fun!
(I still have my Art Nouveau Nativity set to do . . . . .)

Debra Spincic said...

Just wanted to say Thanks for all the help and suggestions you gave me! Between the messages here and the emails it helped me clarify what I want from this year's stitching. It's really not about the challenges or about the wallhanging to hang in my house, it's more about the personal journey. I still have some things to say with my stitching so that's the direction I will be going now. My new theme is "I like it and it's going on my crazy quilt". Instead of dreading the project, now I am excited! Funny how that happens. So, thanks again!