Since finishing my first block, each subsequent block I make is somewhat balanced against what is already completed. Although I want them to work together, I also want each to stand alone in a particular skew toward a color scheme so that in the end, the whole top isn't just a mish-mash. For block #4, I'd like the blossom top to have a pink and orange emphasis, with mostly greens toward the bottom. I start by choosing the main, large pieces and appliqueing them down.
The pattern I'm using is Kim McLean's Lollypop Trees, available from the Glorious Color website. The block patterns are formatted as 18" blocks, but since I am making a 9-block version with a particular wall in mind, I reduced the pattern size to 15". It would be difficult to shrink these dense designs much smaller.
Some of you have commented on my appliqued circles, probably because they look so exact compared to other versions of this quilt online. Confession ~ I have "tightened up" the design a bit. As you can see in the photo above, the circles on Kim's pattern are somewhat organic, which is totally appropriate to her original intent, which is to make this up in Kaffe Fassett's lush, floral fabrics. However, when I decided to make my interpretation in more geometrically patterned prints, the loose circles resulted in sloppy looking buds.
Each time I prepare a new block, I use a circle template to determine the closest size of each bud and note it on my master drawing. (As you can see in a previous photo, I also assign each leaf a letter designation for reference when I make my paper patterns.) This all looks very fussy and time-consuming, but it's really not.
When I started the project, I made my own little plastic templates of the circle sizes that I'd need. But before I start prepping small pieces to applique, I audition lots of possibilities.
Still just playing!
That big mess of fabric bits in the top photo sits on a tabletop that butts up to my design wall. Some of it is scraps left from previous projects, some are circles cut for earlier blocks that were discarded for some reason and some are just little snips I've cut off of yardage to consider. Over a number of days, I try different colors and prints until I start to develop an overall combination that I'm happy with. I don't pay any attention to the size of the bits I throw up for consideration. I'm just trying to get a feel for a good mix ~ colors, values, scale, prints, dots, plaids.
At this point, I also have the finished blocks on the wall. This helps me avoid repeating a bold print or bright color in a similar location (for example, lower leaves) and develop a block that stands on its own, colorwise. I tweak the fabrics here and there as I applique, but once I've established the overall color distribution, I put the other blocks away and sweep the bits and bobs into a box so that the project doesn't take over the sewing room.
It looks like there's been great progress here but truly, this week has had more than its share of wasted time. Annual tree pollen allergies have slowed me down and the terrible news story here in Cleveland since Monday night has been a sad distraction. The beauty of springtime in full bloom and the enduring human spirit are heartening. This happy project is a perfect fit this week.