Try Angles

Day 1 – Why don’t you try this?

“…take a shape, any shape, and see where it leads you“, said Kaja in this post for Ad Hoc Improv Quilters, over on Sew Slowly.  Kaja was doing squares, and I had been toying with the idea of trying the Floating Squares score from the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, which has been my story-time favorite ever since it arrived in May.  Kaja and Ann Brooks at Fret Not Yourself have started an Ad Hoc Improv Quilters monthly link-up and I was intrigued.

Ad Hoc Improv Quilters

But squares just weren’t ringing my bells. So, having challenged myself with this AHIQ thing, I decided to use a different shape.  In the wakeful wee hours one night, I began to think about triangles. Triangles are wonderful.  They are the simplest polyhedron; if they had one less side they would just be a line.  They define, and can only exist, in a plane, which is why three legs is the ideal number for a stool, or for anything you want to balance on.  You can use triangles to solve interesting problems such as how steep is that hill or how far away is that star.

Recently I had been doing some traditional piecing with HSTs, and was enjoying how they lined up so elegantly.

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But that is hardly improv, so what else could I do with triangles?

Traditional quilting typically uses symmetrical shapes that fit together neatly, like right triangles, and isoceles triangles.  But, you can get a lot of variation in the shape of a triangle, by stretching it out, leaning it backwards or forwards, making it tall and thin or short and fat. My Triangle DreamNow my mind was teeming with triangles of all shapes and colors. They formed a mob and were marching towards me, through negative space…I had to give in to their demands.   So, triangles it is.

I went shopping in my stash.  First, I decided on some “negative space” fabric.  It’s mandatory, right? I had a cut of Kona Ash left from another project.  I chose that, it is a nice, silvery, soft gray. I picked a favorite batik piece and then found a few more including a piece of gray batik, that I thought might be an interesting transition to the solid gray.

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I put away my ruler and cut a bunch of strips about 8 inches wide. IMG_0447From one of the multicolor strips, I cut some random triangles.

I decided to combine them with some other triangles to create some roughly rectangular units.  This involved cutting other triangles from the other fabrics. If your starting triangle is a right triangle, you only need one other one to make a rectangle which is approximately equal to a HST.  However, if it is not, you have to add triangles to two sides to create a more-or-less regular rectangle.  Which gives you something like a Flying Goose.  Okay…

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This process also leaves you with some angled end cuts and…more triangles! So I went ahead and rectangular-ized all my first set of random triangles and got these.  Basically some irregular HSTs and some items that resemble flying geese.  But I like them.

Oh yes, and duIMG_0453ring that part, I introduced one additional fabric.

Then I veered off on a sidetrack I later regretted, involving some some Sujata Shah style stack-slice-shuffle and came up with eight more slightly irregular HSTs. This is a great technique for creating a lot of HSTs quickly, but the result was too uniform to suit my present purpose.  I tried re-stacking, slicing and shuffling them with some other fabrics, but was still not happy with the result, for this quilt.  (They got recycled later on.)  IMG_0455 This became my stopping point for Day 1.  And what
else is wrong with the picture so far?  Remember that nice gray negative space I decided on first of all? I had forgotten it entirely.  As usual, I was seduced by the riot of color.  Stay tuned for Day 2, to see what happens next!

Day 2 – Still trying; getting in the groove.

IMG_0457I began today having decided that it was okay to keep doing what I liked and not to stress out about what wasn’t working. I began by addressing the pile of triangular scraps I had left over from yesterday. I used these, and added to the pieces I had felt were most successful yesterday. These were a series of mostly “flying goose” type blocks and some approximate HSTs. I ended up with a larger collection of the blocks that I really liked.  IMG_0458 I still had some IMG_0459composite triangles left over, when I thought again of my “negative space” fabric.  IMG_0460 I decided to ease into the negative space thing gently, kind of like sticking one toe into the water to test it. I began with the gray batik as a ‘transitional’ fabric between riotous color and pattern to the quiet, smooth, gray of the Kona Ash. So I made a few four-sided pieces using the multi-triangles and the patterned batik.  And a few more HSTs, and a few more flying geese. It was during this process that I had to come to terms with the fact that some of the points on my triangles were going to be compromised, when the pieces were put togethIMG_0461er:  I channeled Sherri Lynn Wood and said “Yes, and…so what?!” I spent the rest of the afternoon putting groups of the blocks together into larger sections.  I decided to just piece them in ways that appealed to me.  This was the first one I put together.IMG_0466

Then, some of my original “geese” stepped forward and demanded to be placed in a row, thus forming the bottom row of my quilt (for now).IMG_0467 This row was so nice, I added another on top of it, and finally a third, on top of that, where some of the transition fabric has been introduced.  This brought to mind a place I saw in Montana on a vacation called the Crazy Mountains after a woman who reportedly an away and lost her mind there. Or maybe lost her mind and ran away there.  Does it matter?  They were off in the distance, to the west of us.  Sunset on the crazy mountains!IMG_0469The remaining geese wanted to flock together, so I made three sets of these, and played with placement.IMG_0470

The other days!

I really got on a roll then and stopped taking pictures. The quilt started building itself from the bottom up. As I got toward the top I introduced the solid gray and dropped out the colors entirely. I had to create more triangles, and worked with smaller and smaller scraps. I did a lot of fitting together, and a LOT of steam pressing as I went along. Due to choices I made about which portions of some rows to keep in, I ended up having to trim off both of the vertical edges, though by some miracle, the bottom and top edges were fairly even and horizontal. Here is the final top, all pieced.  IMG_0519

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11 thoughts on “Try Angles

  1. What a wonderful quilt. I always appreciate a great explanation of process like yours. It’s hard to remember to take photos, isn’t it? I like all your triangles: the irregulars and the stack-slice-shuffles but can see from your photos how hard they would be to combine. Your combinations of multiple random triangles is especially interesting. You worked through them to a good top. My first attempt was stuffed in my scrap bag until I found a way to include them in another quilt. I guess either way is good: at least we actually figured out a way to use them. Learning and progress.
    What a neat transition from color to negative space, too. Thanks so much for linking up with AHIQ.

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  2. This is fabulous. I love where playing with triangles led you. The fabrics are so intense at the bottom and I like that they lighten up at the top of the quilt.

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  3. What a fantastic quilt! Thank you so much for sharing it on AHIQ. I like so many things about this: the intense colours, the way you have balanced the colours and shapes, the way your basic triangle unit is doing so many different things, the more neutral area at the top that gives it the landscape feel. I also love that you have talked us through all the steps – nothing is more interesting than following the process.

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  4. Oh my goodness, that was fun reading about and seeing your process! I like the title of your post too. It is so easy to be “seduced by the riot of color”. I love how your quilt gradually transitions from the mountains to the sky. . And they do look like crazy mountains, LOL.

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  5. So much fun to see the finished quilt! Love how you ended up with the ‘mountain’s on top. Thanks for a very interesting read! I am always fascinated to see how people get from start to finish.:)

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  6. Oh my do I love your colours in this!! A great post on your process and so interesting to read that the “quilt started building itself from the bottom up”

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  7. Oh wow, I love this! Your description of your process is just wonderful, thank you. I’m so glad you went with the rows – I was thinking they looked so exciting and was on tenterhooks you might have gone with something else! I think it’s one of my favourite tops I’ve seen in a while 🙂

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