Sunday, May 17, 2015

Under the Sea Block Step 2: Planning Motifs

If you missed my first step in this little series of posts about the current block I am embellishing for Sandra T. as part of a Crazy Quilting International Under the Sea Round Robin, you may find it here. This is another photo heavy post. You may click any image for a larger view.
Sketch of piecing on Sandra's UTS block.
Sometimes, deciding how to fill in the blanks on a block is an easy process. Other times it is really hard. This block has 6 areas for motifs. I knew exactly what I wanted to stitch in some areas and I am still pondering others.

Section 1

With Sandra's block, I knew I wanted to add a mermaid or a seahorse. To be honest, I wanted to make a mermaid, but I have never tried stitching the arms or face and was not comfortable trying that out on a block for someone else. I contemplated painting the arms and having the mermaid's back to the viewer, so there would be no face. However, my acrylic paints do great with some fabrics and bleed into others. Without fabric to test them on, that option was out. So, I ended up deciding my little seahorses would be my "signature" addition to each block in this round robin.

The seahorses I stitched for Nicki Lee and Kathy were both on the right side of the block and facing the left. So, I wanted to put this one on the left side of the block. (This is something I took into consideration before sketching my seams in Step 1.) However, that area is a bit narrow and I did not want to crowd the seahorse too close to the edge. I feared the top purple section would place him too high. The center felt too small. So, I opted for the triangle on the right side of the block. I am not sure why, but I do not like the idea of the seahorse being close to the edge and facing the edge. I feel like the seahorse needs to face the center of the block. So, this will be the third in this round robin placed on the right and facing the left.

Color is also something I begin thinking about as I plan each motif. My friend from Queenie's Needlework made the same observation I did while viewing all of Sandra's blocks. There are various hues of orange in each bare block. The gorgeous orange fabrics pretty much scream for orange embellishments to balance each block. And these orange embellishments will also create more cohesion when the blocks are quilted together. Keeping this in mind, there is a very high chance my seahorse may be created using a reddish/orange variegated floss or using two separate shades of orange hues. 

Section 2

The sandy section was another easy one for me to plan.

Adding some orange and purple to balance these colors out may easily be done with the addition of a few starfish. Before I figured out where to place them, I needed to decide what else to add here.

Again, to tie in with the block Nicki Lee did, I wanted to add a beaded feather-stitched area. So, I sketched that in, knowing all of the beads would be a minimum of one-fourth-inch from the seams of the block. (Sewing them together is SO much easier without beads and charms fighting with the foot of the sewing machine.) I also wanted to add another snail. The bead I plan to use for the body is a bit thick, so I wanted it even further from the seam. Some reddish-orange or purple coral could also be added to balance the color on this block, so I sketched some. A few sea stars were sketched in, though I imagine the locations my change a bit. They look too lined up here.

Section 3

I just LOVE this swirly fabric! As much as I love printed fabrics, sometimes they are the most challenging for me. So, I made myself tackle that section next. 

Whatever goes here will need to be rather bold in color or it will be lost in the print. This section is still near the ocean floor, so I decided more coral would be perfect. Using a dark reddish-orange, the French knots will stand out from the fabric. However, the pattern of the coral will still allow the fabric beneath to shine through.

Section 4

The narrow blue with sparkling gold dots would be mostly feather stitches from the seam. However, it would still require some small points of interest.

We send out a booklet with our blocks in a round robin to let the other ladies know what elements we like and do not like. Sandra mentioned she likes glitter. 

I still have a few clear buttons with the silver glitter accents I like to use for jellies on under the sea blocks and one is rather small. Perfect. A few small fish will also be making their way toward the seam I plan to embellish with fish.

Section 5

The purple section at the top was my next challenge.

The seam along the orange and light green fabric will have fish swimming along (toward the right because the seahorse will be facing the left and I do not want all of the movement going in one direction.) 

I sketched in another jelly. This one would be larger than the one on the left side of the block. I left this section, knowing I would probably want to add more than just tiny fish to fill in around the jelly. At the moment, I am thinking there may be a fishing net in the water. We shall see what I decide when I get there...

Section 6

Knowing the seams planned to the right and left of the orange fabric in the center would take up a fair amount of that space, I did not really plan for any motifs here.

Once all of the planned stitching is completed, I usually fill in any areas that are too bare with scattered fish. I did not sketch any in here, but I do picture a fish or three (odd numbers) playing in the "vegetation" on this section.

Sketch of Block

Making this sketch took roughly an hour from start to finish. The actual block sat beside me on our sofa so I could take the fabric colors and patterns into consideration during the planning process. With this as a reference, I do not have to stop and think about what I am going to stitch. I just work on one section, select a floss for the next section and move right along.

The completed block may differ, as I have been known to change my mind along the way. However, this is the rough plan I have been working from on this block.

My next post will share a few of the seams I have completed.

Thank you for stopping by!


Queeniepatch said...

I am always amazed at home much time you spend on planning and preparing, and blogging about, work before you actually start stitching. Enjoy!

Pamela said...


Shell - Little Orphan Stitch said...

What a great way to plan out the block! I usually end up winging it. I stare at it, then add a seam, then stare at it again. I should try sketching it out first too!

KimM said...

How interesting. I love seeing your process. You continue to amaze...

Christine Barnsley said...

Hello Renee! Just catching up with reading my favourite blogs after a weekend away! Loved seeing the thought process behind your block... it is going to look fabulous! Can't wait to see the embellishments for real!! :) x

Katie said...

Wow. Can't wait to see the finished piece. I'm in love with your sketch haha.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Thank you for posting this Renee - it's fascinating to read about (and see) your thoughts as you decide what to add.