Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Simply Complex :: Life's Illusions

Ideas come and go.  Some are simple, some complex, some don't quite live up to what we visualize in our minds.  And then there are those that far exceed our imagination.  In the case of this quilt, it's Simply Complex:  a simple design that appears to be complex.  

39" x 38 1/2"
I started with scraps from a previous quilt and it soon took on the snowball effect.  A small insignificant idea or block that builds upon itself, growing bigger and bigger until either the idea has become clear and/or you have a quilt!  

This is the way I work.  The sweet spot of creativity, the mind of madness, feeding my artistic appetite, and many times the snowball effect.

Optical illusions have been around forever.  I love how they mess with our brain!  Creating perception that differs from reality.  I'm not going to pretend that my quilt is a mind altering illusion.  It has a bit of that which is way more than I ever expected it to have. 

And here I am again over analyzing a quilt of mine.  Which in reality, was nothing more than the desire to use scraps in some way or another.

The humble beginning started with a checker board.  The 1/2" stripes were cut in strips and sewn together creating 1/4" to 1 1/2" squares and rectangles.

Fabric used in this quilt is Kona Black and Kona Dove.  The gray is very light and from a distance it reads white.  I like that it isn't bright and glaring like whites can be.

Initially I was going to insert the checker board into a solid background, but my imagination got the best of me and I decided to try something different.  

Again with the Six-Minute Circle method!   I can't help it, it works for me!

It's a bit trickier inserting a circle with so many seams.  Not impossible, you just need to take it slow and steady.  

With one circle finished and liking what I saw, I made another, and another and one more for good measure.  The circles are 4 3/4", 6 1/4" and 8".  Four is enough.  Full disclosure:  I had to make more stripe fabric in order to make all the circles. 

Once I settled on the checkered background for the inset circles, it was pretty much a given as to how the rest of the background would end up.  I could have easily made the circles be the focus in the center and added black or gray around it, but I had to go with my gut.  And my gut said checker board.  

The more I thought about the background the more I wanted to add a twist to it.  Something a little different that might add a bit more interest.  That's when I decided to make the squares different widths.  Each square/rectangle is the same height at 4 1/4" finished, but the width varies from 4 1/2" to 1" finished.  I began cutting and building and adding and thinking...and somehow I ended up with this.    

During the entire process I had no idea how it would turn out.  Who would have thought by adding smaller and smaller widths of fabric that it would create the illusion that the side of a quilt is curled?!  At least that's what it looks like to me!  I couldn't have been more surprised or pleased with the results.

Quilting black and gray (or white) quilts always makes me nervous.  Do you use black thread or white thread all over?  I was worried if I use just one thread color that it would obstruct the visual impact of the design.  I decided I would alternate using Aurifil 50wt thread Black and Dove in each square.  

The back is the easiest and best way to show the quilting.  My decision to quilt vertical lines around the focal point was an easy one, but it wasn't quite as simple as it appears.  The plan was to make 1/2" lines throughout keeping it as simple as I could.  Yet, working 1/2" evenly across one block let alone all blocks proved to be hopeless.  All blocks are not created equal and it soon became evident that spacing would depend on each vertical row.

I worked up and down a couple rows at a time trying to evenly make my lines.  In the end they varied from 5/8" to 1/8" give or take a frog hair here and there.  

The center has the lines going horizontal at about 3/8" apart.  And lastly the circles.  The best idea I had for those were random vertical lines stitched in the ditch.  

I don't believe it would have turned out to be what I call a success with out a faced binding.  The quilt needed to have the design to go from edge to edge.  

I use this tutorial and highly recommend it: 
Knife Edge Binding by Bloomin' Workshop.

Usually by the end of a quilt I think of things I could have, should have or wish I had done differently.  This would be no exception!  I wish I had made both sides like the right side for the 'curl' effect.  That's about all I would have done different.  There could be another version, one never knows.  For now I'm good!

I'd just like to say thank you for letting me ramble as I do in most of my posts.  I might not be the best at writing, punctuation or explaining things...I just plain and simply love blogging!



  1. this quilt makes me dizzy!! but it looks great - I just can't look at it for long :(

  2. That curved effect is very cool. The circles appear as though they are floating on the surface of the checkerboard. As I've said before, always fun to see where your little creative activity takes you, and I enjoy reading your ramblings!

    1. I really love the curved effect too! I had no idea when I was planning it out that it would end up that way.

  3. Bravo! This is amazing. Wow. You continue to amaze me with your creativity.

    1. I have my moments, as do we all! It’s always fun when we can experiment with ideas and this was a huge success for me!

  4. I just love this. the illusion of the curling edge is stunning (and I think very effective on just one edge, but that's me)

  5. I love everything about this. I love illusions, I love black and light..I love 6 minute circles...yay love it

  6. SO. COOL! IT has so much illusion going on, I don't know where to focus first!

  7. That side curl is just the BEST THING! We all want our quilts to behave and lie flat, and a faced binding is supposed to help with that. And here you created the illusion of curving while also making a flat quilt. Mind blowing! :)

    1. I have to say that the side curl was totally unexpected. I had no idea it would end up creating another illusion, but I love it!! We strive to make sure our quilts are flat and there I go…blowing that out of the water with a little illusion!

  8. Wow. Another amazing piece, Jayne. The optical illusion is just mesmerizing... Love Louise's comment just above about the curl. ;-)

  9. You definitely got a mind-altering illusion going!!! Awesome. Did you have to make a ton of thread changes then?

  10. Simply Complex is fascinating to me! Loved zooming in on your pictures to look at parts of it up close. I noticed that you matched the black and white junctions from the circles to the outer part - wowie! It's always fun to see what you think up to do with your scraps!

  11. Great quilt and blog post. Why would you blog if you couldn't explain and write down all your desired... Enjoy your finish. It really is stunning! xo Melanie

  12. Beautiful Jayne! I need to try that circle technique. You make it look so easy.

    Thanks for linking up with Oh Scrap!


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