Monday, May 16, 2016

On the Next Quilt

Recently, I took advantage of a book and pattern sale at Pink Castle Fabrics to pick up Mary Fons's new book "Make + Love Quilts" which I quickly devoured. The patterns are cool, and its full of interesting thoughts on the quilt making process, such as why we should make larger quilts, why accuracy matters (which is a little startling, as I've been pretending it doesn't) and what fabrics work together, and all sorts of things I haven't really been thinking about, but I am now.

But the thing I thought most awesome in the introduction is her little sidebar about Rogue Blocks, blocks where the fabric is different, or the style has shifted, or what have you, for whatever reason (we ran out of a particular fabric! we ran out of patience with a fussy pieced block!) because it sets my heart at ease about some issues I've been having with what I call "The Next Quilt".

It started out as just the next quilt, the one after the one I was working on, then when I started it I couldn't think of a name for it, so I just continued to call it "The Next Quilt", and perhaps it will remain that. I also call it the split snowball, which isn't so catchy, and in reality, it's a bow tie quilt.

See? It's totally a bow tie quilt.
But my thinking was, I want to make a scrappy snowball quilt, where the blocks that make up the corner units of the snowball are solid (and not 4 triangles pieced as if they were solids) and each snowball would be made from 4 fabrics) and once I made up templates, I was like, oh, it's a bow tie. (I'm linking to these 12" blocks, but mine are 7" square, because that's what works for a 2" center square, and 2.5" for the outer bits, with some trimming, because I'm all about using my die cutter for the initial cuts at least.)

Currently on the design wall

So, I made this plan for a twin sized quilt, decided that yellow wouldn't work (not enough contrast!) and went to orange, and divided it up into groups based on how light or dark they read (they're all orange prints), and cut up a lot of 2.5" squares and divided them into boxes (each one numbered). Then I consult the chart, and use fabric from the appropriate box to make the block, consulting my design wall to be sure I'm not repeating fabrics too close to each other.

And the first couple of blocks went great! And then I got the new Mendocino, and had to add all the orange prints in, including the brown seahorses on the orange background, which was a bridge too far, and stuck out oddly (it's too dull for all these bright oranges), so I pulled all the squares I cut from the box, but I didn't want to rip it out the only one I sewed in right away. So I left it, to do later. And as the quilt grew around it, it became less of an annoyance and more of an interesting feature, and then I didn't question whether it should stay. (It's not in the picture, because it's in a part that had to be packed up to make room. Sadly, the design wall is quite small!)

That was only the first sign of trouble! As I headed to the middle, I found one print I'd categorized as a medium orange was really reading as a light orange, and I moved them from box 3 into box 2 (at least one of these is in the picture above, once as a 3 and once as a 2), and a few days later, I moved another fabric as well, then I was thinking, well, should I go back and fix the first part of the quilt to reflect the new reality?

The first part, which currently resides in a drawer.
But now I feel like I don't have to. Rogue blocks! Blocks made before I refined the categories! Blocks where I tried out a fabric, and then said, well, maybe not... These little hiccups tell the story of this quilt, the story of a person learning how to see prints not as stripes and flowers but as tones of a single color. And maybe the design will be fuzzy in the left hand corner and crystal clear in the bottom right, but that's also awesome. It will still look impressive. And I will still like it at the end, which I probably would not if I made myself dig through and redo all those affected blocks.

Which is not to say I never ripped out any mistakes! There were some egregious piecing issues that I did take apart and set straight. But sometimes, you just gotta let the little things slide a bit to get through the day, right?

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