Monday, February 16, 2015

A Quilting Challenge

I blame Elisa.  She's the one who came up with the idea for a quilt challenge last November for her, Deb, and me.  Not that there was any arm-twisting involved.  An excuse to buy more fabric?  We were in!

We were each to buy a yard each of three different fabrics that we LOVED (not just liked), and cut them into thirds and share them.  We had to use at least some of each fabric in a quilt top, which we would keep secret until the tops were finished.  We could use any design or theme we wanted, and we could add a yard of any fabric or fabrics from our stash.

I had been eyeing these:

I bought enough for the challenge and then some!

I know my friends like purple.  I like purple too.  They also like batiks, sometimes.  Why did I imagine they would buy purple batiks?  Wishful thinking.

We met for the fateful fabric exchange.  Debbie picked these:

 Elisa picked these:

I thought each set of three fabrics worked internally, more or less, but I confess I wasn't too happy with how the three sets of three looked together.  We also had a lot of semi-solids in somewhat medium-dark tones.  I liked the turquoise and purple, I liked the flowery stuff, and of course, I loved my batiks, but heavens above, how to put them all together?

Here's my gloomy take on the nine of them.  Note the tiny bit of orange I'm hiding at the top.  Next is Elisa's much brighter and more hopeful pic.

Of course, everyone has different tastes, there's nothing wrong with that; I love my friends, but I don't always love every fabric they love, and no doubt they feel the same way about my choices.

Sorry, gals, but I didn't feel these fabrics were playing nicely together.  I felt they needed to be separated.  Firmly.  The batiks could sit at the front of the room, and the other colors needed to be separated at the back of the room.  Or maybe in another class.  And no passing of notes and giggling!

My stash fabric would have to be something neutral, either white or cream.  Anything darker, I thought, would make the whole quilt top too glum.  Far too reflective of my state of mind in the face of this challenge, to be honest.

My first idea was a traditional windmill pattern.  I thought the teal with the orange would be a fun contrast, and would help alleviate the intense orangeosity of the orange.

Let's talk about orange, shall we?

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, I was married.  My then mother-in-law once asked me what my favorite color was.  I said, "I love all colors except orange."

Turns out the mother-in-law was quite the seamstress, and the next Christmas, I opened a gift from her and pulled out a beautifully tailored yet fiercely orange matching skirt and blouse that she had made for me.

I was horrified.  And this was really a "navel orange" orange.  Not burnt sienna.  Not rust or brick, melon, peach, or coral, all of which are perfectly lovely colors.

Wearing the outfit this thoughtful lady made for me would have been like wearing a giant traffic cone.

What to do?  I decided that if I didn't speak up then, I was in for a lifetime of orange gifts.  I wasn't planning on getting divorced at the time, although all that orange might have been grounds for it.

So I said, as kindly as possible, "Thank you so much, these are so beautifully made, but I really don't like orange."

Her face turned a shade of blood orange with embarrassment--she had misheard me (or maybe she wasn't listening all that well in the first place, a common problem), and she had thought I loved orange.  We had quite a laugh over it, once we got over the awkwardness of the situation.

Now and then I did wear the skirt with a white blouse, or the blouse with blue jeans.  They were very well-made and lasted forever.  Life is full of challenges.

Back to the quilt challenge:  I made a bunch of triangle pieced squares for the windmills, slapped them up on the design wall, and promptly hated them.

Followed many hours of rearranging of fabrics and ideas.  I tried draping those fabrics in every conceivable configuration and every one was as noxious as the last.  At one point, I was ready to back out of the challenge.  But I kept telling myself, "That's why they call it a challenge, dear.  Hang in there."

True confessions: my quilter friend Sonja came to visit and we spent many happy hours attempting to make sense of these fabrics.  (Well, nobody said I couldn't have outside help!)  She seemed to agree with me that this was not the most congenial group of colors, to put it mildly.

We ended up with a kind of chevron idea, especially since I wasn't ready to rip out those triangle squares.

After she left, around midnight, it hit me:  just go full-on modern, don't try to make it make sense.

I spent many more hours messing around with this, but it began to be fun rather than frustrating.

I started to appreciate the fact that this was forcing me to create something completely different.

By the way, here's what happens when you open the windows on a windy day.  Luckily, putting a checkerboard back together is fairly simple.

I tried lots of different configurations--just fun, cheerful, and slightly mad.

Finally, the finished top!  I ended up barely using my favorite fabrics, strangely enough.  Just a little taste here and there.

Elisa used even less!  She made this really fun one:

Debbie's was also cheerful and modern:

And the fact that the orange fabric is one of Elisa's most favorite fabrics ever just means, when we go shopping together, more batiks for me!  All is forgiven.

1 comment:

  1. I love, love, love all 3 of them. You guys did a fabulous job and I'm so impressed.
    Check out this blog too, this woman does amazing things with colors and fabric.


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