Method or Just Madness?

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This is a long and winding tale, mostly about my creative process, but also peppered with photos here and there, showing examples of my decision making along the way. Now would be the time to pour yourself a tall cool one or, better yet, make yourself a rootbeer float, this is going to take a while.

My initial idea for the corner four patches

Trying something bolder for those four patches

Even though all the other ones were sewn already!

This was my first big dilemma with my initial concept – I wanted to have a fairly soft, low volume effect, punched up with a bit of that lovely aqua and orchid combination. I chose softly muted mushroomy prints to make all of the four patches and then the doubting began. Was it too soft? too non-descript? was I losing the shape of those connecting squares too much? So then I started making the four patches in bolder prints, using the same orchid hue that I was using for the outside surroundings of the small star blocks… and picked apart the mushroom toned ones.

Mushroom coloured four patches

Orchid coloured four patches

After laying out a selection of blocks on my design floor, I decided that the orchid colour emphasized the square around the small stars too much, creating a look that was too ‘blocky’ and taking away from the larger aqua stars which I felt should be a more striking design element in this quilt. So… that meant more picking and back to my initial concept with those softer prints.

Lesson #1: Follow your instincts

My next big dilemma came when I had all the blocks up on the design wall. The thing that really caught my eye initially with this quilt design was the unique border design and right from the beginning I knew I wanted to do something very low volume to enhance the visual effect of  the broken border. After choosing two favourite neutral prints that I loved, I constructed all the border pieces and it wasn’t until the entire quilt was on the design wall that I realized it wasn’t working.

Not quite right

Well, talk about disappointed! The quilt just lost something in the translation between my imagination and actual reality. I had to walk away from it and I didn’t return for at least a week or more. I had, however, taken some photographs in order to better analyze just where I’d gone wrong. After much debate (in my head and out loud) I decided that although I had initially desired an overall softness in the tone of this quilt, there was something lacking in the cohesiveness of the design. I had introduced two fabrics in the border that were used nowhere else in the quilt, and because they were both so ‘quiet’, the broken border concept almost completely disappeared, leaving the edge of the quilt just hanging there. There just had to be a better solution!

Lesson #2: Never give up trying to improve your work.

Final results!

Just like in relationships, in times of trouble sometimes you just have to step back a ways to gain perspective and think clearly. And I’m so glad I did! Even though this is not exactly what my initial idea was, I actually think it has improved immensely!

Lesson #3: Don’t let your initial concept blind you to better ideas.

After much deliberation I decided to scrap the border pieces and re-introduce the fabric I had used for the background on the large star blocks. This accomplished two goals by enhancing those stars that I had earlier deemed an important element in the design, and by building a relationship between the border and the interior of the quilt I had achieved cohesion. This was also achieved by using another aqua print on the outside edge that was very close in tone to the stars but not exactly the same, therefore, visually interesting.

Yesterday afternoon I managed to get the entire quilt top sewn together and cannot help staring at it. I am so pleased that I stuck with it and I’m sure that when it’s quilted it will be one of my all-time favourites. I already have the perfect backing fabric set aside, having ordered it from Daryl at FabricSpark as soon as I saw this brand new line appear on my computer screen.

Tokyo Milk presents Neptune and the Mermaid

Neptune's Neverland

I have fallen head over heels in love, love at first sight, and crazy! stupid! love! for this amazing line of fabric and I’m so happy that I ordered it the moment I spotted it, as I’ve heard it’s selling out all over the place! The Neptune’s Neverland is the print I’m using for the back of my quilt and the orchid coloured fabric at the top is a strong candidate for binding (there’s just enough) but I haven’t quite decided on that yet… I’ll just wait until the quilting is done and then decide.

So that’s all for now. Wishing you happy stitching.

As always, carol xoxox

 

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2 Responses to Method or Just Madness?

  1. Tammy says:

    Great glimpse into the creative thought process! Love the border with the aqua…too soft the other way. Your quilt is AWESOME! The backing fabric is most bodacious!!! xoxo

  2. carol says:

    Hi Tammy, this project sure had me on an emotional roller coaster but I’m super pumped with the end result. It would have been sooooo easy to push this one to the side and have it end up in the u.f.o. pile – that’s how discouraged I was. It was difficult sharing my struggles this time but I think that it’s important for others to know that the creative process isn’t always easy. I love that I am always still learning things with each and every new project I attempt :o )

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