Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Crossing These Two Off the List!

We had a quiet weekend which was wonderful. Long overdue. I was able to bring two different quilt tops up to completed quilt top status. Yay! Sometimes it feels important to clear off the lists a little in order to create some new head space for creativity!
Patchwork Garden
After getting the applique work finished on gangly flower baskets, I wiffle, waffled around about the border. A three strip border made up of equal widths {as per the original pattern}, isn't always a favorite of mine. After much pondering, it became obvious the quilt needed something there on the borders. Nothing I was conjuring up seemed any better.
A completed quilt top!
Don't you just love those kinds of solutions? 'Well, it's better than nothing...'. Yeah. But actually, it really is in this case. I had a problem coming up with a good blue or green or even blue/green, but eventually settled on the one pictured. I thought to use a good lavender or violet but the quilt wasn't having anything to do with those possibilities.
A few changes to the pattern
This particular blue fabric has a darker blue print design that echoed nicely with the dark blue baskets. Because it came off as fairly moody, the white text print combined with the bold coral/red ended up being the best pick {from the stash} to complete the trio of border strips. Yes, it's very sharp and sparky looking, not at all what I started out thinking the border should be. In fact, the entire quilt all but vibrates now that all the parts and pieces are in one place!

The one thing that I really liked about this border pattern was that the inside strip was made up of offset side strips. Since this coral/red fabric is so very bold, I was careful to make sure that it in particular, ended in an appropriate area of the quilt. Didn't want it to compete unduly with the pretty applique flowers and so easily switched which side of the quilt ended up with the longer red strip.

As you know, I'm very fond of text fabrics and so was very happy to find a good place to use this one. I know it's super popular and will date my quilt like no other could, but hey, when it works, there's no sense fighting! And it was on sale the weekend of the quilt show earlier this year. I always have to buy a little something to bring home, you know, like a souvenir.*wink
The blue border fabric has some of that darker blue in it too
Overall I am very pleased with the outcome of the Patchwork Garden quilt effort. It definitely ended up with a slightly different feel than the prim vibe to the original pattern, which is perfectly okay to me! It's still cozy and country, a little charming, even when made up in a significant departure from original color choice. That's the hallmark of a good design in my book. Good bones make for a good quilt!

Did you catch that about the 'souvenir' thing? hehe The things we tell ourselves when we're trying to justify buying fabric! The second quilt top finished up is the Bullseye Medallion quilt. Though the black and the green/blue borders were a little bit hard to figure out, the red border went swimmingly. So well, in fact, that I couldn't wait to tinker around with the yellow border!
Bullseye Medallion quilt
I really didn't set out to finish this particular quilt top over the weekend, but once started, it just wouldn't let go. It helped so much to have large chunks of time with no interruptions. Just me and the husband rattling around in the house. Bliss! Ha! That's my absolute favorite part when the kids are gone. So much more quiet time. I mean, it's only for a weekend usually or maybe a week so enjoy it, right? But my man, it doesn't take long before he has to have the music playing, wanting to fill up the entire house.
Busy corner with a little touch of applique
Anyway, the yellow border took more time to cut out and sew together than it did to puzzle together. I waited a full twenty-four hours and then started attacking the {next} black border. My big empty floor space adjacent to the quilt room? Yeah, well.. ,the husband took that over sometime over the weekend. 'Sorting' stuff. I can see that I'm gonna have to dial back my expectations about that as well.
When a quilt is done, it's DONE. What can you do but listen!
The plan was to have a black border and then finish up the whole quilt with a final darker blue border. After the initial layout for the black border {sadly uninspiring}, I went ahead and laid out the blue fabrics in a potential mock-up last border. Ughh. Just awful. For awhile I even considered making the black border a very thin sashing-look border as it didn't seem to make any sort of meaningful impact on the quilt. And the blue was so wrong, it almost hurt. But that seemed like cheating. Doing the default thing without half trying.
So happy with all the different fabric prints used!
What is it that the men always like to say? 'Drop back ten yards and punt?'' Sometimes our plans just aren't going to work out and then it's time to make something else happen. Instead of giving up on the 5" border round idea, I decided to try combining the black and blue border into one. If the black was sucking up all the joy, maybe it just needed a lift. Thankfully, it didn't take any time whatsoever to see the immediate change in the quilt.
The wider 'different fabric' break in the red border is
one that actually acts as a spark in better lighting
It's really amazing sometimes to see how well a quilt can react to certain fabric/color additions. Or subtractions even. Whew! Scared me for a minute there. I thought the quilt was going to go from being bright and spunky to a defeated fit of melancholy! Trying to work fat quarter lengths into longer and longer border pieces was kind of tricky, but somehow it all came together. There are a couple lengths that are carefully pieced to make the length a smidge longer and not be super obvious about it. Other places I deliberately joined right into a different print fabric even though I had more of the same fabric if needed.

One of the challenges of using these shorter lengths is the choppiness of the piecing look. If you're not careful it all just starts looking blocky. I used a trick that I discovered while making my Big Tipsy Basket quilt--break up the shorter lengths with thin contrasting strips. Funny how making the breaks in border lengths more obvious can actually create a better flow overall! 

There were two places where I didn't get the look quite right and had to go back with the seam ripper and insert a different width fabric break, both wider and more narrow depending on the area. In the case of the the blue fabric breaks on the outside border, you can see on the left side of the quilt where I ended up chopping the busy blue print apart and sliding a strip of the gray in-between. I really liked the {necessary} energy of that specific blue fabric, but it wasn't showing up very well attached to the end of the blue striped fabric. Inserting a calm space in between helped that {kinda magical} fabric work harder.

There are applique additions in two different border areas of the quilt. The first is the basket handles on the red border and the second spot is the far top left corner where I stitched a not-quite-perfect gray circle cut from a homespun plaid. Both times it felt really, really satisfying to take a moment and do some hand stitching on the quilt--something not quite as 'rigid' looking as machine piecing tends to be. I'm not sure why that satisfaction was so deeply felt, but I'm not gonna question it. Maybe make a note for future quilting? The quilt looks {and feels} like a 'me' quilt now and that's really all that matters. So that's it! No more borders. The quilt said it was done and I can't see any reason to argue....


  1. Your Patchwork Garden is awesome. It has a country charm flare that I just love. The blue border comes across my screen as green but I can picture blue in my mind. I love it; additional flower pots and all. Congratulations on getting these two quilts to the flimsy stage. ;^)

  2. Borders are a wonderful way to spend the weekend. And funny how simple ones still have so much nuance. Thanks for the tip about splitting up chunky shortish strips with narrow bits. I am sure I will use this some time.
    It's so quiet when all the kids are gone and I always thought I'd get a ton done. Sometimes I did but usually other people had ideas for the time and space just like your husband.

  3. There are some wonderful thoughts in this post -- drop back and punt, something less mechanical than machine piecing, adding small bits to break things up, good bones make a good quilt, and so many more. 'm so glad you take the time to document your thoughts here!!! (both quilt tops are great, but the Patchwork Garden really sings for me)

  4. I enjoy seeing how you bring things together!


  5. That is a good weekend's work! I love how you worked out your borders especially. I have to say that as a historian I don't care if fabric might date a quilt - some time off in the future maybe someone will be able to learn from that piece of history.

  6. Your solutions seem to work out for both quilts. The different pieces in the borders don't seem choppy, but rather like rest stops. Otherwise, your eyes might just spin around and around.

  7. Congratulations - both of these quilt tops are beautiful even though they are so different from each other. I appreciate all the tips you provide along the way.

  8. I love Patchwork Garden, especially the black baskets and bowls/urns overflowing with flowers, seemingly spread over an old fashioned nine-patch quilt spread out in a country garden. Can't wait to see the quilty texture emerge when this one is quilted!

  9. That happened to me recently. I was already for a fabulous outer border of some kind, probably applique, and the quilt just said it was done. I love the addition of the red border on your basket quilt. It adds such a special touch.

  10. Your commentary on your decision making process is so interesting, Audrey. I have marked this post to reread when I have to consider borders. They always stump me for some reason. I really like your applique touches. You are so right-your quilts speak to your own unique style and creativity.

  11. Both quilt tops do seem wonderfully finished. I like how you really "listen" to what a quilt wants. Combining the blue and black was such a good idea.

  12. Satisfying to accomplish and also to read about and savor your process. I love auditioning borders, too. When I realized long ago that the sky was the limit, it really helped. My secret is choosing colors regardless of the pattern on the fabric, which helps the quilt tell it's story. Nicely done, Audrey!

  13. Very interesting when a quilt talks to us, and the end is different than we imagined! And so much better.

  14. So glad you listen to your quilts too! Cheers from B.C.


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