Wednesday, January 4, 2017

When Good Enough is Good Enough

Last time I showed my Cardinal Nine Patch it was hanging on the design wall, which turned out not to be big enough.
I took all the blocks down, more or less in order, and then took them all with me to my mom's when we went home for Christmas. After all the excitement and festivities, my sister and I had an afternoon to hang out at the church and use the large floor in their fellowship hall. My sister worked on cutting for one of her quilts while I worked on laying out this getting-to-be-overwhelming project.

First I laid out the blocks I had on the design wall (the far side of the photograph, on the floor near the table). Then I laid out the rest of the blocks. I started on the table, but of course that was not big enough and then laid them out on the floor. My niece helped with that and we put one in the center of each floor tile. Because OCD tendencies don't run in this family for nothing!

I then looked and looked and thought and hemmed and hawed and decided that I just had to start over. For one thing I didn't see how I was going to work all of those loose blocks into the existing layout. (There's a reason for that but I'll get to that in a minute.)

The second thing was that I had noticed that I had a lot more blocks on the light end of the spectrum than dark. So although I would prefer to have the quilt move from light in the center to dark on the outside, that didn't make sense if I had more light blocks.

So I started a new layout a few feet away with the darkest blocks in the center and worked out from there. I started with the orange tones in one quadrant. I shifted to yellow on one side and green on the other.
Each time I finished a section or got stuck, I pulled Kim from her cutting and we talk it through. It took a couple hours (really) but we ended up with something that mostly followed the light to dark pattern and the colour gradations I was thinking of.
We had to accept a lot of decisions that were "good enough" though. The blocks available weren't always in the colours we needed. I really did no planning as I sewed scraps together so this wasn't really a surprise. One thing I didn't think about was the decision to make nine patches instead of four patches or sixteen patches--this meant that block placement was constrained by whether it had five dark squares or four dark squares. If I had done four- or 16-patches, I could have put any block in any position. File that under "Live and Learn".

Since the whole idea was to make a scrappy quilt, none of this was a tragedy.

The big surprise after all my counting, figuring, and writing things down--I had left over blocks!! I didn't count them but in the neighbourhood of 12 to 20 leftover. This is after we decided to throw an extra row on the top and bottom just to make the quilt more rectangular. All I can say is it's better that it was too many instead of too few. (And now I have some starters for the next project!)

I found the last photograph a little hard to get a good view of the whole quilt, so I did some work in Photoshop to adjust the angle and proportions:
I think it's a little harder to see in the photograph than in real life, but the orange dominates the lower left. Green takes over the top left and shifts to blue in the upper right. I didn't really have enough purples, but they mix with the blues in the middle right and shift into some pinks as you move down. I had to mix in more greys in the purple and pink section so it's not quite as colourful as the other side where the oranges are.

The red doesn't anchor the quilt like I thought it would. Next time I would/will definitely stick with one tone of red (all mediums or all darks, for example) and let that be consistent while the rest of the colours change.

I converted the above picture to black and white to get a look at the contrast and tones:
It does generally move from dark in the center to light on the outside. You can really see the top row was added later as there are many more blocks with dark squares than the second row.

I don't think it is the most "successful" layout these blocks could make, but I was pretty happy with it at the time. I thought about redoing it to incorporate the blocks from the top and bottom rows better, but I think in this case good enough really is good enough.

I started to sew the blocks together, and so many of them still please me so much. I think I will really enjoy this quilt sitting over my lap or when I'm laying under it and can just see small bits of it. It's really not made to hang on a wall. So, yes, good enough is good enough.

It was good to have Kim helping me. First of all, she was the one to give me the push I needed to get out of my mom's comfie living room and go to the church to work on it. And she gives good advice that I often take, but she doesn't mind when I ignore it to do what I want on my own quilt! :)
Kim hamming it up.
As I said, I started to sew these blocks together. I have five or six columns sewn together. I thought I was doing well when sewing the first two columns together, to mind which direction the seams were going in so they can all interlock correctly. Well, I noticed I did well on all but the top row. So I need to remove those blocks, take them apart, and then sew them back together in the right orientation and then carry on. Yup, that's where the project is stalled. (My excuse is that the overhead light was disconnected while Troy was doing some electrical work.)

I expect I'll get back to it soon. I'm hoping this will be my first quilt on a long arm machine after my lesson on January 13. So I have to get it together and then figure out a backing. (Perhaps that's where my extra nine-patches will be used!)

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