I like it/I don’t . . . I like it/I don’t . . . Tackling The Quilt-Making Seesaw

What a coincidence, I'm using a Carolyn Friedlander stripe in my quilt.
What a coincidence, I’m using a Carolyn Friedlander stripe in my quilt.

Despite fighting the flu, I did start 2014 in a fever (ha-ha) of industry. So far, I’ve made one quilt, plus I finished a little quilted portrait of my mother. Then, I segued into a quilt for my own use, but I’ve gotten a little stuck. Frankly, this quilt is starting to resemble a Seinfeld character—do you remember Jerry’s date who looked beautiful in full light but downright scary in the gloom? That’s my quilt!  (2/1/14:  See my edit below!)

The quilt that livings on the floor of the guest-room-in-the-making.
The quilt that lives on the floor of a guest-room-in-the-making.

As it happens, I’ve got the half-sewn project spread across the floor of a room we’re slowly transforming into guest quarters. I tend to like the quilt when the light catches the colors just right as I pause in the open doorway. But then, if I stop to tweak, I lay into myself with negative critiques:  should’ve done this; maybe change that; this is so gag-worthy–a pretty standard hyper-critical interior monologue.

The “quilting” reality we face as we build our quilts is that every design decision we take both closes and opens opportunities. To illustrate:  I elected a simple format of purple crosses set in plain background for high contrast. Then I mottled the background with 4-patches made with multiple neutral prints for a textured effect.

Yeah, fine, I did that, but the BIG but is the quilt isn’t that interesting now that it’s partially sewn. (By the way, one could avoid this whole mind-spinning rigamarole by actually drafting a colored schematic, which I did not do because I thrive on half-baked ideas.) Where do I go? Well, I guess I’m left with devising an answer that doesn’t require  tearing out seams. Time to get creative and open myself up to other ideas.

When all else fails, add miniaturized design details.
When all else fails, add miniaturized design details.

Okay, how about scattering mini crosses around the perimeter of the quilt? Yup, that’s one part of the solution. The other I’ll reveal in the quilting phase. It may answer the challenge of adding visual interest when the finished quilt top is pretty much a done deal.

Quilt-J:  Detail Crosses Quilt
Yes, that dark purple mini cross on the bottom right has to move.

Giveaway Results

Ah, yes, giveaway results. I must tell you how much I enjoyed the comments. Do you realize how many of us love “crisp” fabric?  Everyone as it turns out. And, interestingly, virtually every one of us would sacrifice chocolate for fabric. Too funny! I’m also tickled to see how you too are embracing Carolyn Friedlander’s fabric and patterns. New voices in the craft are so exciting to experience and share.  The giveaway winner is Elizabeth Clark. Congratulations!

Other News for Bay Area Locals

My blogging sister Pati has a fun class coming up in Danville, CA. Don’t forget, she’s also spearheading the effort to build an Indie Modern Quilt group on Thursday, February 6. Both events are slated for Wooden Gate Quilts.

2nd Dresden promo
For more information click the picture to travel to Pati’s blog.

Until next time, may your seams be straight and all your fabric extra “crisp”!


p.s.  You’ve been very generous with your suggestions. I did a casual edit last night and will probably follow the new route–lots of seam ripping in my future. Thank you, thank you for your input.

Oh yes, I much happier quilt now that I'm abandoning the color-value layout.
Oh yes, a much happier quilt now that I’m abandoning the color-value layout.

12 thoughts on “I like it/I don’t . . . I like it/I don’t . . . Tackling The Quilt-Making Seesaw

  1. I like the effect you’re trying for with the mottled background. I so saw myself in your statement, “one could avoid this whole mind-spinning rigamarole by actually drafting a colored schematic, which I did not do because I thrive on half-baked ideas.” I agree with the idea of breaking up the regular pattern of same size crosses. You could do a few irregular clusters of the smaller crosses that could take up the same amount of space as your large crosses, and substitute these clusters for a few of the larger crosses. Right now the small crosses look like timid afterthoughts. Ripping out is a pain, but it’s not as painful as regretting not ripping out after completing a quilt. Ask me how I know.


    1. Really excellent input, Madame Snark, I certainly want to avoid a “timid” effect and your suggestion is quite interesting to me. Thank you!


    1. I am wondering about that exact idea. I started with a value progression, but I think it’s the weakness in the layout. You’re right on with your thoughts.


  2. I like it better in the bottom shot. I think you can add some more surprises and details with quilting threads and motifs, as you suggest. I’m with you on going ahead with half-baked designs — what’s the fun of working out all the problems before? and I know your half-baked design will lead you down a path you don’t expect.


    1. Exactly! A good part of a creative answer is born in panic. I’m definitely thinking about using hand and machine quilting to unify the design. I appreciate your input!


  3. I think the little crosses add a lot of interest. And if I were deciding, I wouldn’t hesitate to open up a few seams to add more. It’s not my favorite thing to do, either, but it really isn’t hard, just annoying! Either way, I think you’ll like it a lot when it is done. Thanks for sharing, and especially for sharing your thought process. THAT is what I like to read and write about. How do we make these decisions? Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it takes a lot of effort.


    1. Hey thanks Melanie, I really appreciate your taking the time and effort to share you thoughts. We quilters love to hear input because it helps us immeasurably. I remember critiquing as my favorite part of the art classes I took in high school. I learned so much more when people shared their reactions and suggestions. Unless we are “geniuses,” soloing will only take us so far. Input is essential.


  4. Hi Jennifer, so when you open yourself up to comments, you may get all kind, not always ones you want to hear. Since I am a new quilter, I don’t create new patterns and hope all my seams are straight etc! I am so impressed with you, the 31 st of January and you have already done a portrait quilt of your mom (I would love to see that as well, if you are willing to share) and a beautiful large cross quilt top, very very impressive!!!!!
    I personally love the different shades of whites combined for a textured look. The crosses have a strong statement, but I think if you were to change anything, I would change the top row or two of the darker crosses. To me they are just too dark they need a softer color to enhance not take away from the more delicate other colored crosses. Now all that being said I AM NOT an artist so, please don’t take offense. Looking forward to seeing finished product! Have a great day!!


    1. Hello Marilyn, I really appreciate your thoughtful insights and I’m not the least offended. I’m so tickled that my post generated a conversation among readers, plus you all gave voice to the very ideas that I’ve been kicking around in my head. I guess that just goes to show that I need to really do need to pull out the seam ripper and set my crosses free! Your instincts are right on and I am thankful you are willing to share your thoughts.


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