I had an interesting phone conversation this morning with my mother-in-law, who lives in Bendigo. I told her it was cold here in Canberra, and I was going to spend most of the day making a quilt from a pattern and some fabric I'd bought in March. And that I had a lot of kits and patterns-with-fabric that were wallowing in my sewing room and I really wanted to sew them. My mother-in-law is 83 years old and also a quilter. She said she understood what I meant, and that she wouldn't have time to make everything she had kits and fabrics for, and she worried what would become of her own sizable stash once she was gone.
Wow. It was a maudlin conversation, but one that rings true for any of us with a sizable yarn or fabric stash. What happens with our stuff when we are no longer here to enjoy it?
So I went back to my pattern-and-fabric and suddenly hit a wall of frustration. I'd ironed my fabric, and on reading the patterm, templates were mentioned. I don't do templates. Can't stand the things. If I'd read the back of the pattern when I'd first seen it, I would never have bought it.
And then I remembered I had a ruler for patterns such as these. And I decided not to bother using the pattern I'd bought. I was going to go it alone.
I'd bought this ruler at a quilt show after attending a demonstration on how to use jelly rolls. And I've never used it before today (and yet I have quite the collection of jelly rolls!)
And here's the problem I now had.My fabric, bought on recommendation from the quilt shop I bought the now-rejected pattern from, was a Kaffe Fassett stripe, and it's not at all straight. The stripes are almost freehand, so trying to get a neat intersection between the four pieces was providing impossible. However, I was getting some pretty cool, if not wonky, results.
I know there will be people reading this post who will gasp in shock and horror at my non-perfect blocks. But I like them. I'm embracing the wonkiness of them. But I can guarantee that each one will measure 7.25 ".
And here's where the design wall comes in. I've mentioned my design wall before, and some of you asked for more information about it. Design walls are all different, depending on personal preference, but mine is a length of flannel fabric, about $11 a metre from Lincraft. I have previously used pellon batting as well. When you hang the flannel or batting up against the wall an amazing things happens when you put a quilt block on it. It sticks. No pins or glue required. It's a quilting miracle. My wall is curently just pinned on the spare room wall with thumb tacks, but eventually I will be making a permanent wall with foam core board and screwing it to my sewing room wall.
Using the design wall means you can see things at eye level. And you can start playing. When I put my 7 completed blocks up, I realised that while they were wonky, they were also a little conformist. So I put some pieces on the wall and mixed them up to see what I had.
One block is made of four different cuts, while the other is made of just two. And mixed in with the other "all the same" wonky blocks?
It kind of gives the quilt a bit more zing.
In keeping with the wonky theme, I'd decided to make a log cabin border around each block, with each log being a different width. Once the blocks are rotated, they will look off-centre and give, hopefully, an optical illusion of different sized blocks (which they won't be at all). But I had to audition which colour fabric would look best as a background, for the logs.
Grey looks pretty good. A little bit industrial, and certainly doesn't look traditional, which is what I'm after.
And white looks pretty good too, although I'm not much of a white fabric fan (don't let the fact I have 3.5 metres of the stuff in my stash fool you).
I'm going to leave these on the wall for the day and keep walking past it. As I do so I'll be forming new ideas and rearranging blocks as I make more of them before I put them all together into a quilt. And that's what makes having a design wall such a valuable quilting tool.