These retro cuties from Cloud9 fabrics are not the kind of prints/colors that I usually play with, which you might think would have prompted me to sit out the challenge recently issued by Victoria over at BumbleBeans. Nevertheless, I threw my name in the hat, figuring I might not get picked anyway, and if I did that working with fabrics that are “so not me” might turn out to be fun. Or at least interesting, because I do like a good creative challenge.
So then my name did come up, and Tuesday I found a packet of fat sixteenths (it that right? 9″x11″ pieces) of the eight prints pictured above in my PO Box.
These prints remind me of my late grandmother, and I mean that in a good way. She was an artist and quiltmaker who lived for many years in a fishing village in Maine, and whose aesthetic was somewhere between DownEast rustic — hand-knotted fishnet curtains, driftwood “found sculpture” on the back deck, scallop shell ashtrays — and mid-century Scandinavian modern. What’s “retro” today is exactly the kind of thing my artistic grandmother might have picked out for herself 40 or 50 years ago. She would have loved the fish print, especially, and most of the others with the possible exception of the two florals (which are a bit too “vintage sheets” for either of us).
Anyway, I was in a hurry to get a block made up, because the deadline is Sept. 10, and Monday is a holiday, and the Hawaii factor means adding another day or two mail time. Fortunately, while I’ve been stalling on Kaleidoscope border decisions (more on that in a sec), I’ve been playing with an idea, and was feeling pretty darned clever to have found a use for all eight of the prints in my original block design. It looked good in my Illustrator mock-up, but without fabric in hand I wasn’t sure it would work.
Sure enough, when the fabric arrived and I whipped up some trial units and put them up on the design wall, my lovely block had all the visual appeal of a bowl of oatmeal. My pieces are too small to show off the prints to advantage, as they are (in larger cuts) in this pic from the Cloud9 website:
Those half-square triangles are at least 6″ on a side. My bits are nowhere near that size, and my block wasn’t going to look like anything at all without some significant adjustments.
I’m happy to say I found a way to make it work. When I got it done and put it up on the design wall it reminded me so much of foggy days at my grandmother’s house in Maine that I got all choked up. Which means it’s a big success, even if I’m the only one who likes it.
I’m eager to see what the other 11 block designers have come up with, and to show you my trip down memory lane, but we’ll have to wait a couple weeks for show and tell time to come around.
In the meantime, I did make it back to the fabric store in search of border options for the Kaleidoscope top. I went in thinking “raspberry and pale yellow!” … and came out with Kona “Pear,” “Cyan,” and “Pacific” (in other words, bright green and two blues). I cut some strips of those and of the dark boisenberry I’ve got in the stash, and spent most of one afternoon putting them up on the design wall and stepping back and stepping up and moving them around and stepping back again, and finally decided on the “pear” green and one of the blues for borders. The print I’d planned to use on the back has been whittled down by my cutting binding strips from it, so now I need to think up some new backing solution.
Since I didn’t feel like facing that particular creativity challenge, I pulled this out of the UFO bin and finally got the outer borders sewn on and the whole thing basted last weekend while watching Hurrican Irene coverage on the Weather Channel:
Another afternoon’s worth of effort, and it only took me a year to get around to it. So that’s now in the “ready-to-quilt” bin. Here’s hoping it doesn’t stay in there for another year. I’ll post more pics, and some process notes, when it’s been quilted.