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Tuesday, 18 September 2018

How (not) to make a TATW quilt

Months ago, in a fit of tidying up, I "borrowed" lots of storage boxes from Management and sorted out various piles of fabric.  Some of the boxes contain unfinished projects, some have a collection of material that is intended for something which has never been started, and some are together because they just go together (if you're a quilter you will understand that completely - if you're not, don't worry, we're a strange breed!)    Trouble is, that's about as far as it got - and there is not a lot of point organising all this fabric into kit-like form so it can be used, if I don't then use it.



But a couple of weeks ago, 9th September according to the date-stamp on a photo,  I decided it was time that a small collection of Halloween themed fabric became something other than a pile of material.  It was obvious (to me at least) that a Trip Around the World quilt would be a quick, easy and satisfying way to create something*, even if it was small and might end up a table cloth or dog blankie. Everything started so well:  pull fabrics and spend all afternoon laying them out, auditioning them to decide whether they blended nicely with others, and what the order should be.



( * quick, easy and satisfying way to create something - hold that thought, it might be useful later😊😊 )

With the TATWs for the campervan I wanted in-your-face loud & colourful, but for this piece I wanted a gentle blend between colours and patterns, more like the batik quilt which started this current obsession.






Eventually I settled on 11 fabrics, cut 2½" strips and sewed them together, a 'dark' stripset and a 'autumny' stripset.  On first glance it looked like they would be OK together, first mistake:



But I sliced up the strips and had a play with different layouts.  Apart from the obvious one which does not work (and ignoring all the versions I didn't photograph), it seemed that the quilt was far too dark and I needed more 'autumn'.







Some stash hunting produced four more FQ's which fitted the bill.



So now, "all" I had to do was unpick every single loop, insert a new section, and sew all the loops back together again. Sheesh.  It was about this time I discovered that one of the new fabrics had been badly cut and I could only get seven strips from it, instead of the eight I had for every other . . . ignore that problem until another day.

Sometime later, I now had a stripset of 15 fabrics which I was happy with, and various layouts were played with ending in this one.  At one point I had all of the top half of the quilt laid out, but for some reason there's no picture.



It was about this time I realised I hated the black fabric with little stars - too dominant, too prominent.  Once upon a time I'd have kept going but not any more.  What started as a little "wet weekend project" had - as usual - morphed into "I have to make this as good as I possibly can, even if it takes twenty times longer than planned", and experience tells me if one fabric is bugging me at this stage, carrying on and finishing the quilt is not going to make me like that particular pattern/colour any more.  What it will do, is spoil the whole quilt - forever.

Such fun to unpick a 2½" seam, 120 times (60 strips), and then sewing all the strips back into loops . . . the little black squares are now in the compost bin.  As 100% cotton they can do some good in the garden, because they sure ain't going to do any good in a quilt.







For the next stage I decided to try and take advantage of technology:   I have fifteen fabrics and laid the strips on the design board in 14 different ways.



Then I took four variations and wasted spent the best part of an afternoon trying to get to grips with my newly upgraded Electric Quilt 8 which has a photo import feature.  There were sweary words and much muttering of "bloody software developers", but I got there in the end.   I suppose I could have done all 14 but then I'd have lost the will to live.



You would think I might be happy now - getting rid of the black fabric was definitely the right thing to do and I thought I had a decent layout which emphasises the autumn colours.  Only, now I look at it again I'm seeing a dark "bullseye" in the centre, which I don't like:



There are enough gnarly weather fronts due in the next two or three days that I'm going to have a bit of indoor time to play with this some more  . . .  and this was meant to be a quick and satisfying little quilt, clearly that is another plan which hasn't worked out too well.











12 comments:

  1. I know nothing about designing and making a quilt but I do like patterns and colours which 'go' together and the black just didn't, so I would have removed it too. If you're anything like me you'll play with something for hours/days until you get it just right - it'll be interesting to see what the final finished article eventually looks like :)

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    1. Hi Eunice, I know fabric fiddling is not (never going to be?) your thing but you would be extremely good at it - there can be a remarkable amount of messing with something until it is just the way you want it!

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  2. I agree with you on removing the unlinked fabric, any weak spot will always shine out once it is finished.

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    1. Absolutely right Marlene, something I have learnt "the hard way" over the years.

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  3. Oh deal girl. That's way too much thinking and hard work to be enjoyable in any way. I couldn't do it. Good luck.

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    1. Thanks Sue. I realise this probably makes me very strange but in a way all this sewing and unsewing HAS been very enjoyable; I worked out years ago that the process of making a quilt is almost more important to me than the finished item. Yeah - strange!

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  4. I admire your attention to detail Jayne. I really like your colourful campervan quilts and your autumnal quilt will look just as fabulous too.

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    1. Thanks Eileen, I've been busy with the strips since posting this and if I say so myself, it's starting to look very nice :)

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  5. Chuffin heck, I've suddenly gone off patchwork quilting, ha ha. Good luck with that.

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    1. I'm fairly certain you're joking Ilona, but lovely to have you at Bag End, thanks for taking the time to comment :)

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  6. Now, how organised are you? I certainly need someone like you closer to give me a good kick up the rear end & get me motivated, to do a sort out, get sewing again & looking after my garden, all of which are needing attention. The difference between Bill's quilts & the Halloween one is remarkable, although I know it's all down to the colouring. I can't get to grips with EQ6, let alone trying something like 8. Clever one!!!! Take care.

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    1. Sorry Susan . . . but the truth is that much of the time I have enough trouble getting myself organised, I really don't think I am qualified to organise anyone else! Perhaps you can use my insane blog ramblings as a jumping off point?

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