Monday, April 30, 2018

The Project That Wouldn’t Die

This is the story of a quilt that took almost three years to make. Now, the piecing didn’t take three years. The quilting didn’t take three years. But the laborious process of making decisions and choosing a path for my design did. And let’s face it: If I hadn’t set aside two weeks to focus on this quilt last month, it could have easily taken four years or more.

I designed the project in question back in October 2015 and started to piece it in Essex linen and “made fabric.” I was using fabric that I love, and I thought that meant I would love the final product. But this design is a commitment. It features huge geese (or geese-ish triangles, not all of them reflect the standard 1:2 proportion for geese). In fact, the largest of these geese are 40 inches wide. When I realized I wasn’t getting results I liked early in the process, I cut my losses, unpicked stitches, and set aside the bits of fabric for other projects.

My original design, from 2015.

My first try included blue prints and Essex linen.

A year later, this design was still stuck in my head. I started piecing it a second time, in three Kona colors: white, shadow, and pewter. In attempt to add some color to the lackluster palette, I incorporated some solids and prints in shades of raspberry and cranberry. Again, I didn’t like how the project was coming together, so I folded it up nicely and hid it in the back of my closet.

A second try, with colorful solids and prints.

When establishing my quilt-related goals for 2018, though, I knew I had to finish this quilt. I decided to omit the more colorful fabrics and finish the design in the muted Kona solids. Once I was ready to quilt, I could add color with thread. Cassandra Beaver has used thread in that way; maybe I could achieve similar success with my quilt. (See this post from Cassandra for some examples of how she uses thread to add color and enhance design.)

In the end, however, this quilt wanted to be about size and shape, not color. I used an off-white thread to quilt each section densely in a different direction. So, for example, the top-left arrows that point to the left are quilted with horizontal lines, and the equilateral triangles below them are quilted with vertical lines.

Finally, a finish!

The only deviance from the gray and white palette is the Kona Aloe I used for the binding, which matches the back.

The binding adds the hint of color the quilt needed.

Not every project deserves to come to fruition; there is something to be said for knowing when to give up. I’m glad that I followed this rabbit hole through to the end, though, and I’m ecstatic about the final product.

Do you have a project that won’t die in your quilt queue? Let us hear all about it in the comments. : )

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Finish It Up Friday ...

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  1. Congrats on chasing this one to fruition. Some of my own favorite designs are about that old so it's also encouraging on a personal level too. It's great and the binding and backing so spot on.

    1. Thanks, Karen! I tend to have more than one project on my sewing table at a time. For this one, though, I needed tunnel vision. I took advantage of one of my husband's business trips and dedicated as much time as I could to finishing this up while he was gone. Eleven bobbins and about two weeks later, the quilt was bound. Hurrah! Best wishes on those old WIPs of yours. : )

  2. I am glad that you are ecstatic about how this finished and that you keep going with the idea. I like the final choices you made for the color and I like the change in scale for the geese blocks, too.

  3. Yay, it's done!! What will happen to the battlefield of prints?

    I have (too) many projects that won't die. But they are definitely in deep cryogenic storage. Someday I have hopes of reviving them into new life... just not the gypsy wife. :D

  4. It may have taken a long time and caused some stress, but it's awesome!

  5. I don't think I have your perseverance. I have fabric that languishes, but usually I have no idea as to quilt design. Great job at powering through!

  6. It looks great and I love the pop of green that the binding adds! Congrats!!!

  7. Very nice! I love the grays and white with the pop of color on the binding.

  8. Love it. Flying geese are my favorite and they don't care if you stretch them. Very nice finish.

  9. I have a cupboard full of not-quite-dead projects, but few that have needed the unpicking and rethinking commitment of this one.
    It is a shame your first try didn’t work. The blue pieced panels are gorgeous. I am sure they found life elsewhere, and the final version was the right one. Hurrah!

  10. I love how it turned out in the end. The scale of the triangles are wonderful and the green binding really adds to the design. It was worth sticking to it!

  11. This is quite lovely. Quilts will always tell you what they want, won't they? As for projects that will not die, lately I've been putting stakes in their hearts and repurposing the fabric. Somehow mine never turn out as great as this! Love your binding, too.

  12. Worth it in the end - a very striking quilt!

  13. I am so happy you kept going as I think this quilt is brilliant. I love the muted colors and the pop on binding is fabulous. Love it and want to make one myself.

  14. Nice work on seeing the project through. It can be so easy to get frustrated to the point of abandoning it. Been there, done that. My favorite aspect of this quilt is the bright pop of color that the binding offers to the muted palette of the quilt.

  15. You really persevered, Michelle. It's funny how in the end, the quilt wanted the shapes. I always love how you articulate your process in blog posts!

  16. My project idea that hasn't quite died is to make a liberty Aerial quilt (CF). But... it may die yet. I just have the fabric sitting there. Isn't it interesting how what really matters is following that gut feeling? Killing a project can feel just as good as pushing through. It's all about listening. I'm still listening on my Aerial idea...


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