Breaking all the rules
My friend Dot recently completed this adorable little charity quilt. Along the way, we had lots of discussions about fabric choices and patterns. She was hampered by a number of so-called “rules” that limited her fabric choices:
- You can’t mix metallic with plain fabric in the same quilt;
- You have to match colours that are in the focus print;
- You have to fussy cut the focus fabric so the exact same part of the print shows up in the same place in every block.
When I first weighed in on the design conversation, Dot had the peach Fairy Frost, the powder blue with a silver fleck and a faun-beige with a metallic spot. I convinced her that “rule” number 1 was not a rule at all: the beige went back to the charity fabric bin to be replaced by a solid lemony yellow that brightened up the palette considerably.
A quick rootle through the bin brought the lime green, the orchid marble and the bright turquoise. By adding those zingy colours, the top went from blah to fun. Our friend Ann wasn’t keen on the turquoise or the orchid: she likes to match colours exactly [see rule #2!] and neither of those two colours is in the deer print. We’ve been having that discussion about “matchy matchy” fabric choices for years now…thus far, neither of us has managed to convince the other!
Dot was uncertain about my suggestions, but decided to trust me as we arranged 9-patch blocks with the skunks in the corners alternating with the deer patches framed out in bright strips. We auditioned a number of choices before settling on the purple batik for sashing.
When I returned to Dot’s a week later, I was delighted to see she had changed her design to this unequal 9-patch and used the little skunk patches as cornerstones. How cute! We decided on a piano-key border since the focus fabric was depleted.
Dot felt that the quilt was a little bit boring. In my opinion, the little skunk cornerstones are perfect, but all the large patches fussy-cut identically makes the quilt less interesting – once you’ve seen one block, you’ve seen it all. So long as there’s something happening in each patch, an occasional block where the faun is just peeking around the corner, or even one where his little tail is just exiting would make the top more dynamic. Dot agreed with me: rule #3 can and should be broken too! [Ann’s not so sure: she likes the symmetry of fussy cut patches]
It’s joined the stack of charity quilts that’s waiting to go to Esperanza where it will be given to one of the family members of a participant in the substance abuse programmes.
Our little quilt group has been blessed in so many ways as we work on charity quilts: we learned to think outside the box; to examine the “rules” and decide for ourselves if they make sense; and to make the most of what we have so we can give to someone else. Lots of thought, chatter, and laughter went into this little quilt: I pray that the one who receives it will be as blessed by the gift as we are by the giving.
I’m planning to share a gallery of the charity quilts we’ve made this year: look for a post with lots of pictures in the next few weeks! In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your “rule-breaking” experience with your own quilts or with the quilts you’re making to give away.