Gypsy's Travels

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Ugly Fabric Quilt Challenge

I belong to a very active quilt group. We meet weekly, plus have fairly regular days to work on group projects. Every week we have "Show and Tell" when everyone is asked to exhibit any recent accomplishment or vintage item of her choice, to the group. We also have a speaker / demo / or lesson of some kind. Needless to say, our meetings are well attended. I come away inspired and motivated even though I never seem to accomplish much in the quilt realm.

We have had Quilt Camps, mini-retreats, charm square exchanges, nine-patch exchanges, Quilt College, and more. There is no end to the creative ideas of these women who range from beginners to professional teachers, designers, and National Competitors. All are willing to learn and share!

Our latest venture is an ugly fabric "Quilt Challenge" which I thought might be an interesting process to follow. I decided to participate, thinking the 15 September deadline would be an incentive to finish a project. Little did I realize that I would have to finish by September 1st. We have known about the challenge for several weeks, even before the fabric was given out and agreed on certain, minimal rules:
The original fabric must be recognizable in the quilt.
Up to 6 fabrics could be added.
Quilt must not be larger than 144" (ie. 36" square, 24 x 48", etc.) total around and no smaller than 40" total around (10" square).

Each participant contributed $5.00 and was given 1/2 yard of the fabric chosen by the leader of the challenge. Our first reaction was that the fabric was certainly NOT ugly.

My initial reaction to the fabric was that it was meant for a kaleidoscope pattern, which I had never done. I also figured everyone in the group would probably come to the same conclusion, but the object of the exercise for me is to finish the project and have something I like for the effort. The fabric is stashed while I contemplate.

Meanwhile, my children decide I will be able to work better in a more organized sewing room and they spend a whole weekend taking care of that for me. I am delighted! I go into my newly organized area to work on my quilt challenge, but I can't find my challenge fabric anywhere.
"We didn't toss it!" they exclaim.
Well, I am sure they would know better than to toss fabric, but I spend 2 weeks looking for it in my spare time. I finally find the fabric in, of course, an unexpected place. There was organization in my chaos.

I have started work on the challenge quilt. Yes, a kaleidoscope pattern. I went to the Internet to find a pattern or suggestions for making it. A paper piecing pattern appeared to be the best way to accomplish my goal since the fabric pattern was offset and large. I printed the pattern , enlarged it on a copy machine, and ended up having to piece the paper together. I wanted to start with a large block thinking it would be easier to match the different points. Perhaps the copy paper was too thick because it was difficult to match everything. I think the point and all are off. but time and fabric are running short.

First, I cut a triangle from a cast off piece of the pattern. I transfer the paper triangle shape to a piece of clear plastic and place over various areas on the fabric to audition designs. Of course, it is hard to imagine what the finished kaleidoscope design will look like from such a small area, but I resist the temptation to place angled mirrors there and spoil the surprise of the finished product. My goal is to find a pleasing part of the design that will fit within the boundaries of my triangle and have enough of the triangles (8) to make a 'kaleidoscope medallion.'

I try again with a smaller pattern, but decide to sew the pieces without a paper backing. There are not enough places on the fabric to cut the proper number of triangles that are exactly alike. Then I discover that these pieces can be cut in reverse. There are enough to make another medallion! It all goes together easily and I regret the time spent on the paper piecing. I remind myself that this is a learning process.

This particular pattern adds 4 triangles to the tops of the medallion triangles to form a square. It will be easier for me to incorporate a square than a circle, but it still gives the appearance of a circle. I choose black (1st fabric added, I can have five more) to make the additional pieces, hoping to give the medallion a floating look. Except for my inaccuracies in the larger medallion, I am pleased with the results and rest on my laurels for a day. I will look for more areas to cut more triangles for medallions.

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  1. Can't wait to see the finished product!

  2. Bro and I were taught enough sewing and cooking when we were little so that we would not go bare or unfed, or so our Mom thought. We had the best shirts in schools for some time, made out of empty rabbit feed sacks. The only problem was that they were printed on one side of the material only. Aunt Lou used to go into expensive dress stores and analyze the current group of top dress designs and then go home and make them herself and much a much lower cost.

  3. Oh no. We're going to be blamed for everything that is declared "missing" from here on out. This is going to be like the request to "Stop that banging!"

  4. Funny thing is that everything she thinks is "missing" has been found! Ha!

    And please "stop that banging" as "we can do without the sound of x".



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