Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Listening to the fabric

I'm making a Project Linus quilt using a large print from the "Fanciful Felines" line by Laurel Burch. It has bright orange, green, blue, pink, purple and yellow in the design. When I bought the yardage, I picked out fat quarters of predominately green, orange and purple, as well as a few fat quarters of purple and hot pink batiks that I got for free when I filled my punch card at Lavender Lime quilt shop. In the shop, they looked fine - bright, interesting and compatible.

When I started cutting out the quilt at home I held every piece of fabric up to the print, and except for purple and pink they all shouted "NO, NO, NO!" The purple and pink cozied up to the print and purred "Oh, yes, just imagine us as a cute little girl's quilt."

"But I didn't want to make a gender specific quilt this time. This bright fabric will be OK for any little kid."

"Nope," the focus fabric replied coyly. "This is a little girl's quilt, and you can't make me be anything else."

Chastened, I used the purples and the hot pinks in the blocks. Then came time to pick sashing. Again, I tried the greens.

'You're not listening," the fabric protested. "I said pink." And it wouldn't be argued with.

So to the stash closet I went and pulled out a few softer pinks. And, just like the three bears, one of them was JUST right. So I'm not making the quilt I envisioned at all.

The moral of this story is that sometimes even the best planned color schemes fall apart, and we need to be open to see other possibilities. We stack the bolts up in the quilt shop and squint at the colors, trying to imagine them blended together in blocks. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. I figure that it's hard to hear the fabric talking to you in that visually busy environment. At home, lay it all out and let the color story it tells best come to you. Trust your gut feelings, and be open to change.

If you're a controlling sort of personality, this is hard. But I know every one of you has completed a quilt top that was 90% there design-wise, and just couldn't figure out where that last 10% went. Something just wasn't right. Often you try to convince yourself it is OK as it is. Sometimes you start ripping out seams and doing a little cosmetic surgery.

Projects that fall a little short of the mark are learning experiences, I tell myself every time. It's true. But while I'm wielding the seam ripper, that seems a dear price to pay!


Joan said...

Oh, I'm a HUGE Laurel Burch fan! Some lucky little girl is just going to fall in luvvvvvvv with this one, I'm sure!!!

paula, the quilter said...

Now that is the way I design: by the seat of my pants. Good going!

The Calico Cat said...

Is that the one where one of the squares has a baby carriage - that print screams girl to me :o)

I used mine on the back of a cat quilt. :o)

Suzan said...

My mantra..."Be one with the fabric"(!) :)

OyaSophia said...

This post reminded me of my beautiful older sister, Caroline. She has such a knack for putting fabrics together. I read your post and thought, "Oh, is that how she does it? She listens to the fabric!" (I love Laurel Burch too!)