Two Quilts for a Challenge

One of my cousins is a serious quilter, the sort who has quilts in books and thinks about hue and value and all that stuff when planning quilts. My approach to quilting is more freeform, shall we say? In other words, I change my plans partway through, add borders until it looks right, and generally make a colorful mess of everything. I have fun, though, and I think that’s the important part.

More to the point, my quilting cousin organized a family quilting challenge some time ago. It was an informal affair – she sent us some fabric, and we had to use that fabric in a quilt somehow. The fabric in question was abstract coral and orange stripes, with yellow dots. It looked bright. Really bright. And yet… every fabric I set it against made it look lifeless and drab. I finally found a really bright floral cotton from Joann Fabrics in my stash that complimented my challenge fabric, and discovered that Japanese-style indigo prints provided contrast without dulling the bright colors.

After that, everything proceeded to go wrong. I ran out of one of the indigo prints, found a replacement online, ordered it only to find that not only was the print a different scale, but the fabric was a vastly different weight. Then I ran out of the replacement fabric (foolishly having not ordered enough in the first place,) ordered more from the same place… and the scale of the pattern was off, again. At that point, since I was running out of the challenge fabric, I said to hell with it, and finished the quilt – hence the slight discrepancy between the indigo fabric in the four square blocks.

challenge quilt_top
Block patterns: #18 Kurume kasuri masumon and #46 Meisen maru from Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match by Susan Briscoe.

challenge quilt_detail

Not perfect, but done. I do like the color scheme, though I think I committed my usual mistake and made the blocks too busy. The Meisen maru blocks in particular could have done with a less busy indigo fabric, to really highlight the orange and floral fabrics. I don’t have a good photo of the back of this quilt, but it’s some bright blue and green tie-dyed skull and crossbones flannel from my stash, with some pieced indigo and floral accents. Very fun, and snuggly.

baby quilt front

I originally meant to piece a back for the quilt from scraps, but after some more frustration – like coming up ONE STRIP SHORT of nine striped blocks, argh – I gave up and made a baby quilt instead. Not much to say about this one other than that I am inordinately fond of it for how simple it is.

baby quilt back

I had just enough of this pretty abstract wave patterned cotton to back the smaller quilt. Small triumphs, and all that! The backing, batting, and binding for both quilts was all scrap or stash materials, which was very satisfying – goodness knows I still have more fabric than I can fit in my storage containers, but slowly, slowly I shall whittle it down.


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