Monday, January 23, 2017

Abort Mission, Abort

Sometimes I just can't engage with a project.
This set of blocks is from the Morris Hexathon that Barbara Brackman hosted on her blog this past fall.  I chose to use scrappy Civil War reproduction fabrics and my plan was to have the blocks assembled into an interesting setting before my two day Studying the Stars workshop in mid-March.
Once the blocks were spread out on the design wall, I sorted them into two groups -- warmer and cooler color palettes because I've found that I can balance the arrangement of a group of scrappy blocks more effectively this way.
Then I began to arrange and document various settings -- most inspired by work of other piecers, current and historical.
The pictures help me evaluate for balance and visual impact more easily that looking at them on the design wall -- a photo has more perspective.
The arrangement below was inspired by a quilt of simple 6-pointed stars with hexagons for the background pieces.  Reversing the idea and making the stars the "background" is my thought here.
It morphed into a circular arrangement which I like.  It needs one more piece block along the lower edge.
So I auditioned some fabrics for possible use as the "background" stars.
I eliminated the red and green because it pulled my eye away from the blocks and the blue was too dark -- the beiges washed out the blocks too much for me.
 The winners of the elimination process were the browns.
Then a piece of paper with photographs of two antique quilts caught my eye in a stack of papers and I was off on another tangent.  I have a little stash of large exotic prints that I can see as a central motif surrounded by the hexagons and perhaps use the brown diamonds for another frame?
In the end, I decided I'm not ready to assemble these blocks into a top quite yet.
First, I need more blocks for greater flexibility.
Second, I need to eliminate the blocks I don't like.
Third, I might need to bring in a Civil War fabric expert for brainstorming.
So the mission to finish this quilt during the first quarter 2017 Finish Along is being aborted.
I've written down some thoughts, reactions, and ideas to remember what isn't working for me.
  The blocks have come down off the wall.
The patterns collected during the Hexathon and the box of reproduction fabric is back out. 
 I'll eliminate three or four of the blocks and make six to nine new ones. 
My creative subconscious will be working on this challenge in the background and when I come back to it, the solutions will be easier.
 In the meantime, the blocks will come along with me to the March workshop and serve as a settings demonstration for student experimentation.
It may seem like not much was accomplished during this experimentation process but it has helped me sort out my ideas and make some good decisions that will result in a finished quilt in the future!
Writing down my reactions is important as it will save me time when I come back to this project and enable me to start back to work on it more easily. 
When something isn't working, it's better to pinpoint the problems and step away for a while!!
Stepping away is not failure!


  1. Thank you Mary. That was very helpful information. I love reading your blog.

  2. Beautiful blocks! Definitely give this some time to simmer. You're right, stepping away is not failure, it's part of the design process (give your ideas space to develop). A lot WAS accomplished -- we tend not to give credit to the time spent pondering and considering options which is just as much a part of the "process" as the sewing. Enjoy your journey!

  3. This is something I enjoy - I call it 'dithering', where I have many ideas rumbling around, none of which is quite right. Walking away gives your brain time (and room) to play with all the ideas, and it's amazing what will seem 'obvious' when you get back to it...
    Thanks for sharing this! And now I want more than ever to make some more pieced hexagons to play with!

  4. I have those two papers saved also. Sometimes it's best to let it simmer longer.

  5. Sometimes it's best to let a quilt sit while ideas form in your head. The blocks are lovely.