Tuesday, January 14, 2020

To Repurpose or To Pitch?

 That is the question!!

I unearthed this bland collection of blocks early last week.  They have been a UFO since 2000 or so -- I was very hot about the Blended Quilts books and companion fabric lines -- bought all of it for the shop -- stashed some of every bolt for my stash -- think I led a workshop for my students?

But something didn't mesh with my creative drive about the low contrast and print scale and it got shelved.  Sometimes we start things we love, but can't seem to finish because we don't have the intuitive understanding to achieve the same results -- we can do it, it's just going to take longer and if we don't want to spend "longer", it's goes on the shelf!

So I'm taking you along with me as I decide what to do with these blocks and how I do it.

First question -- make it into a quilt or pitch the blocks?
My first consideration these days is "if I finish it, will any of my children want it?"
I'm pretty sure they would all take a pass on this palette and so while I don't mind finishing it into a usable quilt top, I'm no longer willing to put much energy into the process.
So a charity quilt it will be.
Now I have learned it's pretty frustrating to make "more blocks" to match something I made twenty years ago -- my construction skills have improved so much that I almost can't make blocks that match to size without lots of fiddling.
So I'm not making any more blocks to add to this assortment.

If I use one of my "fall-back" strategies, I can turn most of these blocks into a lap size quilt top.
Frequently, I set what I have to start into a central unit and add patchwork borders above and below to get a rectangular shape quickly.  
It was easy with this group of blocks as I already had those basic elements. 
 I busted out the reproduction fabric stash and dug out a handful of prints that would blend into the scheme -- it's important to stay spontaneous at this stage -- everything blue and brown came out of the box for auditioning as that's the quickest way to narrow choices down.
These are some of the prints that made the next cut!
The key is to keep it simple and go fast -- hold the fabric up against the blocks -- looks bad, put it away -- looks okay, keep it out! 
I added a light print between the stars so the points would not touch -- easier to piece!
To liven it up a bit, I added the blue sashing.
That made the bands of stars wider than the central motif, so I made a band of squares for each side of the center square starting by deconstructing the 4-patch blocks and pulling in a bit of yellow because I liked the "pop" it gave to the stars.
At this point, it was a bit "long and skinny" so I added something down each side -- quickest answer is a simple border -- so the auditioning began.
I had used all the blue of the horizontal sashing fabric so I looked for a print that was close in value.
While searching for that, I found this little floral which captures the essence of the blocks perfectly!
Unfortunately, there wasn't enough of the floral to do an outer border but I found a length of fabric left from the backing of another quilt that might work! 
Until I found the blue border print which has been in the stash for maybe 30 years -- it really cheers up the entire quilt!   
All of these decisions and setting was the work of a pleasant afternoon.
Of course, there wasn't quite enough of the blue border print -- I was short about 6".  
No worries, I decided to make four simple blocks for the corners!
Aren't they charming?
I love the yellow and brown one!
I forgot to take a picture with them on the design wall -- but they were not "charming" with the quilt.
It took me 24 hours to recover from that disappointment and in the end, a busy medium scale floral became the border corners. 
Now it's ready to find a backing and add to the charity stack for quilting.
I still have three of the star blocks left over from the original group plus the four little blocks made for the border corners (sigh) -- so into the orphan block stash they go for the time being.

Last evening, I spent an hour getting these blocks up on the design wall and arranged correctly and pleasingly.  I'll work this week at setting them together.  Might put a price on this one and offer it at a retreat I'm attending later this month -- if it doesn't sell, it will become a charity quilt.
Since this one is all y-seam piecing, I'll need some sew-offs to keep my chain piecing going -- these teaching-sample stars will be just the thing and getting them finished will set me up with more finished blocks to eliminate from the piles which is easier than piles of cut pieces!
So as of the 13th of January, I have eliminated six UFO's!!
Four more to go to reach my January goal!

Are you staging a UFO Assault this month??


Linking up with Oh, Scrap!!


  1. You perfectly expressed why we sometimes "fall out of love" with a project or technique. I say designing (that is, figuring the "how" when you don't know "what") is a lot harder than people give it credit for! I have one of the "Blended Quilts" books and still look forward to making one --- one day (she said fingers crossed). I think your design decisions resolved the issue well! That style quilt reminds me of "Shabby Chic" --- I hope that design aesthetic will come around again!

  2. Came out great. It's the borders that did it. I like what you do with blocks.