Monthly Block – April

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am right now. This months block turned out different again, but what REALLY has me excited is the planning for next months version! Maybe I’ll give you a teaser at the end of this post…

April’s block plan was to go with a yellow center, orange mid and red on the outside, like an ombre, or a fade to dark. Trouble was, I couldn’t find any suitable reds in my stash, batik or standard cotton. So that plan had to go on the backburner.

In my search for a plan B, I found this fabric:

inspiration fabric

inspiration fabric

which I had previously cut to be the border on this quilt:

striped fabric quilt

striped fabric quilt

Because of how busy that quilt was, my daughter and I agreed this was a better border choice:

eggplant border

eggplant border

So I found about 7-8 6″ strips of this stringy fabric just waiting for it’s turn. I was inspired. I decided to choose really bright fabrics that matched those strings.

I had seen a quilt that someone brought to a retreat just over a year ago, and while I can’t remember the name or exact pattern, I thought she called it jewel box. It was black with brightly colored triangles and other shapes in batik. This month’s quilt plan reminded me of that quilt. So I decided to keep it random, rather than specifically placing anything.

That’s my favorite way to go – keeps it simple. After I got the block together I DID arrange somewhat to still show the arrows and try to not have a lot of matching blocks next to each other. I believe this is what it would look like if a box of crayons threw up:

random placement

random placement

What I find interesting is that the actual blocks don’t seem to emerge here at all. When I finished the top, I decided on a thin border of the black string fabric, thinking it would pull out the black centers. I think the darker purple strips make some of the blocks appear rectangular from a distance.

random placement

random placement

and when I placed different colors along the sides and squinted (THE surefire way to tell if something works or not), the turquoise was the definitive winner. Unfortunately I had very little left (this was another quilt made from scraps, and that is the inherent danger of this method). So I found a batik I thought matched closely enough and voila!

april

april

Alright, let’s take this from the top again. Here’s the original block:

"THE" block

“THE” block

And January, February, March and April:

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February quilt

February quilt

march quilt

march quilt

april

april

I think setting it in black made the quilt look a lot different too; it made those bright colors really stand out.

So far, the differences I have incorporated to make this block into different quilts include:

  • using scraps in set colors
  • using scraps in a wide variety of colors
  • two tone
  • sashing with cornerstones

In each instance I chose something to focus on. January I used scraps. February I wanted the arrows to show. March I focused on the pinwheels, which meant removing the sashing. And April was a wider variety of colors, just thrown together around the focus fabric, with that same fabric as the inner border. May will bring a glowing block. Not dishing on what’s coming after that!

But what I really want you to see from this project is that you can make an amazing quilt from a pattern you don’t like. Any block can turn into a variety of different quilts. See beyond the photo on the cover of the pattern, think “what if I do this instead…”, and you’ll be amazed at what can turn out!

For May, I purchased all the fabric, no scraps this time. I took down quantities and costs per yard so I can pass it along to you, in case there’s any interest in creating something like this. Next month will look very different from these in color and pattern. Here’s the preliminary sketch!

May's template

May’s template

And here’s the fabric:

May's fabric

May’s fabric

My dark reds appear a bit purple in this photo, but trust me, they’re red. Just the two furthest to the left are not batiks, and you will see how it will look natural to mix them. I’m SO EXCITED!

I hope you’re excited too, but you’ll have to wait until May. I have a few t shirt quilts to create and a guild raffle quilt (highly customized) to quilt before I can get back to this project.

Advertisements

Monthly Block – March version

This journey has been truly incredible. It started out as an experiment. I had once seen in a book how laying out your blocks on point or straight set or adding sashing could change the look and the size. So I decided to put the theory to test, and found a block in my magazine collection. And here we are: 3 months down, three entirely different looking quilts! I am so excited to get the next month’s quilt done! By the end of the year I’ve decided I will also put together a guild speaking program and test it on my own local guild.

What prompted me to do that last step was what felt like overwhelming attention I received about this at the last retreat I attended. Many of the ladies were not only complimentary of the latest quilt top, but they thought the creative aspect of this project was a marvel, and one even suggested I teach a class on it.

I was really flattered, but after thinking on it a bit, I realized that I do have a lot of quilt  making clients or help people at the shop that don’t like to or know how to get out of the pattern box. They follow what the pattern says, and either use a kit or a set of picked out fabrics that often matches the photo on the pattern and off they go.

But what if the pattern isn’t quite big enough for the bed you want to put it on? What if the photo isn’t colors you prefer, or you only want to use two colors? What if you have an ENORMOUS amount of scraps you want to use up? Then what??

Folks, I’m here to help.

Seriously, I have been there, and I still get into analysis paralysis from time to time when I get into an idea. And sometimes I have to take a step away and let it all marinate before I can dive in and really get to work.

That started to happen with this months block, so I just decided to get into my scraps and see what hit me. BOOM. This hit me:

focus fabric

focus fabric

When I saw it, I knew what I wanted to do with it, but wasn’t sure I had enough of it. It’s actually pretty old, so I had to measure it before moving on. Fortunately I had enough to do 30 center blocks, but not enough for sashing.

So I started drawing on my graph paper again. I started with this:

first draft

first draft

Sloppy, because the brown was over another color, but I was working through an idea. And then ended up with this, which I liked A LOT more:

second draft

second draft

I started out focusing on the arrows, wanting them to turn out like last month but thinking I could make it different without the sashing. Notice how I changed half of the triangles from pink to white? That made these pinwheels appear, which would not happen with the sashing.

I had to buy 2 fat quarters of the purple (plus what I had in my stash) but ended up with these colors:

fabrics of choice

fabrics of choice

Loving how it would turn out, I cut white triangles from my stash of scraps, the eggplant from more scraps (I had a ton of that fabric at one point) and the purple and stuck it all in a bag to go on retreat with me. I brought a little extra just in case I didn’t count properly.

While assembling it my first day away, I became a bit worried that the eggplant was too close of a pink to the purples, and that the arrows wouldn’t show up at all. At that point I figured hey, this is an experiment anyway, and if it doesn’t turn out how I wanted, then it will be a lesson in choosing fabrics (I have always struggled with lights vs mediums vs darks).

What happened really amazed me. It wasn’t evident until the top was assembled, but the arrows did show and more surprisingly, the pinwheels became the focus!

pinwheels

pinwheels

I had to wait until I got home to put a border on it. I thought about putting on a 1″ eggplant, then 1″ white and then 4″ eggplant border, but when I got home I was just excited and put on a 6″ eggplant border. This might be my favorite one yet.

march quilt

march quilt

close in

close in

march madness?

march madness?

OK for comparison sake, here is the block:

"THE" block

“THE” block

And January:

finished quilt top

finished quilt top

February:

February quilt

February quilt

March:

march quilt

march quilt

It truly amazes me how one block can become so many different quilts. Not only was fabric choice an element in this difference, but the block layout, and so far, the addition or absence of sashing/cornerstones. One month I will put it on point and see what that does. I have other ideas as well. Fortunately, business is slow and April is here, so I will get started shortly on next months version!