A challenge, part 1

Several months ago, my quilting group decided we wanted to do a challenge.  We tossed several ideas around and finally decided that a fabric challenge would be fun!

This is the fabric we chose:

challenge fabric

It’s pretty awful, isn’t it?  Kinda reminds me of – ahem – things we learned about in 7th grade science class. (Snort.  I almost said “things we learned in 7th grade”.  Ha – leaving out that one little word sure would have put a different spin on that sentence!  Snicker!)

The rules were simple and few:  The challenge fabric had to be identifiable (meaning you couldn’t chop it up into tiny, unrecognizable bits – I’m fairly certain this rule was created specifically for yours truly), and it had to be lap or wall size; the perimeter was to be no larger than 200″ around.

We decided we wanted an incentive – prizes!  Everyone participating put $5 into a kitty.  Finished quilts were kept under wraps until our all-day Sewing Marathon in September.  We then voted on the three best quilts, and the top 3 quilts would split the kitty.

Challenge accepted!

My first thought was to simply recreate this quilt that I originally made (and wrote a tutorial for)  back in 2009.

drunkards-path-quilt2I pulled solid colors from the challenge fabric for the drunkard’s path blocks, and used the challenge fabric itself for the bias strips at the edges of the curves.

challenge 1Um.  Yuck!  That’s pretty ugly.  I thought maybe it was because the black fabric was not playing well with the fairly dark reds, greens, and blues, so I tried white fabric instead.

challenge 2No, that didn’t really work either.  I abandoned the drunkard’s path idea.

If you look at the black drunkard’s path picture, the first one, you’ll see on the right edge of the frame, some leaves and flowers in an applique arrangement.  That’s the only picture I have of it because it was so awful, I wadded it up and threw it in the garbage.  My idea was to use the solid colors for the center of the block, then use bead or leaf shapes cut from the challenge fabric to frame the block.  Nope, it was pretty boring!

Then I looked at the fabric.  The print is fairly small and compact, but I wondered if I could play with the movement of the design.

challenge 5Hmm.  It’s sort of interesting, but those leaves are not even 2″ long, and the print is too busy.  Rather difficult to do anything striking with.

One day I was meandering around a fabric store, looking for inspiration, and came across an interesting template.  It was kind of a tessellating pattern and I thought I could do some interesting things with it.

challenge 6I quickly realized there were 2 major problems with this template.  First, there are unavoidable Y seams.  Second, you WILL end up with a big lump in the center.  There is no way of pressing or spinning the allowances like you can on a star block.  Those seams will not lay flat, no matter what.  I scoured the package contents and the internet, looking for instructions, and when I didn’t find any, I looked for other quilters who had experience with this template.  I found one.  And when I contacted her, she agreed with me about the problems and said she just pounded the seams flat with a hammer.  I can deal with Y seams, but that center lump was just too much work and aggravation for me, so I abandoned THAT project.


Okay, I CAN do this. The deadline is looming, but I work quite well under pressure.  In fact, in high school I used to write my English Lit essays (3rd period) during my 2nd period Chemistry class, right before the essays were due.  Talk about coming down to the wire.  And I always got A’s!  Well, in English Lit, that is.  Don’t ask me what grade I got in Chemistry, ha!

Somewhere on the interwebs, I stumbled across an older quilt pattern called “Ferris Wheel”.  I have never seen a quilt made from this pattern, and I liked the uniqueness.  It’s sort of “Dresden Plate” meets “Hearts and Gizzards”.

challenge 3Erm.  Well, it was okay, but it didn’t knock my socks off.  And I really want people’s socks to be flying through the air!

Okay, back to something I’ve tried before, and had success with.  Mini apple cores.

challenge 4This is after I fooled around with it a bit and realized that the red and pale tan just do not play well with the blues and greens.  And I liked the blues and greens together, so that’s what I worked with.  It’s okay.  Not very prize-worthy, though.

Well, I did eventually end up with a pattern that worked.  But I’m not going to show it to you – yet.  Tomorrow I’m going to post pictures of ALL the challenge quilts and have YOU, dear readers, vote on which one you like best.  Then I will reveal which quilt won.

Oooh, this is fun, isn’t it??  🙂

peg large sigI love the way you’re not afraid to waste a little fabric to try out different layouts. You really think things through before you create a quilt, coming up with unique designs and ways of looking at fabric differently. I admire that! It’s a trait I’ve not yet developed – nor even think of when making a quilt – but will certainly try to use more often. You’re a true designer! Looking forward to seeing the challenge of the quilts, and will refrain from voting, as I already know the outcome – and can’t wait until you all see it 😉

Cindi 100 small






One thought on “A challenge, part 1

  1. Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me. I seriously love that fabric, amazing how often I like peoples “ugly” fabric. Maybe I’m taste challenged? Enjoyed reading about your design journey. Can’t wait to see the “show”.

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