Thursday, July 7, 2011

Parts and Recreation

You may think making a quilt is pretty straightforward: cut the parts, put them together. Especially when there's a particular plan to follow; I, for instance, am participating in an on-line quilt-along for a kaleidoscope quilt.

I've wanted to make a kaleidoscope quilt, with its interlinking circles. And I think it'll be a nice pattern to make using fabrics I think will appeal to Kathryn, and this quilt can be a birthday (or Christmas, if I take too long!) present for her. 

By the way, Lamby, you should stop here if you want to be surprised! 

Once I'd pulled all my fabrics and cut hundreds of pieces, I started arranging them on my design wall, to check that the colors and pattern will work together as planned. At this point,  I always get a little crazy. If I don't like the colors together, I may ignore it and hope it'll get better as the quilt progresses (it never does) or I may start throwing in more fabrics and colors, hoping to get the balance of contrast and complement I want, (which can end up a big mess!). 

This time, I liked the colors in the mix, but I played around with the design. 
This is the basic kaleidoscope design used in the quilt-along:

The colored wedges make sort of an x shape, and the white makes small interlinked circles around it. Maybe the x has a negative connotation to me, as in x-ing out the wrong answer. Maybe the association with the multiplication symbol connotes complications. Maybe it's that they are all lined up in boring rows, or that the x shape just looks, to me, like a flattened, headless body. I'm going to try some other configurations.

This one just ended up very patchwork, and you really have to hunt for the kaleidoscope pattern. Boring. It looks like a design you'd see printed on a cheap bedspread.

Another boring, too predictable design. I keep seeing the Mac computer's spinning beach ball of death...

This is a Cathedral window kind of kaleidoscope. It's very pretty, but the scale of it is too big for the size of the quilt. Plus, there's so much white, and it's so defined, that it detracts from the wonderful scrappiness of all the different fabrics and colors.

This layout is very similar to the patchwork design, but if you squint you can see a circle around that center cross shape, and it would repeat in an interlocked design. I decided to go with this design.

But after I'd sewn together several pieces, John reminded me that Kathryn wants a scrappy, colorful quilt that doesn't look too planned. This one, with all the colors separated by white, looks too organized and bright for the vintage look I'm going for.

So, out came the seam ripper, and an evening was spent un-sewing. Somehow, that always seems to happen right after Ralph has vacuumed, and I drop stray threads everywhere. Thank you, Honey, for being patient with me!

So, now I'm back to the original design, but look! I've set the blocks on point, so instead of an x I have a +!
The wedges are diamond shapes, now, instead of flattened bodies, and the design doesn't appear so grid-like.

Thanks to Cris, who is letting me borrow her sewing machine, since I burned out my own machine. Her solid Kenmore is humming through these blocks for me, and I look forward to seeing it come together. Next decision will be whether to run the design all the way to the edges of the quilt, or to surround it with white and let the design float in the middle.
I know what I think now, but I'm sure I'll have to experiment with different options before I finish.

Did you make it all the way to the end of this post? Are you bored, or did I catch your interest with my quilty thought processes?


bethany said...

i read all the way to the end! i didn't realize how much thought, planning and trial and error went into your work mom, i'm impressed! i also think that your final pattern choice is definitely the best. you totally nailed the "patchy-ness" you're going for. i love this quilt!!

Anonymous said...

I made it. You sure know a lot about quilts. I think that's cool. -Brian

Cristine said...

Ditto to what Bethany said...I had NO idea what it took to create a quilt!!! Glad my Kenmore is running smooth for you!!

Christina said...

Wow, love the layout you landed on! This will be stunning!

Valerie S said...

The plus signs, or x's, can also be crosses. Just saying.
- Valerie