Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Overlapping Squares - Selecting Backing

This week I added a third quilt top to my pile of quilt sandwiches to be FMQ'd. While I was on a roll with spray basting Simple Gifts and Classic Cars, I prepped my Overlapping Squares top. One fourth of it is shown in the following photo. I'd made this top years ago from fabric I bought while visiting my sister in North Carolina. The quaint little quilt shop near where she lived was nestled within in a two-story home with honey colored hardwood floors and steps that emitted friendly creaks as you climbed them to look at the quilts and wares on the second floor. The shop owner retired but I still have fond memories of that place. But, I digress.

The quilt top is made of only only three fabrics, each of which consists of printed in bands of four shades of one color. The three fabrics' overall colors were called Pumpkin, Iris, and Blossom. An accompanying pattern called for fussy cutting strips along a shade line and assembling the quilt log cabin block style to give the illusion of overlapping squares. This color combination and modern geometric look will not go at all in my home but I still think it is yummy. The top is folded in quarters so only one fourth of it is shown in the following photo. I want to wait until it is quilted to reveal the entire top.

In the next photo I have shown the same portion of the top surrounded by four candidates for backing fabric. I really did have reasons for considering each contender. The upper left mini-checked fabric blended surprisingly well with the pumpkin color and I considered it because I thought it supported a kind of boxy, contemporary theme.  It would be safe. The fabric on the upper right is quite a surprise with the kitty faces. Believe it or not, the "purple" and "orange" tabbies are spot on color-wise with the Iris and Pumpkin and the red background blocks match well with the Blossom color, too. The cat fabric is kind of mottled when you look up close, so it also goes with the marbled effect of the overlapping square top fabric and its block layout fits in with the theme of the top. It really does go with the top in an odd way, but I still cringed a bit, thinking perhaps that "odd way" may be too "way out there". The top is 48" square so the cat fabric would also have a pretty obvious seam when it was pieced. Having just struggled to match seams on the backing fabric of Simple Gifts, my post for February 25, 2015, I was not up for a battle like that again so soon.

The lower left fabric of uneven squares is a companion print to the cat fabric. Although it too has a great color match to the Pumpkin and Blossom, it features and draws out the greens and blues of the cat fabric, neither of which are in the quilt top. But it does support the block theme and has a mottled/marbled effect. It, too, would need to be seamed but I think a joint would be more forgiving in this smaller scale print. It was the lower left fabric of uneven squares that I had packed away with the top for years, intending to complete the wall hanging some day. I'd thought it a good compromise between the possible too-blah check and possibly too-daring cats. The blue kind of niggled at me though, and I think I may have sub-consciously been a bit reluctant to break it apart from its companion kitties, though. Even so, I was preparing to seam the uneven squares fabric and use it.

But then, out of the corner of my eye, on the bottom shelf of my stash reserved for larger yardages of fabric, I found 6 yards of the splotchy water color fabric, shown at the lower right of the previous photo and again in the next photo. I'd bought it on sale to use it at some point as a backing but somehow it was never quite right. Though not necessarily an exact match color-wise with the Pumpkin, Blossom, and Iris, it did not clash. The yellow transitioned through Pumpkin on its way to the soft pink. The blue did not seem so isolated since it transitioned through Iris on its way to the other colors. I liked the overall feel of the print thinking the muted, undulating shapes complemented the rigidity of the overlapping squares on the front.

I e-mailed my daughter photos of my options and she independently came to the same conclusion I had. Like mother, like daughter she, too, supplied an explanation for her choice. "I would probably do as much of the watercolor multi in the lower right as I could... The red checks go colorwise but I'm not big on such a 'definitive print' feel with the moda-marble-ey front. And I'd avoid the cats and the basketweave entirely, as they have the same definitive print problem and read as primarily blue/green an not all that harmonious with the 'sunset feel' of the top to me." Yay!

I still had to piece the watercolor splotchy fabric but with only one seam in the lengthwise direction. I was quite pleased with how the matchup went. I need the clue of the offset at the top of the fabric to find where the seam is. I picked a few water drop spots as my register marks and the rest fell into place. Sweet! It is now draped over my upstairs railing waiting in line to be quilted.

Being a retired engineer, the logical left side of my brain is not going to give in very easily to decisions made by the artsy right side of my brain without some sort of justification. This post may be a bit too wordy, but it is noted in my sidebar that I did take the process pledge. You can read about that at For now I am hooking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.


  1. That's such a fun way to cut apart and re-sew fabric that's designed like that. Blocks look agreat!

  2. Thanks... now I just need to finish it! Thanks for visiting.