Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Resurrection of the Orange and the Grey

I started this quilt from a Fat Quarter Shop kit back in November 2015. Fabrics and pattern are by Lotta Jansdotter. Then I stalled trying to decide the backing. The history of this quilt's construction is captured in my two posts
November 4, 2015 caving-in-and-starting-something-new.html and
November 11, 2015 easy-sewing-but-challenging-cutting.html

This quilt was small enough, 40" x 50", that I could use one continuous length of fabric and would not have to piece the backing. I dislike piecing quilt backs and usually buy one continuous length of fabric to avoid seaming it. Each potential color for a one-piece backing had its drawbacks – a grey (too dull and boring), an orange (very bright), or a white (pretty impractical). I found no prints for the back in my stash nor on the shelves of the shops matching the crispness of the graphics on the top that also combined two or three of these colors. Shades of grey I could blend, but that tangerine-ish orange was a unique shade. Here I am, eight months later, finally decided on the backing for this quilt. The best solution was to piece it. Aargh!

The following fabric choices I rejected as being too strong an orange or not having enough yardage. The greys were too cold and steely, not warm and soft-toned. The oranges were just wrong.

I dug into my Pezzy collection of half-yard cuts from American Jane. Sandy Klop's pattern and fabric designs are nostalgic and playful, but I would not categorize them of the modern bent. Her orange and grey were perfect but I had limited yardage of each. I placed them central on the backing. I added an orange and a charcoal irregular polka dot at the top and bottom. Since these two dots were weightier, having less white, I used less than one half-yard of each and placed them at each end. Shown in the next photo is a quarter-width of the seamed backing and a half-width of the quilt top. I am bemused that classic, modern, and funk fabrics can all play together nicely.

I had planned to spray baste my quilt sandwich and have some FMQ done for this post. But the slowest part of my quilt making is my decision making. Instead of FMQ, I am going to share my thought process for FMQ deciding. Here is my spray basted quilt sandwich on my sewing room floor and ready to be quilted. Note how even though the blocks seem to follow a diagonal placement in fabric combinations, the alternation between portrait and landscape orientation and off-center format keeps it fresh. I really do like the simplistic surprise of this pattern.

I knew I want to outline-quilt the bold graphic in the center of those blocks that have them – such as the tulips with beads, the tree with leaves, and the grey large floral. The plain cross hatched and diagonal bead centers would need another treatment.  Just what to do with the sashing around each of those blocks? I once had advice from a machine-quilting teacher to not have too many competing patterns on your quilt top – unless it is a sampler, I guess. I could do the sashings all the same but the centers are offset which somewhat complicates the path for a repetitive linear pattern. Here are some of my musings. I sure hope my quilt path is smoother than my drawing path.

On the tree center block I would outline the tree and leaves (BLUE in photo).  In the outer sashing I think I like stitching lines aligning with the stripes (RED in photo). On the top and right I took a castle path - down across, up across. On the bottom and left I took the piano key approach – up, down, over. This is faster and definitely preferred especially if you use a ruler. The ruler really helps stitching back over the same line.

For the blocks with central tulips and beads (my terminology) I would outline those (BLUE in photo). In the surrounding sashing, I tried both straight lines between the strings of beads (RED on the left) and scallops that follow the beads contour (RED on the right). I think I prefer the scallops. Yes, it is another quilt form but I think it is enough related to the previous striped sashing that it is will not be too distracting.

For the floral centered block I would outline the flowers and perhaps echo once around them. In the loose weave patterned sashing I am undecided between following the softly undulating lines (BLUE) as on the top and right or using a ruler to put a more controlled wave pattern (BLUE) as on the left and bottom. Frankly I am not thrilled with either and since the orange mesh lines are a smaller scale print I may not need to distinguish direction as I needed to do with the stripes and beading sashing. I will at least get started on half of the blocks as I wait for inspiration to strike on the remainder.

The other two sashing prints I have not considered are the charcoal dots and the tipu birds. Since they and the orange mesh are small scale mini-prints, I may treat them all alike. I can minimize the busyness of too many FMQ styles and cut down on my decision making in one fell swoop. In case you have not seen one of my earlier posts, check out my July 25, 2016 post  to see my husband's candid shots of me "thinking" about FMQ.

I have been traveling and had house guests so it is now time for me to get engaged with the quilt community again and participate in Let's Be Social #135.


  1. Oh, this was fun going through this post and checking back to your previous ones about this quilt. I love the pattern and how you thought through the complexity of it to fulfill your vision of what it would look like. I can really relate to changing an area that would look fine to anyone to make sure you were happy with it. I really like your decision about the backing, too. The colors are spot on. I enjoy pieced backs. I figure most of my quilts are at least a smidge too big to use just one piece of fabric so I almost always have to piece them anyway--and if I have to do that, I figure I might as well have fun with it. Have fun quilting this one--and thanks for sharing your thought process.

    1. I am having fun quilting this one. There is enough variety to keep me from being bored but enough of one pattern to help me practice at it and get better. With persistence two more posts on this quilt will cover its completion - maybe enough by mid-August. Fingers crossed. Thanks so much for visiting and for composing such a thoughtful comment. I do appreciate your taking the time to do so.

  2. Quilt backs can be such a challenge! I never seem to have enough of one fabric to make an entire backing, so I almost always end up piecing mine. You seem to have come up with a wonderful combination of fabrics to complement the front for this one. I love the combination of greys with orange.

    1. Thank you! Horizontal piecing with different fabrics I do not mind as much as vertical seams with the same fabric - especially a print. Seems like so often a larger scale novelty print ( my quirky favorite choice for backings) drift in the printing and cannot be matched - frustrating me. The color combo of orange and grey appealed to me too not the usual fare but pleasing none the less. Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment.