Monday, September 28, 2015

Struggling with Christmas Fabrics

It’s that time of year again – I’m making another attempt to “use up” the Christmas fabrics that live in a basket on the bottom shelf.  It seems that I’ve fallen for it again – the belief that somehow, somewhere there is a pattern with which I can use all these reds and greens to make a beautiful Christmas quilt!
I’m trying to be analytical about it.  Just WHY is this such a problem for me?
So I took a good hard look at the fabrics in that basket.  Here are some samples of what I found:
fabric collage

There are red fabrics with green on them.
Green fabrics with red
Black with red and green
White with green and red,
And on and on, with all the combinations of red/green/black/white/gold (and a bit of blue).

The large Santa prints have been weeded out, but I still have angels and Christmas trees and baubles and wreaths and stars and holly – lots of holly!  Most of these fabrics have been in my basket for a long time!  In fact, looking at dates on selvedges, I see that some of them are easily old enough to vote!

But all those red and greens (and blacks and blues) look pretty much the same.  One sees a medium-dark value when one squints at them just so.  The white and gold gives a bit of contrast.  When the fabric has red/green/black only, it looks really dark.  When some white/gold is added to lighten it up, it looks blotchy!  The light fabrics are the ones are mostly white/gold with red/green/black/blue figures on them.  Overall these are lighter than the ones with the darker base colours, but they are still very, very busy! 

Any of these fabrics will work well on its own.  It will make cute stockings and bibs and placemats and tree skirts and all the other things we lovingly sew at Christmas time.  But I’m a quilter.  A scrappy quilter.  I am happiest when I put lots of little pieces of many different fabrics together.  And these fabrics don’t play nicely that way!

To use more than one Christmas fabric at a time I’ve usually resorted to adding a lot of something fairly solid – white or gold or brown or black.  But this doesn’t make me very happy, and the project ends up either unfinished or quite small!  Here are some previous efforts:
project collage

So here is my plan.  This time I will keep the fabrics in fairly big pieces.  I have in mind a Disappearing Four-Patch pattern that starts with 6” squares.  I will put each dark fabric with something lighter, and I’ll add in some non-Christmas lights if I must.  Then I will put all the blocks together getting the nicest contrast that I can, and when it is finished I will put this quilt in a sale to raise funds for A Good Cause.  I doubt that the basket will  be empty at that point (sigh!), but surely I will be able to see that it is not quite as full as when I began??
Christmas four patch

Sunday, September 13, 2015

More scrappy rail fence blocks

These are the blocks on my design wall today.  Not sure yet just how they will be set.  On-point, perhaps?  It will be a donation quilt.

rail fence scrappy

Choosing fabrics can be a lot more difficult when we use scraps than it is when we work with a more limited palette. For this project I was working with fabrics in blues, browns, greens – “guy colours”. All I needed to do was make a pile of 2” strips. It took me most of the day, and I must say, it was the arguing that almost did me in!

Maybe this piece?

But I bought that to use for something special.

How long ago was that?

I bought it in that store that closed back in the 1990s.

And no project has been special enough in all that time?

I need to find the perfect fabrics to go with it.

Haven’t found anything that works YET??

Maybe I could use some for this project, but then I might not have enough when the special project comes along.

But hasn’t it already been waiting for years and years?

Well, I could use just a bit.


How about this piece?

But that’s a 2 ½” strip.

Then cut it narrower.

And WASTE a half inch???

How long it been sitting here?

It’s left over from the baby quilt I made for Johnny.

Isn’t Johnny in college now? USE it, for goodness sake!

But then I won’t have it if I need it for something else.

Like there isn’t any more fabric in the cupboard?

Not that exact colour…..

You can see the problem, I’m sure! I finally finished the job, then sat down with a cup of coffee and phoned a friend for a chat. Sometimes a person just gets tired of the sound of her own voice!