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Conundrum

May 24, 2011

I’ve been working on my challenge quilt for the Robert Kaufman Kona Charms challenge at the Toronto Modern Quilt Guild.  And let me tell you, it really has been a challenge for me.  The colours in the charm pack are not ones that I would usually pick for myself, nor do I usually sew with pre-cuts because I find that they are usually cut off-grain and a bit wonky, and the pinking along the edges makes it difficult to piece with a great deal of precision.

Sketching.

I’ve been sketching out ideas ever since I got the charm pack.  I love graph paper because you can quickly get a sense about whether or not an idea will work, and since I have an all-in-one printer I’ll often make a copy half-way through a sketch so that I can go off on tangents without having to redraw the whole thing every time.  For instance, I might draw the outline of the pieces in black pen, and then make copies in order to try a few different ways of arranging the colours.

Test Block.

After I decided upon my final quilt design, I worked up a sample block from some scraps to make sure that I had all my cutting dimensions correct before I started on the charm squares.  I actually really like this block, so I need to find a way to incorporate it into something!

Colour Layout.

Next I laid out all the charm squares from the pack on my design wall to work out the arrangement.  I only needed 36 of the 44 charm squares for the diagonal pieces, so I had to play around until I figured out which ones to use.  The remaining eight will be used in the secondary design within the block.

Robert Kaufman Challenge.

Since I was already deep into challenging myself, I ignored my initial impulse to use Kona Snow as my other fabric (we’re only allowed a 1/2 yard of one other fabric), and pulled a tan and cream dot out of my stash.  Actually, it came from the box of vintage scraps that I got from my mum last year.  They looked good together, and there seemed to be enough contrast between the fabric to keep things interesting.

Hmmm...

Well…now that I’ve sewn up all the diagonal blocks and laid things out on the design wall again I’m not loving it.  I think it looks kinda bland.  There just isn’t as much contrast between the solids and the dot fabric as I originally thought.  Hmmm…

Better.

I tried adding some Kona Snow.  This would not obey the rules of the challenge, but I think the addition really solves the problem.  What do you think?  Should I just forget the rules and do what looks best?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2011 10:36 PM

    I really like the blocks. They remind me of the supernova quilt-a-long I’ve been seeing lots of pictures of recently.

    I actually like it better without the snow. Maybe it’s just the photo, but I find the white very distracting — I don’t see any of the other colors, just the white dots. I’m usually not much of a sasher, but you might try the kona snow or a different neutral as sashing between the blocks. Your graph-paper sketch has rows between the blocks, and I think it sets off the blocks nicely.

    • May 24, 2011 11:09 PM

      That’s really interesting, Daniel! That’s why I posted about it…it’s so great to hear what other quilters think. (I just checked out your blog, btw, and I absolutely love your work. That disintegrating stag quilt is welcome to come live with me!)

      I was originally thinking about sashing as well, but I don’t have enough fabric in my 1/2 yard “allowance,” although if I’m breaking rules then I suppose I could break that one, instead. But one of the sketches at the back shows the design without the sashing. Come to think of it, I should probably add a photo of the final sketch. :) I’m actually thinking of buying another charm pack and starting over with a lighter print, but I can’t decide if I’m that dedicated to the design or not!

  2. May 24, 2011 11:47 PM

    I love the fact that you have documented your process here, Sheila! I too had a difficult time with this challenge — it was hard to lighten and brighten this palette of colours, and to be restricted to just one other fabric. But your quilt is looking really striking — especially without the snow, I think. I can see what you mean about the tan-ish pieces losing some of their contrast with the background fabric; might you be able to make a few (selective) substitutions? Or might some colourful quilting add the definition you’re seeking? Anyway, I think this is going to be very cool!

    • May 25, 2011 5:44 PM

      Yeah, it is really just the tan pieces in the top left and bottom right blocks that feel the most blah. But maybe you’re onto something there with the quilting…that might make a difference.

  3. May 25, 2011 12:36 AM

    I agree with Dan – the Kona White pops a wee bit too much. I like the design with just the dot added. I also agree that it has a Supernova feel to it. I really do like it a lot!

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