Wednesday, November 20, 2013

penny patch evolution

 the obsession with penny patch continues. really, such a simple quilt, but i've turned it into an epic quilt journey. all my blocks are laid out now. i've been much happier with it since the changes i made to my original fabric pull.

terri ann said to me in a comment, "it's funny how obsessed we can become with creating perfect balance on even a scrappy style quilt huh?" too true. this one keeps dragging me over and sucking me in. having it on the design wall where i see it all the time is a completely different experience. it's actually rather silly how much enjoyment i get out of messing with these blocks, rearranging the squares.

however, this weekend there was still something bothering me. a few somethings.

1. i have never been happy with my choice of the pink as the "pop color". it just didn't pop. but it was the only other color besides the oranges and blues from the pull, so i was using it.

2. i wanted some more color fabrics that were less color dense, included more low-volume in them, as a way to add more low-volume to the over all look.

3. i didn't have enough different blue prints, especially once i decided to remove the green prints as my filler blues.

4. that really bright tangerine was sorta buggin' me, too.

see, i like all these fabrics. but the original pull only incorporated 2 different lines and one of the prints, that sprig, was in the quilt in 6 different colors. i was craving more variety. but i did not want to spend any more money on more fabric. a lady with a bookcase full of fabric, and several boxes to boot, should surely be able to make-do from her stash.

 so i inserted a butterfly print from sandi henderson's meadowsweet collection. every quilt needs a bit of meadowsweet, right? it stayed on the board all week and i thought i liked it. but then i stopped liking the linear nature of the butterflies. they were fluttering in my face too much. it just didn't flow with the feel of the quilt.

by the way, because of the size of my design wall, the quilt is laid out on its side, hence the odd orientation of the blocks in the photos. just in case you noticed and were wondering.

well, i visited my stash again and again. orange is sort of a new color for me and apparently i don't have much low volume, either. darn it!

by saturday, i just couldn't stand it any more. i was going to have to either be unsatisfied with the quilt i had already invested so much time into or GO SHOP. shopping definitely won out.
i brought home a 1/4 yard of everything in the store that i thought might even come close to working. i looked for a different pop color that i could somehow still tie into what i already had and prints in my current color that included a lot of neutral/low volume as well. to really complicate matters, this quilt has a very specific 60's/70's feel to it that i'm trying to maintain.

strike two

strike three
i replaced the butterfly print with a sweet orange floral from happy go lucky by bonnie and camille for moda. it was much better . . . and then it wasn't.

honestly, the more i started pulling out prints and trying to add in the new ones, the more i felt like i was just creating fabric vomit. was i making a huge mistake? had i wasted enough time and effort already? (the fabric is not wasted - it'll get used somewhere, sometime.) self-doubt was trampling me. but as i continued to plow through, switching and culling, it started to feel right.

a closer look at the notebook low-volume print. see the light blue lines that make this look like aged notebook paper? love it.

i could have just sewn everything together the way it was and decided not to care. sometimes you have to cut your losses and make do. i really believe that. but i also believe in not settling. deciding when to do which is hard. however, this quilt has been a learning experiment for me all along, so i made the choice to keep learning. i kept thinking about a recent post where rachel hauser said "don't settle." it seemed right.

and it's paying off. i'm so much happier with the results now even though i suspect that it really doesn't look all that different to anyone else.

some new low-volumes added and a few more blues, including darker ones

i was completely surprised by what ended up working for me. the dark horse, long shot choices were the ones i liked best. goodness, i even pulled that happy go lucky floral that replaced the butterfly that replaced the tangerine sprig, and put the tangerine sprig back in in a few select places.

finally, a home run - several of the new add-ins are seen here
but it's okay. it's all okay. i'm feeling my way through what i like and what works for me. it's stretching and growing going on over here. it's not even so much about the final quilt any more as it is about what i'm experiencing. that's important to me this time around. it won't always be my priority with a quilt, but this time it is.

***surprise, surprise - since i wrote and scheduled this post, laura has said this even better than i have over at little and lots. not only is she a great quilter, she's a writer, too; always speaking to the heart and getting inside the head of quilting. how does she do it? "So, to me, these quilts have ended up being about me as a creator. About pushing aside those evil voices that nag at you when you’re working–voices that sometimes make you put down your work in discouragement." ditto what she said.

all in place now - sewing together of blocks has commenced
i haven't recreated vintage tangerine in exactness here. not by a long shot. i have a more aged tone going on and my colors are stronger, there is less lightness to it. but i do have something i like a whole lot. the fact that this looks very fall-ish is an added bonus since I was just thinking some of the quilts in my family room look so very summer they should probably be put away for a few months.

the last question is what to do with all the cut rejects, because surely i have nearly enough for another quilt by now. i'm probably going to throw them together into a second (third?) penny patch called "leftover pennies" and give it away to someone special i have in mind. i like that idea. i think God can take the messes we make in our lives and make something beautiful or useful out of them. why can't i do that with quilt leftovers, hmm? it won't even make a bit of difference to me how that 2nd one turns out because i already know it's going to be a big, beautiful scrappy pile of culled fabrics. and that's good, too.

the stack for penny patch 1.2

linking in:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced My Quilt Infatuation


  1. I think your fabric shopping nailed the quilt! It looks great! Although, I did like it the first time, too :)

  2. I'm so glad you are taking the time to make this quilt perfect for you. I'm totally feeling the 60s/70s vibe and I'm loving how it looks! I really like your idea of using the scraps and cut rejects in a new quilt.

  3. "leftover pennies", I love that! After I just made those twinned quilts I wondered "why don't I just make two every time?" (HA.)

    When she came to speak to my guild, Victoria Findlay Wolfe really advocated for the kind of process you outline. Cut the fabric! Audition it! If it doesn't work, try something else! There is always more fabric! It's amazing that this "simple" pattern is teaching you such great things about the process of quilting and fabric selection and curating exactly the right look.

    As for where you're at, you're in JUST the right place. I think the colors as they are look AMAZING. Congratulations on working through it!

  4. Well I think every minute was worth it. Those final fabrics look AMAZING!

  5. The transformation of your quilt is fantastic. The colors are perfect in the latest version; it is very fall now - a crisp sun shine filled fall day where you wear your scarf cause it's just brisk enough outside and there's a couple clouds in the sky but not enough to worry about rain...ya know, that kind of color palette! Leftover pennies is just the most darling name for a quilt with all your leftovers.

  6. I loved your post. I to pulled and culled and pulled and culled and ended up with what I really like. This quilt is for me and I like it so I'm happy. Would I do a few things differently, yes but I'm not going to unsew and redo. Thanks so much for sharing. BTW if you need a home for a small quilt, I can send you a link where Children's Hospital-Nashville Cardiac ICU is looking for blankets... My daughter is a nurse on this unit..

  7. It's looking great! I really believe the way you're thinking through (obsessing!) is a good thing in this case. It's not just this quilt that is going to benefit - your next quilt will be better for it too.

  8. In the inaugural words of Tim Gunn "just make it work people". Glad to see you came out the other side - feeling successful, and looks like you have got a beautiful quilt in the bargain. My advice is often that it is not the choice of fabric that is wrong, but more to do with the placement and achieving that all important balance. Sometimes this is fixed by more (and more... and more) fabric, sometimes it is just a subtle change that makes it all work. And as you've come to realise, it is hard to put into words... and often hard to get that balance perfect! Great job on both counts.

  9. I love how you have shared your creating process. I am sure we all go through this - never being quite sure, and then suddenly it comes together and works for us. It is such a great feeling. Love what you have made :-)

  10. I love the "leftover pennies" idea and the name of course :)

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. I think we often feel a great quilt just "happens.". Often it takes time and a lot of thought through trial and error. Have you thought of "saving pennies?"

  12. It is coming along beautifully!

  13. I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one that obsesses over fabric choices. I don't do it on every quilt, but sometimes I literally lay awake in bed picturing it! I really love what you have put together here!

    Thanks for linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation


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