recently, i pulled out a few of my quilting books to peruse for ideas and inspiration. that's what they're for, right? i've invested in these books, i should make use of them. jolene at blue elephant stitches was considering a "sew the book" project again and i got curious which book i would choose to sew all (or most) of the quilts from.
i was looking over one of my favorites, quilt lovely by jen kingwell, and remembered again how much i like the "spinning around" quilt with it's 3 columns of pinwheels and subtly-striped fabric in between.
a few days later an order i had placed for some newer anna maria horner fabrics arrived, including yardage of the brilliant "social climber" print in the newer pink and green colorways. somewhere along the way i started thinking those columns of roses could make a pretty background column to go between the pinwheel columns in a "spinning around" quilt. i got out the print and pulled all the warm/red/pink amh prints i had to coordinate, plus other blenders, to use for pinwheels.
i decided i didn't really want to do three different pinwheels, but to use one type of pinwheel three times. that would simplify the making a whole lot.
now, i don't need any new quilt starts. just look at my wip page - there's something like 25 projects i have in the works. BUT, i had reasons to start this one right away. namely, i was going to get a good chunk of sewing time over a four day period and i thought i could knock this project out into a top in that time. i'm also going to have a similar amount of time in a few weeks, at which time i would work in batch mode to get all my tops sandwiched, and all my sandwiches quilted. why not have one more top to add to the pile?
and so ...
i made several pairings of 4 fabrics and got to work making the double pinwheel blocks.
the color palette i chose is pinks and reds from the "social climber" print, khaki greens, navy blue, deep and mauvy purples, a range of gold-tone and cinnamon browns.
i selected a lot of vintage, antique-type blenders, like the kind denyse schmidt is really good at.
each fabric pairing makes two double pinwheel blocks, so i made three sets (6 total) from each pairing, one pair per column.
there are four double hsts per block. times 37 blocks per column, times three columns.
i've never had a trimmings pile this big before, and this was only half way through.
for anyone making double pinwheel blocks, here are my tips:
1. cut your starting strips a smidge (like, 1/16th of an inch) larger than called for in length and width. it will give you more wiggle room when trimming in case something is off. then your center squares have a better chance of matching up.
2. pay very close attention to how your strip blocks are oriented BEFORE you cut on the diagonal to create your triangles. it really matters.
i did not pay close attention to my diagonal cuts the first few times and got some interesting results, and had to make a few additional sets in some cases. see the photo below, the two mixed-up pinwheels in the center, bottom.
and one time (above), i accidentally sewed some triangles together in a mismatched fashion. it was hurting my brain so bad to figure out how i did that and how to undo it! lol. i was about to just sew them together as they were and let them be a fun feature in the quilt, when i realized what i had done and unpicked it to correct. this was the only unpick in hours of sewing and from nearly a hundred blocks, so i'd say i did pretty well.
at first i played around with pairings of fabrics to come up with different configurations. but eventually i decided that going for highest contrast between the pairings was best as it made the pinwheels the most visible and discernable, and i just stuck to one configuration.
looking back, i should have used more low-volume blenders and a few more bright colors.
friday mornings the grandbaby comes to spend time with granna while his mom goes to the gym. he was quite interested in this quilt.
halfway through the morning, i realized we were wearing matching outfits: we both had denim blue shirts and black leggings on.
let's talk about how this quilt is looking.
i definitely nailed a very specific aesthetic - the scrappy, sort of retro vibe that i see in a lot of australian quilts - in a very fall-feeling palette.
the question is: do i like it?
i'm actually not sure.
i learned a long time ago that blenders matter. don't just use all focal fabrics. you need those quiet, more subtle pretties to make your loud ones stand out and shine.
also, go for contrast in scale and color. mix geometrics with the florals.
1. use more fabrics, the more the better
2. choose a color palette and make sure all your fabrics are in it. lots of colors is fine.
some helpful things i have realized while studying the quilts of jen kingwell:
1. lots of dots; polka dots of all sizes and styles are great.
2. make use of what i call "jen kingwell neutrals" to get her vibe. i see a smattering of these vintage-looking, cream- and gold- and tan-toned blenders in a lot of her quilts. i've started collecting them myself. i was looking at some civil war era reproduction prints the other day and i think that's one category where you can find this type i'm talking about.
these are some in my stash. they aren't the type of fabric print i would have selected before, but i do now.
one thing i decided for sure now that most of the blocks are done - i'm not using "social climber" as my background column fabric. it's just way too busy and the pinwheels get lost against it. i did not spend hours and days making pinwheels for them not to be seen. so i'm on the hunt for a good background.
this quilt is definitely in the "hot mess, what-have-i-done" phase. maybe when i have it put together with a good background i will like it.
it was certainly fun to make; no regrets there.
oh. "what about that name?," you ask.
well, most of the time i was working on this quilt i had a niece here with my daughter. they're best friend cousins and always have been. both of their middle names are elizabeth. i'm considering giving this quilt to cousin elizabeth if i determine she actually really likes it. so "spinning around" plus the elizabeths present made for "spinning elizabeths."