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When Bad Fabric Choices Happen to Good Quilters

Sunday, October 23, 2011 16 Comments »
Maybe a better title would be "Second Guessing:  A Quilter's Guide to Monday Morning Quarterbacking". 

Mystery quilts are always a challenge.  Usually the author of the mystery will give you clues up front, such as which fabric is your focus fabric, and which is your background.  Those clues get you started, but you still need to really understand fabric values as well since the rest of the fabric requirements are things like ".5 yards of a medium light; 1.0 yards of a medium dark".  If you are a newer quilter, this can be very challenging, and the results aren't always what you might have hoped for. 

I did a mystery quilt a number of years ago, back before I had developed a network of experienced quilting friends and before I had a good understanding of fabric choices.  Yes, I knew what a batik was, and I could see that Amy Butler and Kaffe Fasset fabrics were different than traditional fabrics, but I couldn't tell a Civil War repro from a 30's repro. 

I picked my focus fabric based on some colors I liked, ones that would look good in my Family room. 

Then I picked fabrics that would pull some of those colors.  Unfortunately, I wasn't very good at picking the right values, and unwittingly picked a bunch of CW repros that didn't exactly match the feel of the focus fabric.

 
 

That darker paisley just doesn't contrast enough with the dark green, and my white-on-white backgroud was nice, but not for this quilt.  It probably should have been an off-white to blend with the focus fabric better. 

I'd gotten the quilt backing on sale, and whereas it picked up the colors, it was a whole n'other genre.

I finished the top, and liked the overall pattern, but had a mixed vibe about the whole package.  In the mean time, my friend Nancy had turned me on to Civil War repros, so now the idea of those repro fabrics next to the other fabrics didn't sit well.  I guess I was afraid the Quilt Police would come knocking at my door. 

So the flimsey and the backing sat on a shelf.  I found them a few weeks ago and decided to take them to my local longarmer along with some other UFOs -- what the heck, I'd put all that time into it.   Maybe she would wave her magic bobbin and make (as my mother was fond of saying)  a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  At the very least, it would be something to throw on the floor for the grandbabies to crawl on. 

As it turns out, the darned thing isn't bad.  Is it my most favoritest quilt in the world?  No, but damned if my hubby doesn't LOVE it. 


When I hinted that I might be giving it away, he got quite the hurt look on his face and started rambling about how much he loved the colors, the deep, rich tones, and crispness of the pattern.  It was then that I realized that I am my own worst critic -- we quilters are our own worst critics.  Who cares if the fabric genres clash?  Who cares if that background is a little too white?  Why do we kill ourselves with Monday morning quarterbacking when we should just let go and bask in the warmth of someone else's appreciation? 

I don't have a name for this quilt (any suggestions??), but I do have a home for it.  It's folded on the back of Hubby's favorite rocking chair in the family room, and I wouldn't be surprised if he and the cat wrap up in it tonight while they read.  It may not be my cup o' tea, but if it makes him happy, that's alright by me!


16 comments:

Sunnybec said...

When I started reading this I thought "I don't see anything wrong" and I still don't I think if the fabric goes then so be it, like you said who says you can't mix and match, glad your hubby likes it too! You could always call it silk purse or sows ear LOL. Linda

floribunda said...

In could do without that orange, but I think the white background looks fine! I think we've all made poor choices of fabric from time to time, and I agree that we're all too hard on ourselves...

Mrs.Pickles said...

I would have to agree with your husband. I think it is a pretty darn nice quilt. Then again i am not that great at matching fabric..lol

Pat said...

Flori: it's not actually orange, it's gold. My photo just didn't show it well.

Bobbi said...

Well I saw it in the flesh, and like it. I LIKE the jumble of fabric genres, it's all about color and texture and value. Who cares what the print says. Of course I think pretty much all fabrics can work together, excepting batiks require care and a special eye if combining with other fabrics, as do the home-spun kind of wovens.

Diane H said...

It's a lovely quilt. Every one we make is a new learning experiece that's what quilting is all about.

MariƩ said...

This is a beautiful story with a happy ending. I have learned more from my mistakes than from anything else. Not that I see things wrong with this quilt. I hang my quilts in the house. Then I may learn from my mistakes for a month. After that I may just love and enjoy my quilt- if one keep on criticizing it you stop enjoying and then you might want to quit.

Denise in PA said...

You know, I think non-quilters look at fabric differently. I'm amazed at what my husband likes (and he's an artist!). I was also always amazed at what my grandmother thought were fabulous fabric combinations when I took her to quilt shows, but I think it was a generation thing. Sounds like it's perfect if your hubby is happy cuddling up in the quilt!

Blue Ridge Mountains said...

Hey,who is the person we have to please most? Well sounds to me like you did it so forget about the quilt police.

paula, the quilter said...

Ah, the ubiquitous mystery quilt. I am taking a Mystery Quilt sew-in next Saturday and have agonized over the fabric. I've changed my mind several times, but finally landed on a Christmas fabric combo. At least I know the values are right.

regan said...

Before you wrote that your hubby loved it, I was thinking you could lightly tea-dye it, and tone down the white background a bit. But then you wrote that he loves it, so you shouldn't change a thing! It's his quilt now, and you've made him so happy! THAT'S what it's all about! And maybe you should call it something like "My hubby knows best!"....or...."Always listen to hubby!".....he'd probably REALLY love that! lol

Nancy, Near Philadelphia said...

I think the CWs play very nicely with the focus fabric, actually. And I LOVE the gold "ribbons."

Kimberly said...

I LOVE it, Pat. And I'm glad you finished it -- and that it isn't a UFO any longer. I think I'd call it "Hubby Love."

Just saying....

howdidIgethere said...

I think this is a lovely quilt! IMO, lots of fabrics will play together nicely, even if they are from different "genres". Love the focus fabric (but you knew I would..) I suggest "Father knows best".

WV: ousnond -- the lesser-known cousins of the Osmonds

Quilt Hollow said...

I have to say...I agree with your hubby and think it is a very nice quilt...love those colors!

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