Friday, 5 August 2016

A dots, spots and stripes obsession

Having made this quilt by Chris Jurd last year, I was up for another challenge.

She makes the most amazing paper pieced quilt patterns and so this time I picked her You Little Beauty pattern which is supposed to look like this:

I was also fascinated by the graffiti artist Jason Woodside (I stalk him on Instagram @jasonwoodside) and I thought it would be really interesting to see what a quilt would look like made in vibrant colours but only with dots, spots and stripes.

I didn't actually have many in my fabric hoard so asked to swap on Instagram and received some incredibly generous packages, including one from @narthexart who offered to screen print me my own collection of prints. I think they add a real individual zing to the quilt.

And off I started.

With a tidy quilt room and a neatly stacked basket of possibilities.

Then I got the bright idea that it would be really good to use all the little left over scraps you end up with from paper piecing and turn that in to the quilt back.

It's not necessarily one of the quickest nor brightest of ideas I've ever had but for the moment, I'm still doing it.

I'd like to tell you the pattern comes together really quickly.

But it doesn't.

Especially when you decide to deviate from the pattern and make it longer and therefore bigger.

But then it becomes a metaphor for life; don't give up, keep going to the very end.
What's the point of life if we don't challenge ourselves from time to time?

And I constantly struggled with the idea of 'perfect' versus 'good'.
So much so that I've even named the quilt which is not what I normally do.

There is definitely a cut-off point from striving for perfection and enjoying the process; where that is, is different for each person.

Will people look at this quilt and think it is a riot of colour and just enjoy it for what it is?

Or will critical eyes scan over it and point out all the missed points and joins?

Do I feel comfortable with my idea of perfection?

No, I'm going to go back and sort out some of the missed joins but it is too late and life is too short to worry about the less than completely perfect points in some of the curved arcs.

Hence its name: The Cut Off Point.

So finally, I got the whole centre of the quilt top finished.

And it was time to think about the borders.

I followed the original pattern which was wavy half, followed by a quieter fabric to straighten the edges.

I made the upper and lower edge borders, sewed them on and disliked them almost immediately.

Suddenly, the eye was drawn to the black and white polka dot fabric and the dramatic impact of the quilt was softened.

I didn't want any one piece of fabric to take centre stage and now one was. I do get the concept of giving the eyes somewhere to rest but in this case I felt the eyes drifting into inertia.

So I unpicked the black border and thought it would be rather fun to actually have the striping, pointy wavy section of the border as the edge of the quilt.

But it was still not right. By doing that I had made the borders too narrow and the balance of border versus blocks didn't work.

I took them out and remade and with one border on and the next started, I am much happier.

The borders you draft yourself so I am just making the spikes random widths and then keeping the whole foundation paper strip neatly clipped together, slowly unraveling a piece as and when I need to.

And that's where I'm at so far.

It's become an obsession; a battle of mind over matter. There are other things I want to make but until I've finished this, everything else has fallen by the wayside.

As you can probably see...


  1. I LOVE your spotty,dotty, stripy version. When I saw the basket of fabrics I couldn't see how it would work. But, as always, you are right. What a great quilt, and you are right again about the borders you have chosen. Magnificent. Love the before and after photos of your sewing room. Makes me feel a lot better about my messy sewing room!

  2. What a brilliant idea, to use all those spots and stripes. I love the wildness of it!

  3. I belong to the Finished Is Better Than Perfect school of thought, and to me, your quilt looks wonderful: riotous, exuberant and brilliant. I don't give a damn about your points, but kudos to you that you demand more from yourself. I confess I like the juxtaposition of the black spot and the coloured border and I'd have kept the black, but a much narrower strip of it. What matters is that you are now loving where you are!
    The floor of your sewing room is exactly why I have polished wooden floorboards.... :-) So much easier to simply sweep up the bits.

  4. It looks truly fabulous and you are so right about perfection! I used to tell my students there were different levels of perfection and while it's great to strive for the top sometimes it's better to be happy with our very best, and as you say we are meant to be enjoying the process.

  5. I absolutely love this quilt! I think your use of pattern and color is brilliant and the movement you've created by using those elements so thoughtfully (subconsciously or not) makes this quilt that much more appealing to the eye. This goes beyond a's an art piece. Really beautiful!

  6. Wow! Amazing! Of course there will always be people who look for imperfections but they will be in a minority and the rest of us will enjoy looking at the riot of colour and curves and spots and stripes and general stupendousness of it.
    I don't envy you the tidying up afterwards!!

  7. You did a fabulous job on your quilt. That would be so outside my box but you make me want to try it. I love all of your fabric choices. Thanks for the surprise ending! I wasn't expecting to see such a creative sewing room. LOL Sometimes we think everyone has a tidy sewing room but us.

  8. I have this pattern and will probably start mine in 2017. Love what you did with it.

  9. Spectacular! What a process! I just see vibrant colors and designs. Anyone looking for imperfections misses the beauty of this quilt!!! Thank you for sharing. I especially loved the pix of your sewing room!!! The workroom of a woman in bliss!

  10. I love what you're doing here. Such work and dedication and the love of color. Perfect. If this quilt is only for you, fix what really bothers you most and live with what you can. As for a place for the eyes to rest, have you considered using the black polka dot as a 1-2" sashing between the center and the borders? If not the harsher black, perhaps a navy polka dot. I love navy myself. It's a perfect color to me, not quite black but certainly a grounding color. Love that you shared your journey with us.

    tushay3 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  11. Yes the wider border does look better. Don't stress about it all. It's supposed to be fun! Didn't realise about the back. What an effort! Maybe just a strip down the middle?

  12. I loved reading about this all in one post (that's the downside of IG I think, not enough narrative in one place!)
    It looks incredible and makes a bold statement about your patience and persistence :-)

  13. omg!! i am blown away with your talent! amazing times ten! yay for you! really, wow! thank you tons for sharing- you are such an inspiration! :)

  14. This quilt is a real masterpiece. Looking forward to seeing it finished.

  15. Love this! It is a riot of colour and a real celebration. It's always hard to decide what to be particular about and how to keep the joy and spontaneity. Too bad about others' eyes: yours are fabulous! I think your decision about the spotty border is a good one and love how this has come together!

  16. Wow! It is amazing! And you are even more amazing for sticking with it and finishing it before moving onto another project. And for remaking the border - that is a lot of unpicking. It looks great!
    I wouldn't worry too much about the points -- that is to say, *I* would worry about them but *you* shouldn't be a neurotic mess like me. ;)

  17. This is just amazing. There is so much to look at that I can't even imagine being picky about points. I love it!!!

  18. Absolutely gorgeous... I don't care about the points, too. It's simply beautiful :-)

  19. I dont even know where to begin! ..... beautiful....

  20. Alison I am curious about whether you have had any background in art training, such as college classes. You have such a wonderful eye for color and design. If it is just your own sense of color and design you are a very naturally talented artist.

  21. Perfect... such a challenge overwhelms me, I know that where I am now with quilting and sewing I couldn't even start a project like that. your my Fabric hero!


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