Scrap Quilt in Solids, Bad Intersections and Lessons Learned
I just finished a quilt top and now that it’s done I can say that I like it. But along the way, I hated this thing. Too much stitch-and-flip, too many ugly intersections and not nearly enough forgiveness for my style of sewing. None of this was the fault of the designer, Erika Bea, or the publisher of the pattern, American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. The blame lands squarely on me, and we’ll get to that in a minute.
It’s called Color Catcher, and it will look all right from the back of a galloping horse—which is a very old quilter’s mantra of unknown origin. I took a few lessons away from this project.
The first one is that when you’re making a scrap quilt, defined as a quilt with many, many different fabrics, the blocks by themselves can be pretty ugly. It’s the overall effect you’re going for, not beauty or “matching” the fabrics in each block.
On the contrary, I tried hard not to have the fabrics in each block coordinate. I knew from studying the original quilt that the fabrics could be all over the place within each block.
Do you see what I mean? They’re not attractive when viewed by themselves.
You might even say they’re ugly. Or yoogly, in my world.
On my handout for the trunk show called “Make Extraordinary Scrap Quilts,” the first tip is “It’s ugly at first. Just keep sewing.” That applies here. I kept on sewing and things turned out all right.
The second lesson in Color Catcher was that solid fabrics just aren’t very forgiving. You can get away with some imperfect intersections if you’re using prints, but with solids, every bit that you’re off glares like a spotlight.
For every perfect intersection like the ones above, there were three like the ones below. This happens to me when I stitch and flip, no matter how hard I try or how many coping skills I use. For me it’s an inherently flawed technique.
I had an awful lot of points that were cut off, ajar or wonky. And not in a good way.
I used to be a pretty good piecer. My work was reasonably precise. But these days I sew in a hurry because I’m usually building a new trunk show and I’m anxious to be done. And I just don’t care that much any more. I’m not making show quilts. I’m making quilts for the fun of it or to give to someone I love who, honestly, won’t know the difference.
So when this happens, I’m inclined to leave it alone and just move on. Maybe that’s a lesson in itself: Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s easy to say that now, but as I pieced Color Catcher, I was very unhappy with the inaccuracy of my piecing. I had to ease and fudge and fiddle with every block. Eventually I gave up on accuracy and just shot for finishing it. I decided to buy in to “Finished is better than perfect.”
And the final lesson was this: I always cut way more patches than I need for a scrap quilt. I guess I want options, or maybe I’m overly enthusiastic at the start when the cutting must be done. I had dozens and dozens of extra patches when the quilt top was complete, so I sewed a bunch of them together and added two bold prints to create a backing.
At this point I can say that I really like this one. I think quilting will pull the whole thing together—I’m wondering about an edge-to-edge motif, something modern. Or maybe a small grid of squares. I think paisley shapes from edge to edge would be nice. Still thinking about all of that.
This quilt becomes part of “Make Extraordinary Scrap Quilts.” And now I’m off to make another scrap quilt or to finish up a UFO, TBD.
Find the pattern for Color Catcher in the April 2019 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. It doesn’t seem to be available online, so check your library when life starts up again or find a friend who has a subscription.
Follow the designer: @hello.erikabea on Instagram.