Saturday, October 31, 2009

Don’t be afraid….

Every year our quilt guild has a challenge where any member may participate in making a quilt to meet specific guidelines, and then enter the quilt for judging at our annual show.  One year, we did what was called a “Crayon Challenge”.   Each quilter had to reach into a brown paper bag and pull out one crayon.  Whatever color crayon you chose, you had to use that color as the predominate color in your quilt.  I decided to give it a try.  The crayon color I chose was “red orange”.

I was unsure as to what pattern to use, when I saw this photo in a quilt magazine:
a calendula 1
It seemed to fit the bill.  A pretty flower done in predominantly red orange.  But,  here is what the pattern looked like:
Calendula blueprint
There were over 100 pieces!  I must have been crazy.  This paper pieced pattern was well beyond anything I had ever done, but this was supposed to be a challenge, right?  I didn’t have a single red orange fabric in my stash, so of course, a trip to the fabric store was a must.  At least that part was fun.

I took my time, and I eventually got the central flower satisfactorily pieced:
Now the question was what to do with it.  It turns out that the paper piecing was easy compared to figuring out how to set off this central flower to it’s best advantage, keeping to mostly a red orange color scheme.  I added a pieced border, and then attempted an applique border.  Here is what I eventually came up with:
I think the overall design was a failure.  I didn’t like it at all. The bright orange triangular border detracts from the center.  The appliqued vines are too wide for this small piece, and I wish I had, well, I wish I had done a lot of things differently.

The height of  frustration came when I was quilting.  I had done some very small stipple quilting using monofilament thread all around the flower.  When I was almost finished, I turned the quilt over and saw this:

What a project THAT was, to rip out those tiny monofilament threads enough to release the piece of green fabric that had manage to hitchhike it’s way onto the back.

So, what does one do with an orange and black quilt?  Well, take it out every Halloween of course, so here it is.  This quilt continues to be a challenge to me.  Every year, it’s a challenge  to look at it and not think of all the things I wish I had done differently.  BUT.... entering the challenge was a great experience and it forced me to stretch my quilting self in ways I would not have done otherwise.
I actually sat down and made a list of the things I did on this quilt that I had never done before.
  • complicated paper piecing
  • working in a limited color palette
  • designing my own applique
  • use of monofilament thread for quilting
  • free motion stippling
Successful or not, these were all steps on my quilting journey that I might not have taken otherwise. So don't be afraid, and

       Happy Halloween!!


  1. Well I think the quilt was a success, for one thing you learned some different things on it and that is always a big plus!

  2. Great post! Thanks for sharing both the quilt and the story.


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