Making a scrap quilt has taught me the importance of editing my blocks. Editing in writing makes sense; even though I’m loath to part with words that are hard won in time and inspiration, the finished piece will always be tighter and read better for a bit of care and attention and the brutal cutting of some of my lovely words. I’d not really made the connection to quilting before these scrap quilts (for there are now definitely going to be two – see my last SugarBlock Club post for the plan), my quilts had been made with variations on a colour, or were bought together as a bundle and then added to, or simply had a really clear visual style from the get go.
These blocks, scrappiest of the scrappy, did not. In the first few months I simply pulled the fabrics that I thought looked good together, looking at the existing blocks for a bit of reference, but not overly fussed about finding a cohesive whole while I had so few to put together.
As the months have gone on I’ve found that the precise colour scheme started to reveal itself, and the more I lifted and laid out the blocks, and moved them around and put them back, the more one or two started to niggle at me, and I knew they needed a do-over.
I tried to leave it as long as I could bear it, but with the end clearly in sight, and only two months’ left to go, it was time to tackle the miscreants so that I would no longer try to hide them in the corners where it might not matter. If you’re going to go to all the trouble of making quilt blocks and then turning them into a quilt then that’s a serious investment of time, so they need to earn their keep and be perfectly beautiful, not hidden.
On careful examination, three were up for the chop.
The first was this one from February, and in it’s original incarnation it was fine apart from the corners. The quilts I’m making are warm colours and the green is cool, and it just jars. I know I’ve written before that I was going to pull it apart and do it again, and now I really have:
Blue spotty corners and it all works perfectly. The pulling apart wasn’t as bad as I thought either; I just took it back to its constituent elements and added in new half square triangles on the corners, which gave me confidence to tackle the next candidate, and another of the blocks with the pretty but all wrong green print.
This wasn’t so much a problem with the colour clashing as the colours being too close; you can’t really see all those pretty triangles, they just blur into one big splodge no matter how much I convince myself I can make it pop with the quilting (is that the quilting equivalent of a knitter’s “it’ll all block out”?).
So off the borders came. I only needed to remake the central flying geese, everything else stayed the same and put back together quite happily, but you can see the difference when I overlay two of the old flying geese; there just wasn’t enough distinction between the two fabrics at that sort of scale to make it work.
The final editing was a block that I thought I liked, and I do still really like, even though I’ve redone it.
It’s the other block from March and as soon as I’d sorted out those borders it became the one that I was hiding at the bottom of the pile, and so it had to change. It wasn’t bad per se, it just didn’t quite sit right, and as the seam ripper and I were old friends by that point, off came the borders and on went new ones.
This is probably the most dramatic of all the changes and it gives it a lightness and a freshness compared to its predecessor.
And so we’re all ready to power through to the finished, there isn’t a block left that I try to hide away without realising it and that puts me a good step nearer to turning them all into quite. I’m trying to tell myself that the first versions weren’t failed blocks, so much as teachable moments; for all that sometimes it feels like treading water to go back and redo the blocks I’m certain that I’ll be able to pick fabric for a scrap quilt with a much more intelligent eye than when I started this one, so the earlier versions are just part of the evolution of these quilts. Now on to evolve the final months!