My favorite finish so far

I love this quilt.

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As soon as Rachel started posting sneak peaks of the projects for her penny sampler class (now available as an ebook), I knew I would be first in line.

I learned a lot of new skills and honed some others.

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But what surprised me was how much this project changed the way I think about all of my projects. (I wrote some of my initial thoughts about this here.)

I wanted to understand why I love this quilt so much, and why I didn’t tire of it during the process. Certainly some of it has to do with the sampler nature of the quilt. Each week brought different challenges and experiences. And then there’s the fact that I used just under 100 different fabrics. That kept it interesting – always something new to look at and enjoy.

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But I don’t think it’s just that. I think I enjoy challenging, complex quilts. Quilts that you don’t let anyone touch for a year after you finish it. True present-day heirlooms.

In 2014 I really want to choose my projects carefully. For me, I think a little extra planning and deliberation are worth it. I’d rather make fewer quilts, but really love them.

My color scheme developed quite a bit over the course of the project. It started here:

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Various shades of teal and aqua and pool blue. A touch of purple.

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I thought my accents would be the pink and orange fabrics on the right.

Over time my pinks and oranges softened to peach and I added more purple.

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I didn’t realize it at the time but now I’m certain I was influenced by this post about peach and jade. So pretty together, especially against the white background with just a little black here and there. I didn’t set out to make this my color scheme, but I loved it so much that I started buying a lot of peach fabric… and then just started adding them to the quilt!

About 1/3 of the 100 fabrics I used are Anna Maria Horner. I think that helped to ground and focus the color scheme.

I challenged myself in this quilt to avoid solids almost entirely… unless absolutely necessary or beneficial. The reason being that many of the quilts that have made me gasp aloud with delight this year have been made without solids (off the top of my head: Sarah Fielke, Sarah @ No Hats and Jess @ Elven Garden).

The citron is the only true solid in the quilt. It caught my eye at a quilt shop and somehow ended up in my penny sampler stack. I used it to create a “lights on upstairs” effect in my little village. (By the way, how amazing would a little village tree skirt be?)

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Otherwise the fabrics that appear solid are actually quilter’s linen or Architextures crosshatch. Up close that little bit of visual texture makes a difference.

I kept the back of the quilt simple, but I used one of my favorite Anna Maria Horner prints to make it special.

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I like to think of it as “the dark side;” a little surprise when you lift the corner and peak underneath. It’s hard to see in this photo, but the side panels are a thin black and white stripe.

I chose my quilting design and binding with complete disregard for the backing because I don’t consider this quilt to be necessarily reversible. I outline quilted all of the “picture” blocks and diamonds and put a cross or X in most of the others. It took a while! But I was concerned that anything else would take away from the beautiful block designs and fabrics. (Except maybe hand quilting, as Laura of Little and Lots plans to do with her gorgeous Christmas version. If I didn’t already have a big hand quilting project going I would definitely have done that).

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I really wanted to use this stripe as the binding, but I was worried about how it would look with the backing fabrics. I decided not to let that stop me, but in the end I think it actually isn’t too bad even on the back. Perhaps even mismatched fabrics look like they belong together once they’ve been sewn?

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This quilt will live in my guest room, but it’ll be a while before I let anyone sleep under it.

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(It should go without saying that I’ll be obnoxiously linking up with every link party that remotely applies: Finish it up Friday, Paper Piecing Party, TGIFF, ASWC).

Penny sampler: first fabric pull

Have you seen the Penny Sampler class over at Stitched in Color? I’m a pretty big fan of Rachel’s, so of course I was “in line” (online) early the morning registration started.

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This quilt is truly epic- the kind of quilt that takes real time and effort and ends in supreme satisfaction. I am so excited to get started.

I’m toying with the idea of making 2 of these… Or maybe just making the main blocks each twice and using them in some gifts. It seems like it’s hardly any more effort once you get each block figured out. The lovely Laura from Little and Lots had the brilliant idea to do Christmas colors. It’d be fun to do a second set of blocks and use them for Christmas presents.

First things first though: I have to gather my first fabric pull for the project. I’ve said it before and I really believe it: fabric selection is the most important part of making a quilt.

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The first picture shows the main scheme I’m thinking: teal, turquoise and pool blue. The second shot shows backgrounds (black, white, and every shade of gray from barely gray to deep steel blue gray) as well as accents (pink and orange). My backgrounds are all prints- I’m loving texts especially right now. Obviously this fabric pull is a big shout out to Anna Maria Horner, probably because I’m a little enamored of her.

A few more detail shots just for fun:

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If you’re really observant you may have noticed that this color scheme is a bit familiar- as seen in this mini and this teacup block. I was somewhat intentionally testing this color scheme when I took on these smaller projects. I like the results in both cases so full speed ahead I guess!

Lastly, tomorrow is the last day for the You Show Me Yours I’ll Show You Mine linky party!! If you have been waiting till the last minute don’t forget to link up tomorrow by midnight!