Letting the Quilt Design Appear Naturally



This post is part of a series about sewing NotQuilts. If you’re unfamiliar with this method, The NotQuilt series begins here. The link below takes you to the Cat Notquilt project.

Quilt design on the fly can be fraught with peril, as we’ll see this week.

I’ve sewed down the remaining pieces of cat fabric, leaving only the set pieces. I then spent some time thinking about what to do next. Sewing pieces of fabric in place isn’t irrevocable. I can always rip them off. But ripping is a pain and takes time and the fabric could get damaged. I prefer to avoid ripping.

Sometimes I can visualize a clear path that will lead to an interesting result. But after going back and forth for awhile, nothing appeared that suited me. Time to go to plan B: Sew patches down and hope for the best.

I began with the dark blue angel cat patches as they are the most irregular in shape. The lighter green kitten fabric contrasted strongly with that dark blue so I started squaring the dark blue angel cat with pieces of green kitten, cut to fit. The goal is to make the sides of the patches reasonably straight. It will be easier then to fit new rectangles of fabric over the remaining blank surface of the comforter.

As I sewed on the green kittens, I thought about what to do next. When I placed a piece (or several pieces) alongside each dark blue angel cat fabric, I stopped and looked at the NotQuilt lying on the floor.

The dark blue angel cat fabrics are widely scattered. It seemed that I could work from each separate piece and fill in around it and eventually, the green kitten fabric and the darker green cat head fabric would meet and fill in all the blank spaces.

So I began sewing on the darker green cat head fabric, filling in the blank spaces.

Quilt Design: Looking Ahead

This is what the quilt design looks like now.

quilt design

I can see two problems. First, there is the good possibility that I won’t have enough green kitten or darker green cat head fabric to fill in all that dull rose empty space.

It is even more likely that I won’t have enough of either set fabric to make a border to fill in the space between the edges of the patchwork and the binding (light or dark green depending on how much of those sheets I have left).

More critically, I’m going to have odd, blank spaces left where green kittens meet green kittens, and where darker green cat heads meet darker green cats. I do not want any identical pieces of fabric to touch. That means very careful piecing of very small pieces of cloth to avoid this. That leads to using up plenty of fabric as there is always some waste and I don’t have any additional fabric to spare.

There are two alternatives to this quilt design. I can, (*gasp!*) buy more fabric with cats on it. Or, I can dig through the stash looking for something that looks acceptable.

I will go with alternative number two and not worry about the odd blank spots. I will leave them alone until I’ve sewn down all the set pieces, using up all the green kittens and cat head fabrics. Then I’ll see how much blank space is left over. I’ll cut the binding and see how much fabric is left over from that task. If I have enough binding fabric left over, I will use it to fill in the interstitials, thus tying the surface design to the binding.

Necessity is the mother of invention, but thrift is a close relative. Limitations can force a design to become more interesting by pushing you to think in unconventional ways. We’ll see.