Evaluating the Dragon Princess Grid

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This post is part of a series about sewing NotQuilts. If you’re unfamiliar with this method, The NotQuilt series begins here.

I finished sewing down the Dragon Princess grid. It makes a grid, I’ll say that. A very pink grid. A wide, large pink grid. It’s really pink.

Dragon Princess grid

That brown smudge in the middle is a stuffed mouse.

It doesn’t look like what I had hoped in the blurry image I had in my mind’s eye. It may seem that I know where I’m going, with a clear picture in my head, but often, I really don’t. It is more of a sensation, a feeling, a rightness.

So I have this very large, very pink grid. I wanted, I envisioned Dragon Princesses sprawling across the surface of the NotQuilt with every strip, both horizontal and vertical, showing how the design motif moved across the surface of the fabric. You would look at the grid and see how the design was laid out.

That didn’t happen.

My vertical strips were cut incorrectly, so that the vertical strips did not march across the surface of the blue blanket and you could see where the cut side of one Dragon Princess matched up with the cut side of the next vertical strip. Instead, the outermost strips, one and six, fell correctly and then strips two, three, four, and five, while they are internally consistent, do not line up with strips one and six.

Then, to add to the mismatch, I had to piece the bottoms of vertical strips two, three, four, and five, ensuring that the design motif did not march up the strip in a continuous line.

The horizontal strips were better and worse. They are better in that all six strips, one, two, three, four, five, and six, line up nicely from top to bottom for the first three columns. Column number four is problematic as that is where I had to start piecing the horizontal strips. Column number five doesn’t match up and down as that is where I was sewing on the fabric I had, to fill out the horizontal bar.

Dragon princess grid

To add to the design confusion, the placement of the motifs on the vertical strips are in no way related to the motifs on the horizontal strips.

In addition, portions of the fabric on the vertical strips are covered by the seam margins of the horizontal strips, making the design flow even more awkward.

dragon princess grid

You can see the overlap to the right of Ivan’s head.

Dragon Princess was simply too large a design motif for this kind of layout. A very small print would have flowed evenly across the fashion face, concealing any mismatches in design.

This is why most sensible quilters use an itty-bitty print for sashes and frames and not a pattern with an offset design motif that is 24 by 36 inches across. Itty-bitty prints not only match better, they conceal their seams better than solid colors.

Dragon Princess, laid out in a grid, hides nothing. Not a single design mismatch, not a seam. It all shows. The unintended result is that the fashion face coordinates well with the backing fabric, as that has, (remember?) a huge flaw running right up the middle with cut-in-half Dragon Princesses where I didn’t railroad the fabric at the seam.

The mismatch can be seen on the right side of the photo.

I wanted to use up this immense piece of cloth and I did. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking through the practical problems. I could “see” the finished design, loose and blurry, and I thought it would work out in the end.

Now, I realize that there isn’t any way to get the effect I was seeing in my head. I could have covered the entire fashion face of the NotQuilt with Dragon Princess, top to bottom and side to side, properly railroaded at all the seams and then cut away squares of fabric leaving a grid behind. The resulting grid, surrounding empty squares that would be filled in with Roman stripes, still wouldn’t have given the complete picture of Dragon Princess as half of it would have been missing, even if the seams did match up.

In the end, I could have measured and cut every bit of the vertical grid perfectly in length, both the two outermost longer strips and the four inner shorter strips. I could have spaced the vertical bars more carefully across so that a full horizontal strip would have covered four columns and matched the last part of the horizontal strip at the seams. It would not have mattered. The vertical and horizontal strips would have never lined up with each other.

I also didn’t think it through how the Roman stripes would conceal the Dragon Princess motifs. That will probably turn out to be a good thing.

Even unfinished, Dragon Princess looks like nothing else. She is unique. I suppose that it will all work out in the end. I’ll have a finished NotQuilt that used up a ton of scrap and it will be warm, washable, and repairable.

Next week: I’ll begin constructing the Roman stripes.