Monday, March 9, 2015

Is Desultory a Quilter's Term?


A porch railing I saw at a Chinese museum inspires my upcoming quilt pattern named Peace and Prosperity using the Dargate Treasury fabrics. I think you will be pleased with the simple piecing. A one-inch sashing creates the porch railing and the Dargate Treasury floral stripe fills the negative space. Two blocks, measuring 7 x 23 inches each, alternate to produce the pattern in the porch railing. In the Dargate Treasury collection, there are four lovely color ways of the floral stripe fabric. I am obsessed with wanting to use at least two of them in one project. I chose the cream colored floral stripe and the aqua colored floral stripe with the red fabric that coordinates with both colors as the sashing.

It should work. Look at the perfect companionship of the color dots.


I tested the pattern by making a prototype of a table runner with just two fabrics from my stash. It turned out great, but I wanted to explore the versatility of the porch railing design and also try using two color ways. So I decided to try a wall quilt with a 4-patch configuration. There would be four panels containing three blocks each, two panels with the cream floral stripe and red sashing and two panels with the darker, aqua floral stripe and red sashing. The panels would be placed as a light/dark four patch. I had a wonderful time sewing them, but up on the design wall, something was wrong. The fabric combinations looked lovely together, but...


I asked my non-quilter husband for his opinion which he gave without hesitation, "It's desultory." What?! That's not a quilter's term. Seconds later, I have the dictionary app open. Desultory: lacking in consistency, or visible order, disconnected. Okay, I get it. Sometimes you just need a non-quilter husband with an objective point of view and a vocabulary better than your own.

There were two things not working right. First, the two alternating blocks, which create the pattern of the porch railing, need to end in an odd number of blocks across and down so that the left and right sides (and top and bottom) of the quilt match. Some blocks are like that. The 4-patch configuration had six blocks across and two blocks down. By ending in an even number of blocks and not matching on the sides or top and bottom, it was out of balance. We admire artistic asymmetry in today's modern quilts, but this was not that. This was just, plain off-balance.

The other problem was that the red sashing gave pop to the cream floral stripe, but lacked the same enthusiasm with the aqua floral stripe, probably because of value issues. Another Dargate Treasury coordinating fabric that would be perfect with the aqua is the cream colored tiny swallow fabric. I love that one and I'm getting inspiration to create a paper-pieced or appliqué swallow.

The solution--go back to the original inspiration from the unique porch railing and make a table runner with the cream colored floral and red sashing. If you are wondering about the fate of the aqua pieces that were already sewn together, they make a lovely pillow.

The pattern which will be coming out with the Dargate Treasury fabric in May will include instructions for adjustable length table runners, placemats, and pillows and guidelines for how to "grow your quilt" into various larger sizes that maintain balance and help you avoid a critique of "desultory."

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