SEW I SEE!

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WIP: Bitcoin Quilt

After finishing a few older WIP and UFO quilt tops, it felt like time to start something new.  I thought “Bitcoin”, designed by Bonnie Hunter, might be a good choice for something easy and fun.  

“Bitcoin” also seemed like a good way to use up some of the fabric I have that’s too busy for use in most of the patterns I gravitate toward.  Some of this is fabric bought on clearance, pretty much only because it was on clearance.  Some of it is stuff I chose back before I had actually made many quilts, before I fully realized that wildly multi-colored fabric, while often beautiful, can be trickier to use than fabric with more subdued color schemes.  (The same thing is true for variegated yarn.  You can definitely use it, but it can be limiting and more work to find a pattern that looks “right” in a strongly variegated yarn.)  

This fabric—novelty prints, oversized florals, busy and colorful designs—has been accumulating over time.  I wanted to put some of it to use, and I had a mental image of “Bitcoin” as something that would accommodate lots of wild prints and multi-color fabric and somehow tone them down and make them blend together pleasingly.  

However, once I looked at the pattern again, I saw that it wasn’t quite so crazy with busy fabric as I’d remembered.  It’s scrappy, yes, but in the versions I saw online, most of the fabric used isn’t large-scale prints or busy multi-color stuff.  Still, I’d already pulled the fabric, so I thought I’d give it a try.  (I really wanted to make a dent in that weird fabric collection!)

I cut and sewed some of the units, then put them on the design wall and looked at it.  

It was a little cuckoo, to be honest…

I felt I had three choices:

One:  Abandon the project as planned.  Put what I’d already sewed and cut into my string bags for later use and possibly try the pattern again, another time, with a less chaotic fabric selection.

Two:  Keep what I had, but pull in more subtle prints for the rest of the quilt, in the hope that the newly added fabric would drown out the noise of the units already sewn and create a more calm quilt.  

Three:  Decide there was no point in turning back now, keep sewing, and see what happens.  

I did a combination of 2 and 3, leaning more toward the latter.  That meant pulling in more black and things that read at least a bit more like solids and laying off some of the prints that seemed to fare the worst, in terms of contrast.  But mostly, I just kept going.  After all, I’d already cut quite a few strips of the busy/loud prints, I still wanted to get them sewn up into something.  

My mantra became, “If it’s too bad when it’s done, the dogs won’t mind.”  

Gradually, the design wall began to fill up:

It looked chaotic.  Not my idea of a dream quilt, but still fun to make, and if I hate how it looks, it can always be a dog quilt. 

This has taught me a lesson, though.  (Maybe.  Probably.  It’s one I apparently need to be taught repeatedly in order for it to fully sink in…)  

That lesson is this:  Life is too short to worry about trying to use up fabric you don’t love.  (Or at least like.)  

If I were sewing quilts purely for warmth or utility—sewing on a strict budget with limited options—it would be different.  But I’m not.  I’m fortunate enough to have a closet full of beautiful (to me) fabric that I’ve bought or been given as gifts, and I want to use some of it while I have the chance and am still in the quilt-making phase of my life!  I’m going to start using the good stuff NOW.  

I’m sure I’ll still sew fabric that, strictly speaking, isn’t my absolute favorite—especially as part of string and crumb projects—but I’m not going to feel I always have to eat my vegetables (i.e. use up the less-loved, difficult fabric) before I can dig into the delicious carbs and gravy.  It’s time to enjoy the best bits without any silly, self-imposed rules!  

…Some of these harder-to-use fabric may end up as backings.  That’s a perfectly valid use for fabric, too, after all.  I’ve been working my way through some flannel for backings, but sometimes I’d prefer the cooler surface of smooth quilting cotton.

Well, that’s my resolution, to stop saving good things for some unknown time in the future.  Use it while the using’s good, and enjoy it while you can.  If these treasures are ever used up, there’s more good stuff out there to find, if you need it.  

I have a feeling it won’t be easy to break old habits, but it’s worth a try!

When the design wall was fairly full, the time had come to sew the units into longer strips.  After joining up all the pieces into strips, I found I still had less than half what I needed for the quilt!  Back to the cutting mat!  

The wall slowly being depleted of smaller strips:

The finished strips are hanging over a closet door, where they’ll probably stay until it’s time to determine the final layout:

And that’s where this project stands, as of now.  I cut a bunch more strips, and before too long will have another full wall of sub-units waiting to be joined into long columns.  More on this as it comes together!

Welcome!

I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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