I have a terrible habit of buying fabric that I like just because I like it, but with no specific plan in mind. (Actually, I do that with a lot of craft materials. Hi, my name is Heulwen and I am addicted to craft materials.) Because I’m aware that I do this, though, I try to limit how often I go into fabric shops or ebay looking for fabric (my bank balance thanks me for this).
This restraint is sort of helped by the fact that I currently live in darkest West Wales and there just aren’t that many fabric shops here. We’re not totally bereft though, and what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality, with a really good fabric shop (Annie Washbrook’s) just outside Newport, Pembrokeshire. It’s one of my favourite places to shop; I can spend hours in there and they have a great range of patchwork fabrics, as well as pretty much every other kind of fabric you can think of.
Anyway, quite a long time ago (we’re talking years, here) I bought a couple of fat quarter packs. One was black prints on white fabric and the other was white batik on black fabric. The contrasts in style and colour fascinated me and with eight fat quarters in each bundle, I felt there was enough to do something interesting with – possibly a bed quilt. A general lack of knowledge stymied me, though, and I wasn’t sure how to arrange the black and white fabrics to best effect so they languished in a storage box. Some time later, I again found myself in Annie’s and poking around in a pile of end-of-bolt fabrics. Among them was a large piece of shocking pink batik fabric. As soon as I saw it, I realised that it was the perfect fabric to team up with my blacks and whites and it came home with me. I’m not usually a pink person in the slightest, but the visual impact of that pink among the blacks and whites was just what I was looking for.
Again though, my fabrics languished because I simply didn’t know what to do next and wasn’t confident enough to start cutting my fabric in case I made a mess and wasted it. Eventually I made a start on my Bargello, which was intended to give me some confidence and practice on pre-cut fabric before I tried cutting my own. Going to Quilt Club also boosted my confidence a lot. I’d seen the Disappearing Nine-Patch pattern online while researching quilt designs for the Wedding quilt and had decided that it would be perfect for my Black and White and Pink All Over quilt idea, but I still wasn’t quite brave enough to cut into my precious fat quarters. On another visit to Annie’s fabric shop, I found the very thing to help me – a 5″ charm pack of assorted earth-toned batik designs (I REALLY like batiks). I bought them because I liked them, but then realised they were perfect to use as a “practice” Disappearing Nine-Patch project when teamed up with a sort of pinky-orange mottled fabric I already had (where *that* came from I have no idea):
(It really doesn’t go with the sofa!) Before I pieced it, I checked the charm squares and found that they were very much not square, so I ended up squaring them up to 4 3/4″ squares, which made life a bit interesting when I came to slice up the nine-patches. But other than the ooops in the middle, which I made into a feature because I didn’t have a choice, this was the neatest thing I’d done to date. Stefani gave me information about butting the seams together and it really made a difference. It’s still in this state, though – it’s not very big and I’m not sure what I want to do with it. As a proof-of-concept piece, though, it’s done its job.
Anyway, I finally felt brave enough to cut up my black, white and pink fabrics (in rather more helpful 5″ squares). After spending a lot of time randomising my squares, piecing them, slicing them up, arranging them, and piecing them again, I ended up with this:
I had enough cut squares to make 24 blocks, but I didn’t want to make a rectangular quilt so I pieced a 25th block by cutting and piecing the component squares and rectangles from left-over fabric. The blocks were laid out so that, as far as possible, pieces with the same design did not touch. When arranging the blocks, I found other peoples’ observations very useful – I’d laid out a section of quilt and my aunt asked me what the design with the hearts was. I honestly had no idea what she was referring to until I looked again and realised that I’d placed a lot of black batik hearts in a cluster. I don’t think I would have noticed unless someone else had pointed it out for me. The blocks got rearranged and I ended up with a much better distribution of designs across the quilt.
The B&W&P All Over quilt still needs a border – I’m planning plain black appliqued with simple flowers cut from the shocking pink batik (I still have lots left). Unfortunately, the last time I visited Annie’s fabric shop the black fabric she had wasn’t the right shade – yes, that can happen with black too. I really must go back and see if she’s ordered in more…