What makes a quilt successful? My local quilt guild is large and active, with approximately 150 members meeting monthly. A feature of each meeting is show and tell. We have so many talented quilters in the group, and I always enjoy seeing their work. Sometimes, though, I can’t figure out why one quilt is especially interesting or attractive to me. Certainly there are many different elements at work, including design, color use, and skill of execution.
As you know, I think a lot about quilting and I study designs and photos, trying to discern what makes a good quilt. This will be different for each quilter, depending on their tastes and talents. Exaggeration or repetition of design or color, and spotlighting your best talents while minimizing your weaknesses, are ways to create successful quilts. One author commented that we are often drawn to quilts that have a quirky or unexpected element, and she goes on to suggest that an exaggerated approach can work best. How do you use this in your projects?
For example, what do you do with large prints? By nature, they are exaggerated. It seems like there are a couple of different philosophies on this. One is to showcase the print, using it in large, alternating blocks, in the border, or in long sashing or alternating strips. The other is to cut the print in small pieces, allowing you to sort the patches by value, if not by color. Chopping it up allows you to literally minimize it, so it can mix in easily. Personally, I like large prints, though I find them hard to use.
Here is a project I made a couple of years ago, using a piece long in my stash. The ultra-feminine roses, along with the scale of the print, are pretty but a little difficult to use. The completed quilt is a lap throw, approximately 38” x 56”. I decided to leave the print in 9” alternating blocks, with simple nine-patches between to showcase it. For the borders, I cut through the large sprays of flowers to allow a scalloped effect around the edges.
Because the front is busy and traditional, the quilting is largely hidden. In contrast, for the back I chose a simple, contemporary print on which you can see the quilting.
Along the borders, I quilted long feathers that wrap around the entire perimeter.
On the interior, I used a simple loops-and-leaves freehand pattern.
This quilt was a gift for a friend who did me a big favor. I hoped the quilt conveyed how much I appreciate the time and effort she gave me.
Do you like using large prints in your projects? How do you use them?