I’m not sure what I expected out of this quilt, but the only word I can think of is “elegant.” The imposing center block with a rich border stripe surrounding it seemed to point in that direction. That isn’t what I got. But after all, I am happy with how it’s turned out.
This is what my new medallion looked like a few days ago.
Because the border stripe is not a “nice” width, I used the red spacer border. The spacer border takes the center to an easier size, and helps define edges, and gives the eye a place to rest.
The finished size after it was 30″. Consider the possibilities for a pieced border. Divide 30 into equal parts. 30/30 = 1. I could have a pieced border with 1″ blocks. 30/20 = 1.5. I could have a pieced border with 20 1.5″ blocks. In fact, there are a lot of choices — 30″ is a great size. I could have blocks that are 1″, 1.5″, 2″, 3″, 5″, 6″. In truth there are an infinite number of choices, if I want to get a little weird about it.
I decided to make blocks that were 6″ long (lengthwise, along the edge of the center.) How many are needed for each side? 30/6 = 5. I needed 5 blocks for each side, and one for each corner. Having 5 blocks gives an odd number. That means that when using alternate blocks, they will alternate across the length, and then each corner will be the same kind of block. Like this:
A B A B A B A
See, there are 7 letters, including one on each end (A) and 5 in the middle (BABAB).
What if I used 5″ blocks? Then there would be 6 to a side. Then if I used alternate blocks, the pattern would be like this:
A B A B A B A B
There are 8 blocks, including A on the left corner and B on the right corner. If the blocks have a lot of contrast in style, color, or value, this difference can be rather unsettling.
These didn’t have to be square blocks, either, but that is what I chose. You can see in the photos below that the variable stars all have different red centers and caramel points, but the same background fabric. The hourglasses use a different but consistent background fabric, and the blues are scrappy.
After the variable stars and hourglasses, I added a narrow brown border, again to create delineation. At that, the center was about 43.5″. I could have chosen to maintain the straight setting. But I really wanted to turn the piece on point. Going on point enlarges a quilt quickly and would take this to 61.5″ (43.5 x 1.414 = 61.5.)
There are two problems with 61.5″. First, it’s another weird size to deal with. Second, I had a dark red border stripe with goldish-tan flowers, which I wanted to use around the edges. You can see it on the left and right sides of the photo above. I didn’t have enough of it to go all the way around. I also didn’t have enough of any light fabric I liked to make the entire setting corners. (How much would that take? I’d need 2 squares, each about 32″.)
I designed pieced setting corners using smaller fields of the pale value, a strip of half-square triangles, and the red border stripe. Beyond the stripe, I added a print of French blue and a bronzy-tan against a lighter background. The print is busy, but it is the right colors. It also would allow me to trim the center to a “nice” size for whatever came next.
After attaching the setting corners, I was ready to give up. This is what I said about it on Facebook: “Well, I think it is pretty awful, a hot mess. Maybe I’ll take a poll once I have a little more done and a photo. Maybe it isn’t as bad as I think. Maybe other people will love it. … blech…”
What had me so discouraged? That last print border was exploding ugliness all over my floor. It reminded me of something that happened to our daughter. One day she saw a big spider in her garage and stepped on it. When she did, hundreds of baby spiders scurried in every direction! The print was too busy and too wide, and looked like all those scurrying baby spiders going all over.
Solution: cut that print in half. I needed to square things up then, anyway. So I trimmed the print and agreed with Jim that it was better.
Still not convinced everything would work out, I didn’t want to put a lot more effort into this top. Rather than doing another border of blocks, I decided to add unpieced strip borders. They would contain all those baby spiders (!!!) and simplify what had become a busy design.
Constrained by what was in my stash, I added a wider border of somewhat paler red. The corner blocks use the beautiful medallion print that centered the whole project. Finally, the dark red from the center contains the whole, echoing the same value as the red border stripe.
It’s about 75.5″, square. It will make a good bed quilt, and I’ve chosen the recipient. It isn’t elegant after all. Rather, it is bold and showy, but I do like it very much.