The Rooster

Sometimes all the what-ifs lead to creative breakthroughs, and sometimes they just set up roadblocks to making. If you chase every possible path, you’ll never get anything done.

After finishing the checkerboard border, I had lots of choices available. The size of the center (center block plus the border) was odd, something like 19.75″,  and it would have been awkward to add a border of regular square blocks at that point. I could have added a spacer border to make a an easier fit, but I wasn’t happy with the sizing that would have required, either. And I would have needed a plan for type of pieced border, so I could choose the spacer border width.

What if, instead of a pieced border, I made an appliquéd one? Then the width wouldn’t matter, except relative to proportions. Yeah, that could work. That begs the question, what kind of appliqué? Something pretty simply, something small to work with the proportions, something in colors already used, or similar enough to them that the color isn’t confusing. Well, I guess that narrows it down…

At least it let me get started. After the dark blue and bronze checkerboard, I wanted an edge of salmon. From a construction standpoint, the narrow border would stabilize the piecing, since the checkerboard squares finish at 1 1/8″. From a design standpoint, it would repeat the color of the rooster’s feet and eyeball, and refer to the background coral (mesh-like print) and the rooster’s comb and wattle. It would brighten the composition with the accent, and give separation from another, darker border.

I decided to try for a finished width of about 1/4″. In retrospect, a flange would have worked well, too, and may have been easier to execute. But this worked well enough. Before attaching, I made sure the center’s corners were good and square. That involved shaving off tiny bits of the pieced checkerboard along the edges. Fortunately they were in pretty good shape. Then I pinned the narrow salmon border with lots of fine pins, so the two pieces were flush along the edges, and they wouldn’t slip away from each other. I stitched carefully to maintain the seam allowance. (And when I add borders, I always backstitch at both ends.)

I had already chosen a blue for the last border. It’s the same color as the blue on the chicken, but rather than a random-looking stripe slashing across it, it has a very fine cross-hatching of black and off-white, suggesting plaid. The regularity of design repeats the regularity in the checkerboard, but of a completely different scale.

I drew a simple shape to appliqué, thinking I could just repeat it a number of times around the edge. After digging through lots of fabric, I chose a dark toffee color with a brown leaf print. I pressed fusible web onto a small piece of it and cut out three of the shape. The shape is either an X or a +, depending on orientation. With the size I cut it, there is only room for it as an X.

Once I had the three samples and auditioned them on the blue border, I decided they took too much attention away from the rooster. I could have gone through a million more what-ifs, everything from what color or width of border to use, what color or shape of appliqué, whether to go back to the idea of a pieced border. The fact is, though, I like it just the way it is. I declare the rooster top “done.”

 

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25 thoughts on “The Rooster

  1. katechiconi

    I think you made the right decision. The dark blue encloses and emphasises the rooster, but I suspect the appliqué would have distracted, almost as if he was part of an overall pattern rather than the personality he so clearly is!

    Reply
  2. knitnkwilt

    I almost always skim to the photos then go back and read the comment. My first reaction was that the rooster looked finished and lovely. Glad to read that that is in fact the truth.

    Reply
  3. audrey

    It’s funny how we can spend so much time wondering if we ought to do ‘more’, go bigger, make something more complex. Your quilt looks so good the way it ended up! Love all the details in your magnificent rooster. The hardest part is often where we stop and pay serious attention to what our instincts are telling us!

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, sometimes more IS more! I am often tempted to overdo, especially in borders. But in this case, the role the borders play is specifically as a frame and not the main attraction. Thanks for your comments.

      Reply
  4. jmn

    I agree. There is a lot going on in the center with the rooster and the checkerboard. I like how the peach frames the center, and the blue calms the whole thing down at the same time making the rooster more vibrant. Good decision to stop.

    Reply
  5. Paula Hedges

    Great colors to use for the borders – subtle tie ins with the rooster – and the checked border definitely gives it a country feel. You nailed it on this one, Melanie!

    Reply

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