Unnamed top. About 71.5″ x 71.5″. January 2017.
Last weekend I finished this quilt top. I’ve shown you some of my process along the way, through the flying geese middle border. The geese border needed to be contained and balanced. Putting the orange and hot pink edge both inside and outside does that.
That decision was made before we traveled for the holidays. While gone I worked on designing the final border.
Remember the purposes of middle and outer borders are to
- build the story by repeating and varying earlier elements such as color, value, shape, line, and contrast; contributing to a motif or theme; and
- correct problems with balance and proportion; and complete and unify the composition.
I used EQ7 to try design options. If you ever think that designing with software is cheating somehow, let me assure you it is not. I spent many hours, trying literally dozens of designs, before choosing what you see above. One option that made the finals was a border of variable stars on point. Those variable stars, in fact, are what inspired me to begin this project, so it was hard to let them go. The star proportions are the same as the variable star in the middle of the Carpenter’s Wheel center block, so would echo it. (The EQ7 drawing below uses a different version of the center block than I used. See the photo above.) The on-point setting also repeats the 4-patches’ setting in the first border. Another benefit is the ability to use all the colors again in a natural way.
Pretty, yes? But I like the boldness of the components that come before, and the stars are small and the detail gets a bit lost. To me the design did not seem well balanced or fully unified.
Long ago I played with a number of quilt designs, which used a repetition of a center block motif in the corners of both an inner and an outer border. Here’s one example (and see more here and here.)
I tried this idea in a variety of ways, and I liked the direction it was taking. I chose corners the same as the corners of the center block. They are the same size, and the pinks are the same fabrics. They made sense, continuing the floral motif and unifying the design in ways the variable stars did not.
However, with all the blank space between those corners, it didn’t balance well with the busyness and boldness of the flying geese. What it needed was more.
Next I tried more. I tried adding a flower variation in the centers of the border. Several iterations of that later, I stopped with my final choice. But still it looked too bare.
Once the chain blocks, made of double 4-patches, were added, I stopped. The 4-patches repeat the inner 4-patches. The chains’ stair-stepping shape also imitates the line of an on-point setting. Finally, they present the notion of floral stems or vines, or even swags, very traditional ways to border a medallion.
I have fabric for the back and will quilt it soon. I’ll show you final photos then.