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Creatively Challenged

I saw a little piece of art at my bank, an art print.

One of the things I liked about it was the placement of the circles - they weren't lined up, each row was sort of between the row above and below it. I decided it would make an excellent quilt. I even knew what fabrics I wanted to use (none other than Sky/Earth Reflections by @jennifersampou, of course - I think this may be my 8th quilt using her ombre' fabrics.)

I was so excited, I went home and started cutting out the fabric. At first, I used templates and cut out four quarter circles to make the circles. But I quickly realized that was not going to work; I needed the circles to be comprised of 6 pieces, so I could show more (or less, depending) color movement. No problem - I went to my computer and broke the circles into six equal pieces. I then proceeded to blithely cut out many, many circle wedges and throw them up on the wall. It was looking good! I liked it a lot.

About half way through, I thought "Oh dear, what have I done? I have no idea how to fill up the blank spaces between the circles! I tried drawing pieces and even cut a bunch out - but they were wrong wrong wrong. Not to worry - back to the computer I went, and drew a square with the circles set up the way I wanted.

Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get the little filler pieces ( a friend called them "little bikini things" so that's how I'll refer to them from here on) to print correctly, (they kept attaching to each other as one piece instead of being one little bikini, so I sort of made what printed into a template I thought would work and happily continued to cut circles. I figured I could deal with that later.

I spent a lot of time arranging the colors, both within the circles and throughout the quilt, until I got what I thought was THE arrangement. Now it was time to add the little bikinis. I wanted to think very hard on this; these are transition pieces and the colors I used were important. So I would take a section and cut what I thought I wanted, then make changes until it was "right", then move to another section. Time consuming, yes. But not too difficult. This was going so well! (I mentally patted myself on the back.)

Suddenly I thought "Oh my god, what was I thinking? I have just ruined a ton of fabric AND wasted a bunch of time! How in the world am I actually going to sew this together?" The rows are each offset from each other, and each circle has six different bikinis surrounding it, and the circles above and below and next to each other are using the same little bikini pieces too! There is no way to sew this together!

It was a moment of "DOH!"

So I stopped cutting and sat and stared for who knows how long. It seemed like days...The real surprise was that I was rather zen about the whole thing. Either I would be able to figure it out, or not. I could still use the circles, but it might not in be the way I had envisioned it. Which bummed me out, because that's what I wanted, so I wasn't going to give up without giving it every effort. (Again, mental back pats for being calm!)

I decided to try to sew the pieces in sections rather than rows, and to create the openings for the circles by sewing the little bikinis into a "hole" which I would then sew the circles into. First, however, I had to sew the six pieces together to make the circles. The edges of the bikinis are designed so that they "disappear" between the circles, as you can see, so that was a little scary. But again, why not try?

So I sewed up one area's worth of circles, made a "hole" from the bikinis, crossed everything I could cross, and went for it. I was pretty convinced it wasn't going to work, but what did I have to lose? So I did it. And here's the big surprise - IT WORKED!!

Now I won't say it was easy, and as the quilt got bigger and bigger, I was literally moving the entire quilt around a nine inch hole made of 1/2 inch wide "lace" so it was slow going, but damn - it actually worked! I won't say it worked perfectly - there are some puckers that need to be addressed, but I feel confident I can deal with them. I only worked on a few circles at a time at first, because it was kind of mentally and physically exhausting and I really didn't want to mess it up at point which was more likely if I was fatigued (so patient - pat, pat!).

On the last day, though, I felt so confident that I actually put an entire row of circles in to complete the top in one sitting. Here is the completed top. The pieces that are hanging off the sides will be cut off after basting and maybe even after quilting, when it gets squared off.

Was it a challenge? Indeed. I really did almost give up...several times. But that's what I love about quilting - the challenges. It seems that almost anything can be constructed with fabric! One just has to um - ponder. And persevere. And remain calm - which is a challenge for me in itself. (And maybe doing some planning, which I often don't do, might help. On the other hand, so far so good - I've managed to make some stuff I had no idea how to make so...) It's really just a matter of what one is comfortable with - everyone's creative juices flow differently. I love that the quilty possibilities are endless. In fact, I can't wait for the next creative challenge.

But first, I have to take a long nap!


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