Make It Work! (A Baby Quilt By Accident.)

It's adorable...but it's not a kaleidoscope.
It’s adorable…but it’s not a kaleidoscope.

You know how it is when you fall in love with a quilt pattern and you HAVE TO MAKE IT RIGHT NOW?

That happens to me all the time.

I recently came across this pattern in an old Love of Quilting magazine. It’s an antique kaleidoscope pattern created from a quilt at the International Quilt Study Center, which is the coolest place on earth, by the way.

Gorgeous, right?
Gorgeous, right?

If you love it as much as I do, you should give it a shot, but before you do, learn from my experience and know this:

1. It’s paper-piecing, which I love but some people definitely do not
2. There are no curved seams, which some people love but I definitely do not (so yay!)
3. The lights and darks matter way more than you think they do

Let’s talk about that third thing. See my quilt up there? Compare it to the quilt from the illustration. I ain’t gettin’ no kaleidoscope in my quilt, am I? No, I am not. As I was making blocks, I really thought I was in the clear. I thought the lights I was using were light enough that they would be in contrast — albeit low — to the darks I had selected. I LOVED all my fabrics. I LOVED making the blocks. I thought I was good.

Then I laid out what I had on the floor of my apartment. Hm.

As you can see, this quilt is not giving me the look I want. But I had worked hours on it! What to do?? I could’ve ripped apart my blocks and set them to the side and taken a risk to continue with my quilt using new, higher-contrast fabrics and blended these blocks through. Depending on the size of my quilt (I was going for queen) this could work. Maybe.

But what I decided to do instead was finish up five or so of the blocks I was ready to make and call it a scrappy baby quilt. It’s still a very adorable little bit of patchwork…it’s just not gonna work for what I originally intended. In fact, it’s going to go into Quilty magazine in 2015, so you can make your own version and try to get that kaleidoscope look if you want.

Anyhow, that’s my little lesson for today. Contrast really does matter. And sometimes, you need to make more than a few “sample” blocks to see if you’re getting the pattern you want. One or two sample blocks probably wouldn’t have shown me what I needed: I needed more of the quilt to see (or not see) the pattern emerge.

Good thing I love making patchwork and quilts, right? I mean, even when you screw up, it’s still the best thing ever.

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Mary Fons

About Mary Fons

Mary Fons hails from a prominent quilt mafia family. A professional writer and performer, Mary co-hosted the nationally-airing PBS program "Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting" along with her mom, famed quilter and educator Marianne Fons. In 2010, Mary began hosting Quilty, an online show offered weekly on QNNtv.com. In 2012, Mary became editor of Quilty magazine. She holds a Theater Arts BA from the University of Iowa.

6 thoughts on “Make It Work! (A Baby Quilt By Accident.)

  1. I see what you are saying – I am definitely still learning about contrast/value etc. and I agree that sometimes a few blocks aren’t enough to tell what you’ve got is working. But it’s hard because you want to make your own version of something- it’s boring to go the safe way (sometimes) and choose identical-ish fabrics to the pattern.

  2. i also love paper piecing! Where can i get this pattern? Can you steer me the in right direction and let me know of some good paper piecing books or sites? Thank you!

  3. Are you sure I didn’t write this post? I made Hunters Star for a baby quilt on purpose just a few months ago, but I made the same classic mistake. My fabrics weren’t chosen with great contrast and some of my blocks lost the ‘star’ effect. So glad it was for baby on purpose, he never complained!!!

  4. great comeback. I’m in the middle of doing a simple half square triangle floral quilt and not only did I make enough for a queen size, but TWO lap size. the nice thing about the half square triangles is I can make it into different patterns, like your twist, or others. so have fun moving those squares around and see what emerges.
    ciao bella,
    debi z

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