Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Random Experiment

Back in September, I pledged to give two quilts to an organization. I could pick the month that I would deliver them, and because I have an aversion to timelines, I chose March (the last month on the schedule for the quilt collection). I figured that would give me plenty of time without feeling too much pressure to get done. I didn't start the quilts until January but still thought I had plenty of time. I did finish one of the quilts by the end of January, but then life happened, and suddenly there wasn't as much time as I thought there would be. Because of other commitments, I knew that there would be a lot fewer days to make the other one during February. So, what to do? I needed a quilt I could make really fast.

I decided to try something that I had often thought about but had never had the nerve to let go and just do. You know how when you make a quilt that you want to look like the fabric placement is random, and then it takes forever to make it look that way? Well, I challenged myself to make a quilt that actually DID have really randomly placed fabric. I chose a simple pattern that I had received as a freebie in the mail from American Patchwork and Quilting along with an invitation to subscribe to their magazine. It's called Now and Later by Kathie Holland and is made from squares and rectangles. 

I had seven 1/2-yard cuts of colorful fabric and some yardage of a pale gray background fabric. I cut 110 rectangles (2 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches) from the colors and 110 squares (2 1/2 inches) from the background. Then I chain pieced all the rectangles with the squares. 

I cut the units apart, dropped them into a punch bowl, and WITHOUT LOOKING, pulled out 22 pairs of units and sewed each pair together in the order I pulled them. My rule for myself was to not reject any pair, even if the colors were the same. (Yup, living on the edge, my style.) I threw the sewn pairs into a tote bag.

I took those 22 units (pulled randomly from the tote bag) and added another unit the same way, grabbing the additional units from the punch bowl without looking. I repeated this until I had 22 strips of 5 units each. 

I threw all of the strips into the bag, then pulled them out one at a time and sewed them together. Same rule: no changes no matter what colors were together. It was really hard not to reject a strip sometimes when the same fabric kept showing up. But I persevered. (Sometimes I have to work hard at letting go.)

After they were all sewn together, I added 7 1/2 inch borders. (Borders? Me? Well, yeah, for this one. It reduced the amount of piecing I needed to do, and it makes the design float, which I rather like.) I'll probably trim them down a bit before I finish the quilt. This is how it turned out:

Sure, there's more of one color in one place, but that's balanced out by more of another in another place. And you know what? I like it. A lot. And I saved so much time. No agonizing at the design wall. No running up and down stairs between my living room, where I sew, and the guest bedroom, where I have my design wall. 

After I finished the top, I cut additional rectangles and sewed them together--again randomly, but this time my rule was that there couldn't be two identical fabrics right next to each other. Any other sequence was fine. I reserved this long strip for my binding:

(Finally found a use for a leftover thread cone.)
Without too much thought, I trimmed down the leftover fabrics and strip-pieced them to make a backing. 

What a super-fast quilt! I cut the shapes one evening, and it took only parts of two days to sew and baste it. Now I need to let it sit for a bit while I think about how to quilt it (any ideas??), but next time you see this, it should be done, and I will have made good on my pledge. Yea!

I think my random experiment worked out fine. I will definitely do random--really random--again. 

I'm linking up this week with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social and My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. The buttons are on the right. 

Have a good quilty week--random or not.


Bonnie said...

Having just finished a similar quilt design I really give you credit for pulling and using your fabrics. It looks just fine and someone will really appreciate it. But I found I spent a lot of time moving strips around and still didn't separate the fabric as much as I would have liked. I would have saved a bunch of time if I just did what you did! Nice finish.

Linda said...

Oh my I am jealous of your foray into true random-ness. And it's just beautiful - wow! I love the colors you chose and the way they compliment each other and the wide white border is perfect.
I've seen some big, wide zig-zag quilting that would look nice on your quilt, but unless you have a setting for it, it might take too much time. You are a free motion quilter, right? In keeping with your random and fast theme, what is the fastest quilting for you?

Bernie Kringel said...

Yay for random and even better for a quick project! This would have been really difficult for me as well. I think the experiment turned out great. I love the backing that looks like an oversized version of th front of the quilt. For qulting, I would meander the main portion and do something more defined on the white border. Looks great Janine!

Quilts By Laurel said...

Such a pretty quilt! I love it! :)

Paige said...

You were so brave not to peak at the colors...I don't think I could have done it! Turned out great! Can't wait to see quilted and the scrappy binding!

Preeti said...

I love it. I agree randomness takes work. I agonize over the placement of every square.
However, you have done it successfully and beautifully.

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

It's hard for me as well to be completely random, but look at the result! Lovely. For quilting, I would suggest a fast, all-over design. You could try graffiti quilting and really make it random by combining the quilt patterns you know best.

Sandra Walker said...

Janine you are singing my song! In fact I'm right now trying improv (well I walked away before I threw what I've got into the garbage). I guess I am a control freak and oh yes I agonize, squint, turn out lights, take pics, rotate, walk away, etc etc. I get AP&Q have done for nearly 20 years and I will look for that quilt. Great backing and great binding--cool use for a leftover cone-must remember that! I'd do a large allovers swirl, keep it simple too. And because I love feathers and find them relaxing, I'd do them in the border