Can This Quilt Be Saved? (Or, Flying Geese In A Color Crisis)

by melissa on April 30, 2012

No quilter is an island, especially when the WIP ain’t. Working, that is. The only antidote might just be a little friendly (quilterly) advice.

And why not a virtual consult?  Could be fun, we thought.

So, we invited readers to bring us in for a little fix-it idea session on any quilts or sewing projects that just weren’t going well. Send us a picture of your stitch mess, we said, and we’ll tell you what we think. Our ideas might be worth the price you pay, but hey, some of them might be home runs, too.

Marta Strzeszewski of Arvada, Colorado, stepped right up with a link to her blog, where she wrote about a flying geese design that just wasn’t getting off the ground. (You had to know that one was coming.)

We’ll tell you all about her quilt agony shortly, but first, we’d like to share a little about this brave young Q-Bie herself. Here’s a Marta snapshot:

How old are you?  25.

How long have you been quilting?  Two years 

Who taught you? An out-of-state friend showed me how to piece my first block via Skype! I took that knowledge and ran with it. Learned the rest through blogs, books and YouTube.

How about a few family deets?
I live with my longtime boyfriend, Mike, and our two dogs, Zeppelin (black lab) and Layla (chocolate lab).

What interests you?  Reading, writing, gardening. I have my degree in English and have been an avid reader since childhood. I love literature, and reading is definitely my number one hobby (even before quilting! Gasp!).

What’s your fave part of quilting? Finishing. Taking my finished quilt
out of the dryer and squealing with excitement at the crinkles. AND the look on my loved ones’ faces when they receive a quilt I made them as a gift. That’s the BEST!

How would you describe your quilting style? Clean and simple. Bright, happy.

What technique or stitchy skill have you NOT tried that you’d like to? Paper piecing. I’ve got templates ready and am headed for YouTube soon to learn this awesome technique.

How long have you been blogging? I began in February of this year. I like to chronicle my quilty adventures. Plus, it gives me an excuse to write.

Your top tip for finding time to stitch? I made my first quilt during one of the most crazy times in my life (college finals, near full-time work, just bought a house). It’s my therapy. I don’t necessarily try so hard to make time; sewing makes me happy and I somehow just end up at my sewing machine when the bug beckons. (“Where am I? How did I get here?” Not quite like that, but close.) Don’t we naturally make time for happy things? We should. I don’t have a specific tip, per se. Just leave the dishes in the sink every once in a while and do what makes you happy.

Okay, Now For The Problem

Marta wanted to make a gift quilt for a friend, and she was obsessing about something colorful, with pops of black and white, a Kona Coal base, and bursts of color against the dark gray. She opted for yellows, pinks, greens and corals.

After Photoshopping her design—which called for 120 HSTs–she started slicing and stitching. And it was all wrong.

“There’s something about the way everything looked together that wasn’t ‘brightly colorful adult mod’ enough for me. It looks a little childish, a little amateurish, and a lot uninspiring,” she blogged. Click here to read her full post on what she calls “the quilt to nowhere.”

Scott’s Solution

GenQ Community Editor Scott Hansen (also of Blue Nickel Studios) jumped right in on this one. Here’s what he had to say:

“So we all can guess my answer to this one….I love the yellow and grey layout she has going on towards the end of her post. But I say KEEP all of the pre-made HST squares and maybe even add some orange/grey units. Then, where the yellow is in her diagram, use all of the prints up. Put all the blocks in a paper bag and just randomly pull them out working them into the arrangement. Sometimes colors together, sometimes apart. Because the colors aren’t all the same print, the quilt will have a combo vibe of scrappy and old-fashioned, while the gray and the layout make it very modern. That’s just my opinion. Just don’t make a denim jumper or a quilted jacket out of it. THAT is jumping the shark, for sure!”


Megan’s Solution

Of course, our Creative Director Megan Dougherty (aka The Bitchy Stitcher) had a different take. Here’s her fix:

“I think that her color choices would end up looking more dramatic and less childish if they were set in an arrangement that used more of the Kona Coal. Instead of trying to work in an HST next to HST arrangement, think about adding larger pieces of the Kona and dropping in the HSTs as almost random elements. (See diagram.) Then, remaining HSTs could be used in coordinating pillows.”

Well, readers? What do you think?

(And Marta, a big hug and thanks from the GenQ team for being brave enough to hear our thoughts on how to sort out this quilty mess. Good
luck, and let us know what happens!)

Leave a Comment

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sequana Identicon Icon Sequana April 30, 2012 at 4:41 am

Oh, I love Megan’s………..looks so mod. BUT if you don’t want a bunch left over, go for Scott’s – that’s good too.


M-R @ Quilt Matters Identicon Icon M-R @ Quilt Matters April 30, 2012 at 6:20 am

Awesome article series idea! I like both solution suggestions. Good luck choosing, Marta!


Marta S Identicon Icon Marta S April 30, 2012 at 10:13 am

DUDES. These are such good ideas. My heart’s leaning toward Megan’s design, but Scott’s is more true to my original vision. I can’t choose (yet)! Maybe Scott’s design can be one side and Megan’s can be the other? Hmm… I’m going to stew on this for a while but you can be sure I’ll blog about it once I do anything. You guys rock. Thank you!


Cornelia Gauger Identicon Icon Cornelia Gauger April 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I love the idea of featuring these quilter conundrums on the blog!
Being a color “ho”, I like Scott’s idea better (sorry, Megan!). You can do so much with HSTs, the setting ideas are endless. I hope that we get an update on what the quilter decided and how the quilt turned out in the end.


quiltzyx/sue Identicon Icon quiltzyx/sue April 30, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Both designs look great, but I think I’m leaning more towards Scott’s.


Teri Identicon Icon Teri May 1, 2012 at 4:22 am

Well for me the photo of the half square triangles gives me the idea of making “flying geese” units using the hst units as they are presented in the photo. Make short runs of the geese then set them in that beautiful coal at odd angles. I’ll mock something up in EQ later this week.



Ginny Identicon Icon Ginny May 1, 2012 at 8:29 am

For me it is the gray that is sucking all the life out of this quilt. The colors are actually rather muted and by placing them on a dark gray it just makes them flat. I realize that gray in the new “modern” color but in this instance I just don’t think it does the quilt justice. My thoughts, even though it would be more work to un-stitch and re make those block put them on a solid black background and it will really POP! Then use Scott’s, or your original idea and the quilt will be stunning!


Karen C Identicon Icon Karen C May 1, 2012 at 8:57 am

How about a combining Scott & Megan’s ideas? Have the top part of the quilt look like Scott’s solution, then gradually replace the HST with the solid coal as you work your way down. In my mind I’m thinking it might look like the pieces are falling off. Might be worth a little design wall play time.


Anna Identicon Icon Anna May 1, 2012 at 9:17 am

I love the first option, I think it’s super modern and beautiful. (Although both are awesome) This post proves that great minds think alike because this month at the San Antonio Modern Quilt Guild meeting we’re bringing in our WIPs that need some advice and having a meeting of the minds to figure out how to finish them! Thanks for this great post.


A Identicon Icon A May 1, 2012 at 9:58 am

I noticed on Marta’s blog that the suggestion “walk away for awhile” is mentioned a few times – that’s usually a good idea. Personally though, I would make a little stamp of a cool shape (maybe a leaf) and use black fabric paint then hit the colored triangles. Or a make larger stamp, use white paint and stamp across the seam. That might be more fun to quilt as well. Good luck.


Teresa Identicon Icon Teresa May 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I like both Scott and Megan’s suggestions. I had a similar problem when I received a turnover batch that was, less than “exciting” to me. I paired them all up with a basic solid – just like you’ve done with the Kona charcoal. Then added full squares of the solid and put them together so all the HST’s were oriented the same way, and the extra squares inserted randomly (1 or 2 per row) It gave the effect of having large triangles inserted randomly among the small ones.
Here’s a linky to a pic


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