Thursday 1 January 2015

The Ultimate Quilt Challenge

On my last trip to the city, I picked up this book at a thrift store:

Beyond Charm Quilts: The Ultimate Challenge

Here's a picture of the actual book since one didn't come with the Amazon link:
On the back of the book, it says:

The rules are simple:

  1. Prepare or purchase a charm packet of 60 to 120 fabric squares (4" or larger) in a gradated spectrum.
  2. Create as many quilts as possible using the charm squares and additional fabrics of your choice.
  3.  Make sure that quilt pieces cut from the charm squares are identical in shape and size, and that every charm fabric is included in each quilt.
Now I thought that sounded like a fun challenge, so I'm throwing it out to my fellow quilters if you want to join me in this adventure. If you want the book, you can follow the link above to purchase it on Amazon. This will take you to the Canadian site, but if you're outside of Canada, this will at least give you the details of the book so you can look for it elsewhere. Here's the link to the book on the US site where the lowest price is 1 cent (don't know how long that will last), plus some new ones for only $7.50: Beyond Charm Quilts. However, I don't think the book is necessary in order to join this challenge
I just wanted to clarify #3 in the rules above as it's rather vague. What it means is all of the pieces of fabric for one quilt must be the same size and shape, but you can use a different size and shape for each quilt. And you must use a piece of each fabric in each quilt. For example, I have a 100 fabric charm square pack. I will use a 1 inch square of each charm fabric in one quilt (plus whatever additional fabrics I want to add). In another quilt, I might use a 1-1/2" triangle of each of the 100 fabrics. I hope that makes sense.
What I did to make it work for me was draw a 5 inch square on some graph paper and then started dividing it up into shapes. My goal was to not have any unused scraps.
Now I'm going to be honest about this book: most of the quilts the authors made up are mini quilts which used some incredibly small pieces of fabric, including some 1/8" seams and appliqueing tiny scraps. I'm a very practical person. I like what I create to have a useful purpose. As both my mother and my daughter did paintings, I don't have much need for quilted wallhangings. Mug rugs, placemats, potholders and even doll quilts need to be able to stand up to laundering. Tiny applique and 1/8" seams are not likely to survive repeated washings. So I personally don't see much value in producing a bunch of mini quilts just to meet a challenge if they're not going to have an actual purpose. And I really don't like working with tiny pieces of fabric. I determined to maintain a 1/4" seam throughout and have no piece narrower than 1/2" finished size. Rather than the 18 or 21 quilts produced by the authors, my goal was a more modest 7 quilts. And when I divided up my 5" square, I actually ended up with 8 different shapes. Without compromising the 1/4" seams and minimum 1/2" finished width, I could probably subdivide even further and come up with 11 or 12 quilts, but I doubt I will. As I said, I don't like working with tiny pieces and I want to enjoy this process. If you decide to come along on this adventure, you can interpret it however you choose. (Just an observation: the authors showed diagrams of how they divided up their charms, which had 18 and 21 pieces, totalling 39, but the book only has a gallery of 36 quilts. I'm not sure what became of the other 3). 
Now for the fabric: a "gradated spectrum," rule #1 said. That means varying shades from light to dark of all colours of the rainbow. And I realized that I had the perfect charm pack in my stash: a 100 charm pack of Benartex Fossil Fern. Here they are arranged by colour and gradation:
If you're interested in taking up this challenge and would also like to use this charm pack, Craftsy currently has it on sale for $19.98. Here's the link to Craftsy:
Shop Quilting Supplies Now!
The authors of Beyond Charm Quilts said that they took 3 years to complete the challenge, so it's not going to be a quick project. But it should be fun. And I'm hoping some of you will join me in the adventure. If you do want to join, maybe I can set up a flickr page where we can share all of our projects. Let me know.
Happy quilting!

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