The first issue was the pattern. My sister had sent me a picture of something she liked early on, and it was a pretty 16-patch variation that looked vintage and sweet.
Next, I needed to decide on the fabrics I would use. This process turned out to be lengthy and stressful and a monumental learning experience.
- Lesson number 1: Be sure you know what precise hue your recipient wants if you are making something for someone else. In general, just be sure of your recipient's tastes in all matters that will pertain to the final quilt.
- Lesson number 2: Don't start buying fabric until you have made the final selection of the pattern (I know that good quilters assemble big stashes of beautiful fabrics and then make good use out of them, but I am trying to be mindful of how much quilting fabric I buy; I don't want to amass a huge quilting-fabric stash as I did with my garment fabrics, especially when I am new to quilt making and at the beginning of figuring out what I want to make and what I like. I am trying to be cautious and buy what I need. I'm already failing a bit, but I guess it would be worse if I weren't trying. But would it???)
- Lesson number 3: Do not go to the fabric store without a swatch in hand. And as a corollary to that point, be prepared to be disappointed with online purchases. Wow, you can be deceived by the pictures on a website! Still, I could not have done without online purchases. I found the blue background fabric online, and I really, really, really wanted that exact color for the background. I am not sure how to get around this problem. I guess I could buy swatches, but I am so impatient that that option is hard for me to entertain. Maybe I could contact the seller and use Pantone color references to get more accurate information.
I had already skirted with color disaster once before when I made her a couple pot holders with some fabrics I thought were the right colors. She liked the gift, but she told me the teal was not the right color.
Not that I realized that at first. While I filtered out teals as I was looking, I bought many blue fabrics before I ever compared them against her camper paint job. I think it was only when I had piles and piles of blue fabrics that did not all coordinate with each other that I figured I had better actually look at her camper to see if anything matched.
I had one robin-egg-blue solid that I had gotten from Missouri Star (online!) that matched the blue on her camper exterior well, while almost nothing else in my collection did. One, possibly two fabrics. All of the orange fabrics I had collected worked, fortunately.
Now, in spite of my best intentions, I had a huge pile of quilting fabrics I would not be using for this project. The reason it happened was only partly because I had been unclear about the blue I needed. The other problem was that I had started to gather fabrics back when I thought I might be making the 16 patch...which of course would require many different fabrics. Lesson learned. Hopefully.
I began to comb the store. The owners dug through their shelves and kept bringing me possibilities. In the end, I found two other blue and white candidates and two very different floral options, both beautiful but neither the right "blue." The owners suggested it could still look good to deviate from the exact blue I was looking for, and I decided to give it a shot.
I took all the fat quarters home and laid everything out. In the end, I chose the two blue fabrics that were closest to the target blue for the quilt front. The other two florals were so beautiful and I tried hard to imagine them working. But they just wouldn't; too risky.
I could not get one of those out of my head, though. It so was beautiful, and I thought my sister would love it. So I decided I would make it the quilt back. I was so happy when I thought I could use that fabric! I raced back to the store...only to find they had just under 4 yards left, a half a yard at least shy of what I needed! OMG. I bought it anyway.
I used this tutorial to match the print of the backing fabric using a glue stick. I had to lose just a little yardage on one of the pieces to match the pattern when piecing, and then I got the idea to use the orange (from the stash, hahaha) as a border. I suppose I might have liked a full floral back, but I smile and feel joy every time I look at this.