Sometimes a quilt just doesn’t work …

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I love entering Quilting Arts Magazine’s reader challenges. I’ve had my work selected twice (including the current issue). So I was eager to enter their “Time Flies” challenge that closed on Friday.

In my mind, the quilt I pictured to demonstrate the passage of time was a face divided down the center. The left side would be a young face, while the right  side would show a wrinkled, elderly woman. The only problem with this fabulous idea was that I”m not very good at drawing people. I begged my teenage daughter to help. She wouldn’t, so that idea was scrapped.

Then I realized I could do a house. I pictured the left side as being the pristine home of a new buyer, with green grass and toys on the lawn. The other side of the house would be in disrepair. Shutters would be falling off and it would be a fall/winter setting.

Now I must explain that great ideas (at least in my head) do not always work. Apparently Quilting Arts Magazine agreed with me, because they did not select my quilt. Have a look and see what you think. Then I’ll explain what I believe went wrong.

"Time Flies" quilt

  1. It was confusing what I was trying to do. The idea would have been clearer if I’d had a duplex or at least a house that was symmetrical around the front door.
  2. There was not enough contrast in the skies between the two halves of the house.
  3. I did a sloppy job recreating the house. My applique should have been crisper. The painting on the windows was pretty lousy as well.
  4. The “old” half of the house was too cartoony. Somehow it did not appear to be as visually strong as the “new” half of the house.

When I realized that this quilt had problems, I emailed copies to a couple of people. They tactfully agreed it was not my best work. The question was — what do I do next? Do I completely remake the quilt and fix what was wrong? Or do I accept that this was not portfolio material and apply my new-found knowledge to my next project? I decided that the latter was the best decision. Not every quilt is a masterpiece. (Some aren’t even worth taking up space in your house.)

On the positive side, I did learn a lot about design. I also used many new materials in the quilt — including fabric inks, colored pencils, and acrylic ink. The tree leaves and front bushes are made from lichen, purchased at the model train store for railway models. With my new lessons in mind, I have to admit that — although this quilt was not a winner — it wasn’t a total failure either.

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