Another New Plan

Inchies Star with grey fabric background

I spent most of the last week deep in the creativity zone, trying to solve the problem with the background for the Elemental Changes quilt. I feel like I must be on Plan Z by now, though it’s really not quite that bad, I suppose. If you recall, I’d decided that the pale green and white palette wasn’t going to work, and I thought it needed more color, lots more color. I spent an entire day fleshing out the the fabric choices, starting with the Bali fabrics that I’d used for the Inchies themselves, and adding fabrics in between them to expand the palette. Here’s Plan B on the table:

The expanded palette

Of particular note is how many of the original background fabrics made it into Plan B’s color palette: absolutely none. Not. Even. One. Validation in it’s purest, simplest form. The first background fabric choices were obviously not even close to right if none of them made the cut for this second plan. Despite the validation though, the plan fizzled after I put some of the parts up on the design wall. While playing with all the colors was satisfying, I couldn’t figure out if it would all work as I wanted it to, and it was going to be a huge amount of work and fabric to get it all up on the design wall just to see if it would work out. The more parts I put up, the less I liked the result anyway.

The good part about Plan B: I laid hands on every single piece of fabric that I have in the studio, except the scraps*. Really, every single one, right down to the fat quarters. I’ve got some really awesome fabrics in my collection, I must say. Of course, now that I’ve pulled out hundreds of them and decided Plan B’s not working, I have to put them all back. *sigh*

*I didn’t go through the scraps, because the huge tub that my scraps are in has been missing since the move. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s kind of bugging me that this giant Rubbermaid tub is nowhere to be found. How could a giant Rubbermaid tub be hard to find?

I thought about many other directions at that point, including starting completely over with a more limited palette to begin with, or even scrapping the entire plan altogether and using the Inchies for something else. I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to finish the project before the deadline if I started over, so that was going to be a last resort, but every day that goes by without a decision or some progress is one day closer to that deadline anyway. In the midst of all this, I started to wonder why I do this to myself, but that’s another whole rant by itself.

Beyond Charm Quilts - The Ultimate Challenge
Beyond Charm Quilts – The Ultimate Challenge (affiliate link)
Along about Thursday, I think, I decided to look at Beyond Charm Quilts: The Ultimate Challenge, a great book from the mid-90’s. The Ultimate Challenge was to start with a charm pack of squares of many different fabrics, and make as many charm quilts as you could from the original set of squares. Each quilt must have an identical piece of every one of the original fabrics in it.

I’ve always wanted to do this challenge, but just never gotten around to it. The point is, the authors started with a charm pack of 100 Jinny Beyer Palette fabrics, which span the colors of the rainbow and are widely varied in value just like the Inchies for this project. I perused the Gallery in this book with an eye toward identifying the unifying element in each quilt. How did they turn this rainbow of hues into a cohesive whole?

I discovered that many of the quilts, perhaps even the majority, used shades of grey, black, cream or white in the background. Okay, fine. Fine. It’s not what I had planned at all but having nothing to lose at that point, I gave it a go. I pulled out some black, grey and white fabrics and slapped it up on the wall, and came up with this:

Inchies Star with grey fabric background

It’s still missing some background pieces, but you get the idea. I think I like it and it will work, and I’ve ordered some other fabric to use in the setting spaces and border, so hopefully it will show up double quick and be the right color when it does. It’s much better than it was, in any case. I’m off to make more Inchies; I have about half of them done now!

9 thoughts on “Another New Plan

  1. Wow! I’ve been playing with colour on a black, grey and white background, but despite numerous fabric audutions, nothing ‘pops’ the way yours does!


  2. Hi Emma, I’m glad you like it! Any popping is purely accidental, though, since I’m afraid I can’t say I knew what I was doing here… 🙂

    Thanks Paula! One of these years, I’ll get around to actually doing the challenge in the book. I think it would be a wonderful stretch for creativity.

    Hmmm, mandala effect…I hadn’t thought of it that way, Paula, but you’re right. Though once I get the other three quarters laid out, it might not be so pronounced. More is coming!


  3. Your fabrics are absolutely yummy! I love where you’re going with this and can hardly wait to see the rest. How are you going to apply your inchies or is that a trade secret? I have a feeling that this isn’t nearly as impressive in the photos as it will be in person as you don’t get the full effect of all the beading, etc. that you would see immediately in person. You really are an inspiration!


  4. Thanks Irene! You’re definitely right about the photos, and not seeing all the detail on the Inchies. The beads sparkle as I move around the room, and I love the way they look. I do have a plan for putting the Inchies on the quilt, but I’m keeping it under wraps for the moment… All will be made clear in time! 🙂


  5. It’s amazing what not only a change in color, but a change in value will do. With the darker center, all the inchies seem like they are being pulled in, as opposed to the previous version where there where kind of floating away. It’s looking much more cohesive now. I look forward to seeing blocks with the other colors of inchies. 🙂


  6. Hi Kristin, thanks for the encouraging comments! You’ve really nailed it, too; the Inchies were just hanging out there in the first version, and nothing looked like it belonged. Sometimes it’s hard to see exactly why it’s not working, until you figure out something else that does, though!


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