Christine's Color Connection
A newsletter for quilters who love color
April 2020
"Best Friends" Setting Options
Springtime greetings fellow quilters, sewists, and mask-makers! It's hard to know what to say in the new reality we're all living. I hope you are healthy and minding your stay-at-home manners. Being a homebody, I find it easy. . . except for missing face-to-face contact with friends.

But we carry on, right? Helping where we can when needed, one week at a time. Today I hope to offer you a distraction, a window into my process for laying out my quilt, "Best Friends."
It's a Pattern!
First, my new pattern is available as a hard copy in my website Store, or a PDF download in my Etsy shop, ChristineBarnesCOLOR. The hard-copy version comes with 8 Piecing Papers for the "skinny triangle" units, enough to make 24 blocks. You'll print your Piecing Papers from the PDF pattern.
Before I show the setting options I explored, let's look at the block below. (I liked this block but didn't include it because its visual weight was quite different from the weight of the other blocks.)

I began each block with a Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric for the half-square triangles and another for the center. I confess that the hardest part was finding the right gray-and-white supporting fabrics, especially for the skinny triangles. The large white-dot-on-dark-gray was perfect—it separated from the Kaffe Prints and the light gray stripe. To my eye, the block looks like a Friendship Star inside a Churn Dash. Put a square in each corner, and you have a Crazy Anne block!

Fortunately, my stash served me well, and I had everything I needed. (See the end of this post for hints on finding gray/white neutrals.)

Back to the finished quilt top. When I want to "space out" blocks or make them "float" on a backdrop, I audition lots of possibilities. The final setting you see here features narrow sashing cut from a black-and-white dot fabric. The strips are identical (five black dots each) and linked by small setting stones. I find this approach keeps the quilt very square.
Let's see how I got there: I started with more blocks than I needed. I liked them all but wanted to make the quilt using just nine. (Leftovers may become pot holders or a runner, right?)
Setting them block-to-block, below, was interesting but a bit much. If you squint, you see elongated parallelograms in both directions, formed by the gray-and-white stripe skinny pieces. Interesting, but sewing the blocks together like this would result in fragmented dots where triangles from four blocks meet. A non-starter.
In my stash I found a fabric with circular faux stitching in gray. Up close, it was interesting, but when I put the blocks on top of yardage to mimic sashing, the corner triangles in each block got lost. Oh well!
What about using the gray stitching fabric to make alternate squares? One square looked OK.
But imagined as alternate squares across a quilt, below, the stitching fabric was just as overwhelming. What was I thinking???
How about alternate squares of black-and-white dots? Once again, sigh, too much. The blocks and the dotted squares separate from each other . . . barely. Plus, cutting and sewing the squares to avoid chopping the dots would be tricky.
When you've used your "likely options" without success, it's time to think of those not yet considered. You know I like Grunge, right? How about Grunge alternate squares?
Whoa! I liked the punch the semi-solids delivered, but not in this quilt. So, I thought "small" instead of "big," with narrow strips of Grunge between blocks.
Nope. These blocks needed more "room to bloom."

The gray dot fabric below is "Big Dot" by Denyse Schmidt, for Free Spirit, #PWDS079. (I used it in my Aerial quilt as large setting stones.) The background is cream, so it wouldn't work with the white in the blocks, but it gave me a new direction.
Finally, I realized that I could cut dotted sashing strips from a black-and-white dot fabric. (The width of the strips depends on the size and spacing of the dots.) Voila! I used small setting stones cut from the same gray dot as in the blocks. The finished quilt top is "aired out" just enough to allow the blocks stand on their own, yet the overall design is cohesive. I was happily DONE, and I don't recall ever having this much fun creating a new quilt!
As I mentioned, the fabrics for this quilt came from my stash. I've been asked where I find them, and the answer is, everywhere! Start with you local quilt shop, of course, and if no luck there, search for neutral dots and stripes online. Just be as specific as possible, like "gray-and-white dots." Some sites offer more help. On, for instance, you can narrow your selection by choosing Michael Miller, polka dots, and gray and white from the lists on the left. I admit that gray dots and stripes are hard to find; I wish you the best of luck!

Thank you, as always, for looking and reading. I'm already seeing pics of quilts made from my pattern, and it's exciting to see how different a pattern looks made by different quilters using their own fabric choices. We are unique creative creatures!

That said, stay home, stay healthy, and sew, sew, sew!
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Christine Barnes
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