Sailing at the Farm; A Paper Bag Challenge
Never turn down anything chocolate - or anything quilt related when the challenge gauntlet is thrown down. This quilt is the end result of one our “paper bag” challenges at our guild. The challenge works like this. One quilter fills a paper bag with some fabric scraps and notions. Whoever gets the bag has to make a small quilt using the contents. They’re allowed to add their own thread and imagination, nothing else. At least a piece of every fabric or item in the bag must be used. To add to the fun the bag contains a whole bunch of alarmingly unharmonious fabrics. Some people love this challenge. Most are neutral. The rest would rather have their hair set on fire.
Last fall Lois was charged with coming up with a challenge. When she revealed the two paper bags, everyone in the room either looked at the floor or suddenly noticed something of spellbinding interest in their purse. To be fair, everyone already had at least one too many projects in their queue. I wanted to grab one of the bags right away, but I hated to appear greedy. I’d done this type of challenge before (Light and Dark in the City). It was time to let someone else to have a chance.
It took a while for the two bags to get picked up. Both went to people who volunteered an absent member for the project. Hint: never miss a meeting. One bag got passed around, and eventually it reached my friend Joan. She did the background and then became the victim of evaporated enthusiasm. She set it aside. We kicked around some ideas, but I could see she’d already moved on. The quilt got added to her pile of unfinished projects, with the fabric-in-waiting and the things that were no longer as much fun as when they were started. If you are a quilter, you know this feeling well. Projects that once tapped you on the shoulder while you were sleeping and dragged you to your machine at six a.m. eventually became dreary. You start thinking about breaking up with them.
I offered to take this one and finish it under the pretense of heroism, but the truth was I’d wanted to do one of these all along. And, since the background was completed, all the heavy lifting had already been done. All I had to do was swoop in and find the story.
There were some blue and white blocks in the bag that hadn’t been used yet. Turning them on point, I recognized their true calling. They were sail boats! I added grey strips to the water, and added more grey fabric at the bottom of the quilt. I reduced the size of the sky. A beautiful day for sailing emerged.
From the bag, I added the flowers (buttons) and used the 3 colours of embroidery floss for stems and leaves. The unseen farmer was way instantly way happier with his little house by the sea.
Finally, I machine quilted it with metallic thread in the water and sky. I would never normally have added a light coloured binding, but that was the only fabric left that was big enough. Surprisingly, it made the piece look like a snapshot of a farm by the sea. There was still one jarring piece of brown fabric left. It fell into conflict with every other fabric in the quilt. I used it on the back as a border for the label. No one had specified exactly where the fabric had to be used.
And the fate of this quilt? It will find a whole new home as the door prize someone will win at our upcoming quilt show.