Sunday, November 26, 2023

FrankenWhiggish Setting Options: To Further Complicate, Or To Finish In This Lifetime?

Hello, Quilting Friends, and Happy Thanksgiving weekend to those of you in the United States!  In between the cooking and the baking and the holiday decorating of the past few days, I've been spending an inordinate amount of time in my EQ8 quilting design software, exploring my options for the Frankenwhiggish Rose hand stitched needle turn appliqué blocks that I started in March of 2014 (you'll find that post from nearly a decade ago here).  

At this point, all that stands between me and the end of making the nine identical Whig Rose appliqué blocks is 48 broderie perse rosebuds and 96 fussy-cut stuffed berries.  However, I remain undecided about what I'm going to do with those nine blocks once they are finished.  I have tried out so many options in EQ8, each one more complicated than the last:

70 x 70 On-Point with Mariner's Compass and Pieced Setting Triangles

In the EQ8 rendering above, I've just duplicated a photo of one finished appliqué block and the EQ8 software lets me see how all nine appliqué blocks will look together when they are finished, combined with any combination of thousands of other blocks, borders, sashings, etc.  It's one of my favorite ways to use EQ8 software, and although designing on the computer can suck up a lot of time, every 10 minutes trying something out on the computer saves me weeks/months/years of cutting up fabric, sewing it together, putting it all together on the wall and then hating what it looks like!  So in this version of the quilt, I'd be making four mariner's compass blocks using scraps of my applique block fabrics mixed with other fabric scraps from the same color family and style.  The centers of the mariner's compass blocks could even be the birds from my Vervain Monado-Havana fabric, the luxe drapery fabric I've been chopping up for my broderie perse rosebuds.  Although the mariner's compass blocks look complicated, the EQ8 software lets me print out foundation paper piecing templates in exactly the right size for my quilt, directly onto newsprint paper (I get mine on Amazon here; this post contains affiliate links), which makes it so easy to get sharp, crisp, perfect points.  I'd appliqué the center circle to each compass.  As of right now, I like the way the pieced setting triangles create an illusion of scallop curves to frame the body of the quilt, but they feel a little heavy -- might reduce the scale and use smaller strips and squares for those so as not to overpower the dainty rosebuds and berries.  

But how nice it would be to just be FINISHED with this already once I have the blocks done?  This quilt, like the 8-year skirt project I finished a couple weeks ago, really has no purpose other than educational.  I wanted to try needle turn appliqué, and I know how to do it now, so it's a "win" for me already and I'd like to move on to something else!  So this is the other, simpler option I'm considering:

Keeping It Simple, 66 x 66 Straight Set with Harlequin Border

In this version, I trim my appliqué blocks to finish at 16" square and set them straight with a harlequin border and little X corner blocks to repeat the X shape of the tulip stems in the appliqué blocks.  Then I've slapped on a 6" wide plain outer border, for feather quilting or whatever.

Pros of the Complicated Version:

  • Although it means a lot more work once the appliqué is completed, the foundation paper piecing of the mariner's compass blocks and the strip piecing of the setting triangles are totally different techniques, so it might feel like a change of pace
  • There are only four mariner's compass blocks
  • This version feels more original and authentically "mine," because it doesn't resemble anyone else's quilt that I've seen 
  • This version would be fun for me to custom quilt.  I like the way the setting triangles and alternate blocks obscure the seam lines between the blocks and create more negative space for quilting.

Cons of the Complicated Version:

  • The more time I spend dragging out the FrankenWhiggish Rose project, the less time I have for other projects I'd like to make
  • Not every quilt needs to be a masterpiece.  Of all the projects I currently have in progress, all of the projects with supplies purchased waiting to be started, and all of the many, many projects I'd like to make someday, do I really want to still be working on this quilt a year from now?

Pros of the Simple Version:

  • I am much, MUCH more likely to finish this version -- maybe even in time to enter it into the Charlotte Quilters' Guild Quilt Show in April of 2024.
  • The simple version keeps the focus on the hand stitched appliqué that I've been working on for nearly a decade
  • The simple version reminds me more of the antique 19th century Whig Rose quilts that inspired me in the first place
  • The 6" wide, plain outer border is a good opportunity to practice stitching a digital feather design that needs to wrap around the corners and meet up with a previously stitched section

Cons of the Simple Version:

  • Is it too boring?  It looks so much like so many other quilts...
  • I'm not as excited about quilting it.  
  • Do I really want to use a quilt top that I've spent a decade hand stitching for digital feather quilting practice?  Will I regret it if the border quilting doesn't turn out perfectly?

I know y'all are going to tell me in the comments which version you think I should make, and that's fine.  My husband already helped me narrow it down from 9 versions to the final two that I'm sharing here.  Here's what I started with all those years ago, a quilt by Joyce Stewart that caught my fancy in the September 2006 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine:

Village Gardens Quilt by Joyce Stewart, QNM September 2006

And here's the quilt Joyce started with, a pattern by Kim Diehl called Country Whig Rose:

Country Whig Rose Quilt by Kim Diehl

Interestingly, I'm not quite as smitten with the color palette of Joyce's Village Gardens as I was when I first saw it.  Color trends are so ephemeral, aren't they?  But I still love the way she pieced her background blocks from different fabrics and the additional detail she added with the third petal layer of the main flower motif.  Kim's Country Whig Rose has a cool folk art vibe that I might have liked enough to just follow the pattern as-is, if I'd seen that quilt and had access to the pattern when I started this project.  I really love the energy of her pieced inner border with those bold triangle points framing the applique.  But I still am not a fan of the hearts on either of these quilts, and I'm glad I put fiddly tulips on mine instead!

One more option for the road before I sign off to get some laundry done: This pattern is called Sarah's Wreath, from Australian quilt designer Michelle Yeo, and it was based on an antique quilt from Connecticut that dates back to the 1850s:

69 x 69 Sarah's Wreath Quilt by Michelle Yeo, Pattern Available Here

The appliqué blocks in Michelle's pattern finish at 15" and although I originally planned for my FrankenWhiggish Rose blocks to be trimmed to a finished size of 16", I might be able to trim them to 15" without losing stuffed berries.  If so, I could buy this pattern, use my completed FrankenWhiggish blocks in place of the nine Sarah's Wreath blocks, and follow the pattern for the sashing and the pieced border.  That would be a little more interesting than my Simple Version, and would eliminate the temptation to experiment with the feather border on this particular quilt.  I also like that the Whig Rose block, the tulip motifs I took from another reproduction quilt pattern, and the pieced border design on Michelle's quilt are stylistically cohesive, all originating from quilts made in the second half of the 19th century.  

I could use EQ8 to do a mock up of that and to experiment with fabrics for the pieced border, and EQ8 would let me print out templates, foundation paper piecing, or rotary cutting charts to make it, but I would still purchase the pattern from Michelle for two reasons: Number one, EQ8 can calculate how much of each fabric you need and help you with cutting it out, but it can't generate instructions to tell you the best way to sew it together.  Number two, and this is important to me -- I believe that the pattern designers who inspire me deserve to make a living.  Michelle's pattern is priced at $32 AUD, which is roughly $21 in US dollars.  If I like Michelle's design enough to want to go to the trouble of making it, I'm going to buy her pattern whether I "need" it or not.  The pattern probably contains useful time-saving tips and maybe even more information about the antique original quilt, and who knows -- I might want to make the appliqué blocks as well someday.

EQ8 Software is 25% Off Through November 30th!

You may all be sick and tired of hearing about Black Friday sales promotions by now.  I know I am!  But if you were at all intrigued by seeing the way I rely on my EQ8 software to help me visualize setting and border options for my quilts, now is a really good time to take the plunge and purchase the software if you've been on the fence.  Now through November 30th, you can take advantage of Electric Quilt's site-wide 25% off sale using the promo code NOVEMBER.  Even at full price, I think this software is worth its weight in gold for the amount of time, fabric and money it saves me because I get to preview all of my not-so-great ideas on my computer screen with EQ8 before I cut into fabric and sew anything.  

Meanwhile, My Scandi Deco Quilt Is Progressing

Number Two Blocks In Progress for My Scandi Deco Quilt

Oh yeah, and I'm still working on my Deco quilt (pattern by Brittany Lloyd of Lo & Behold available here) in fits and snatches!  I'm nearly finished making all 18 of my Block Twos for the top and bottom rows in the quilt and then I'll need to make the 9 slightly different colored Block Twos to go through the center of my quilt, next to my green and blue Block One log cabins.  It would be nice to finish Deco up in time for the quilt show in April, too -- another reason to keep it simple when it comes to the FrankenWhiggish Rose.

Alright, that's all you get from me for today!  Thanks for hanging in with me until the end.  I'm looking forward to hearing which version of FrankenWhiggish everyone likes best, but please know that I'm going to be extremely busy finishing up longarm quilting for clients in the next few weeks in order to meet holiday deadlines before taking time off with my family, so don't take it personally if I'm slower to respond to comments and questions than usual.  Enjoy the holiday season, everyone!

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  


To-Do Tuesday at Quilt Schmilt  


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter


Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation  


Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts

Off the Wall Friday at Nina Marie Sayre

Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty

 TGIFF Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, rotates, schedule found here: TGIF Friday


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts


CathieJ said...

Both of those versions are beautiful. I would pick the one that makes you the happiest and just concentrate on finishing those beautiful blocks into a quilt.

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

I would go with the simplified version--clean, simple, neat. It makes sense. Plus, it would be great if you could enter it in the upcoming quilt show! Just my 2 cents. Enjoy the Christmas season with your family, Rebecca!!!

Karla (ThreadBndr) said...

I actually like the bottom version best. If it were me, I'd buy the Sarah's Wreath pattern, loose the stuffed berries and cut my blocks down to fit the pattern.

But no matter what you decide, it's going to be a masterpiece!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I like the simple version best. I think you sometimes make yourself too many challenges. You have been working on this quilt for years now - you deserve to have it finished. You are a perfectionist almost to the extreme when it comes to your quilt making. I say that in the kindest way - not a criticism

abelian said...

I like Michelle Yeo’s sashing the best, and would try to scale it up to fit the 16” blocks, if possible. I completely agree that one should purchase a pattern to compensate the designer for her idea, even if you could recreate it from the photo. Dot in NC

JustGail said...

Tough choice! I'm going to vote for the simpler version because it keeps the focus on those hand appliquéd blocks.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

I will not help, but both versions are beautiful... Both are featuring very nicely the blocks and all the tiny details, so whatever version you choose this is going to be a gorgeous quilt!
I love your Deco quilt too, and it's coming along very nicely!
Thank you for sharing your work in progress, and linking up ;)

Gretchen Weaver said...

Either version is going to be beautiful! If it were me, I'd finish the simpler one, add beautiful quilting then save it to gift to the first DIL or someone else you really like. Happy quilting!

Vivian said...

Oooh, ahhh, yummy, must finish this heirloom! Okay, I know doing those circles are even more daunting than the broderie perse centers. But here's the thing: don't think about the end, JUST think about the next step. What's doable? One or two borderie perse centers a day or one side of circles? What ever it is, focus on just that and make it small enough NOT to seem daunting. It will get done just like eating an elephant (one bite at a time), LOL!

Gotta say, I love those Mariner's Compass blocks (she says as she thinks about the Mariners Compass quilt she's always wanted to make). If you or a guild friend have an Accuquilt machine, they have a die to cut those for you (no removing paper piecing paper) and their die sales get better and better as we get closer to year end and New Year's. Whatever you do though, you've already put in half the work, might as well bring that baby home however you ultimately decide to finish it. Rootin' for 'ya!! said...

Rebecca, I like both versions and I like Emily's Wreath pattern. The first version is stunning with so much for the eye to view. There is a depth to the design. The second version is a WOW with its simplicity. Looking at it makes me feel tranquility. I'd want to make Emily's Wreath as per the pattern and not cut your current blocks smaller.

Which version is going to excite you the most to stitch? That version would be the one that I would choose!

Ramona said...

It’s exciting to see Frankenwhiggish close to a finish. I’m going to throw in another suggestion. I love the pieced setting triangles in the first design, but my eye goes straight to the mariners compass blocks. I don’t see your beautifully appliquéd blocks. What if you carried the pieced setting triangle blocks to those four middle blocks and “circled” your appliqué blocks? It looks like it would work to make this into square blocks. My eye wants to carry the design to the center. Something to ponder!

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

I have to echo what Ramona said, the mariner compass is distracting. But, I think the expanded version with an alternate block will make you happier in the long run, according to your pros and cons. How about a simpler alternate block, keep the lovely border, and be able to do your feather quilting? Whatever you decide, go with the one that makes your heart sing, not the one that leaves you a bit disappointed in any way.

Anne-Marie said...

I like both your mock-ups. I think the one with the plain border draws more attention to all the appliqué you've done. If I spent that much time hand-stitching, that's where I'd want the focus to be. I am also confident that you will ace the border quilting. But you should, of course, go with the one that you will be happiest with in the end.

Sandy said...

Like everyone else here, I like both of your mock-ups. However, I also think that the simpler one is better, in that it really focuses the attention on your amazing appliqué. The Mariner's Compass blocks in the other quilt grab the attention away from the appliqué. Good luck, whichever you decide to do!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

I kinda go by the "Done is better than perfect" motto, but I gotta say, I LOOOOOOVE the complicated version. You are NOT one to go boring. I think you'll regret doing the "normal" version.

Lani said...

I like both versions you posted, however, I am drawn to the first pic. It just catches my eye more.

Your applique blocks are beautiful. I remember when you started them :)

Kathy said...

Both versions would be wonderful. Your needle turned applique is beautiful. I normally always do things the hard way but in this case, I would most likely opt for the simpler version with its very soft look that showcases your applique work. Don't think you can go wrong with either version.

Gregg Colson said...

Thank you for sharing. And i should also thank you for all your blog posts: one of your earlier ones really helped me when i was looking for specific guidance on machine appliqué! Gotta cast my vote for the complex version, mainly because i love Mariners compass quilts (just completed one of my own designs done in EQ8). But whenever I face a difficult quilting choice, I remember something i read from an award-winning quilter: whenever choosing between easy or hard, choose to put in the hard work because it will be more rewarding in the end (or something to that effect). As others have said, you’re a winner either way because those blocks are exquisite! So follow your heart. Cheers and congrats!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

I won't add my two cents because I think you already know which one you're hoping everyone will vote for. At least, that's how it always works with me! Both are lovely, and there's pluses and minuses to each choice. Listen to your inner Rebecca--she's never wrong!

Thanks for sharing on my weekly show and tell, Wednesday Wait Loss.

Sharon Kwilter said...

I like the first version best, but by now you probably know which one you will do. Both of your projects are stunning. I look forward to watching your progress.

Kathleen McCormick said...

I like both options....and I think it is totally up to what will please you. Do you feel like getting it done or do you want to do even more to this quilt? So whatever floats your boat will be right. EQ8 is a godsend when trying to make these decisions....and a timesaver too. What makes your heart sing? DO that!

dq said...

I really don't know how you decide. For me, it comes down to my mood and desires. If I want a masterpiece, I am willing to go the extra mile. Other times, a finish suits me just fine as there are many other projects begging me to get started on them.

I say go with your heart.

Anna said...

I love the simpler one. If you have to complicate it for your own satisfaction then choose an element from the flower blocks and repeat it around the border. Done is so much better than in a holding pile.