Isn’t that a great title? I ran across a quilt pattern of the same name at Planet Patchwork some time around July of 2003. That was before I had ever given thought to actually making a ‘sane’ quilt myself. I was a crazy quilter and that was all I knew.
Still, the name, Chaos Harmony, caught my attention. It was a block-of-the-month sampler quilt being offered by Planet Patchwork. Each month they posted instructions for a new section of the quilt for free. Shortly after all the 12 sections had been posted, a new BOM (block-of-the-month) would begin and Chaos Harmony would only be available for purchase. Here is a picture of the original quilt pattern:
I don’t know why, but I decided to download the files ‘just in case’ I ever wanted to try a traditional quilt. This one seemed to have a nice variety of blocks, and would make a pretty nice practice quilt. When I found the quilt pattern, it happened to be at the end of that particular BOM, so all the blocks were available for download.
A few months later, my neighbor Therese, talked me into going with her to Hancock Fabrics once a month for a block-of-the-month they were offering. As I remember, they usually had a BOM going where you buy a kit and got a little class once a month where the block assembly was demonstrated. Then the next month you take your finished blocks back to show and get the next one. In this case though, there was some kind of delay of the fabric delivery for the new series, and the instructor offered to teach a free pattern every month where you choose your own fabrics and don’t have to buy a kit. That is what Theresa wanted to get in on. So I went along and got the first block. It didn’t seem too hard, so I went out and got some fabric and made the first block. It was kind of fun and I looked forward to the monthly trips to Merritt Island for a new lesson and pattern.
If you look here:
you can see pictures of the Hancock Fabric blocks of the month. They are done, but still need assembled.
I was having so much fun making a block a month that I wanted more. So I started working on the Chaos Harmony blocks along with the Hancock blocks. I didn’t feel confident enough to actually go out and buy yardage for this quilt. I didn’t know if I would finish it and I didn’t expect it would turn out well enough to justify the cost of new fabric. I decided I could get some white muslin and use that in place of the black. Then I would use scraps of fabric for the other colors — for example, where the pattern wanted red, I would use a red or pink or orange from the scraps I had. And I would use different red fabrics for each area. The same with the blue, green, yellow etc. That seemed practical to me. At that time I didn’t have a big stash of fabrics, so I did purchase a few fat quarters along the way to fill in when I needed something different, but that didn’t seem to be a big expense.
I don’t know precisely how long it took me to get all the blocks together. As I recall, I worked on them now and again in between the Hancock blocks. For some reason (maybe because the blocks were odd sized) I never scanned or photoed them as they were completed. The only picture I have is of the blocks assembled, before they were sandwiched with the batting and backing. Here that is:
I added a 2″ border of black and then the white border just like the pattern, with half-square triangle blocks in the corners, but I guess I didn’t take a picture of that. So this picture is about a year after I found the pattern. I guess that tells us how long I spent on that part.
I had joined the Seaside Piecemaker’s quilting guild by then and had found out about all the mistakes I had made. This quilt is a wonderful lesson in what not to do. I am kind of surprised I could even get it together. Anyway, some time after that I got batting and more muslin for the back and started learning machine quilting. I would work on it for a while, get frustrated and put it away for a while, then get it out again and work on it some more. I even got a new sewing machine, because my Singer just wouldn’t do the free-motion quilting that I wanted to do. My Kenmore does better, but there is still a big gap between what I want to do and what I am capable of.
Mostly this quilt stayed folded up on a shelf while I worked on other things.
A couple weeks ago I dragged it out again. I was thinking if I finished quilting it, I could use the quilting pins holding it together to get started quilting on my duvet quilt. So I have been quilting it a little bit at a time. It was nearly done and there were just a few areas that needed quilted. I really like this quilt even with all it’s little mistakes. It was coming along nicely, and I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Last week, I was washing out the water soluble marks that I had used to quilt on that big red flower and the red of the fabric bled all around into the white and through to the back, leaving a big ugly pink mark. It was very sad to think that when I put that quilt together I didn’t know you were suppose to pre-wash your fabrics (especially reds and purples) because the dye sometimes bled even in good quilt shop fabrics). Well, there was nothing to do but keep working on it. I didn’t want to toss it out after all this time. I thought maybe I could rescue it with a product called Color Catcher, or at worst it was just another lesson. If I ever was to teach someone about quilting, I could take out this quilt and say, look here, don’t do this. and see over here, don’t do that either.
I got the Color Catcher (it is a Shout product) at Walmart. The instructions say to use one or two sheets (they look like fabric softener sheets), so I used three. I rolled up the unfinished edges of the quilt, and basted them closed then washed the quilt. A lot of the misplaced red came out and the color catcher sheets were very pink. Then I washed it again with three more sheets. I didn’t put it in the dryer and used cold water for both washes. This time the sheets came out white and almost all the bled color was gone – even on the back. So I finished the quilting and put on the binding. Success!
So, I said all that to say this – here is my Chaos Harmony quilt. Isn’t it cute! Except for the Hancock blocks, this is my oldest quilt. Almost the first I made. I learned a lot about quilt making from this (mostly about what not to do), and I totally love it.