The Inspiration Behind Go Big, Go Bold–Large-Scale Modern Quilts

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So often, I am asked what inspired me to write  Go, Big, Go Bold–Large-Scale Modern Quilts. The answer is simple: to quickly teach others what it took me years to learn–how to make great, sizable, quilted projects within days as opposed to within months or years. Case in point is the Big Pennant Quilt, just one of the ten patterns included within the book.

This 45" x 60" lap quilt can easily be made in a weekend, or even in a day if you have your nose to the grindstone. The secret? The top is made with just fourteen pieces! Just fourteen pieces, and I dare say that this quilt has just as much color, interest, impact, and warmth as a 140-piece quilt top. By quilting standards, making a quilt from start to finish in a single weekend is instant gratification, but the journey that got me to this point was anything but quick and easy.

I’ve been a quilter for many years, so many that I am not even sure when it all started. I have some fabrics in my stash that I can date back to 1982, so let’s call it 30+ years. Sadly, I can also say that during this time, I have started and abandoned more projects than I care to admit. Why? Here’s a short list of the reasons:

  • Short attention span–I have the attention span of a common house fly. Call it inability to concentrate, lack of stamina, immaturity, call it whatever you like, the result is the same. I quickly lose interest in my project of the moment, and if I do not bring it to a swift conclusion, something shinier and more interesting will walk by and lead me to reckless abandon. I know that this is not a condition unique to me. Do a Google search for "UFOs" (UnFinished Objects) and you’ll see plenty of scientific evidence of their existence.
  • Unexpected result–Sometimes, a project just doesn’t seem to be going in the direction that it was intended to go. Maybe the fabrics aren’t blending as anticipated, or perhaps a lack of contrast is making a pattern disappear. Whatever the reason, it is no fun working for hours and hours on something that is no longer appealing. For me, no fun equals "let’s start something new!"
  • Modern lifestyle–Let’s face it. Our modern lifestyles are chock full of activities: work, chores, holidays, vacations, family issues, and appointments, just to name a few. Often, obligations necessitate putting aside a project. For me, a lengthy shutdown often results in project abandonment. If duty calls and I can’t finish a Halloween project by October 31 st, for example, the last thing I want to do is finish it in December. I am more likely to pack it away with the best of intentions of finishing it the following year, hoping that if or when I remember to resurrect it, I still like it and want to finish it. Often times, however, this has not been the case.
  • Imagery overload–Thanks to the internet, we now have boundless access to every fabric, pattern, and quilting idea ever conceived. This curse blessing continually lengthens my "must-do" list, making it more tempting than ever to throw over a work in progress for a fresh, trendy, exciting, new project. A project that, unfortunately, may soon fall out of favor due to my short attention span (refer to bullet number one). And so it goes.

The solution? Go Big, go bold. The premise? Get it done.

Get it done within a reasonable amount of time, using a reasonable amount of effort. Circumvent that short attention span, and get that big quilt done before you mentally run out of steam. Make one dozen big flowers, not six dozen little ones.

Get it done, before the birthday party, not the graduation party, when it is no longer relevant or on trend.

Get it done, and get what you want. Take advantage of  Go Big, Go Bold’s six palette suggestions for each pattern and sound fabric selection tips about scale, value, and contrast.

It’s tried and true. This big, bold way of quilting works for me, and I’m sure it will work for you. Feel the pride of accomplishment and the satisfaction of finishing what you’ve started. It’s time for you to Go Big, Go Bold and get it done!

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  • Barbara Cain
  • Go Big Go Bold
  • quilting
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