Back in 2001, I wanted to make myself a fast and easy bed quilt. I owned a full-sized mattress but was attending sewing retreats where I slept on a twin. Because it was smaller, I assumed a twin-sized would be faster to make, especially if I picked an easy pattern. Apparently, I do not know how to do easy.

This is a great book, full of fun exercises to improve your quilting color confidence.

The color scheme was a no brainer. The year before, I made a quilt for a charity auction in purple and yellow using an exercise from Color From the Heart by Gai Perry. Even though the broken dishes blocks were half purple, half yellow, I believed I was making a purple quilt. I was shocked when I was done, because it wasn’t at all what I imagined.

Not Purple Enough (2000) by Kit Dunsmore. (From an old film photo.)

So my retreat quilt would be purple. Very purple. Purple enough. Inspired by Color from the Heart, I used an analogous color scheme centered on violet, ranging from blue-green to red-violet. I used a wide variety of fabrics from my stash to get the scrappy look I love.

I still like the blocks in this book. I just realize now that they aren’t as easy to make as I thought.

To make the quilt easy to piece, I used the stack and slash blocks described in Cut-Loose Quilts by Jan Mullen. I love the wonky look of her interpretation of traditional blocks and I would save time by avoiding the agony of precise piecing that traditional blocks usually require.

Blocks I auditioned while designing Purple Enough.

After trying a few different block patterns, I realized I liked the Ohio Starz the best. Sashing helped to set them off (and reduced the number of blocks I had to make). Unfortunately, these “imprecise” blocks were complex. In a traditional Ohio star block, many of the pieces are interchangeable, but in these wonky blocks, each piece is unique. It took a lot of focus to keep track of which piece went where and I could only make one block at a time.

Purple Enough during construction

Once I’d sewn the top together, I let it sit for over twenty years. Maybe the difficulty in putting the those supposedly-easy blocks together had turned Purple Enough into a project I dreaded. Maybe it was because I moved west, and would no longer be attending the sewing retreat I was making it for. Probably it was the simple fact that I had come to my least favorite step in making a quilt: basting. Before I can quilt it, I have to pin the layers together*. It’s a hassle, it’s boring, and I get stuck at this stage with nearly every quilt I make.

Purple Enough (2023). Quilt by Kit Dunsmore

Then I came across this quilt top while doing a studio inventory this past March. My annual writing retreat, where I sleep on a twin bed, was coming up at the end of May. I realized I could still use Purple Enough as a retreat quilt, just for a writing retreat instead of a sewing one.

Purple Enough’s back. I didn’t have enough of the striped fabric I originally bought for the back, so I used a panel to stretch it out. Result: the back wasn’t fast either.

Having an occasion for using the quilt made a huge difference, because it gave me a deadline. I spent most of one weekend quilting it so that I would have it done in time for the retreat. It gave me immense pleasure to sleep under a new-old quilt, one that I first envisioned over twenty years ago but only finished a few weeks ago.

Purple Enough lying on the pillowcase I made to store it in.

My fast and easy quilt was neither, and I’m glad. I could have gone with a simpler pattern. I could have used just five fabrics. I could have made all the blocks identical to allow for assembly-line sewing. But I don’t think I would have loved the result as much as I do.

What fast and easy project wasn’t as fast and easy as you had hoped?

*I know people spray baste to make this go faster, but I can’t have those chemicals in my house.

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