The Camping Quilt (and the long winded story of how it came to be)

Before I go into my long ramble, I'm going to show you the top I'm talking about.  It's one of the struggles when i talk about finished tops, that the finish photo is last, so it's not the pretty thing you get to see when you first click over! Well, I'm breaking the rules this time and showing you a hint of the "pretty" first.

And now to the process...

If you remember back to when I shared my full WIP list (here) I had a couple of things that I had greyed out... They were potentially being turfed because I had fallen out of love/inspiration/they weren't what I thought they'd be.

One of those projects was called "Improv (green & cream)".  This name, while theoretically quite descriptive, was actually very deceptive, because it's not "green and cream", it's brown and beige (and orange, green & blue).

But why on earth would I ever make a quilt that's brown and beige (and orange, green & blue)?... Let me tell you...

Way back when, we were planning to do a road trip through the Aussie desert (which we did in 2016 and was awesome, but that's another story for another time), I had the brilliant idea that we should have a camping quilt.  If you know anything about the Australian outback, you'll know we have red dirt... lots and lots of red dirt.  And we were planning to get pretty stuck into it.

With this in mind, I knew any "camping quilt" needed to be able to hide dirt (so not the place for my low volume love).  It needed to be able to be dragged into and out of our muddy 4WD and into a tent.  It might be co-opted for a picnic blanket... the goal was sturdy, utilitarian, not precious.
I aimed for the scrap bins.  Because nothing says "sturdy, utilitarian, and not
precious" like scrap quilts (although there are scrap quilts that are not any of those things).
At some point (who knows when or why) I seem to have acquired some brown scraps.  Perfect! They will blend in with the dirt in the mountains.  Orange, to blend in with the red dirt in the desert.  Green, to reflect all the bush and trees etc and so I can get grass stains on it and not worry.  And then a bit of blue just to add a hint of freshness.  I pulled a random creamy/beige paisley from stash (that I bought for who knows what reason) and cut 10.5" squares and then chopped them into triangles and started adding strings.

I made about 10 squares before it came time to go to the desert, so clearly I wasn't taking this with us.
We had an amazing trip and saw huge swathes of the country, the boys got gloriously muddy on dirt roads, and we went through the tiny little 2 man towns that are urban legend, and we got stranded at a pub for three days, and I touched Uluru,  and we saw emus up close, and all good things (sorry this is turning into a holiday slideshow... I'll get back to the quilt).

The end result of the epic trip was that when we got home and I had zero desire to have a camping quilt.  After 6 weeks in a tent, there was nothing I wanted less than a reminder of camping.  Not only that... it was kind of ugly.  And while ugly quilts were necessary for a desert quilt, it's not actually my goal for real life.
And so the pieces got shoved in a shoebox and shuffled off to the side of my sewing space.  Not put away away, because they were "in progress" and the rules of my sewing room mean that they have to stay in sight until the top at least is finished or else they get forgotten... but it does mean that there is an unacceptable amount of clutter going on on my sewing table that adds to my stress sometimes.

Flash forward a year and half (and we've been away for 7-8 months of that) I'm cleaning up my sewing room and I decide enough is enough. This quilt has either got to get pieced or get donated to an orphan block drive or get thrown out or something, because it is taking up valuable real estate.
I have a strong policy on not sewing if you don't love it, which is part of why this has been put off over and over again. I don't love it. But it will have a purpose when it's done.  I would actually love to have a camping quilt.  And I'm never going to be able to take one of my "good" low volume quilts camping.  So while it might not be pretty, I will love *using* it. And that is why it hadn't actually been thrown out up to this point.

I laid out what had already been pieced... I had a cot sized quilt, if I wanted to call it done.  Ideally for that size, I'd make another 2 blocks which I was prepared to do. But then I thought "well how many blocks would I need to have it full sized? And how much of this ugly background fabric, that I'll never use for anything else, do I have?"

Turns out I had enough background fabric to bring it up to 30 blocks.  And 30 blocks is a good size top (around throw size).  So I pulled out the scrap jars again (having just tidied them up and put them away) and set myself up a production line.
Sewing table mid construction is not exactly an "attractive" site lol

It was not pretty. It was not fun.  But I sewed each night until I was done with it (which sometimes was 15 minutes and sometimes was a couple of hours).  Two weeks later and I had all the blocks made and ready to go.

And because this is a scrap quilt, there are actually some really nice fancy fabrics in there.  And there are pieces of past quilts, which is actually really nice and makes this feel like it belongs to me.  And while I know my logic for this colour scheme was solid, and while there are cute fabrics included in the mix, I have to acknowledge that this is an ugly quilt. Practical, yes. But not sexy in any way.

There were a couple of options for combining these blocks (some really fancy cross cutting could have been cool, but would mean more work... how about no) and I ended up going with simple diamonds off-set from each other.

Sewing together these improv triangles with the seams going every which way and no possibility of nesting was fun... the price you pay for improv/not making a proper plan before you start I guess!!

And I had some shot cotton left over from working on Kim's quilt which is why I added the green borders, which helped to grow this a smidge.  I mean it might be a camping quilt, but I still love to snuggle in so size is important to me ;-)  It's still only throw size, but it covers my whole body and that's sufficient for this quilt.

I plan to back it with some yardage I had in stash - a snuggly flannel just because cozy is a win, and I wasn't worried about it being pretty so I could use something without worrying that Ashley will like/dislike it (fyi: he totally hates this backing, but I think it's cute!)

And now I will quilt it and you will never see it again.  Because this quilt is not for pretty pictures, but for hard labour - that's why it was sent to the colonies ;-)

E xx