Good Cheer: A Visit with Jen Daly

jendalyheadshot 272x300 Good Cheer: A Visit with Jen DalyWelcome guest blogger, quilt designer, and quilting teacher, Jen Daly. Jen’s new table runner quilt pattern, Good Cheer, blends traditional quilt blocks with a fun, updated color palette. You’ll find this quilt in the Quick Quilts October/November 2016 issue. We’re happy to have Jen here to talk about her lovely quilt and fill us in on her process! 

Hi! I’m Jen Daly—a quilt designer, blogger, and a new quilting teacher. I’m thrilled to be here as a guest blogger today and to have the opportunity to tell you about my quilt, Good Cheer!

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Good Cheer is an 18″ x 52″ table runner that’s colorful, fun, and easy to make. I love this quilt—it makes me happy just to look at it—but it was a long and winding road to get to this cheery finished product!

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This table runner quilt pattern started with the idea for a Christmas row quilt. I thought it would be a great way to showcase some of my favorite Christmassy quilt blocks such as stars, gift boxes, and ornaments.

After sketching my idea in pencil on graph paper (my favorite way to design), I decided it was time to give it a whirl in EQ7.

I played around with some ideas using traditional colors: red and dark green. While the quilt design was looking good, the color palette seemed to be lacking some oomph. So, I decided to let the idea marinate for a while…

…until I saw this gift box while Christmas shopping at a craft store. It was actually part of a set (so cute!):

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The bright red, green and, especially, the turquoise called out to me and I realized I’d found my color palette. It was time to go shopping!

Finding the red, green and turquoise turned out to be the easy part. The background fabrics turned out to be a little tougher. I loved the black on the original box, and the way the white lettering reminded me of a chalkboard, so I started by collecting some black and white prints.

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But, then I realized that the black and white prints combined with red, green, and turquoise AND four different blocks in a scrappy quilt pattern might just be too much. So, I decided to quiet the quilt down by using black, tone-on-tone fabrics for the background.

The end result was this:

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I’d added some filmstrip borders because I was afraid that the background was too much black, but then decided they were unnecessary, and really made the quilt too busy. So, I pulled them out and reassembled the quilt without them.

Here’s Good Cheer, take two:

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Not bad, right?  The colorful blocks really pop against the black background, but I realized that black might not be for everyone. I decided to go back to the EQ7 drawing board to see what the quilt would look like with a light background, and the quilt evolved, yet again.

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I added a row of friendship stars to the center of the quilt to help out with the proportions of the table runner and decided that it was definitely cheerier with the lighter background.  Shopping time again!

Good Cheer 900px 300x300 Good Cheer: A Visit with Jen DalyAnd, wouldn’t you know it, I found the perfect white micro dot fabric with red and green polka dots and, as luck would have it, there was just enough fabric left on the bolt for my quilt. I remade the quilt with the micro dot, my friend Joyce Lundrigan worked her magic with the longarm quilter, and finally, Good Cheer emerged. Success!!

Not all of my quilts go through such an evolution before I arrive at the finished product. Sometimes the quilting stars align and pattern, color, and fabrics all fall into place. More often, though, design is a process. There’s the initial inkling of an idea, followed by trial and error, a lot of thought, a bit of hand wringing, and finally, a beautiful quilt.

The moral of the story: be open to inspiration (you never know where it will come from!), trust your instincts, enjoy the process, and don’t give up on a good idea! Oh, and one more thing, keep your seam ripper handy!

Thank you, Jen!

We’d love to hear from you, quilters! Leave a comment below about this lovely table runner quilt pattern, stories of your own, or tips you have to share. It’s always fun to hear from the quilting community.

If you’d like to make the Good Cheer table runner and don’t already have a copy of the Quick Quilts October/November 2016 issue, you can order print and digital magazines in our online shop. The Good Cheer quilt pattern is also available separately as an instant digital download.

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