If you find a paint swatch you like, look for a more greyed-out version and it’s probably going to be even nicer. Strangely enough, you can almost do the same thing with fabric, all by turning it over and using the other side!
I found a bin of flannel fabric that was a crazy mishmash of different colours and prints. There was bright-red snowflake-printed flannel from sewing Christmas jammies for my kids, lime-green giraffe flannel from making a baby quilt, and even some purple paisley flannel from nightgowns that once belonged to my husband’s grandmother (proof that I really do hoard fabric from all sources).
Distractedly pawing through the bin while watching something on TV, I flipped a red piece over and noticed it almost looked pink on the other side. Hmm. I flipped the ugly bright green piece, and the back was a softer green. I started laying the different flannels together, upside-down, and they actually looked good together …
I started cutting out squares, with the help of my 6.5” square ruler, and didn’t pay much attention to how many I ended up with. I stopped to count them when I had around 100, and decided to keep going until I had 143 — giving me 13 rows with 11 squares in each row. (This is how I make almost all of my quilts. It’s very loosey-goosey.)
Once I had a pile of “backwards” flannel squares, I laid them out on the carpet randomly in rows. I tried to keep the darkest ones somewhat separated, since they were the most noticeable, but there certainly wasn’t a pattern. I sewed the squares together, row by row, and then sewed all of the rows together to finish the quilt top.
It was around this point that I realized I didn’t have batting (the fluff for the inside) or backing (the back of the quilt that rests against your body). I didn’t have enough flannel to make a back, but I did have a well-loved blue-and-white plaid blanket that was heavy enough to serve as both layers. Done!
After pinning the blanket to the quilt top and trimming away the excess, I used 1/2 meter of white flannel as binding to connect both layers. Then I spent a few evenings hand-quilting the squares while watching TV — no quilting frame required, just a needle, some thread, and my lap. You don’t get picture-perfect quilts this way, but you get to work while you’re snuggled up, so I prefer it. 😉
The finished flannel quilt is deliciously heavy — like those weighted blankets you can buy to help with anxiety and sensory overload. I love cuddling up under it, and sometimes I wrap it around me tightly so I’m like a human burrito.
It’s pretty neat that my new favourite quilt is the love child of an old blue blanket and a bucket of ugly, mismatched flannel scraps — including bright red, lime green and some truly strange patterns.
I suppose the lesson is that if you don’t like the look of a piece of fabric, try turning it over — it might be just right.