When More Is Too Much

“Less is more” and “More is more” are common design mantras. Each has its adherents. A recent design experience took me way beyond “more is more” to deep in the weeds. I’m writing about my recent failure as a lesson that sometimes going for broke can break the piece.

After my Tansy Hargan From Sketchbook to Wall class I was eager to use the techniques taught, so I prepared a smallish (roughly 20 inches square) fused piece which I planned to gussy up with reverse applique, hand stitching, and pen and paint. It started out okay, if a bit pink.


Then I added hand and machine applique, and a bit of embroidery.

Reverse applique and Xes

I thought more stuff would improve the piece, and utterly overshot the mark.

No, no, no

Finally, I cut off some of the hand work and lightened some of the applique with a white marker. The machine stitched bits are impossible to remove as there is a backing fused on.

Where it stands now. I can still remove a few more Xes.

My intention was to evoke the playing pieces used in children’s board games. I wish I hadn’t gone down the embellishment road as the original piece was much more pleasing than the monster I created. I could always cut it up….


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

14 responses to “When More Is Too Much

  1. Penny Bruce

    The beauty of “overdoing” a larger piece is that it certainly gives you more options for selective dissecting, unlike my itsy bitsy 6×6 creations. There are most likely some delightful small portions that could be used on card fronts or in combination with some Jane Davies-like scribbly lines and shapes. Been there, done the “more is too much” scenario many times;)))

  2. Could be because I’m looking at a photo but I don’t think it’s that bad. I love all the stitches and texture. Here’s what I was thinking… Cut a piece of organza that fits the quilt just inside the binding, leave it raw edge and add, scattered about, the names of the board games you were thinking of. Use paint, fused fabric, or glue on paper. Then stitch the organza only to the top edge of your quilt just below the binding. The organza will hang and move when a breeze goes by. First I thought a silhouette of kids playing at a board game on the organza but that seemed a more difficult task; would be for me anyway. Or just cut it up!

    • If I didn’t know you’d shoot me, I’d send this one to you so you could act on your suggestions. Your ideas are clever. I think I’ve mentally consigned this one to the over and done pile. It may be that sometime in the future I’ll want a games themed piece and thanks to your ideas I’ll be way ahead.

  3. While I like the original with its clean, bright look, I have to say I really do like what you did with this. I agree that taking out some of the X’s and using the white marker to soften it a bit was a good idea, I enjoy looking at it and seeing where it takes my eye. I can totally see a child’s gameboard with pieces strewn about. Still, it’s your piece, and if you want to further explore by chopping it up I say go for it. We learn as we go, right?

  4. Barbara Lockwood

    The original had a vibrancy and depth that got muted along the way. I agree that more is sometimes too much. We all misstep now and then but there is still joy and learning in the process. Thank you for sharing your humanness.

    • I am always happy to share my goofs, though I realize that runs counter to the every quilt is great stance of many. Yes, the original got overwhelmed by all my add-ons.

  5. OK, because of reading your analysis, I am looking with a more of a critic’s eye than I usually do. I do like the fact that you lightened up some of the appliques, and I agree with you that a few Xs could go.
    I think the only thing that jumps out at me is the black fabric with the organic print in the bottom right. Everything else seems strictly geometric so my eye is looking for one more organic shape to balance it, and the small bar of it in top left doesn’t feel like quite enough. So I would think to either add something else organic, or go over top of that large piece with more geometric shapes.
    My favorite part is the bottom center, with the soft blended fabric and the tic-tac-toe grid, and I also really like the hand stitched X and O in the center. I much prefer your embellished version to the original and I would never think of this as a failure! I like it!

    • I appreciate your thoughtful analysis. It’s so helpful to get other eyeballs on one’s work. I see your point about organic vs. geometric. I may remove an X or two, but after that will probably leave this alone or cut it up. I’m just sorry I wasted a perfectly nice pink piece.

  6. Sherrie S.

    I’ve gone down that path myself, and it’s not always pretty! I really like your original piece. It’s clean and nice to look at.

  7. Hmm, the X’s really do grab your attention. I am more of a circle fan.

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