The first thing I saw when I put them up on the design wall was that they were a pretty uninspiring lot. Lots of pretty little calicos, but not consistantly. There's one block that's black and white, and another that has some pretty vivid yellow hand-dyes in it. There's a good bit of brown, and blue and green, but they don't really go well together. And the overall effect is pretty muddy and blah.
So I turned to Sharyn Craig for inspiration. She has a whole book devoted to setting blocks that takes ugly ducklings and turns them into pretty respectable swans. The first message was that the finished quilt can be whatever color you want it to be. And she shows examples from blocks laid out on different colored backgrounds to make her point.
Now these blocks are pretty small and plain, and there are quite a lot of them. I don't want to make two quilts, and I don't want the finished quilt to be enormous, so that limits how much extra fabric I want to add. But I decided to pull some strips out of the scrap bin and see what I liked.The red seemed to do the most for the blocks, and there is no clear red in any of the blocks themselves. So that seemed a natural choice for the sashing. But then yellow is my favorite neutral color, and I immediately saw what I wanted the sashing to be:
That pretty yellow star does quite a bit to distract from the surrounding blocks. But by itself it's not quite enough. The colors are still pretty muddy. So the next step is going to be to overdye the blocks and see if that will add some zest to the mix. I can visualize the final product - a bunch of blocks of varying shades and intensities of blue. But right now I don't really know how to do it.
The good news is that Quilt University is going to be offering some dying classes next month. So I will be patient and take the classes and get some guidance in my experimentation, and then see what I can turn these blocks into. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other things to work on.