What I learned is that if I'm not liking the look of something ... cover it up! Some things just work better in the background and don't look half bad when they're not staring you in the face!
So here are the two pieces that started out as blue and tan upholstery fabric samples...
I painted some Tyvek and stitched it on top, then melted it (of course!) and added the flowers. All in all a pretty successful experiment and a good bit better than where it started!!! I still have some of the painted piece left to do something a little bigger for myself.
The other piece that I remade started as a journal quilt (8.5x11"). I forgot to take a photo of it before I attacked it, but my thought was an abstract nature scene. I took a beautiful hand dyed fabric to use for the background, stitched some wide green blades on it and the added some chopped up bits of colorful fabrics. It wasn't doing anything for me, so I got out my paints and painted some flowers on that baby. Let me tell you, it was U*G*L*Y. It has been sitting in the "look at this mess you made!" pile for a loooooooong time. So ... I covered it first with green dyed cheesecloth. Good. Not enough. Then I found a black and gray striped sheer that I bought at Walmart for $1/yd. I stitched that on top as well. Then I took my heat gun to it and found that the lighter sheer areas melted away easily, while the darker areas took a little more effort. Thus, the stripe remained but I could see the colors and whatnot inbetween. I added some paper towel pieces (actually made by my daughter) and some hammered metal swirls (something I just learned to make - aren't they great?) and I just love these pieces. I made two, but here's just one as they are both pretty much the same.
So the moral here is: don't ever give up on a piece, and when it doubt, cover it up!