The Creation of a Quilt

My nephew is getting married this week.  As I have done with all of my nieces and nephews, that means creating a quilt for the happy couple.  Typically, I have simply “super-sized” an original pattern to make it bed-size.

I will get a bit of input from the couple to make sure I steer clear of definite dislikes of either color or pattern and try to make it fit in with their planned decorating scheme.  For this nephew, and soon-to-be niece-in-law (is that really a thing), they told me that they are doing their bedroom in purple and grey.   That was really the only direction they gave…which is nice.  That means I basically have full, creative license.

So, armed with this little bit of information, it was time to get the creative juices flowing, and get to work.

Which comes first, the pattern or the fabric?

This is really is almost as bad as the chicken/egg conundrum.  Do I start with a pattern and then make sure I to have fabrics that work?  Or do I look for a great fabric and then incorporate it into a pattern?  I will admit, I have done it both ways.  When I designed patterns for Riley Blake Designs, it always started with the fabric.  However, when working from my stash, I will generally start with a pattern and then find the fabrics that will work…I can almost ALWAYS find something in my stash.

So, to Pinterest and Google Images I went.  Scanning pattern after pattern, I was looking for something that looked like this young twenty-something couple.  Things I had in mind were, simple design, modern, quick to piece…after all, they are getting married on Saturday and I have pushed this off to the point where I only had about 10 days to accomplish a completed quilt.  In an afternoon of surfing, I had found 3 possible designs.  However, each were for a lap quilt, and just simply making the blocks bigger didn’t really seem to net a pleasant result.  So, I started playing in Excel.  (I use EQ6 at home, but when I am “doodling” at work, Excel lets me play well-enough).  I came up with 2 designs that I would take home and review with my wife and to start the fabric selection process.  I was leaning toward the concentric squares of differing sizes.

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Two possible quilt designs.  Excel generated “graph paper” is a quilter’s best friend.

Next I went “shopping” in my sizeable stash.  Having been a former store owner, I have the luxury of a stash that is enviable.  I have fabric still on bolts, as well as 3+ yard-cuts of fabric to go to when selecting fabrics for a project.  I pulled just about every piece of fabric I had that was anywhere near the purple/grey color scheme.  Here is where I must admit…scrappy isn’t really my thing, so being able to pull this off was really going to push my limits.

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A small sampling of the purple/grey fabrics that were being auditioned for a scappy wedding quilt…BTW, none of these made it into the final project.

Deciding I definitely had what it took, I placed the sketch and fabric aside.  Making this quilt would need to wait until after two other projects were completed.  I had an “emergency” quilt that needed to be quilted, as a gift for a neighbor battling cancer, from another wonderful, quilting neighbor.  And a customer quilt that I had promised back to them by the end of Conference Weekend. (www.lds.org #ldsconf).

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Quilting for a Cause.  This quilt was pieced by one neighbor to gift to another who is fighting a battle with lymphoma.  #cancersucks
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A beautiful quilt for a customer.  Various buildings surrounding a center block.  It had everything, applique, ribbon embroidery, button embellishments…Beautiful!!

As I was working on these projects, my wife did a bit of Pinterest-surfing herself and found another design.  And though I hate to admit it…it was perfect.  http://www.all-about-quilts.com/joannes-designs-week52.html But like the designs I had found, it was only a lap quilt so it needed to be re-sized and modified.  Fortunately, this time I was home and could play in EQ6.  We came up with the following design.  Still very simple and modern, it had an order about it that made my “it must be symmetrical” mindset calm.

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EQ6 representation of the finished quilt.

The biggest concern was it required over 8 yards of fabric for the background.  Fortunately, we had something that fit the bill quite nicely.

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Majestic Batiks – 1DNX-263.  I love this fabric company.

Measure Twice, Cut Once.  Strike that.  Reverse it.

Now, with new fabrics selected, pattern designed and sized, it was time to start cutting.  I had changed the fabric placements from the original design found on Pinterest so that some strip-piecing could be done to save time.

While I worked on quilting the customer quilt, Stacy, my wife, got started on cutting the fabrics for piecing.  After she had cut all of the “purple” squares, she was at a good stopping point and ready to call it a night…and so was I.  As I looked at her piles of pieces, I simply said, “Oh” and had what my family affectionately calls my “stupid face” look.  Stacy wondered what was with the look.  “So you decided against strip-piecing?”  She looked at her pile and said,”I guess so.”   At least nothing was mis-cut as some of the fabrics only had a couple of inches to spare.  So, rather that strip-piecing, she opted for chain-stitching to assemble the blocks.

Putting it All Together

The next afternoon, she sat at her machine and pieced, while I finished the customer’s quilt.  By the end of the night, all blocks were pieced and ready to be assembled into rows.  The quilt was coming together nicely.  And since it is Spring Break, and she doesn’t have to teach this week, we thought we might actually get it done before the “I Do-s” were spoken.  Assembling the rows and joining them together to create the top went smoothly.  Proper block rotation and pressing of seams in alternating directions really helped when it came time to join the rows into the top.  And, it is times like this, when I am very glad that the “modern quilt movement” has definitely decided that borders are optional.  Sometimes adding four borders to a quilt seemingly takes as long as creating the entire quilt top.  Going borderless on this one, definitely helped meet the impending deadline.

Quilting with Meaning

A few years back, I was asked to quilt a wedding quilt for my cousin’s daughter.  It was nothing fancy, but I wanted to make it something special.  As I doodled to come up with a fantastic design, a combination of smooth, curvy swirls and stark right-angles came to mind.  Filling the quilt with these two juxtaposed designs, was perfect…and it has now become my “go-to” wedding quilt design.

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Close up of quilting design.  It is fairly quick and easy, too.

Why this design?  Well, for me it is the perfect quilting metaphor for marriage.  Two different and distinct individuals come together to create something beautiful.  If there is too much swirl, or too much right-angle, the design becomes unbalanced and looks off.  However, when they work together, each doing their part, the results are breathtakingly beautiful.

Bound Together Forever

The binding is the final step.  Stacy does an awesome job machine-binding quilts.  She is very meticulous and thorough.  I tend to be more of the mindset…it’s the binding.  Let’s get it on and be done already.  She however, takes her time to make sure the binding is properly placed with very little “flappy” edges on the back.  I love it when she has time to do the binding because her results are astounding.

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Finished quilt….not the best picture, and please excuse the messy side tables.

Best wishes to the happy couple as you begin your journey together.

 

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