Monday, February 09, 2009

A Jumblety Quilt

Quilts are interesting things.

Different people quilt for different reasons. At the local quilt store, I overheard one of the owners describe her customers: "Many of them have engineering backgrounds."

These women tear through patterns like they were puzzles. The backsides of the quilt are neat and tidy pieces of art in themselves.

Historically, women (and Jacob's grandfather) have quilted to conserve fabric, to promote community, and to pass the time. Over the years, patterns have gotten complicated and techniques have become standard.

I incorporate neither of those last two elements in my quilts.

I like fabric. Fabric designs have become works of art in and of themselves these days. It kills me to cut it up into little pieces because then the grandeur of the illustration itself is lost.

Also, I like color. I like finding sets of things that coordinate. However, rarely do the matching colors also have patterns that complement each other. Another strike against lots of little pieces.

Geometry used to compensate for a limited palate. But I have discovered that I like quilts with great big piece of cloth.

Additionally, I'm a little lazy. Who has the patience for precise cuts and measurements?

So, let me show you my process that is guaranteed to horrify every "real" quilter out there.

First, all my designing is done like this.
Measurement is rough and the pieces of cloth are big. This occasionally causes cursing because some little bit of subtraction got done wrong in my head. However, since there is no picture of what it needs to look like, I can usually improvise a fix that looks like it was intention.
Generally, I just cut a little snippet at one end of the fabric and tear to make a straight line. Occasionally, this leaves the edges a little ragged but the benefits of avoiding crooked, jagged edges (I cannot get the hang of rotary cutters) outweighs this cost.

Again, measurement is often relative. How long is this piece? Hold it up against the other piece and cut. Sometimes, I even cut in my lap when I can't clear the table. This can also result in cursing but I can't seem to learn my lesson.When I lived in Washington, Rachel, one of my favorite women there, told me that she sometimes uses old wool blankets as batting. Following her lead, I collected wool suiting from the 60s or 70s that came into the resale store where we worked.I loved this project particularly because every piece of fabric came out of my stash. I needed a blanket to put in between other blanket layers so that only my side was warmer. EAch of the big pieces were purchased either because I could not live without it or because I thought I would use it for a different project. As I was sorting through my collection, they found each other in a great harmony of color. I love that the patterns are so different but they all use the same palette. I was also able to use some of the fabric that I used to back my brother's wedding quilt. I bought it before I knew the final dimensions and just bought the bolt because it was on sale. It is a design of marigolds, which is the traditional flower for Indian weddings.

I did the most basic of machine quilting to keep all the layers together. I don't put much stock into straight lines. Finally, rather than binding the quilt, I just folded over the edges and stitched them down. There were a lot of uneven bits and I just ran right over them with the machine, stretching and pleating to make it all work.
It turned out pretty well, don't you think?

4 comments:

Dave said...

You should come over some time and see the quilt we got as a wedding gift. All of the squares were created by Sarah's great-grandmother and the fabrics were mostly cut out of random items around the house (shirts, aprons, curtains, etc.). It's beautiful.

ABG said...

I'm so relieved that someone else quilts like this. All this time, I was imagining you were an impressario, and lo and behold you're just exactly like me from notes to finish. Whew.

Emily DeWan Photography said...

Not only is this a super-fabulous quilt, but your tights are awesome!

online quilting community said...

You should come over some time and see the quilt we got as a wedding gift.