I made a quilt. It felt like a real departure from other quilts that I have made, and I think I grew a lot as a quilter through the process of making it. The whole quilt is made from one line of fabric – Handcrafted by Alison Glass. It’s a batiked fabric, but unlike any other batik I’ve ever seen. I fell for it wholeheartedly when it came out and I bought a half yard set (something I never do). After we completed our move and I settled into my new space, this was the first big project that I tackled.
I chose to highlight the fabrics in a plus quilt style that has been on my to-do list for a long time. I cut each pattern into four rectangles and 8 squares, put them up on the design wall, and moved them around until I had a good balance of colors and patterns. I pieced in vertical strips because of the rectangles, which made for some nervous seam matching down those long rows. It would have been easier to piece all squares, but I wanted to preserve some of the longer patterns and conserve just a bit of fabric. My seam corners are probably the best they have ever been – practice really does make perfect!
The back needed to be more restful, since the front is a riot of color. I pieced most of the remaining squares into a large plus sign and centered it in a background of yarn dyed Essex linen/cotton in Flax. I didn’t prewash the Essex, but probably should have.
Now for the best part – where this quilt became a whole new experience for me. I have always used a straight stitch in my quilting. I was too intimidated by muscling a quilt through the machine and trying to make free motion quilting look good, so I avoided it. In February, I took a class from Nancy Stovall on one of her long arm quilting machines and then used this quilt as my first project. In the class, I played around a lot with very round flower shapes and long leaf shapes, combining them in a variety of ways along with some echo quilting and pebbles. Rather than try to do a consistent pattern across my first quilt (and frustrate myself in the process), I decided to continue “doodling” my flowers and leaves and things all over the quilt and contrast the organic flowing patterns with the geometric lines of the quilt. At the same time, I think the exuberance of the quilting matches the exuberance of the fabric line itself – the bold colors and shapes. I used an olive toned thread that was a nice balance of blend and contrast with the fabrics. I’m so excited about the new world that learning to use a long arm machine has opened up. I feel so motivated to finish up my undone quilt tops and hustle over there to practice more and develop my skills. That machine is habit forming!
The quilt is bound in another Alison Glass fabric that is a text print along with some remnants of the purple floral from the quilt. I wouldn’t normally bind a quilt in white, but I know the recipient is the kind of gal who can care for a white binding (unlike me). I spent several sunny afternoon hours at the playground with the quilt on my lap, binding away. Then I washed it. The original unwashed size was 60×68″ and the final washed size was closer to 54×60″ – see the not above on not prewashing the Essex. While that was way more shrinkage than I anticipated, I love the soft crinkly feel that it has, and I know that as it is washed more, it will relax to closer to its original size. So in hindsight, next time I’ll either prewash the linen or I will size up the quilt by 10% to account for it.
I’m so proud of this quilt, and really excited to send it to its owner, who is one of my favorite and most treasured people in all the world. I hope she feels the love that is in every stitch of this quilt, as well as all the growth I experienced along the way. She has always inspired me to be a better version of myself, and I think that in surprising ways, the making of this quilt has done just that.