Friday, June 22, 2007

This Quilting Thing

What is it about quilting that does this to me? I wake up each day wondering how much time I"ll have, how much progress I'll make on my current projects. When I'm nearing the end of one or beginning a new one, I'm positively giddy with anticipation.

I suppose part of it is that I revel in every step.

Choosing fabrics and laying them out, seeing how they play off of each other, how subtracting or adding another changes the dynamic.

Cutting it into neat little stacks of colorful shapes.

The whir of the machine as a chain of pieces comes out the other side.

The stacks of crisply pressed units which make the pattern begin to dance in my head.

The blocks to sew into rows, then rows into the finished top. As it comes together I so often see there more than I anticipated.

And, of course, the quilting. There is something about that needle in my hand, the motion of sliding the thread through the colorful layers that instantly brings me peace.

My first real experiment with color was on a mystery quilt. Until then, my color choices had been rather safe and simplistic. When the opportunity came to do this mystery with a bunch of my chatting friends, I remembered this piece of fabric I'd found in the discount room of a quilt shop. I only paid a few dollars a yard for it and it intrigued me.

Initially I tried to work as much out of my (then small) stash as possible and found two fabrics I thought would work. I took them and the border piece with me to the store...and it just wasn't working. I laid them across bolt after bolt...and nothing. It looked drab and out of sync.

I nearly gave up, then tried one more time. I abandoned the fabric I'd brought with me and started fresh. I found a light purple, a brown with little birds on it. A nice cream and a rust with a print. Who puts rust and purple together? I didn't even know what this block looked like. I laid out those four colors and they looked hideous...until I put the border piece across them all. I'm sure I looked like a fool with my mouth hanging open in that store.

I tried to explain the fabrics to a friend across country and, of course, it's so hard to picture...back then we didn't have a digital camera, so I sent her swatches of each. When they arrived, I told her to lay the four next to each other. "Um...they look pretty bad," she said. I told her to lay the border fabric over them. "SUZY!!" She exclaimed. I knew then she saw what I did and I couldn't wait to proceed, though still a bit anxious as I didn't know how these fabrics would be placed.

As the blocks came together, I did like them, but they didn't make my heart pitter patter. I dutifully made all the pieces, wondering if the finished product would end up a picnic quilt and a footnote in the "Don't Try This At Home" section in my brain.

As we placed the final pieces, though, and I saw those colors and prints come together, I knew I had taken a giant step in color selection. I also knew not every quilt would make my heart sing, not every one would make me gasp. And that was ok. This one, though still remains one of my favorite quilts, not only because I stepped out of the box, but because it brings up so many fond memories. As I worked through the steps of this quilt, my quilt chatting friends merrily typed away, our virtual quilting bee encouraging me as we all worked through our first mystery quilt.


Belvie said...

Isn't it amazing how one fabric can just bring everything together! I love the effect of that border print. Beautiful quilt!

Pieces From Me said...

Hey, I remember that border print and the whole process of those fabric choices!! I also remember not being any help as I still only put my big toe outside my own box!!

Linda said...

Beautiful quilt, although I can't see the rust, and I do have my new specs

Rose Marie said...

It's amazing what one fabric can do to make a quilt! Great job done. The sashing is quite different from the usual. I can see why this is a favourite.