Gambrels of the Sky

Quilt Parade: Part One

With all the packing and moving, I haven’t found time for much quilting this summer. My Pfaff is still in the States, awaiting its voyage across the sea. I did bring my one and only hand-quilting project, which I’ve been poking away at (get it? needles? poking?) for over a year, but that’s all I could fit in my suitcase. Each of these English-paper-pieced stars is about 10” across and takes about 2-3 hours to complete, which also happens to be about the duration of my hand stamina. You can see the basic English paper piecing technique in the second picture, which shows the back of a star and its paper templates.

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to compile pictures of all the quilts I’ve ever made so I can keep track of them before there are too many to remember. Most of my quilts are given away as gifts. I try to take photos of them all, but to varying degrees of success. This blog seems as good a motivator as any to finally dig out all the pictures and put them together in one place. I am missing shots of a few quilts, but this is most of them.

Okay, here goes. We’ll move chronologically from oldest to newest. There are too many to post all at once, so this is just “Part One” of the three-part Quilt Parade.

I started quilting “seriously” (and by that I mean I ramped up my hobby) about four years ago. Prior to that, though, I did make—or assist with—a few projects. Exhibit A is the “Fashion Girls” quilt I designed for my tenth birthday. This quilt was put together by my mom, but yours truly painted the startlingly life-like faces and hair styles, all of which seem to resemble idealized versions of my own banged coif at the time. And I picked out the clothes, which clearly foretell the life of high fashion I was destined to lead. Of course, ten-year-olds tend to outgrow favorites quickly, and I’m pretty sure that by age twelve I was already sleeping under something different. Nowadays, I think this quilt is a ridiculously cute relic. Thanks, Mom, for the tenth birthday quilt tradition.

The next oldest quilt on record is this “crazy quilt” I made at “Camp Stitchee Gumee,” the twice-yearly quilting extravaganza created by my mother, grandmother, and aunts. Over the years, I have been an occasional participant at this gathering. I think this picture is from about 2004, and it marks the first time I made my own quilt. It was assembled entirely from the contents of my relatives’ scrap bags. Back then, I wasn’t very good at sewing efficient seams (I’m still not), so, with all its tiny pieces, this quilt is quite heavy.

Next is a queen-size log cabin, made around the same time as the crazy quilt. It was a “challenge” quilt, which means I had to base the design/colors/etc. of my quilt around a piece of fabric chosen by someone else (Aunt Kathy, I think). For this quilt—and many after it—I used the color scheme of the one piece of fabric as a basis for the other fabrics I chose. This way I find color combinations I wouldn’t think of otherwise. If you look carefully, you can see a square of the challenge fabric in the center of each block. The border is a complimentary fabric from the same line. This log cabin is backed in bright orange flannel and was my cozy wintertime bed quilt for several years.

That about does it for the “pre-modern” quilts. In 2011 and 2012, several of my close friends had babies or got married. This spurred me to start cranking out the quilts. Here is a simple “I Spy” baby quilt made for my friend Laura and her son, Evan. It has fabric from several Wisconsin sports teams.

Around the same time, I made this heart quilt for my friend Theresa and her daughter, Nora. The hearts are made from batiks, and the border is Hungry Caterpillar fabric. The heart quilt was the first one that I designed and pieced entirely on my own, with (almost) no help from my mom—aside from the quilting of course. My mom is a long-arm quilter, so she has quilted just about everything I’ve made. Without her, I’m sure my output would be much less—and not nearly as nice!

This quilt (which I don’t seem to have a finished picture of) was for my friends Pam and Will and their daughter, Isla. I tried to replicate a quilt I saw online, but, as is my tendancy, I didn’t do quite enough planning before delving in. By some mathematical miracle (and a little stretching) I got all the pieces to fit together. After it was pieced, I hand stiched on the circles in the middle of each wheel.

To round out the slew of baby quilts that year, this bright “summer snowball” quilt was made for our friends Scott and Julie and their summertime baby, Alzette.

2012 was also a big year for weddings. Dave and I attended six weddings that summer, none of which were in Wisconsin! Among the people getting hitched were several friends from grad school. I made these next two quilts for my friends Sarah and Keith, and Zanni and Frank using a similar wonky square technique but different color schemes in each. Sarah and Keith live in Seattle, so I tried to represent the colors of the ocean, mountains, and evergreens in their quilt.

By the time I got to Zanni and Frank’s quilt, I started making the squares even more off kilter by using fabric strips with steeper angles. The second picture is a close-up of the quilting on Zanni and Frank’s quilt as an example of my mom’s lovely work.

The last quilt of the day is a wedding gift I made for Dave’s sister, Christine, and her husband, Matt. This was my first attempt at a “One Block Wonder.” This quilt is made using a single piece of fabric, carefully folded to be cut into many groups of six identical triangles. These triangles are then formed into hexagons and arranged artistically to be sewn back together. It’s a fairly big quilt, so it took a long time to make, but the most difficult part was trying to figure out the best layout. Below is a picture of the Alexander Henry fabric I used. Also, there’s a shot of the pieces as I hemmed and hawed during the arranging process. And, of course, the final product.

That’s it for this first installment of quilts. If you’re sick of quilt pictures, just skip Parts Two and Three, which should be coming later this week. I’ll be back to the travel writing soon!