A Quilt of Significance

Once upon a time …. or to be more precise in 2017 the “Through our Hands” textile art group had a great idea: The Portrait Shuffle.

One could sign up for a kit including a canvas, create a portrait of any kind (person, animal, flower, …) in any way (draw, paint, collage, patchwork, photograph, …) and return it to the organizers. All the portraits were exhibited at the prestigious Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, England in August and they all were all shown on a blog created for this special event. After the show, the portraits were shuffled and randomly sent back to the participants meaning you got a portrait back, not your own but somebody else’s. So, you got back an original work of art by an artist from somewhere in the world. You could be the lucky receiver of a portrait/quilt by Alicia Merrett, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, Jette Clover, Linda Barlow, Sandra Meech or any other celebrity of the quilting world. An exciting idea and I wanted to be a part of it.

I was thinking about my portrait for a long time. It should be a kind of quilt not a drawing and it should be in the bright colors that I love so much. I was thinking about a Picasso-like face or a Venetian mask – but no idea was really that appealing. And then I looked down where my dog Felix was happily snoring away under my desk. How about a portrait of Felix? In bright colors?

I looked through my photos of Felix and found a suitable one.

I traced the outline and divided the forms, the lines mimicking the fall of his fur. I fused colorful fabric to the background trying to leave very small gaps between the fabrics. In these gaps I hand-embroidered black lines. (From pre-school on, this was always my favorite way of coloring – black outlines filled with the brightest colors.) I glued batting to the canvas to get the quilty feeling and mounted the portrait. It looked fabulous and exactly like Felix.

And then it happened.

Just for the records: I am not a sentimental or romantic person. I don’t collect things from my childhood, not even things from my daughter’s early years. I have no problem when my husband forgets our wedding anniversary or if somebody doesn’t call me for my birthday. When my grandmother died, I didn’t keep anything from her stuff as a memento and when my father died, I only took over his BMW because it’s a really nice car and I’m an only child and my mother couldn’t use it.
The same goes for my quilts. If I make a quilt for someone, I don’t care what they use it for. Fine if they wrap the baby in it (as intended), equally fine if the dog sleeps on it. Really! I couldn’t understand my friend who was heart-broken when a quilt she gave to a friend was nailed to the wall (with really large nails, producing holes the size of a penny).

And then that all changed.

I was not able to put the portrait in an envelope and send it to England. It was impossible for me to send my own dog away. What if the portrait would have gone to someone who doesn’t like dogs, to someone who would throw it away? For the first time in 30 years of quilting I understood the meaning of “I put all my heart and soul into it”.

For several days I tried to convince myself to send the quilt but I couldn’t bring me to do it. As much as I would have liked to own a quilt by Alicia Merrett or Annabel Rainbow, Felix stayed at home. I really would have loved to be part of that exhibition – next time I will make a portrait of an unknown horse.


A Heirloom Quilt?

The prompt for InstagramQuiltFest today is „Heirloom“. To be honest I never made a heirloom quilt, which for me means a large quilt with a lot of work including appliqué and/or pictures. The closest I got to a heirloom quilt was this LogCabin quilt I sewed for my nephew and his wife when they got married.

She is from Taiwan so I chose red as this is the color for a wedding in Taiwan and combined it with the grey and black for the male part. Some of the fabrics have gold prints to make the whole quilt more festive and sparkling. And as the bride is an architect the LogCabin pattern did fit perfectly.

It’s a king size quilt, of course machine sewn but hand quilted.

It was a lot of work and a lot of stress as we only had a 3 weeks advance notice of the wedding, but also fun to make. And I hope that they use the quilt and don’t regard it as a heirloom to be put into a closet and saved for future generation.


Crazy Chicken Quilt

This is one of my favorite quilts – displayed in my home only a few weeks before and after Easter. The weird chicken make me smile every time I pass by.

The quilt is really easy and fast to sew and you can make it in any size you want.

Make the pattern: Draw a rectangle in the height and width you want your chicken to be. On the upper side of the rectangle mark the middle and draw a triangle as shown in my sketch. Mark the pieces A, B and C. Cut the pattern into the three pieces.

Sewing a chicken: Lay the pattern piece A onto the backside of your fabric and trace around it. Cut out with a ¼ inch seam allowance. Do the same for the B and C pieces. Carefully pin B to A. Pin the corner points together, than add one or two pins in between. Sew B to A. Do the same with C. Sew as many chicken as you like.

Sew the chicken together. I added strips between the blocks but you can also sew them side by side. Add borders on all sides.

For the comb of the chicken lay a piece of tracing paper on the quilttop and trace a comb, don’t forget to trace the top of the chicken (the triangle) as well. This is your pattern for the comb, to be placed on the right side of the fabric (you have to mirror it if you place it on the left side of your fabric). Cut out with a seam allowance if you want to hand appliqué it or with no seam allowance and satin-stitch it in place.

Add two black dots for the eyes, a triangle for the beak and two small pieces formed like waterdrops for the wattles (as the hanging flaps of skin on either side under the beak are called as I just learned on Wikipedia). I fused all of these pieces.

Make a quilt sandwich, quilt, bind and hang on the wall so that you can have your daily chuckle too.

I’m linking this to Off the Wall Friday, Can I get a Whoop Whoop and to Brag about your Beauties.


New York City Quilt

I finally finished this quilt. I bought the panel a couple of years ago but had no idea how to turn it into a full sized quilt. But then my daughter asked for a quilt incorporating this panel and as mothers do, I obliged. I looked around for ideas and found some other panels with 9patch borders. I really liked that. And I had a second panel of Manhattan. So I made some borders – with parts of the second panel in the 9patch border and voilá – it worked out perfectly. I backed the top with batting and dark grey polar fleece and had a perfect birthday gift for cold winter nights.

If you want to make a quilt with a 9patch border the best way to calculate the size of all parts needed is to work from the inside out and then from the outside in. What does this mean?

I started with the size of my panel and then added borders until I reached the quiltsize I wanted. And then I worked backwards, adapting the width of the borders for easier cutting. The 9patch border was planned 8″ (20 cm) wide which means cutting the patches 3⅙” (8,17 cm). So I adjusted the 9patch border to a width of 6″ (15 cm) and I could cut the patchtes 2½” (6,5 cm). Much easier to do. But of course I had to adjust the outer grey border and make it 2″ (5 cm) wider. If you work back in from the outside you can finally adjust the size of the center panel so that everything will fit together perfectly. As a final step I sketched the whole top on graph paper with one square representing one patch of the 9patch.

If you still have a beautiful panel somewhere in your stash and you don’t know how to make a quilt out of it – consider this way of enlarging it. It’s quick, it’s fun and it only needs a few calculations.