While the snow falls and falls here on Charles Street, I am contemplating my first commission.  My mother-in-law, for whom I have made three quilt-top pillows, has asked for a new bedspread, and wants to pay me to make it.  Her primary request was that it pick up the color of her new curtains, a green called “forest.”  I’m excited, but also a little intimidated.  If she’s going to pay me (“commission” sounds so much nicer), it needs to look nice, stand up to repeated washings, and appeal to her.  I sketched a couple of my basic quilt pattern variations that I feel comfortable with (log cabin, flying geese) and gave them to her, suggesting she mull over which she might like, and she said she would defer to me on pattern choice.  Yikes.  What to do?

Here are the pillows I’ve made for her that seem to have inspired her confidence:

I asked her for some fabric, and I would have loved to make it out of her or her late husbands old clothes, but she’s already donated such unwanted items to the Salvation Army.  So she gave me a forest swatch leftover from her curtains and I took it along to the Salvation Army on 8th Avenue and used it to select fabrics for her bedspread quilt-top.  Today was Yellow Tag day at the Salvation Army.  That means all items marked with a yellow tag were 50% off.  Though I meant to focus on green items, thinking I’d use my voluminous store of fabrics for the colored bits, I quickly went off the rails, and came home with all this for about $28:

Four men's button-downs, two women's skirts, one women's pant and one bed dust-ruffle. Yardage? Who counts yardage?

I’m proudest of the dust ruffle.  For $2.99 this may give me the unifying background fabric that will border whatever design prevails for the quilt, as well as a plain fabric for the backing.  Quilting books (I have a small library that guides my efforts) often caution not to use sheeting fabric for quilts because of the tightness of the weave, but my disregard for this standard demonstrates why I am a “non-traditional” quilter.

So what I’m going to do here is chronicle my quilting process.   The pile of clothes in the picture above went right into the washing machine

Luckily, the washer/dryer is just down the hall from my workspace.

and once washed and dried I will begin cutting it all up.  Does that sound tedious?  It can be, but sometimes I do it while doing other things that don’t demand my full engagement (playing Scrabble, monitoring my boy’s homework, waiting for the laundry).   Usually in the process of preparing the fabrics (washing, cutting up, ironing) I get a sense of how they will work together.    Here’s an example of the “Chinese Coin” pattern, which can be readily assembled when you have a lot of small strips and larger, longer pieces for border:

Chinese Coin, December 2009. Nearly all recycled clothes, with "batting" repurposed from old cotton curtains.