Well that took forever. Or at least felt like it did. My First Commission (MFC) is done. Fin, au revoir, ciao, adios. Now it’s rolled up and bound, set in a corner just waiting to be delivered to the interested individual who commissioned it, despite the fact that little more than a week ago I was tearing my hair out trying to finish-the-damn-thing-already. As fate would have it, it won’t move to its new home until late July.
To recap, this is a blog about making quilts from old clothes (and other found materials) and the last time I had anything to show for MFC was this pile of triangles
The starting point for this quilt was that it match the curtains in its intended bedroom. That color sits on top of the pile below
Then my mother-in-law, commissioner behind My First Commission, gave me a page from the LL Bean catalog
Inspired by the abundant white background, I messed around with the triangles until I arrived at a simple flying geese pattern
The 5 x 5 blocks above contain 50 triangles and are approximately 18 inches square. I needed 20 blocks (or 1000 triangles) for a queen-sized quilt. Much cutting ensued. This endeavor brought to mind a friend whose last name is Cutting. I wondered about the origin of his name. Did it come from a task turned into an occupation, like Miller or Smith? Is it ironic that he also works with fabric and textiles? This is where the mind wanders when the body is rooted to a rote assignment.
What happened next might be dubbed individual mass production:
The seams are iron-pressed to flatten the squares
The squares are sewn together to make rows
And rows are sewn together to make the 5 x 5 square
The basic block, this one in a mad yellow:
Time out here to tell you about one of the recurring fabrics in this quilt. It is a floral on a beige background, and it counterbalances the color-rich Forest Swatch and Raspberry Geranium. But that’s not why I’m telling you about it. This fabric is remnants from dining room curtains my mother-in-law made 43 years ago. I’m so delighted to have found a use for something that’s been sitting in a drawer for a lifetime. This is the essence of a Patwig quilt.
At this stage the project’s size requires me to move out of my workroom. As I finish blocks I lay them down on the floor, and begin to think about how to border it.
Then the blocks are sewn into rows, and the rows sewn together until it is one large rectangle. This is where it gets a bit unwieldy.
For a border I hope to use some of the green triangles that now seem to be everywhere, but I feel it needs a gradual transition — it’s too abrupt to place the darkest color alongside the lighter blocks. And the overall block pattern is too large to finish with a mere four-inch border. Cue the curtain floral:
Unfortunately, for the green border I have nothing but triangles, so production slows while those are sewn into squares, then rows …
This is the biggest quilt I’ve ever made. Me and Modest Machine are officially riding in uncharted territory as I prepare to sew seams along the carefully pinned and folded beast
Imagining women creating quilts of similar size with only needle and thread and no electricity puts me in awe. Here’s a book I enjoyed that describes women doing just that during Westward Expansion in the U.S. After pressing the seams, the quilt top is done. But there will be no rest for the weary. Backing and fill remain!
I made a backing from the remainder of the bedskirt and “Sear’s Best” white twin sheets that my mother-in-law purchased for her oldest son when he was at college. He never used them, and she still had the unopened package. The fill is all-cotton batting purchased new from the City Quilter.
The final step is to attach the layers, which I do by hand-tying with yarn. The floor is the only surface large enough for it to lay flat, a requirement while the layers are not secured together, and I scoot around, sometimes blanching in discomfort, while pulling yarn with a needle through three thick layers of fabric many times over.
Once enough ties were in to give the quilt stability, I hung it over the banister and finished off the remaining ties while more comfortably seated on a chair. As the pins and needles drained out of my legs I began to like MFC again.
If you have a hankering to gather together some of your old clothing or other fabrics and fashion them into something useful (and perhaps meaningful, depending on the clothing), I will be interested in taking quilt commissions beginning in early August. Thanks for making it to the end.