I write from the Darklands of Lower Manhattan, where Patwig is camping at home, Modest Machine sits idle , and I have plenty of time to conjure my 19th century ancestors who made queen size and larger quilts without electricity in a house just like mine.
And I’m thinking of Tom and Todd, many blocks north in the Land of Light and Heat, for whom I made a queen size quilt before Hurricane Sandy came to town. Luckily my husband’s office has working backup power, so I can blog about making it now.
Our block the morning after the power went out. We were fortunate to lose only trees on the block and in our backyard. For many families and neighborhoods it was much, much worse.
Earlier this fall I showed and sold my quilts at a Sunday fleamarket in Manhattan, where Tom and Todd happened by my table. They admired a twin sized quilt I made in September
This is a block style of my creation, an improvisational log cabin using scraps of varying sizes. Tom and Todd liked the modern and masculine aesthetic
Even better than admiring the quilt and musing how they would customize it (queen size, brown instead of black border, mostly browns and light blues, not too old-timey) they followed up the next day with an email to get said customization started. Project!
I began with the blocks, which they gave me carte blanche to create. I had a pretty good sense of what they liked, still wanted to run colors and patterns by them
They nixed the feathers and snowflakes because their quilt is intended for summer use
Then I began putting blocks together, one scrap at a time
There’s no plan in this, just joining colors and shapes that seem pleasing together
And so it goes up to about 13″ by 15” before trimming, enough for 12 to fill the top of a queen mattress top. This was a lot of fun, because composing these blocks is something I really enjoy.
Thanks for the opportunity, Tom and Todd!
One block at a time until
The blocks always look a little different surrounded with another color.
Now the brown border. I went through my brown stash and ran some fabrics by Tom and Todd, but they just weren’t their style, which by their description was “somewhere between Jetsons and colonial.” What I pieced together didn’t find that middleground, so we were at a pause until Tom and Todd saved the day by going out to buy fabrics they liked.
Inspired by this new infusion I cranked out the border
The border is 8 inches deep at the head and foot and 10 inches deep on the sides, so there was a lot of cutting and measuring, but otherwise this stage went quickly
I liked the fabrics Tom and Todd chose much more than mine
The quilt center is ready
It measures 52” by 70.” Borders are sewn to all sides, then pressed
And topstitched for durability and decoration
That’s the quiltop. Then there’s the back. I didn’t have a piece of fabric big enough, so I started with two pieces from a couple of old sheets
then sewed together strips (trimmings from a sheet used to back a smaller quilt)
So the back also sports a neat, finished feel
Now it’s time to sew the three quilt layers together. It’s so big and unwieldy at 87 by 96 inches that I really have to work without pause. I’ve been through this in earlier posts — batting (the inner cotton fill), quiltop, and backing are piled, smoothed, and pinned together all the way around the 362 inch perimeter (leaving a small opening to turn the whole thing inside out). Then I carefully fold it up to take to Modest Machine
This is like wrestling with an alligator: it’s far longer than me, heavy, and has a lot of sharp bits sticking out
After sewing around the borders, the pins come out
perimeter is trimmed with the rotary cutter
and it’s ready to turn it inside out (so the quiltop, now under the batting, can be seen).
After a final iron press, once over with the lint remover, a seam stitch around the perimeter and delivery to its new home at Tom and Todd’s, it looks like this
The piece measures 86” by 95.” Happily, Tom and Todd love how it came out. I do, too.
And I’d be happy to take another commission as soon as the power comes back on here in lower Manhattan.