Archives for posts with tag: Chinese coin pattern

January has brought me a new commission.  The starting point is a collection of classic understated Hermes ties that belonged to a beloved husband and father, long stowed away by his wife, Ellen, who had lately come to a place where she felt ready to do something with them.  Luckily for me, her daughter is a friend who thinks well enough of my abilities to recommend me for the doing something part.

There were ten ties, which Ellen had given her husband for birthdays over the years:  mostly blues and reds, intricate designs on smooth matte silk.

It's amazing how much fabric is needed for one tie: the rug here is 71" wide.

And there were penguins, cavorting on a silver 11 x 8 upholstery sample (seen in the photo above just below the ties).  Of course there was a story.  When Ellen and her husband were young newlyweds keeping to a lean budget, outings to the Bronx Zoo became a favorite routine.  A transplanted Texan, Ellen was fascinated by the variety of animals and couldn’t get enough.  Her husband tired of viewing the mammalian standard bearers of the Northern Hemisphere, but would happily wait for her in the penguin house until she was ready to go, such was his interest in the flightless seabirds.  Their home filled with penguin mementos over the years, including a chair upholstered in this fabric.  Though at first glance this little piece of upholstery didn’t seem to fit with the refined Hermes ties, clearly it belonged in a quilt made to remember this wonderful man.

She also had two Chinese silks (one black, one gold), a rose colored Thai silk with a pattern that looks like lanterns, and a very bright fuchsia check.

Ursula, always a good girl, wisely stayed just off the fabrics.

Ellen had chosen Chinese Coin (see an example in this post) as the basic pattern for the quilt, which lends itself particularly well to ties.  The goal is a topper for her king size bed, about 76 x 80 inches.  This will be close to a Patwig record for size, and I’m feeling more than a little nervous about not screwing it up given the value of these ties.  Nevermind the fact that Ellen is an expert seamstress herself, having made custom crib bedding for all of her grandchildren.  I’ll admit to a little yikes moment before I started cutting.

The penguins determined the length of the coin strips — 11 inches — and each tie yielded about six strips.  The yellow Chinese silk and the rose Thai pattern offered the most yardage, and thus offered Ellen a choice for the sashing and border.

Because silk is so fine I press fusible interfacing onto every piece so they won’t run away while I’m trying to sew them.   Once that’s done it’s back to the floor to play around again.

Because all the "coins" are not sewn together yet, some length will be lost, but at present it measures about 65 inches without the outer border.

Now I just need to start sewing it all together!  But first, I’ll take it up before a kitty decides to rearrange it, like this one did on another project a few years ago:

This summer was the longest break I’ve taken from quilt-making since I started.  Maybe it was the effort of producing a queen-sized piece.  Or maybe it was having my kids around for summer.  Whatever it was, at some point I thought I should make a quilt for my mother.  She said yes she would like that, and this project ensued.

She wanted yellows, greens and browns.  I gathered stuff from my stash and she gave me a bunch of old fabric from her attic, including what I recognized as curtains that had been in her kitchen long ago.  There was also fabric from seat cushions she made for the kitchen chairs.  It was fun to see this in its original color saturation — compared to the well-worn cushions which are still there.  Best of all, there was a very cheery and flowery yellow bedsheet, the sight of which caused me to bury my nose in its familiar smell.  I remember going to her room early in the morning when she was in bed reading before my brother woke up.  I’d climb in bed with her and we’d talk or read and play shadow puppets with the light from her bedside lamp.  My mother’s bed is her refuge.   And it was the secure station where she hunkered down to sleep and wait out six months of radiation and chemotherapy to vanquish a soft-tissue sarcoma.  She cares deeply about what she puts on her bed, so I have been privileged to make a quilt for it.

Her instructions on a white slip of scratch paper include her classic "Q."

The pattern inspiration for this quilt is one I’ve done several times, the so-called Chinese coin pattern.  Ignore the unmade bed and you can see the basic pattern:  stacks of narrow horizontal strips (coins) alternating with typically a solid color background.

If the bed's not made as soon as it's vacated, felines will take advantage of any remaining warm spots.

From a production standpoint, this pattern moves along readily.

I googled to discover the origins of the "Chinese coin" but didn't find anything I felt was sufficiently authoritative. It is also called "strip piecing."

Selecting fabrics and grouping them together is the fun part.  I end up using a far greater percentage from my own stash than from those my mother gave me, and  I realize these may be unconscious choices recalling her fabric history.  For instance, the deep blue/greens below are nearly the same color as a fabric she used to reupholster a living room chair —  a project she never did finish, though the chair remains with a slipcover.

The blue-green was the lining for a toddler-sized jacket. There are also old pillow-cover pieces here.

I also sew narrower but longer rows for an outer border.   This should stand out nicely against the brown dust ruffle on her bed.

My son's bedroom floor is my surface for laying, arranging and visualizing. I believe some quilters use an "idea wall" but my workroom does not offer enough space to stand back and view.

Once columns are done, a background color is needed to highlight and divide them.  This offers the perfect application of those former kitchen curtains.  It’s not a solid, but the pattern is small and neutral enough to work in.

The warm hue of the curtain material puts me in mind of acorn squash. Or maybe it's a fall breeze in the air.

I like making ready progress on a project, but the bigger it gets the harder it is to move around.   After the alternating columns of strips and solids are sewn together, the solid is added to cap the top and bottom.

Wide borders emphasize the colors. I think a very dark color, like black, would also work well here.

At some point I discover that I don’t have a big enough piece of something to use for batting (or fill), so I make a quick run up to City Quilter.  This is the first time I’ve purchased any supplies for this quilt — thus far I’ve managed with all found objects.  This satisfies the thrifty part of my soul. Now it’s time to make a backing.  Cue the cheery yellow floral that brought back so many memories:

Yellows always remind me of my mother.

Careful readers of Patwig’s Blog may remember that the next step is sewing all three layers together — quilt top, batting, and backing (right side down) — leaving a small opening to pull the whole thing inside out.  After pressing, it is “fit to be tied.”

I usually hand-tie my quilts. For this I use a needlepoint thread which perfectly matches the acorn squash color.

Nearly there.  A quick check of photo dates shows this commenced August 5 with fabric selection, and sewing starting September 10 and finishing September 22.  After a quick look over by the resident inspector, it’s done.

Don't worry about soiling: Seymour keeps his paws and pads scrupulously clean.

And here’s how it looks on a bed

Not a bad project for Modest Machine to limber up after the lay off.  And now I have officially queen and twin sized quilts under my belt.  I do take commissions, and if you’d like to know more, leave a comment and I’ll get back.  Caio for now!

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