Archives for posts with tag: Gee’s Bend quilters

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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Last post I left you with the tantalizing concept “foreclosure quilt ties” and I imagine you’ve been puzzling over that for days. Now I shall explain. I began making quilts out of used clothes about five years ago. Over the years I often saved used clothes or other materials, thinking I’d find a use for them one day. I’ve also always been artistic. After discovering the work of the Gee’s Bend quilters, as well as inspiration from my friend Audrey, I started to make quilts out of used clothing. I have accumulated quite a “stash,” as quilters-with-a-capital-Q call their fabric supply.  I also like to use salvaged materials for other parts of the quilt, such as the batting or the ties. As of this writing, I principally hand-tie my quilts, not having yet mastered the art of machine quilting.  Luckily I had a big stash of yarn left over from a short-lived crocheting binge.

Last year, some of my neighbors foreclosed on their home.  This was sad because they were basically good people, a family headed by a single mother, working very hard, and it had been the first home she owned.  This is a complicated story like so many others, but suffice it to say when push came to shove she had to get out of there, and quickly.  When she did, she left a lot of “stuff” behind in a small shed on her property.

Beyond the garden in the foreground is white shed to the right of the driveway. Through those wide open doors I found my Foreclosure Yarn.

My neighbor told me if I could use anything left in the yard to go ahead and take it.  So one day I rummaged through the shed and extracted a few items, one of which was:

This was a no-brainer to add to my stash, especially because orange is such a lively color and I’ve got so darned much blue fabric.  Indeed this yarn was a big part of the inspiration behind a mostly-blue quilt.  So 672 two-inch blue squares and 200 six-inch strips of orange yarn later we have this:

I like to leave the “tails” of yarn ties long; for me it is enlivening and playful.  Some concerned Patwig Quilt admirers have worried this is a choking hazard.  I still prefer it.  What do you think?

Winter 2010, I Got the Blues, 51" x 57"

In any event, I Got the Blues is now completely done, folded up and ready to go to my son’s school for a fundraiser.  And I can get back to MFC.

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