Sunday, May 08, 2011

Listening To The Quilt Gods

It all started out innocently enough. One day back in February, I was "playing" in my sewing room and came across a sample of a dimensional bow tie block that a quilting acquaintance had shown me how to do about a year ago. I decided to try it. It turned out to be simple. The third of three seams was a bit fiddly......


.............but I soon mastered it.

So I made a few more.............

And then a few more..........


An idea was forming....It was so easy to make, and I've always liked Bow Tie, so I thought I'd make a new throw quilt for the back of the sofa. The one that currently lives there is ancient. And faded. It was the first quilt I ever made. Trip Around The World. I've known for some time now that the trip was over, quite a while ago, for this particular quilt. But the cat likes to perch on it on the back of the sofa, and the menfolk like to tease the cat by moving their fingers around under the quilt and tantalizing him. Who knows what goes on in his feline brain when they do this. All I know is that it causes great hilarity [we are easily amused in these parts!] and  also some little rips in the quilt. So, in addition to "ancient," and "faded," it can also say on its resume that it is "tattered."  Not shabby chic. Just plain shabby.

Bow ties to the rescue! I had perfected the technique and could pop out a finished block in just under five minutes. My cunning plan was that to use a variety of light background fabrics and a different medium or dark for each bow tie. This is what saved me. Making the same block over and over has limited charms. Dying of boredom is not the way I want to go. I became reacquainted with all the little bits and pieces in my stash, and even rediscovered some fabrics I'd forgotten about!. Each block was like making a mini quilt, the most fun part being matching up each background with a new bow tie fabric.

Before long I had enough bow ties to cover a small country. Whoa! Let's not get carried away here. So I stopped and laid them out to have a look.[see  photo above.]

Before I sewed them together I decided to move them around to see what other effects I could get.......

Hmmmm. Interesting. I would have to think about this for a while. Let it simmer, as it were, on the mental back burners. While it was simmering I went, one weekend in March, to a quilt show. And saw this:

Interestinger and interestinger! Close up inspection revealed that this design resulted from alternating bow tie blocks with nine patches. I went home, head buzzing, and started making scrappy nine patch blocks.

Now we were getting somewhere!

To pin all those blocks on that design wall I had to climb up and down from my [fortunately] sturdy table, over and over again, pins clamped between determined lips. I would climb up to rearrange some blocks, then climb down to get the overall effect from the other side of the room. And people think us quilters get no exercise! Dissatisfied, I'd have to climb up again, over and over, until finally I was happy with the distribution of  colours. Time to stitch them all together before I had a chance to change my mind again!


And here's my quilt top. I'm happy, but not done yet. There's a small matter of borders, both to make it bigger and also to frame it.

But with all those scrappy fabrics, and every colour of the rainbow, how would I find the perfect fabric? I had a beautiful red, left over from another project and used in one of the bow ties. I had just enough to make a half inch border. But what to use for the outside border? A quilt shop seemed like a good place to start. My sister-in-law was visiting for Easter. She always likes to go to a quilt shop when she visits, to drool over all the lovely fabrics, so off we went. Its a tough job as the cliche goes, but someone has to do it. I suffered agonies at the quilt shop, surrounded by such a wealth of gorgeous fabrics. It was really difficult to choose, but I kept coming back to two different blues. Sister-in-law weighed in, as did a couple of the shop ladies, and finally a decision was made. S-I-L bought fabric for a baby quilt for a co-worker and, several hours after we'd come in the quilt shop door, we headed out in search of lunch.  Choosing fabric is exhausting work and when a decision is finally reached you realize that all that agonizing and hand-wringing has left you weak and ravenous!

Nice blue, don't you think? I wasted no time getting the borders on as I don't trust that I've chosen well until I see it stitched onto the quilt. But now I'm confident I chose really well. I love it!

The day may yet come that I plan a quilt from start to finish, on paper, before making that first cut or taking that first stitch. Meanwhile I'm quite content letting the quilt gods whisper in my ear at every step of the process. Sometimes I am more surprised than anyone at the results!  I never agonize at the outset about what I will use as a border or what kind of sashing I need. It's too early for all that  I am confident that all will be revealed in the fullness of time!. Without a set of rigid ideas, the quilt will tell me in what direction it wants to go......It's more exciting that way. I like going into my sewing room and not knowing quite what will happen.

Sometimes I'm happy with the results; sometimes not quite; this time I am delighted

Of course it's not finished yet! But I do already have a couple of options for backing..........Meantime, every time I look at it, I smile!


Jovita said...

I love your combination of bow-ties and 9-patches - very nice!

patty said...

beautiful! Happy Mother's Day

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I'm not surprised it's making you smile ! It's wonderful .

dianne said...

it IS delightful!!! i do believe that you are the Quilt Whisperee (no - this time i DIDN'T misspell, i really do mean whispereeeeeee) and it is good that you listen to the voices in your head - the voices in my head just get into big, fat arguments with themselves and leave me with a headache, not a gorgeous quilt.

Ali Honey said...

Bow Tie isn't usually one of my favourite blocks but put together like that with the 9ps it looks stunning!

Thank you so much for your email re Ireland. I have noted down your suggestions and hope to see what 4 days allow.
Needless to say I will be thinking of you while I'm there. Thanks.

ChrisB said...

Well done! It's gorgeous x

jkhenson said...

I love it! :) I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day, and are still enjoying the Quilting Gods whispering in your ear! You did a great job with this! :)

aubirdwoman said...

oh I love how Quilts talk to us ... fabulous quilt.
I must have a look at this method.
oh and I love The Help. Please keep your reading list updated :)

persiflage said...

Even though I am not a quilty type of person, there are some lovely ones there. Quilters are very clever, and I particularly admire their ability to sew straight.

Julie's journey said...

Absolutely beautiful.