Saturday, 17 May 2014

Anatomy of a Quilt

Almost any quilter will tell you that one of the pleasures of travel is exploring new quilt shops – checking out fabrics, new ideas and techniques, and samples other quilters have made.

But therein lies a problem. Most travelers have a partner, and often the partner doesn’t share their interest in poking around quilt shops. They’ll let you have the time it takes to drink a coffee and read the paper, but after that they get a little ... well, antsy is a euphemism for what I’d like to say. (Very few quilt shops are located beside a woodworking emporium, which could solve the problem, but did they ask me? No, they didn’t.)

So earlier this spring, when we visited Seattle, I found out that Pike’s Place Market in Seattle had a quilt shop. And Pike’s Place Market was just down the street from our hotel, and we had plans to visit it. Well now. I began to plot how I could visit it without breaching the peace with the resident sweetie.

“Oh, look,” I exclaimed as I innocently (to him) and purposefully (to me) led him through the halls. “A quilt shop! Wow! Who knew?” Actually, that’s not really what happened. The resident sweetie, I’m sure, knew what I was up to, and went along with it anyway. As I’ve said before, he is a keeper.

Undercover Quilts, the shop at Pike’s Place, knows about impatient travel partners. There’s a chair set up outside the door, just for such situations. Unfortunately it’s not very comfortable looking, nor does it come equipped with a TV tuned to a sports channel, with perhaps a beer on the side.

Sign says: Undercover Quilts Husband's Chair -- or disinterested Friend's or Family member's chair. We understand.

 So I went to Plan B: “Why don’t you come in for a minute with me? If you see a quilt you really, really like, I’ll make it for you.”

And that’s how I came to make my latest creation.

This is what Al saw, almost immediately. It's a quilt called Glacier, designed by Lisa Moore of Alaska.

I admitted it was beautiful. I did like it. And there was a pattern available that I could buy. But there were a few problems. First, it was the wrong size for any wall in our house. Second, the fabrics used in the original quilt were no longer available. And third, and most important, I don’t do patterns. I have never made a quilt from a pattern. I seem to be genetically incapable of following orders when it comes to quilt instructions. When I see something I like in a quilt shop, my first instinct is to make changes to it so it will become my own: change the colours, change the size, change the setting, add a few do-dads, and presto-changeo, it’s not a quilt you would recognize from the pattern you bought.

In case you think I’m dissing people who follow patterns, that is not the case. On the contrary: I admire them, and wish I had that ability. It would make life so much easier. But no, I need to do it the hard way. And so we bought the pattern (and a “few other things” while the RS occupied the husband’s chair, antsily.)

When I got home, I found out that a friend had actually made that very same pattern AND won a Viewer’s Choice award at the Victoria guild show. Big boots to fill, for sure. “The hardest part was attaching 300 Swarovski crystals to the quilt,” Joyanne admitted. 300 crystals? I hadn’t noticed that in the pattern. What had I gotten into?

I will spare  you many details of how the present quilt came to be. “Laws are like sausages,” said Otto Von Bismark. “You’re better off not watching them getting made.” Same goes for quilts. It’s not pretty: lots of trial and error. The mock-up hung on the design wall for weeks while I tried to figure out if I liked it or not. Then I began sewing, which meant lots of “unsewing” after I’d made big mistakes. Lots of asking friends for advice. Lots of hand-wringing and despair and crying on the RS’s shoulder when I was sure this was never going to work. But, hallelujah, it came together! Here are some photos of the process.

This is the mock-up that hung on my design wall for weeks, while I decided what needed to change before I sewed it together.   

After it was sewed together it needed a backing before I could quilt it. 

Then I had to sew on a facing and tack it down by hand.
Finally, I added a glacier -- somewhat like our beloved Comox Glacier -- between two peaks. It is finally finito!

This weekend, “Glacier View” has its big unveiling. It is hanging at the Schoolhouse Quilter’s Quilt Show. Viewers will see both my quilt and Joyanne’s made from the same pattern. The same pattern, different look and results. Just like people!

And that’s the way it should be, shouldn’t it?

1 comment:

  1. I recently bought this quilt kit in Skagway. Now Im motivated to make it. Yours is beautiful. Maureen in Nanaimo