January 31, 2005
This quilt is really for baby Li, whom Jen and her husband and her son will be going to China to adopt any week now (hurry up, paperwork!), but my brain insists on calling it “Jen’s quilt”. Maybe when Li is finally here and I get to meet her my brain will adjust.
Though I didn’t do any serious work on this quilt until this month, I had a head start because I’d gathered most of the fabrics for it last summer so I could show some of them to Jen along with some pattern ideas–since the quilt wasn’t going to be a surprise, I thought it made sense to give her a chance to see them and make suggestions. The striped fabric visible in this block was the start of the color scheme. I picked it because Li comes from a warm province on the China Sea, which put me in mind of beaches and beach umbrellas (yes, I realize the sand there is not likely dotted with striped umbrellas in reality, but I really liked this fabric).
I pulled the fabric back out just after New Year’s and cut a bunch of pieces in the sizes and shapes needed to make the pattern I’d chosen. When I got enough of them up on the felt wall to get an idea of what it would look like, it seemed unbalanced and busy, so I cut some more big pink triangles to replace the orange ones and got rid of the little yellow triangles entirely. After doing that, it looked better, but still too busy, but when I used only striped triangles it looked flat, which was why I’d started down the orange and pink road in the first place.
So then I experimented with an Evening Star in the center using the pink triangles and having the pinwheel block from the original pattern in the center and in the corners. That certainly gave a strong focal point, but I never was able to work out anything for the filler areas that pleased me, so I went back to alternating pink and striped pinwheels. The breakthrough came mid-month when I tried joining one of the small triangles with the corner square in each block. That seemed to tame the busy-ness.
I tried the yellow-orange wedges with the stripe, but it looked better to pair those with the pink, as seen in the finished quilt. By the time we left for Taos, I had a layout I was pleased with. I also had a lot of cut pieces I didn’t use, but that’s fine. It’s much more important to end up with a quilt I like than to use fabric just because I cut it up. Besides, someday I might use those scraps in another project. In the meantime, I found a great fabric for the back with Chinese girls in native dress on it and ordered it from eQuilter.com.
The day after we got back from Taos, I RSVPed for Jen’s shower (a day late, but I didn’t think it would be polite to call after we got home from the airport the night before, what with it being almost midnight, even if I had the excellent excuse that I’d been out of state the whole time between the invitation arriving at my house and the date by which RSVPs were due). I’d had the idea that the shower was probably going to be held while I was off skiing, I was happy that I was going to be able to go. I wasn’t quite sure I could get the quilt done in less than a week, but believed that Jen would understand if I had to give her an I.O.U. (or wrap up what I had done so far and then take it back after the shower).
I started piecing last Wednesday night and just kept working whenever I could. After I got the first units together, I was briefly tempted by yet another alternate layout, but decided not to go with it after letting the idea sit overnight. I did have to break my “no sewing after 9 o’clock” rule a couple times. Friday I even sewed after 10 o’clock; fortunately nothing catastrophic happened. The tensest time came on Saturday morning when I was sewing the binding on. I broke the needle when I hit one of the corners. The tip that broke off fell through one of the holes in the throat plate when I was trying to recover it, which meant I had to take a screwdriver to my machine to access parts of it I rarely see. Fortunately, the tip fell through to the bottom rather than lodging in the bobbin case, so I was able to replace everything and get sewing again, perhaps even better than before because I used the opportunity to clean some lint out of places that hadn’t felt the touch of a pipe stem cleaner in quite a while. Once the binding was done, I printed the label (have I told you how much I like Printed Treasures? A lot.) and sewed it on with more than an hour to spare before I had to leave for the shower. No problem.
Reminder: if you voted for me in the manhole contest and haven’t signed up for the drawing announced here, you’ve got until midnight tonight (well actually you’ve got until I check my mail around 9 a.m. Eastern tomorrow).