August 3, 2007
Last night several of us from work and I surprised our friend and colleague Ona with this friendship quilt top, made for the occasion of a significant birthday. Two of the other ladies decided on the purple and batiks theme and coordinated getting blocks from the recipient’s friends and family, and I volunteered to assemble the top because a) I am nice and b) I liked the idea of having the final say on what blocks went where. (Yeah, I do have some control issues.)
When we got all the blocks back last week (only a couple days behind schedule, which was pretty amazing considering 15 people in almost as many different cities were involved) we took advantage of Ona being out of town to lay them out on the ping pong table in the lounge at work and play with different arrangements. Then we went to the quilt shop. The initial plan had been to set the blocks with purple batik sashing but I lobbied to use several different colors to frame the blocks instead. Not all the blocks were going to look good against purple and using frames would make it easier to combine the different sizes of blocks (they were all supposed to end up being 12 inches, so 12 and a half unfinished, which is not at all wacky or strange for a quilt block, and most of them did come back that size but they ranged from 11 and 3/4 to almost 14 inches unfinished and a couple of them weren’t quite square).
At the quilt shop conveniently located only a few minutes north of our office, we took over one of the cutting tables and auditioned various batiks for framing duty, eventually settling on a rusty orange, a deep avocado, a rose/rust/purple blend, a lime with turquoise spots, and two different purples to add to the one purple we already had. I took pictures of which blocks went with which borders so I’d have a reference when I started doing the assembly. The woman who cut our fabric came right out and said she didn’t see how we were going to use all those colors together, but I wasn’t worried.
At home, I trimmed all the blocks so they were square and pinned notes on the ones which weren’t 12-1/2 inches so I wouldn’t forget they needed special attention when it came time to cut the border strips. Then I put the blocks up on my felt wall in the layout we’d decided on and immediately saw that wouldn’t work with the framing fabrics we’d decided on—purple next to purple wasn’t going to cut it. I moved some blocks and gave some different frames and tried not to make myself crazy attempting to balance the values and the shapes and the colors and everything. Eventually I decided it was as close as I was going to get and started sewing and pressing and finished it up the night before the deadline. Last night, Ona was first surprised to see so many friends and coworkers at what she thought was a family dinner and then was more surprised when she realized we’d made a quilt for her. It worked out great. Now we just need to get the top quilted and bound, but I did not volunteer for that part; I am not quite that nice.