I needed to make a gift for our good friends. They were expecting their second baby. But I hadn't made a quilt for their first baby, so the second baby couldn't get his own, right? That's my logic, anyway. So I thought a family quilt would be more appropriate. I made a large throw size quilt (75"x65"), big enough for Kristin and her little boys to snuggle with right now, but sorry, Colin and Taylor boys in the future, it's definitely going to be too short for you. Without really planning it, this quilt became a sampler for the classes I took at QuiltCon 2015. I learned to make the circles and pebbles in a class with Rossie Hutchinson. I also chopped up the doodle I made in Sherri Lynn Wood 's class and incorporated that into the patchwork. The construction of the top was improvisational and ruler-free. I thought much too long and hard about what to do with these blocks from my QuiltCon classes. In the end I threw them haphazardly on my design wall and loved this simple layout. I quilted this on my Juki 2010Q and it's far from perfect but I love it. I did echoes in a few spots and then straight lines or grids on the rest. I'm proud of this one. Everything came together beautifully.
My friend Susan has been extremely dear and important to me since high school. She left the midwest for beautiful Portland, Oregon several years ago so I don't see her nearly often enough. She has always had impeccable taste, so when she got married, I wanted to give myself the challenge of making a quilt she could love and that would look great in her gorgeous Portland bungalow.
Susan had expressed admiration for the work of the Hopewell Studios. I took direct inspiration from their quilts, but tried to put myself in there too. I had a few goals for the making of this quilt. I wanted to shop strictly from my stash. I started out strong in this regard, but ended up buying some additional neutral solids. I also wanted to work ruler-free for this quilt. I almost accomplished that, but did need to do a bit of measuring to successfully piece the mitered corners. And I threw in a few orphan blocks that were originally constructed using rulers. Everything else was improv with no rulers!
I began quilting this on my domestic Juki, with a mix of straight lines and curved lines. I wasn't thrilled with how the quilting looked, and I didn't enjoy shoving this big quilt through my machine. I decided to add some big hand quilting. I always love the look of big-stitch hand quilting, and sometimes use it to (hopefully) compensate for the shortcomings of my machine quilting skills.
As always, I would change a few things if I could, but overall I'm happy with how this quilt turned out. I know it's already getting a lot of good use in Portland. Susan said it was the perfect weight for summer, which makes me happy.
In early 2014 Sherri Lynn Wood, an artist whose work I greatly admire, put out a call for pattern testers for her book. Except we weren't really given patterns, we were given Sherri Lynn's loose instructions for improv quilt construction, which she called "scores."
The score I was assigned was called Layered Curves. I won't go into the whole process of creating the blocks. You can check out Sherri's book for that! I will say it was my first time to sew any curve of any kind. And it was my first time attempting to work without a ruler. For those keeping track, I didn't use any rulers or templates when cutting my curves. I wasn't supposed to use a ruler at all, but I struggled to cut my blocks freehand so I did use a ruler to trim them up. From my instruction from Sherri Lynn, which was all done online, I didn't realize the significance of this choice. But later I would understand the importance of going ruler-free in this process, and wish that I had stuck with it.
This quilt was finished in March, but I had to wait to share it until we got closer to the book's publication date. Sherri Lynn's book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters is coming out in the spring 2015. I can't wait to get my hands on it, even though my quilt was not chosen for publication in the book.
I had a tumultuous relationship with this one. While in progress, I mostly hated it. When it was done, I loved it. After I took a workshop with Sherri Lynn Wood last month, I realized it is missing the expression of line that could have happened if I had put away my ruler as instructed. Like I said, I put it away for the curves, but couldn't make myself make blocks without it! I regret that now. But I still like this quilt. My favorite thing might be all the hand-quilting I did.
This was absolutely a learning process that made me push myself into uncharted territory as a quilter. I'm looking forward to working with Sherri Lynn again at QuiltCon, and trying more scores from the book when it drops! I'm also happy to say that this quilt will be hanging in the QuiltCon show.