Friday, July 10, 2009

Birth of a Quilt

Non-quilters are known to ask why anyone would cut a pretty piece of fabric into so many little pieces just to sew it back together. There is no correct answer, but for me it is just the obsession with the fabric. I have to touch it, to see the play of the dye or print across the quilt as it comes back together.

But it takes so long to do!



Thus begins a quilt. Eight pieces of fabric cut into 224 pieces each, laid out by value and sewn into 112 A arcs and 112 B arcs. And that is Step One and Two.

My daughter wanted a wedding ring quilt for her wedding gift. The traditional interwoven arcs are very pretty on their own, but my daughter is not a traditional, gently rounded sort of girl. She’s angles and spikes and excitement. In a search for the perfect pattern we agreed on Judy Niemeyer’s Wedding Star pattern.

I had the fun of finding the perfect shades of blues to suit the design. The not so fun washing and ironing the fabric in case it bleeds. And then the cutting. And cutting. And cutting. And finally I had eight neat stacks of 224 pieces.
As I sewed the first two pieces onto the paper pattern, all 112 arc A patterns, I began to ask, whose idea was this? Oh yeah, mine.

The instructions are amazing, the fabric pieces generous enough to allow room for error. Trimming at each step gives you the perfect seam allowance to line up the next piece. Basically, you sew, press open, fold pattern back and trim. Seven times on each of the 112 arcs. Then move to arc B.

I haven’t counted the pieces/patterns needed for the stars and background melons. I don’t want to know.

Again, whose idea was this? How long would it have taken me to go online and find a neat-looking quilt in blue and white to give her? Why did I wait until a month before the wedding to start it? Why did I want to do this?

Deep down I know why. It’s an heirloom gift. Something to pass down through generations. A hundred years from now some descendants of mine will look at the quilt and think of the hours and the love that went into this quilt. They’ll see photos of my daughter on her wedding day and the joy on all our faces.

They can wrap themselves (gently, please!) in a fabric hug and feel the love instilled in the quilt, and maybe know a little bit about me. They’ll have something tangible to reflect the passion for fabric that has been passed down in our genes, and maybe it will explain their own need to pick up the scissors and cut a pretty piece of fabric into little pieces, just to sew it back together.
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