Monday, March 26, 2012

The Quilt Story, Part 1

I’ve been putting off my “First Quilt” post for quite some time, mainly because it seemed really daunting to describe a process that took me the better part of two months to complete. I didn’t want to write as I went in case it ended up being a total disaster or in the event that I gave up halfway through – that’s not something the world would need to know! But now that I’ve finished two quilts and am well into my third, it’s high time I began my first quilt story. I’m going to tell it in a few parts, though, just because it’s easier that way.

Part 1: Inspiration
It all started with a t-shirt. Late last summer, possibly early fall, I wore one of my favorite t-shirts to work. (Yes, I work in a place where people wear t-shirts… don’t be jealous!) It’s a purple-violety color, with a few birds and writing in blue. I love all things purple and anything with a bird on it, so naturally, this is one of my favorite clothing items. My supervising editor Kristen, who knows her way around a sewing machine, told me that my shirt reminded her of some fabric she had been eyeing. She sent me a link to this page:

It was a print from Joel Dewberry’s Aviary 2 line in the lilac/plum colorway (which I learned is a fabric design-y term for “palette”). I clicked through to the other patterns in the collection, and they were all perfect! It seemed like the entire line was made for me. Bold flowers with a retro feel, geometric patterns with an international flourish, and most importantly PURPLE BIRDS!

However, at this point, I didn’t have a sewing machine and I was only starting to embroider again. It seemed silly to buy fabric just because I liked it, while having no plan or ability to do anything with it. So, I let Aviary 2 sit in the back of my mind for a while.

Once I did buy my sewing machine, and after I had a few projects under my belt, I started thinking about quilting. A good friend is expecting and I thought I might be able to manage making a small, simple baby quilt. However, I knew I should do a trial run before committing myself to making a functional gift! I asked Kristen if she knew of any easy patterns I could use to make a practice quilt for myself. She directed me to Oh, Fransson!, a lovely site of quilt patterns and tutorials by Elizabeth Hartman. Kristen recommended that I download the Mixtape Quilt pattern, which had actually been updated since Kristen tried it. It was a step-by-step guide through the entire quilting process, from picking fabrics to binding the quilt. (The binding is the outside border that covers up the raw edges of the quilt layers – this is the kind of thing I learned from this little guide!) There was so much detail, I felt confident I could take a stab at a making a quilt, and it seemed well worth its $10 price tag. 

The guide gave instructions for making quilts of various sizes, and I figured I would do my trial run on a quilt for the end of my bed. As you can probably guess, my room is drenched in purple, so it didn't take me long to realize that Aviary 2 would be the perfect fabric collection to use. It was destiny. 

Next Up: Part 2, in which Kym is introduced to the the expansive and expensive world of quilting fabrics…

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