January is Make YOURSELF a Quilt Month – I have spoken

Alexander Henry fabric - amazona
Alexander Henry fabric – amazona

January is Make YOURSELF a Quilt Month – I have spoken and therefore it shall be…

What’s the deal, you ask?

The holidays are over – as I mentioned in the last post – and it’s time to move on. As creative people we are often compelled to make quilts for people as gifts – in fact, many of us make ALL of our quilts as gifts.

This can be both positive and negative.

The positives include: You feel good giving a special gift. People like getting hand-made things. You made it super special. You actually finished a project.

Here are some negatives: It’s an expensive way to give a gift. You worked outside your palette or comfort zone and didn’t enjoy it. It came out “ugly.” It took a long time. The person doesn’t always understand or appreciate what you put into to making the quilt. It gets put into a closet. You rarely see the quilt (if ever) again. It gets used as a dog bed. It ends up as a doormat. And so on.

I know we all feel like a quilt is the “perfect” gift, especially when someone has a baby. So make a baby quilt for yourself, your sibling, or your grandchild. Good plan. But, you don’t have to make a quilt for your aunt’s cousin’s hairdresser’s dog walker’s step-daughter. Draw the line, people. Just because an egg has been fertilized somewhere in the continuous United States DOESN’T MEAN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO MAKE IT A QUILT! Buy a onsie or a stuffed giraffe once in a while, for Pete’s sake!

I think and fret a lot if I am making a quilt for someone else, whether it is a commission or a gift. I worry about the theme, tone, fabrics, colors, size, pattern, quality of workmanship and everything else there is to perseverate over. And that, my friends, is just NO FUN!

When I’m making myself a quilt I take risks, I make mistakes, I work very fast and spontaneously, and I really enjoy it. Except when it tortures me and looks ugly. But even that’s OK with me!

The real reason that I want you to make a quilt for yourself is that you make such interesting choices when you create for yourself. You don’t have to worry if the recipient will like it, if it will “go” with their stuff, if it will be appreciated. Often you’re bolder, braver, and, I hope, happier when you’re working with a beloved palette, with fabric you love, on a quilt you’re excited to make. If you have to make adjustments you’ll feel less stressed. And you’ll most likely enjoy the process more and care less about the product!

So it’s make yourself a quilt month and that means me, too.

I have to do some quilt work for other people this month, but at least twice a week I am going to work on a quilt just for me. I would like to share my process with all of you. Even if it ends up a big hot mess (as my friend Kris says.) I hope you’ll join me on my journey!

I have only a vague idea of what I am going to make. It’s going to have huge quilted applique flowers and leaves. It will have vibrant colors.

I am going to make it up as I go.

Fabric Bouquet postcard, by Alethea Ballard
Fabric Bouquet postcard, by Alethea Ballard

I want to take the feel of this tiny postcard with the quilted appliques and bow it up HUGE!

Inspiration for this project comes from my love of certain colors and imagery that I often find in Mexican art and tiles. I have been pinning on a Pintrest board I’ve titled Obsession – see it here.

Alexander Henry fabric - flores de coyocan
Alexander Henry fabric – flores de coyocan
 This new fabric from Alexander Henry is a good starting point.
Skulls and Hearts - quilted and painted - more fabric from Alexander Henry
Skulls and Hearts – quilted and painted – more fabric from Alexander Henry

I’ve been quilting and painting on these fabrics…

Tree of life from Pintrest
Tree of life from Pintrest

And this is really where I get the most excited!!!

I started a flower today!

I cut shapes out of batik and cotton prints.

flower 1 - view 1
flower 1 – view 1
flower 1 - view 2
flower 1 – view 2
flower 1 - view 3
flower 1 – view 3
flower 1 - view 4
flower 1 – view 4
flower 1 - view 5
flower 1 – view 5
flower 1 - view 6
flower 1 – view 6

Ultimately the flower needed seven petals.

The next step was to turn the flower parts into appliques – quilted on to batting.

I chose black batting because I really want the appliques to have a very definite edges and a sharp, coloring book look.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 7
Quilted petal parts – flower view 7

Here the petals get layered on to the black batting on the long arm.

I quilted the inner parts of the petals using both a variegated orange Superior Rainbows thread and a solid lime green polyester in the needle and a darker pink variegated thread in the bobbin.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 8
Quilted petal parts – flower view 8

The quilting is really scribbly and I don’t like how it came out. I didn’t glue the pieces down and the edges got all puckery.  The batting was all stretchy and it moved a lot under the needle. At this point I’m thinking I’ve wrecked it all.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 8
Quilted petal parts – flower view 8

I cut the parts of the petals out, leaving about a quarter of an inch of the batting showing.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 9
Quilted petal parts – flower view 9

I quilted the inner ring of petals separately because I thought it needed the punch of the black edges.

Quilted petal parts - flower view 10
Quilted petal parts – flower view 10

I’m going to need to quilt the center, but maybe it’s not totally terrible after all.

Stay tuned…

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6 thoughts on “January is Make YOURSELF a Quilt Month – I have spoken

  1. Wow! What a fun and detailed process. I always love the Flower themes…..and birds…flowers and birds always get me. You go girl! Laurie

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