29 March 2015

By wisdom a quilt is built

A number of years ago I saw a pattern for a quilt that I knew would be perfect for my sister-in-law, except that just about everything was wrong for her. The quilt was a block of the month. Each block featured a house and a scripture verse about homes. My sister-in-law is the original home maker, so I knew she would love the concept, but she wouldn't love the technique or the colours (and they didn't do much for me either). It was shabby/naive design, which  wouldn't appeal. The quilt was dark country colours, which don't appeal to me and would appeal to her even less.  So, I adapted.

Step 1 was to move the blocks about to suit the Australian calendar. Instead of winter blocks at the start and finish I wanted them in the middle. Each block is a different shape so I had to work how to rearrange 'blocks of blocks'. If you look at the original pattern you'll notice there's essentially three large "blocks" - a strip of three on the left, a set of two rows at the top and two rows plus a large double sized block at the bottom. My arrangement ended up with vertical strip on the left and the two others flipped, and then a few rearrangements within each of those three sets.
Blank, sashed blocks finally fitting together (tags to remind me which block was which)

Step 2 took me several years. The original pattern had the background for the appliqué houses appliquéd to a second background. I decided to turn the second, larger background into sashings. Each block of the quilt is a different size with different size sashings. I very carefully put all the measurements through Excel. Centre piece dimensions taken off the outer piece dimensions and divided by two, and add seam allowances.  That is, if the centre piece was 6 inches x 6 inches, and the outer piece was 10 inches by 10 inches the TOTAL sashing width would be 4 inches, each sashing would therefore by 2 inches.

Unfortunately, left/right and top/bottom dimensions for most blocks were different, and I swapped them around in my calculations. After I'd sewn each block I realised my mistake. I had to unpick and reset half the blocks. Totally screwed my head in the process. I wanted all the sashings finished before I started appliquéing so I could use left-over sashings in the houses to create visual ties.

Finally, about two years ago, the blocks were all the right size. For my sister-in-law I chose to use pastel colours in keeping with her tastes. The houses slowly came together. None were particularly onerous, I just had to find time.
Finished blocks

I also changed the stitcheries. The original text looked like it was written by a petulant teenage boy. I chose to use my own handwriting. I matched thread colours to the sashing colours, just not in the same block (i.e. I had green sashings and green thread, but not necessarily together). I simply aimed for a balance of colour across the 12 blocks.
My interpretation

Original block

Finally, I changed the quilting. The original quilting was a single squiggle through the middle of each block. I had originally thought I'd cross hatch each block's background, but I realised that would mean sewing over the stitchery, which I didn't want to do. Instead I decided to simply outline each house and stitch-in-the-ditch each block.

My interpretation

Original block.
I swapped the verse on this block with another, so I could keep this verse with my Christmas/December block.
Instead stitching in the ditch between blocks, I used an 'S' stitch on my machine. I love this stitch for not-quite-stitching-in-the-ditch. When you stitch in the ditch you have to be exact to ensure the stitching doesn't 'slip' and ruin the look. With the 'S' stitch, there's no issue - it's supposed weave across the centre line, not sit perfectly on it.

The quilt was finished late 2014 and delivered to very happy sister-in-law who loves it.
Finished quilt
 My advice if you see a pattern you like, but it doesn't suit your decor or the intended recipient's style, just change it. There is no law that says you have re-create a pattern exactly as the designer imagined it. It's your creativity, your art, your choice.

1 comment:

Jeri Dansky said...

That came out beautifully. I think all the different-sized blocks is part of what makes it so cool.