All those kaleidoscopic squares? I pieced them many years ago. At the time, I was unemployed and needed a project that would allow me to feel productive but that didn’t cost any money, to fill the moments between calling shops, sending out resumes, and crying.
Making quilt squares from my fabric scraps was just the right project.
Skip ahead a couple months, happily employed again, I put 43 quilt squares into two plastic tubs and didn’t touch them again for almost fifteen years.
First step was laying the squares out in different ways and photographing them and then texting the pictures to an artist friend and asking, “Quick! Which is your favorite!”
It turned out that both of us were trying to not go for the diamond-patterned lay out, which is the one in the bottom left of the picture above. We were both trying to resist what felt like the typical choice, but finally had to admit that it’s typical because it works. It’s interesting to look at. As my friend said, “it sings.”
So we laughed about that for a minute, how we were both tryna be too punk rock for that quilt.
Next step was putting all the squares together. I ended up assigning each square a number, drawing out the grid with the location of each number, and safety pinning a post-it with each number onto each square in the correct up/down orientation, because you know if I’d gotten any square out of order, or slanting left instead of right, it would’ve totally screwed up the whole lay out. There’s probably a higher-tech solution to this problem, but whatever, post-it’s and safety pins forever.
Next challenge was trying to get all the layers together. Backside (solid black cotton), batting, and top.
This is a twin-sized blanket. I now know that twin blankets are way, way bigger than crib blankets.
So much bigger, in fact, that there was no floor space in the entire house big enough to lay it all out flat. One time, in 1999, I made a queen sized quilt, in a much smaller home, without any floor-space issues, but it occurs to me that I barely had any furniture back then.
I ended up laying out half the quilt at a time while the other half stayed rolled out of the way. That worked pretty ok.
And all the rest of the pictures here are beauty shots. One rule that I set for myself when I was piecing the squares way back then was: at least two strips of black velvet per square. Some have three. I made sure to match the intersections of the squares, but didn’t worry about joining the diagonal seams.
In progress, some already quilted, some not.
Hey quilters, do you ever find that hand quilting triggers your short-term memory? Like, you see the stitches you made the night before and suddenly you recall the podcast you were listening to or the tv show you were half-watching? I’ve often thought that this phenomenon could be harnessed in some useful way, like that Mind Palace memory trick thing, but have never bothered actually working it out.
I love hand quilting. It’s so leisurely. And, ok, I don’t really believe in magic, not really, but I do kind of believe that each stitch I put in this thing maybe kinda creates a protective charm of love.
I mean, it’ll definitely protect against cold, so I guess that’s something.
It’s neat to see all these fabrics again after fifteen years, and see which ones ring a bell: I see fabric I’ve used in quilts for other people’s babies, fabrics from movies I worked on, fabric from this weird tote bag I had when I was a kid that I was weirdly obsessed with, fabric from a favorite skirt that I made that finally fell apart from over-use just this year. There’s even fabric in here from the shirt my (at the time future) husband was wearing the first time we kissed.
I’m so glad to be finally making this, now, after all this time.