Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm going to make a quilt! I swear!

I mentioned earlier that I thought I'd make a quilt. I still think I'll make a quilt. I've always been interested in quilts - they're nice, they're cozy, they're homey, they can be quite beautiful, and they seem like they have the potential to be a staggeringly creative undertaking.

Until recently, I had never even considered making one. Not because quilts are something that "little old ladies" make (although I still find myself stifling a defensive response to that imagined objection whenever my intention to quilt comes up). Rather, quilts have always struck me as impossibly intricate. As a child, the mother of my best friend was a quilter, and I remember seeing her...quilting apparatus. She had this...rack of some sort with her quilt arranged in a certain way stretched out over it. There are...patterns to understand, construction methods to discern, ways of doing things to divine, traditions to bear in mind...add to all of this the fact that sewing has never been my forte. I can sew a garment, but there will be much yelling and flinging of fabric before all is said and done (I've stopped short of flinging the scissors...for now).

Quilting is one of the topics discussed in Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Domesticity. She doesn't offer patterns or step-by-step guides, but she presents it as something that's accessible. She makes it seem simple, she lays out the theory behind it, and she encourages you to just go out and try it. I have to tell you, I got really jazzed and excited when I read through this. I've worked out in my head what I need to do, what materials I'll need, how I'll construct and assemble my quilt. I haven't gotten started yet, but I'm no longer intimidated by the mechanics of quilting! I can do this!

So the other day, I went fabric shopping. I didn't get anything - it was more of a reconnaissance mission. Now I'm intimidated again. Jane Brocket is an avowed color person. She likes bright, contrasting colors, that's what gets her aesthetic juices flowing. I like color as much as the next girl, but I'm much more of a texture person. When I knit, I'll go with cables over stripes. Give me one, rich, lovely color and then let me drown in the subtle variations that texture creates.

So, of course, quilting is all about color. Go to the quilting section of your local fabric store, and you'll see bolts upon bolts of bright, loud, colorful cotton prints waiting to be sliced up and jumbled together in a cacophony of comfort. It makes my head spin. I love color - I love what people do with color, but it's just not how my brain works.

What about a velvet quilt? Or a silk quilt? Can I find enough complimentary solid colors of silk in one place to make a quilt? And can I then acquire enough of said silk to make a quilt without selling a kidney?

Things to think about before I begin. I'd like to get started soon, as I'd love to have a nice, new quilt on my bed in lieu of my comforter when the weather starts to warm up. I just...need to get better at fabric shopping.

*(The images in this post were created by my boyfriend, who shall remain nameless, based on images I chose that represent colors I like. It is his talent you see, and my awesome taste in individual colors).


  1. you could start with quilting cotton instead of silk, which might help with the budgeting thing.

  2. I've been trying to get into quilting for awhile too, but as I am a terrible sewer I keep getting discouraged. I have a bunch of t-shirts I don't wear anymore, and I think I'm going to start with a t-shirt quilt, it just seems less daunting.

  3. Velvet: makes gorgeous quilts, but it is very hard to work with. Velvet "crawls" as you sew, resulting in a huge loss of accuracy. This can be really bad for quilting. Velveteen and corduroy are better.

    Silk: I have a crazy quilt top that was pieced by my grandmother out of silk... very beautiful, but not at all durable. If you want silk, I would recommend going to resale clothing shops and looking for good, sturdy silk shirts or shantung dresses or something.

    Planning and colors: my first quilt, made in the summer, was an interesting experience in planning and revising. It helped a lot to draw the plan on paper with colored pencils (bf could do better electronically). Then the best thing was to lay out the cut pieces on the bed to really see what the design would look like. I did this about 3 times during the piecing phase, and I made major changes (improvements).

    Da Man: My grandmother used the family's old clothes for her quilt top fabric. If you don't have enough, check out garage sales. Used clothes, sheets, and tablecloths can save a lot of money. However, some people think that used fibers like cotton or wool can carry bad juju from the former wearer/user. Silk and linen are considered to be immune, though.

    BFWSRN: great graphics!

  4. Monochromatic quilts.