To celebrate the arrival of a darling new human into the world, I stitched together a little tummy-time-spit-sopping play mat. For Isley:
I’ve now stitched four quilts, all to celebrate weddings or babies.
The first quilt I completed was for the arrival of my nephew, just over two years ago. Being my first big quilt project, I found a pattern and followed it religiously. I had no idea what I was doing. I read some books and looked at photos online, and in the end produced something perfectly wonky:
This quilt was machine pieced and quilted, using the pattern found here. It looks a little like I’m naked in that photo, but I promise I’m not.
While following a pattern is extremely satisfying, for quilt number two I went without. Technically the second one I finished, in my heart this is really my First Quilt. I’d started piecing it together years earlier after I’d picked up a used book on historical quilt blocks. Then I saw an exhibition on the quilts of Gee’s Bend at the Walter’s Art Museum in Baltimore, and I was hooked. The quilters of Gee’s Bend follow patterns, but they don’t seem to dwell on precise lines or matching corners. I fell in love with the willy-nilly nature of their patchwork, with the bold colors and hand stitching. I wanted to try it for myself.
Well, I discovered working that way is really difficult. Often my blocks came out looking like parallelograms, and I struggled with piecing them together. This stash of weird shapes materialized into a quilt just in time for our wedding last summer, a gift to Dan of blood, sweat, and admittedly, some tears.
The First Quilt is hand and machine pieced, hand embroidered, and hand quilted.
Remind me someday, and I’ll tell you about the amazing Amish woman who redeemed the project and hand-quilted this queen-sized behemoth for me in 2 weeks.
When it comes to quilts, I like a little order but not too much. For little Isley’s, I think I really came into my own style. I pieced squares together until they made bigger squares. Without much more of a plan than that, I placed larger pieces with smaller ones, until gradually, a quilt emerged. I had order without a pattern, which was delightful. I got to take my time, and really enjoyed the entire process. No blood or tears this time. Just a little baby drool, the way it’s supposed to be.
Isley’s quilt was machine pieced, hand embroidered and then tied, in my grandmother’s style.