Quilt No. 81
I spy with my little eye...Julie’s Garden! Who hasn’t spent a pleasant evening or car trip using their little eye to spy objects beginning with a selected letter of the alphabet? In the car Dad would say “I spy with my little eye...something that starts with “H”! I would yell from the back seat “HEAD! It’s the back of your head!” He would of course say yes, both of us ignoring the logic that he couldn’t exactly see the back of his own head - even if he wasn’t driving the car! So when I saw a pattern for an “I Spy” quilt I was hooked. I was like a fish that had swallowed not only the hook line and sinker, but the whole boat. I was obsessed, dragged unwillingly into the bosom of the crack-cocaine of quilting – the “I Spy” quilt. Sometimes it happens that way – a quilt that wasn’t even a thread on your horizon yesterday highjacks your psyche, making you decline food, water, air, chocolate. There is no mercy.
As an art quilter I have a massive collection of fabric bits and pieces. And all these fabrics have only one thing in common. They're all weird. For example, I have a tiny drawer filled with fabrics that are all either rocks or stones or bricks. I call this my masonry drawer. My untamed assortment of fabrics goes on and on like that – a drawer of Africa, a box of reds, a bag of music prints, two boxes of postcard quilt fabric (one labelled “Christmas” and one labelled“Not Christmas”). So when I came across a quilt pattern where I could use these wildly differing fabrics I knew I was at the cusp of quilting Nirvana.
By cutting a 3.5” square hole into a piece of cardboard, I was able to “spy” a perfect picture for each of the 120 blocks of the central portion of the quilt. It was almost too much fun, as though my rotary cutter and I had been unleashed in an endless garden of free fabric. I threw open all my drawers, bags, and boxes of fabric and began furiously cutting out squares. Flowers, fish, dogs, moose, snowmen, giraffes, books, bears, boats. Waldo. Yes, even Waldo – the “I Spy” theme reminded me of all the hours I had spent finding Waldo in those clever books with my daughter. My little eye definitely needed to spy something that started with “W”.
The inner border and outer binding strips also gave me a chance to use some of the fabric from my collection of “transition” fabrics. I buy these every time I see them – the gradual colour change across the fabric as it transitions from one colour to another makes these invaluable. I can nearly always find the exact shade I need in one place or another on a transition fabric. This explains why mine are full of holes – I usually need only a little piece, and so I extract a chunk here, and a snippet there. The quilting moth strikes again. For this quilt I was able to use a transition fabric in continuous strips, showing off its lovely subtle colour changes.
The outer border forms the boundaries of the garden. These gorgeous green prints from Brazil, a gift from Cris and Becky, are what bring the whole quilt together in a wonderful blending of fabric and family. I thank them both for indulging my passion for fabric with these treasures from the other side of the equator!