Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Quilt No. 117
February 2017

This is the thing about being a card-carrying rule follower – challenges become irresistible.  All those delicious rules!  They channel unbridled creativity right into the cozy end of the funnel.  Instead of falling prey to the loosey-goosiness of too many possibilities, there is a path that is already laid out.  Certain things can be done, certain things cannot.  It’s pure heaven for a rule follower!

The year’s quilt guild challenge was to create a “medallion quilt”.  My definition of “medallion” is personified by Mr. T. and mountain of bling.  How would I ever come up with a quilt based on that?  Fortunately, as the description of the quilt version was revealed, it became clear that it had nothing to do with gaudy gold neckware. Whew!

A medallion quilt is one that has the center of the quilt as its focus.  Borders are added around that portion.  The center can be a printed fabric panel (sometimes a picture) or something pieced to give the impression of a whole, for example a lone star.  Turns out - thanks to my sister - I had just the right thing for my medallion quilt lying around in my bloated pile of impulse purchases. 

The center panel of this quilt is a piece called Greeting the Moon, from Red Rooster Fabrics. I saw it when I was attending the Quilt Canada 2016 event.  I wanted it, but I also wanted pretty much everything that fell within my line of sight. So I didn’t allow myself to buy it.

On Day Two of Quilt Canada I casually mentioned the crane panel to my sister.  She knows I’m pretty fond of red-crowned cranes, having used them before in my Hibakusha quilt.  I still have a bit of fabric left over from that quilt.  I would it put in a safe if I had one.  It’s that special.  I’ve used that crane fabric a few times for postcard quilts for friends who were battling cancer.  So far these cranes have been very successful.

“I saw this panel of cranes that I really liked” I commented as we wandered on blissfully blistered feet.  “Did you buy it?” she asked.  I admitted that I had not.  “Well go get it now” she said.  I started stammering about having already bought enough stuff and how I didn’t know what I would do with all of it.  My sister was already dragging around a pack sack loaded with my purchases, pretending she wasn’t my personal pack horse.  (Did I mention she’s a non-quilter, and just about the world’s greatest sport?)  She short circuited my blathering by drawing herself up to her full Big Sister Height.  Then she lasered me with her well practiced Big Sister Glare.  “I said GO. Get it. Now.”  I knew better than to defy her.  She is older than me and taller than me and she has assured me that she is smarter than me.  I’m at least smart enough to know not to argue with her.  I obediently slunk over to the vendor and bought the crane panel.  I didn't even worry about what I might do with it. 

A few months later the President’s Challenge was announced at quilt guild - the medallion challenge.  Too bad I had nothing, nothing at all that I could use for this challenge.  What a lack of foresight on my part, considering that quilt stores sometimes shop at my house, due to my vast fabric selection.  Maybe I wouldn’t be able to muster anything at all for the challenge.

Eventually, during one of my rummaging sessions in my fabric stash, I unearthed the cranes panel.  It was an absolutely ideal starting point for the challenge!  Turns out my sister is right.  She is smarter than me.  Do not let her know I’ve confirmed this.

I’ve added five borders on each side of the panel, and four on the top/bottom of this quilt.  I was going to give it a “light” machine quilting using metallic thread and just outline a few waves here and there.  Meh.  I’d be done in two hours.  But...once I got started on the waves, a few lines here and there made no sense to the eye or the quilt.  It became every line that got quilted.  

Of course, the bottom of the quilt became narrower and narrower in comparison with the top.  Quilts must be quilted with equal density over the whole surface, or you get rippling. This is a rule that can’t really be gotten around, kind of like gravity.  If you go crazy quilting it tightly in one section, you must repeat your act of craziness in all sections. This meant I had to climb that mountain of quilting all the way to the top, equalizing it by adding in waves and clouds.  I actually thought I might never finish, that I would perish at my machine because I’d failed to take along enough supplemental oxygen to get me to the summit.  By the end, my sewing machine and I had become one, a cybernetic organism that lived only to make stitches and trips to the snack drawer.  We took turns doing both.  

Eventually it did come to an end - I couldn’t find even a tiny section left where I could add any more stitches.  I declared the quilt finished and my love affair with cranes over.  Completely over.

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