Friday, October 18, 2013

31 Days - Day 18: Collaboration

A bit ago I showed you a quilt my mother and I made together. I'm sure you've seen pictures of old fashioned quilting bees, where many women came together to finish off a quilt or two.

In these days of the internet, it's possible to have a virtual quilting bee that yields a physical quilt.

The idea is pretty simple: Each quilter makes a block designed around a central theme, in a predetermined size. One quilter volunteers to put the top of the quilt together. She/he may also do the quilting and binding, or others may finish it off. The particular quilting board I was involved with would do quilts when there was a death in some one's family, or news of a baby or other big life event.

In 1998 I offered to piece the top and finish off a quilt for Shirley, whose husband had passed away unexpectedly. The blocks started arriving, and I began piecing.

Shirley's quilt, 1998
The blocks in this quilt are 6" finished. One of the biggest challenges in putting together any quilt made by many quilters is dealing with the (surprising) incredible variation of interpretations of "6 1/2 inch block". One technique is to add a border all the way around each block, then trim them all to a uniform size.

Not me - I added sashing to the blocks, but did what adjusting I needed to do to get the thing square and flat by adjusting the individual seam allowances. Fortunately, no one was seriously out of whack.

People who didn't want to make a block or wouldn't have time send cash to help cover the cost of the backing, batting, binding and postage to mail the completed quilt.

The second challenge came in the actual quilting. I didn't want to obscure the piecing in the blocks, and to be honest, with the batting I used, I didn't need to quilt more densely than every 6 inches or so. I ended up just ditch quilting around the individual blocks, and picking out main components to highlight.

Close up of the back and quilting
The sashing was quilted with a meandering, free motion series of loops with scattered hearts. If you look in the lower right of this picture, you will see a quilted rose. For a while, this was my quilted "signature", included at least once on each quilt.

The binding fabric is visible on this picture as well. It's a very cool, modern stained glass type print in various blues and pinks. I may still have a small piece in my stash - loved that fabric.

A few years later I put together another quilt, which I'll post later this month. That one was a baby quilt, and to this day I think it was some of my best free motion quilting. I don't even get to visit and pet it every so often, as it went all the way to New Zealand to live on a farm.


melissa said...

I do believe this one is my very favorite yet. Beautiful work of yours too, girlfriend. As pretty on the back as on the front. :)

Diane said...

Thanks, Melissa. Wait until you see the one that went to NZ - very similar in that it's a collaboration, but I set the blocks on point, and did free motion fancy feathers in the border. I mourned when I had to mail it off...