This commission was unique in that it was a memory quilt for a sweet little dog, Munson, who had passed away. His owner was so sweet, and she loved him very dearly as was evidenced by her getting choked up just talking about him. Apparently he had a scarf for every occasion: Thanksgiving, Halloween, 4th of July, Christmas, and many other colors and patterns in between.
After taking a look at them, I realized there were so many variations of fabric and size that my options were limited. The best option to include them all was a crazy-quilt style design. I sorted the scarfs by occasion and/or color and went from there. The owner did give me one t-shirt that she wore, so I made it the centerpiece and worked around from there.
I like that she chose a light blue backing. It reminded me of the sky, and I thought it fitting. This was also one of the first times I’ve added a label onto the quilt. Hopefully I can remember to do it more often.
So here it is – the dog scarf memory quilt. I just love it, and it was wonderful to work with something new.
This was a Christmas present commission I received as a result of the Lilburn Daze craft fair. The client met me and had a huge bag of baby clothes. Then she said what I consider music to my ears, “I trust you.” She was letting me have complete artistic freedom! I had several ideas for baby clothes, but there were factors that helped narrow it down to this style.
For starters, some of the clothes had already been cut, and they were different sizes, so making a basic quilt with the same square shape was most likely out. The sheer number of clothes would probably have been a factor as well. I noticed that several of the clothes needed to feature the front or had a cute pattern, and those would need to be in a spot that featured them. So in the end, I followed the same route as I did with the Artist’s Memory Quilt. I divided the clothes up into differing colors or themes; there were so many of the blue and red that they made two squares.
When you have a lot of fabrics and a small space to put them, then crazy quilt style is the way to go. I was still a big fan of the shadowbox style, and I knew it would help make the blocks look extra cool. I somehow managed to work in all of the clothes from that huge, full bag of baby clothes.
The last request the client had was the have the phrase “You and me against the world” somewhere on the quilt. The things is…shadowboxes are tricky, and their illusion of being 3-D relies on nothing else being around the block. So having the words somewhere highly visible would ruin the 3-D aspect. So I decided to have the phrase worked in via a more subtle way. I wrote the phrase in while quilting between two of the rows. I just wrote it in cursive, so the phrase is there and the shadowboxes are in full effect.
A simple textured blue for the backing and binding brings everything together!
This quilt goes down as one of the most emotional quilts I’ve done. For starters, I was asked to complete it by another quilter, so I felt like it needed to be perfect. Another consideration was the fact that it was a memory quilt in memory of a younger person. I’d done memory quilts before, and it wasn’t the first one I’d made for a mother. But this one felt different, and I wanted more than anything to do the lady’s memory justice. After all, I remembered her memorial service because I volunteered to help in the church nursery while it was going on.
Some things that stood out, however, were that my normal medium was gone. This was not a standard t-shirt quilt. In fact, there wasn’t a single t-shirt in any of the bags of clothes I was given! But what I DID have was dress clothes. Clothes with cool textures. Clothes with beautiful embroidery. Clothes with unique colors. So I sat on the quilt idea and wondered what to do.
The mother, being a quilter, had suggested something akin to a “crazy quilt” style, but none of the patterns or images I found online seemed to be exactly right. I looked around and must have seen 100 different ideas on how a crazy quilt can look. And then one morning during my shower, where I do my best thinking, I thought of the 101st crazy quilt pattern!
Here’s the premise. The lady was an artist. Artists are all about color and balance and placement. So I would make a sort of art gallery out of her clothes. I would help to emphasize the “gallery” part by adding a shadowbox element to each of the sections. This would also allow all her different colors, textures, and details to be featured.
I started by going through the clothes. I’d just gotten a new/old dining table to use as a craft table. It was in my garage, so I stood there that night, listening to the chirping of crickets, at peace, sorting the clothes into the different color stacks. I had enough for eight different color panels. That left one empty block. Then I had an idea I hoped would work for the last block.
Since she was an artist, and this was her gallery, I went through her old Facebook posts until I found exactly what I’d hoped to find – her artwork! There’s some debate on whether the picture is a self-portrait or Tori Amos. She wasn’t exactly distant comparison. It was one of the few pieces I found, and I downloaded it immediately.
Now that I knew how many stacks I had and how many blocks I could make, I sent the mother a draft layout. We worked and switched a couple of color sections, and then I got the green light to start cutting.
One of the first ones I did was red. I’d been told she loved red; it was her favorite color. So it seemed natural to begin here. After that, I got better at my blocks and was able to knock out the other seven faster than I anticipated.
A close up of the pink square.
After that, I enlarged the artwork and used two pieces of fabric paper to print it out. It was still smaller than I needed, so I added a red border to make it the same size as the other panels and began piecing the top together.
I added the shadow boxes and was happy to see them coming together. It wasn’t long before I was able to send her a picture of the completed top.
Now the next challenge was with the quilting. I thought long and hard about doing a simple stipple pattern, but then I had another idea. I decided to revive the circle-swirl quilting pattern because I wanted to add some whimsy to it. I also didn’t want to distract from the clothing panels, so I kept the main part of the quilting to the white area. I used the dreaded “invisible thread” to reinforce the clothing panels and make sure they didn’t shift or bubble up. (Imagine trying to sew with fishing line and you’ll understand why this kind of thread is a last resort.)
We went back and forth on the backing and finally settled on a black, white, and red pattern. From there, I had to complete the last element – but maybe the most important. I had to make the label. That took some thinking because I didn’t want it to be a let down. I remembered that the mother was happy I’d chosen to focus on colors because her daughter’s memorial service featured a homily from a friend who described her in terms of color. I loved it and was startled because, as said before, I wasn’t at the actual service. I was in the nursery.
Keeping that in mind, I asked for a copy of the friend’s homily. I used phrases and created a label based on that. Now the lady’s sister deals in graphics, so she worked her magic and made my original label look far better.
I printed the label on fabric and sewed it to the back corner.
This quilt was a long journey, filled with emotion. But it was also filled with creativity and pushed me to new limits. In many ways, the artist from whom it was made inspired it, and I feel like she had a hand in its making. In the end, it was and remains an honor to have been tasked with making this. It is one of my favorite and proudest works.
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