Inspiration: Patchwork Style and Peanut

The design

Adding a strip

Getting ready to quilt

There’s something very special about making a pillowcase designed by your 5-year-old son. He chose the log cabin style out of a few sketches and played with different color combinations until he found this one. Once he’d chosen his favorite, he took it into my work room and found fabrics in almost exactly the same colors that he used in the design. The look of total satisfaction and expectation on his face when he came back with his stack of solids was priceless. Now I just have to make it!

I’m using the quilt-as-you-go method described by Suzuko Koseki in Patchwork Style. It’s a cute little book that I picked up a while ago. Patchwork is labor intensive and while I don’t make much, I do adore it. The surprising print and color combinations keep me interested and inspire me to try new things. Modern patchwork and quilts have plenty of punch when it comes to color and quite a few quilters have found quicker ways to make quilts than the old hand-piecing methods.

The method I’m using involves sewing the fabric directly to the quilt batting. It’s plenty easy to do and allows for error, which is nice when you’re fairly new to quilting and fairly prone to error! If the patch comes out a bit crooked, it’s not problem. The idea is to work to the edges of the too-big batting and then square it all up later. So far, so good.

Working on this has got me thinking about other projects. Historically, quilts were group projects. Before sewing machines, the work required to make a single quilt by hand was too much for one person. Groups of women would work together piecing and quilting quilts. I like to think of a good old quilting bee as Stitch ‘n Bitch by candle light. OK, they probably worked by sunlight, but you get the idea. Today, this kind of cooperative making happens on-line. You can see an example here. You can make a quilt with friends or even strangers around the world these days.

A group of people getting together to make a quilt for one person represents not just sharing resources, but sharing time and emotion. When you make something for someone, whether it’s a gift or on request, you can’t help but think about that person during the process. While making this pillow case, I’m wondering whether Peanut is going to like this style of quilting and whether he will like the pillow at all when it’s done. But I’m also curious about his choice of solid colors. It reminds me of the quilts of Gee’s Bend that I recently found on-line (more links here and here). The use of solid colors is strikingly modern. And I’m thinking about this wonderful little boy who’s about to finish kindergarten and is completely obsessed by the World Cup and loves to draw and wow – he deserves a pillow.

This kind of sharing your love through making, it’s something that speaks to me and that I feel quite strongly. There really is a little piece of me in every thing I make, little bits of my energy and emotion in every single one. I’m thinking it would be nice to share that experience with other people, not the finished piece, but the process. I’m going to let that thought marinade for a bit. In the meantime, there’s a pillow to finish!

2 responses on “Inspiration: Patchwork Style and Peanut

  1. Manu

    Your posts are always so full of ideas and inspirational thoughts!
    Cooperative making through the net is a great way to be “together” for someone special.
    I also love to make something and then send it! After the tsunami in Japan I made a bunch of sock-monkeys (well, that was what were were into back then, with my little daughter!) and shipped them all to friends and relatives who live there. We made them with VERY long arms, so they could hug the neck of the persons who received them. there wasn’t much else we could do, so we sent monkey-hugs.
    When you make something with you hands for someone else, you don’t just give the finished item…your pillow for Peanut is stitched in tiny, perfect, strong love-stitches!
    my mom started sewing when she was VERY little: aged 6, together with her “teacher” she made her first dress. I still remember ALL the dresses, backpacks, trousers, coats, shirts she made me. ALL of them. and because they were stitched in perfect, tiny, strong love-stitches, none of these items ever broke: they were handed down to other family members or donated to other people in the neighborhood.
    tiny, perfect, strong love-stitches!
    when I was 7 my grandma used scrap-fabrics and together with HER SISTER made me a rag-doll…I spent the afternoon looking at them chatting away while their hands embroidered the face, added little details to the hat, added lace to the UNDERWEAR!!! those two had the best time talking about old times (that’s when I learnt grandad fancied, actually, my grandma sister first! shocking!) and I can still hear them laughing every time I look at my doll (still with me…I won’t say after how many decades).

    1. Christine Post author

      What a wonderful story! I love how making is passed on in our families. For all the crafting and projects that we do with our kids, it’s the things they see us doing that leave the biggest and longest lasting impressions. Thank you for sharing.

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