Monday, February 22, 2010

Swing Your Partner, aka The Gear Quilt

It's nice to have a recipient in mind when I'm making a quilt. It makes the process more purposeful. If it's to be an unexpected gift, all the better.

At Christmas dinner in 2008, I was talking about a quilt in progress. Sitting across the table was my sister Nita and her fiance Terry, who seemed quite interested in the quilt making process. One of the many fine qualities Terry has is the ability to converse on just about any subject, whether because he has some personal experience or just because he's curious.

I shouldn't have been surprised that he was interested in quilts. After all, he does know a thing or two about putting pieces together to make something great-looking and unique.

Terry builds hot rods.

Described by his peers as a "car builder extraordinaire," he has the artistic confidence that comes from decades of following his passion. He also has a great sense of humor. Over the windshield of a rod he recently built is lettered the wry jab, "Don't act like you're not impressed."

Where my medium is fabric, Terry's is metal. My foundation is cotton; his is a chassis. We both get a kick out of finding our materials, sometimes in odd places. Mine might be from a yard sale or thrift store, his from a swap meet or buried to the axles in muck in a farmer's back forty.

After paging through Bonnie Hunter's book, Scraps & Shirttails a few days after that Christmas dinner, I found a pattern I wanted to make. I showed it to my husband Norm, who commented, "It looks like gears."

That got my wheels turning. I knew just the gearhead who might like it.

"I think I'm going to make this for Terry," I said. Norm agreed it was a great idea. The official name of the pattern is "Swing Your Partner," but he kept calling it "the gear quilt."

I pieced this from thrifted men's plaid shirts during the first part of 2009. When it came back from the longarm quilter in the fall, I finished it with a binding and a label.

Terry was working on something in his shop the day Norm and I delivered the quilt. He wasn't sure what we were up to, paying him a visit out of the blue. When I asked him to wash the grease off his hands, he was suspicious but obliged with a smirk and a twinkle in his eye. As he unfolded the quilt, he seemed pleasantly surprised.

Like the "rat rods" Terry builds that are meant to be driven, this quilt was meant to be used. So it was good to know that it was on a bed shortly after it was received. I hope he and my sister will enjoy it for years to come.


  1. Awesome BIL--an artist in his own right--and an awesome quilt that was just perfect! Great story!

  2. Finished quilt looks just perfect and a great connection!!

  3. Fabulous!!!! So when are they getting married (or has it happened already)?

  4. That is really cool, Paulette. Nice writing, too.

    - Joe


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