I tried to remember when I first clipped the directions out of some magazine. The pages are browning with age. I know it was before I moved to Germany. It may even have been when I was still living in Southern California, which means well over 30 years ago. I know I had spoken to my mom once about making the quilt for me, but when I asked her, she had transferred her handcraft focus from sewing to crocheting. I had taken the pattern to the local quilting shop in downtown Munich to ask about maybe having it made up by a quilter there. The price they quoted me was so astronomical, I immediately blotted the idea and the price out of my mind.
I told B. I'd be happy to make the quilt for her, and that there was a good chance I could have it quilted by a local Amish woman who had quilted a quilt for me previously. (You can read about how I met the quilter, Mrs. Miller, here.) B. sent me the clipping, and I was off!
This was the first commission work I'd ever done, and I thought it'd be fun to make a journal of the story of making B.'s quilt for her, and send that to her along with the quilt when it was finished. According to my journal, I started the quilt making adventure on a 19-degree, sunny day in early March 2009 with a trip to the fabric store for some Kona cotton, which happened to be on sale! B. requested a muted color palette for her quilt (she knows my penchant for bright, zinger colors). I complied with her wishes, naturally, eliminating a too-bright pink from the mix after I'd sewn a couple of test blocks.
The pattern predated rotary cutting and strip piecing and called for individual templates to be cut for the strips. I knew there was a better way! I foundation pieced the blocks instead, sewing the various colored strips onto 11-inch squares of paper (removed later), then laying a black fabric square rights sides together on top of that, and sewing 1/4-inch seams along both sides of a diagonal line. This block "sandwich" was then cut between the sewn lines along the diagonal, resulting in two half black/half strippy squares, which were then trimmed to 10-1/2 inches.
Mrs. Miller was indeed amenable to doing the quilting, and I took the quilt top, batting, and backing to her in late April. We discussed how it would be quilted, per B.'s pattern. In late September, a letter arrived from Mrs. Miller that it was done and I could come pick it up.
The quilting was beautiful! Such lovely hand work! Here are some close-ups, which I had to lighten in order to see the quilting on the black background. Thanks, B., for taking all of these photos this week. In my haste and excitement to mail her the quilt last October, I totally forgot to take any pictures of the finished, quilted quilt!
I truly enjoyed making this quilt for my friend and was happy that it could be hand quilted in a manner in keeping with its Amish inspiration. In my final quilt journal entry, I noted the following:
There is one corner that is not quilted exactly like the others...I am reminded of a myth I have heard: "Amish women put a mistake in each quilt because only God is perfect; therefore, it would be prideful to make a perfect quilt. Yet it has been pointed out by some Amish women that making such a mistake would be prideful in itself, as it would imply the quilt maker believes herself to indeed be perfect. Though some rare purposeful mistakes may have been for religious reasons, it appears for others it was more a matter of superstition. In reality, all quilters make mistakes. It's almost impossible to make a perfect quilt." [Source: Womenfolk.com/History of Quilts]
I put my quilt label directly under this special corner.
Upon "rescuing" her quilt from the Customs Office in Munich, B. sent me a wonderfully funny and touching email. Here is an excerpt:
I sail out of the Customs Office smiling ear to ear...I am in the Wow This is Wonderful mood. They sure don't see that very often at the Customs Office. I force myself to leave the quilt in its protective plastic bag and box and put it in the back of the car, instead of ogling it immediately in the parking lot. Home safe in the garage. Into the apartment. Open box, unwrap quilt. Unfold.
I am overwhelmed. The colors are different than I projected or how they looked in the computer pictures. I like them better than either one. These are real. The fabric is alive, not an idea but real stitches and real material, real care, real knowing how to make something beautiful and functional. It contains a value I hold sacred. Generations and generations of women making, creating, doing with their own hands beautiful, useful, wonderful things for their friends and families.
That, my friends, is what it's all about, isn't it?
Thank you for visiting today. For more beautiful, creative, wonderful things, be sure to visit the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side.