Quilting Gazette: Doll Quilt Swap
November 20, 2008
It was only a matter of time before I signed up for one of those doll quilt swaps. I’m a proud, if terrified, participant in Doll Quilt Swap 5. So many talented, experienced, skilled quilters–and me. The deadline is in early December. A full month ahead, the anxiety began. I found it so hard to choose a concept, a pattern, or fabrics, for someone about whom I know so little. In my mind, I built up my recipient into a formidable, persnickety paragon of quilting virtue, who necessarily will be dismissive of my scrappy, folksy, blast-o-fabric style, not to mention the “charming” imprecision in my piecing and handquilting. (I’m sure she’s not any of these things. This is an anxiety response, pure and simple.)
Eventually, though, deadline pressure pushed me into git ‘r done mode, and I pieced a small quilt of humbleness. Size-wise, it’s at the outside limits for the swap at 24″ x 24″. The design was inspired by a version of the old-time “schoolhouse” block that I saw in a couple of Japanese quilting books. The recipient likes warm colors, so I made the houses orange.
Here it is, freshly pieced and pressed, batted and backed, and taped to Orna’s dining room table. (What? You don’t drop by a friend’s house, ask for masking tape, and baste up a quilt sandwich? Orna did not think anything about it.)
Here it is again, in the end stages of handquilting. (Note to the Quilting Police: It was basted very thoroughly to begin with, but I love to pull the basting threads out as soon as they are no longer needed.) My quilting stitches are reasonably even and small now, but my refusal to mark the quilt top means that sometimes my lines are pretty wavery. Late in the process, it occurred to me that if I did not pull the thread all the way through after every little 3-5 stitch section (I use the “rocker” method), I could save that time and work more quickly. Doing it this way, all of a sudden my lines became much straighter, too. This is yet another reason for me to get myself into a quilting class. In two seconds, someone could have taught me this, several hundred thousand hand stitches ago! There is a limit to the virtue of being self-taught.
Anyway, I’m about to put a navy blue linen binding on it (also Japanese), then wash it up and send it off to meet its recipient. I’ll show it again, and include the back, which shows the concentric squares of the quilting stitches. This wee quilt is well made in the sense that it’s not going to fall apart, but it lacks the finesse I aspire to. (I’m not looking for reassurance; I’m just saying!)