When I was seven years old my grandma Jean sat me down and asked me to list my favorite colors. This was my pre tomboy phase, when pink, purple and yellow still reigned supreme. The crocheted chevrons of rose, sunshine-yellow and violet form the single existing token that reflects the fact that, at one point of my life, I actually was a little princess. …cuz let’s just be honest, the tomboy phase wasn’t a phase.
Years later another handmade bedspread brightened up my bedroom- a retro quilt with carpenter’s wheels made of bright solids and paisleys. I inherited the quilt from my late great-grandmother. I didn’t know her well, and I never learned if she made it, but it gave my a sense of tradition and connection with my ancestry to use it. The quilt followed me to college, through three dorm rooms, four apartments, across state lines, into marriage and through the the labor of my child.
Rivers isn’t old enough to tell me his favorite colors, but he will be old enough for his own bed soon, and I want the first full-size blanket to be made with love by his mama, just as my grandmother did for me. I can crochet, but just barely. It would probably take a decade and a bucket of tears before I finish a full size afghan, so a quilt seems much more realistic. I’ve always wanted to sew a quilt. Rivers is my perfect excuse…errr recipient.
It just so happened that my mom gifted me Lucie Summer’s Quilt Improv for my birthday. Summer’s technique for creating unique patterns is about finding inspiration from the environment, so I explored the neighborhood and the apartment. I wanted something simple, but river-like. A chevron pattern with a repeating color pattern seemed perfect; caught my eye as a wave. I sketched my own version and used a Charley Harper print for the color palette.
I was absolutely nervous stepping into my first quilting store last week, the City Quilter. Unlike the other fabric stores I’ve perused, this place was run by experienced quilters. Their ornate works line the walls above the extensive fabric collection. Despite their smiles and cheerful demeanor, I felt completely intimidated. There was even a conjoining art gallery with funky abstract quilts pinned to the wall under perfectly directed track lighting and tended by a curator. The pieces were part of a traveling show, completely impressive and inspiring but did nothing for my confidence at the moment. I felt completely in over my head. A complete amateur. Duh, I am. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Armed with my pattern and a screen shot of my palette I spent two hours carefully selecting my fabrics. The store manager locked the doors to signal closing, so for some time I was alone with a quilting class that had just let out. The students were shopping for their background fabrics. So many students and so few store clerks meant that I had time to float around the store and listen to all the tips, tricks, direction and notes the clerks and the instructor were giving to the students. The woman who helped me was a true delight I wish she had slapped some sense into me though and asked what the hell I intend to do with all of this fabric.
Note to self; trust your measurements! I definitely have enough fabric to make Rivers matching pillow cases and maybe even a jumpsuit to go with his quilt!