Commissions take many forms for me. Some are glass, some are for toys, others for jewellery and yet others for quilts.
Emily’s quilt was unique in all senses. It arose from very sad and sudden circumstance that left Emily without her mum and her new son, Thomas, without his grandmother. Emily gathered dresses that her mother had made and worn while they lived in Kenya. Emily fondly remembers her mum in every dress and wanted to turn these memories into a quilt to cover her kingsized bed. (I have to mention here Emily’s husband, Ray, is well over 6’3″… I really daren’t ask how tall since I’m a shortie at just 5’2″!)
First task was to take apart all the dresses and find the grain. Then to salvage as much as I possibly could to recycle into the quilt top. We chatted and decide on oblongs that allowed me to even reuse blocks cut from sleeves as well as the body of each dress. Once pieced and laid out it became apparent an 8′ x 6.5′ quilt could not be machine quilted in one go. SIGH… Here’s where a nifty trick among seasoned quilters comes into play. ‘Quilt-as-you-go’. After splitting the quilt top into two equal halves they were layered up and pinned.
Then began the quilting. Geometric box lines within alternating blocks worked well to secure the layers together without becoming to complicated or unwieldy.
Once both tops were quilted the centre seam was resewn, ironed, excess wadding trimmed and then the backing centre seam was handstitched so it is almost invisible. Aaahhhhh. The quilt is quilted. Now onto the binding.
To stay in keeping with the original vintage fabrics used in the quilt top, the backing fabric was a mottled blue-grey spotty stripe on a sandy coloured background. And to keep continuity, I used more of the backing fabric to bind the quilt. As the quilt is going to be used daily, and washed often, I chose to machine the binding on.
Yeah. Almost finished. As usual, I stitched on a signature ‘Madbird’ label. (It is always good practice to label your quilts.)
Interestingly, in the time it had taken to chat often with Emily, create the quilt and finish it, her brother and partner had a baby boy. As an extra surprise for Emily, the excess fabric left over from her mum’s dresses were transformed into a cot quilt with fleece backing. It means her brother too can have something for his new son that has sentimental value and belonged to the grandmother the baby will never have the joy of knowing. I know, I’m a softie. A BIG softie.
I was really pleased to be able to give Emily not one but two quilts. AND as an extra JUST for Emily I made her a ‘madbird’ needlewrap from the dress remnants. This way when Emily sews, like her mum, she can use it for her own pins and needles.
Any commission is unique. It takes on it’s own purpose and importance. It has it’s own journey. On this occasion it was a pleasure to turn a moment of deep sadness, sorrow and special memories into quilts and items to treasure. Thanks Emily for the opportunity.