Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Improvisational Quilt

Is this the "right side"?
Or is this the "right side"?
I had intended the orderly one as the right side and improvisationally-pieced side as the backing, but I think that I like the "wrong" side better.

It all started when the Santa Monica and South Bay Quilters' guilds got together last Spring to sell everyone's bits and bobs as a joint fundraiser. I walked away with three shopping bags full of fabric, yarn, patterns and oddities that I thought I might have a use for. Bad Dad thought the point was for me to unload my own surplus. Silly man.

Anyway, I saw the two skull fabrics and thought that my girly goth girl might want a quilt made out of these scraps. She didn't like them.
Plan B had me making a "Read me a quilt" to accompany the book, Treasure Island. I challenged myself to use only what I already had in my collection, which meant that I had to piece some fabrics like the reds below.
For the backing, I sewed scraps into blocks and then sewed the blocks together. (I promised in Zero Waste Goal to show an example of scraps sewn into fabric and here it is.) I added a black and white striped shirt from Goodwill. I call it the "Big Kahuna" shirt because it measured 70" in circumference. I harvested the buttons for a future shirt and cut up the body for the backing. Notice the triangular patches in the holes left by the armscythe of the shirt.
There were other triangles, too. I had barely enough fabric to pull this off.
The solid red is a Kona cotton leftover from another quilt. The red/white and yellow/white prints are pre-consumer waste from SAS. The black/white geometric is a remnant from Joann's premium cotton section.

[ I was surprised that the selvage says 2005 and they are selling it as current fabric. But, if you look closely, their premium fabrics are often old stock that the independent fabric stores cleared out years ago. I guess that's how they can mark it up to $10/yard and then mark it down to $5/yard and still turn a profit.]

The red/white pindot is a fabric second. The dye is spread unevenly where it became jammed in the machinery. I like the visual texture that the mistake provides.
I pieced this before I read Gwen Marston's Liberated Quiltmaking I and II. The seams were so crooked, I was thinking more Gees Bend than Liberated.

Anyway, Read me a quilt was started by a SBQG member 10 years ago. Working with Court Appointed Special Advocates (for children in foster care), CASA, we try to provide each child with a book and a quilt that goes with the book. If your quilt group would like to join our effort, drop me a line. You need not be a member of SBQG, or any guild, to help out.

I chose Treasure Island to go with the pirate theme. I couldn't decide between the unabridged one with beautiful illustrations, but archaic language, or the modernized and simplified version. I decided to buy both. I figure the child can read the simple one on his/her own, and an adult can read and explain the unabridged one to him/her. This quilt is about 55"x67"; there should be plenty of room for two under this quilt.

Iris was sorting out her unused toys and we thought this pirate bear should go in the care package. Aargh!
We found this puppy (squeeze it and it barks!) and Jack London's The Call of the Wild in her giveaway pile. I already know what next year's quilt will look like. I think I just might have the fabric I need already in my collection.
The South Bay Quilters' Guild takes the philanthropy aspect of our 503c nonprofit status very seriously. We provide hundreds of quilts each year (nearly a thousand) for local charities and college scholarships to students studying for the garment trades. Our community services chair takes fabric donations. She says that we use 160 yards per month from the donation stash for our charity quilts. Yet, the stash never seems to get smaller. I wonder how many sewists can relate. ;-)

See my 2010 Read me a quilt, another improvisational piece.


  1. Equally beautiful both sides!! Congratulations on meeting your challenge of keeping to the fabrics you had; this is the true spirit of quilting! I love the randomness of the other side like you do, too.

  2. I like both sides, but the anarchist in me loves the 'liberated' side best.
    What a great gift!

  3. Beautiful quilt! I really like freeform quilting, much more than the orderly kind (not to do myself, though, for either kind). It sounds like a really neat project.


Comments are open for recent posts, but require moderation for posts older than 14 days.