With Every Stitch a Story: An Entire Quilt From Start to Finish, Introduction and Prologue

With Every Stitch a Story: An Entire Quilt From Start to Finish, Introduction and Prologue

I am often asked about the whole entire process of making a quilt. In times B.C. (Before COVID), in my Sampler class, I taught the entire process and we even finished one whole quilt, but not every one has the time to commit to such a long class, and until this virus is more under control, I won’t be teaching that class any time in the next few months.

I thought maybe I will document the Quilt I am just starting work on. This particular Quilt is being made for a dear family friend of mine who is going to be married in May of 2022. As of right now, that’s my deadline, but I fear there will be a shower, so the deadline will be moved up. So, I’m going to set out with the hopes of finishing this quilt by February/March. (sure….okay…..) She is unaware of this gift, so I won’t be mentioning names, and I don’t think she follows me (hopefully, she doesn’t start! But I think she’d appreciate her Quilt being used in the name of Science, so to speak….so here goes.)

Generally, when setting out to make a quilt you need a jumping off point. This varies from quilt to quilt, project to project and person to person. This is not a hard and fast Step 1. (Hence, why I didn’t name this blog Chapter 1.) In this particular case, I started with a theme and went from there. The recipient of this Quilt loves animals. She has lots of pets, but is a true lover and spokeswoman for domestic rats. She’s rescued more than I can count. So, obviously, I thought I’d start with some kind of classy, rat fabric and go from there. Sounds easy, right? I also had started researching some patterns and was looking for inspiration on that front. I often design my own patterns and wasn’t against that idea, but a pattern literally jumped off of a page of a quilting magazine and I just knew it was the right one for this quilt. It was even in the magazine as a pattern….it was just an advertisement. I tracked it down and purchased the pattern that night. This Quilt was going to be Firelight by Sharon Holland.

This pattern is beautiful, and boasts several different volumes of color. It has a very white as the background, and varying fabrics in four volumes throughout: light whites, medium oranges, medium blues, and dark blues. The pattern comes in several sizes (crib, throw and twin) but none of those are good for a Wedding Quilt. As a rule, I make Queen sized quilts for Weddings. I find that it fits most people’s beds and even if they have a King sized bed, a queen sized quilt works as a bedspread….I have had no complaints yet. I quickly threw the pattern into my editing software just to grab some new yardage measurements. I also counted the amount of final blocks in the Queen sized pattern I modified (25 blocks total) and realized that the throw size quilt has 13 blocks. Perfect!! I doubled the yardage for that size and rounded up. You can see my quick software modification above. I’m also going to show you the color volumes I ended up with….this is a GREAT trick. Take a photo of your fabric collection and remove all of the saturation. This is very easy to do on your phone. This will give you a very easy way to see your volume selections.

Back to the rat fabric: I spent hours and hours searching at my go-to fabric stores online and could find nothing that was right. I was at a Quilt Retreat last month and had the opportunity to go into a rather large fabric store in hopes of finding what I was looking for….still no rat fabrics. I was hoping for something sort of classic looking that had rats hidden in it…..but I couldn’t even find mice! Okay…..dead end. What on earth do we do?

So, no rats. My friend also has bunnies….maybe that will be easier fabric to find. And I figured I should start thinking of color combinations that are classic and beautiful and not too feminine. This is for my friend, but it is for her and her soon-to-be-husband, so I do try to make Wedding Quilts for all parties involved….not just my friend or family member. I always loved the navy/rose gold/grey combination and thought I’d find some inspiration there…..so on to the clearance rack I went…might as well start with the stuff on sale, right? I came across a gorgeous fabric on the clearance rack (SCORE!!) that featured these great foxes and foliage. It was more teal than navy, so I adjusted. Then another fabric practically jumped off the rack with bunnies on it!! (and really cute snails just for good measure.)

I spent another hour or two in the shop right then (along with a good friend–thank you Diana!!) trying to pull fabrics that would match. Since this would be such a color-centric quilt, I knew I had to color match these fabrics in person. I find that if you need something very specific color-wise, it’s really best to do that in person than online. If you are a bit more loose with your needs, online is always great. And if you’re concerned (or not confident in your color-choosing) try starting with a collection of fabric….the designers go through so much trouble to curate beautiful color collections for our use.

After another trip to the same store, fabrics in hand to be able to color match, I am confident and pleased with what I ended up with. We went from Rats and Navy/Rose Gold/Grey to foxes and bunnies in Teal/Aqua/Peach. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years its to be flexible and let the inspiration come from wherever it may.

Back to the original pattern, I made some color modifications: the very white background is now a light grey polka dot, and varying fabrics in four volumes throughout: light whites, medium oranges (now medium peach/beige), medium blues (aquas), and dark blues (teals).

As an added bonus, I’m going to keep track of the hours spent on this quilt. All of them….not just the ones sewing, because let’s be honest, there’s a lot more to making a quilt than just the sewing. I’ve spent the last few years being very accurate with my time charts. I even have a spreadsheet that I use to track them all. I find that even I don’t realize how much time goes into things sometimes.

Hour Count:

Researching a pattern and calculating yardage: 3 hours

Fabric Shopping/Fabric Selection/Color Theory: 7 hours

Total Hours so far: 10