Wednesday, April 1, 2015
From Hell to Breakfast
I never realized that I spoke a foreign language until I moved to Boston.
I am from rural Idaho and knew on an abstract level that I had a twangy accent, but I never thought that it made me indecipherable. Humph. Within moments of my first telephone call with my future husband, he was twittering about the "git"s and "agin"s. Luckily for me, he found it charming and didn't tease me too much about it.
After I moved out to Boston, I soon grew used to the puzzled or shocked expressions I received whenever I opened my mouth. For awhile I worked at a bank. Once when a mother came in with her young daughter, I held out the basket of treats and asked if she'd like a sucker. The mother recoiled as if I'd slapped her. My co-workers barely held in the explosion of laughter until the mother and daughter cleared the front door. Apparently they are called "pops" there. A "pop" is something I consume with a hamburger and french fries, but fine. I may have had a millisecond pause to translate every time I held out the treat basket, but I never made that mistake again.
This quilt is made in honor of the first time I opened my mouth and shocked my brand-new husband. As we sat down to dinner, I apologized about the mess in the kitchen. "It will take us forever to clean up," I said, "I've got stuff spread from hell to breakfast in there." I knew from the look on his face that I'd gone and said something outrageous again. Luckily for me (again), he is a great connoisseur of colorful euphemisms and now uses that particular one as often as I do.
I sketched out a road map for this quilt on graph paper before I started. It is helpful for me to visualize where design elements are before I begin so I can just have fun with the piecing and not over think too much. I approached this like a giant log cabin, beginning with a center unit and then adding slabs of piecing to build outward. Once I had a design framework, it was easy to let the improv piecing just happen. In addition to its title, I can see a lot of my humor in this. I accidentally pieced a skull into my "Hell" quilt. I had a good laugh at that one. I had also planned a series of different elements of piecing to help pull the eye through the quilt and I was concerned that I hadn't emphasized the top piece enough, so in the next row I added to the quilt, I made some arrows to point at it. Problem solved, Jill style. Ha!
Since I was making this as an entry to the Pantone Quilt Challenge, I knew that I needed to make Marsala a major color component. I gathered all the fabric I had that closely resembled Marsala, then added shades of gold, brown, teal, blue, red, plum and green. The fabric I selected to be my main Marsala color is an interweave chambray in berry. To make sure that I ended up with a Marsala quilt despite the addition of all the extra colors, I made sure to include a piece of that fabric in every chunk of improvisational piecing that I did. Marsala is literally the glue that holds this quilt together. (In case you are wondering, in the picture above, it is the center square directly above the skull.)
The worst part of this quilt was the number it did on my sewing room. I once taught with a woman who had a sign on the door of her first grade classroom that said "Learning is NOISY." Well, improv piecing is MESSY. Every horizontal surface was littered with snippets, thread (I used linen blends, chambray and peppered cotton which all shed thread like crazy) and little triangle pieces from constructing the flying geese units. In the spirit of cleaning up, I made a bonus mini with most of the little scraps that were left over. I pieced the snippets into thin strips and sandwiched them between two triangles. I squared the units to 2.5" and pieced them together in rows. I love the movement that emerges. I would like to make more of these someday. Maybe another time when I should be cleaning up?
Taking the pictures of this quilt was definitely an adventure. We took our kids out to a nature park that we love on a warmish day. Unfortunately it was warm and windy. In some of these pictures, my oldest son is sitting on his dad's feet holding the quilt down. Son #2 rode his scooter and our just-turned-two year old daughter waited not so patiently in her stroller. I looked up from the camera in surprise to see her sprinting down the path. Little Houdini had gotten out of her stroller while leaving her securely fastened seat belt still securely fastened. We put her back into her seat, under protest, and sat back to watch. She slipped her arms out from the shoulder straps, placed her hands on the seat of the stroller and used it like a pommel horse to lift her legs out of bottom straps. Thirty seconds, tops. We decided that any little girl that creative and enterprising deserved to run, so we let her.
It didn't hurt that she ran down the path shouting "agin" with relish and triumph. That's my girl!
This quilt top measures at 54" x 66."
Linking up to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.