Saturday, December 19, 2009

for little Oliver in North Carolina

Four or five years ago, I lived in a house across the street from a very old fire station in East Nashville. It was a cute house complete with a picket fence, and I shared it with three roommates. They were all very much into old-time music, and spent many hours playing banjo/guitar/whatever else on the front porch. The firemen enjoyed it--I think they played old-time on their porch too. Our house was a few blocks from a pizza place that had a large, two-topping carryout deal for maybe $7. So it was a nice place to be.

One of my roommates, Chris, started spending a lot of time with this lady named Jill, who I met at Food Not Bombs. They began dating, and long after I moved out of that house (and maybe away from Nashville, I don't recall), the two of them moved to North Carolina.

We kept in touch by mail, mostly postcards exchanged every couple of months, and a little email correspondence. Last spring I received a postcard from Chris asking me to make a quilt for them because they were expecting their first baby in December!

This is what I made:

It's a variation on the traditional stacked coin pattern. I pieced the 'coins' to a muslin foundation at random, using what I guess some call the stitch-and-flip technique. Each print was chosen and placed very carefully so that the top would look balanced and cohesive, but still kind of spontaneous.

My friends won't know the baby's sex until it's born (*edit: welcome, Oliver!), so I tried to stick to gender-neutral colors. Four of the prints used were purchased specifically for this quilt, but the rest were from my stash, with a little help from my mom! I had all these great Denyse Schmidt and Heather Ross fabrics hidden away, and until I had this quilt in mind I couldn't bear to cut into them.

The backing and binding are both pieced. I really like pieced binding, it can be really striking and effective if the quilt top itself isn't too busy. I quilted this with free-form (but not free-motion, no way) vertical waves. They never intersect or touch, but the curves kind of play off of each other without completely echoing the same path. This is the second quilt in which I've used this technique (the other was quilted horizontally) and it's a new favorite.

I also sent along this onesie!

It's a quick (8-minute?) project. I fused the owl fabric to one side of Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite, cut it out, and fused it to the onesie. (Be sure you cut around the applique after it's been backed with Steam-a-Seam!) Then I shortened my stitch length and stitched around the owl.

I hope the little one arrives happy and healthy. I know Chris and Jill will be wonderful parents!


  1. The quilt and onsie are so cute - but the story is even sweeter! If I am kucky enough to get the gift, I would make great use of the fabric - I promise!! Thanks