My friend Andrew contacted me nearly a year ago and asked about my sewing him a quilt. You see, he’s got this big trip planned, a drive all over the United States, and he wanted to have a quilt made for the journey. Recollections of my own time wandering out West instantly came to mind: red rock, gold sun, and blue sky. I thought my visions could translate into a really beautiful quilt and so I said yes.
I had seen fabrics in such colors designed by nearby artist April Rhodes. I don’t know April, but we do have friends in common. I also shop at her mother’s store, Sew to Speak. My plan evolved quickly to not only to send Andrew off with a piece in specific colors, but to incorporate as much Central Ohio talent and substance as possible. So, off to Sew to Speak I went. The colors I envisioned were right there waiting for me.
In the mix went some of April’s fabrics (mostly from her Observer collection), a few Essex linens, and a print of tiny bird feet. Aren’t these gorgeous?
I had to then come up with a pattern, too, so I’d know how much to buy. If you want to make a similar quilt, make a note to buy equal amounts of light and dark fabrics. I later had to add in other darks to balance out what you see in this picture: Art Gallery solid denim in Wicked Sky, and another from April’s Observer line.
Inspiration was easy. Hanging in the shop was local quilter Leslie Storts Plus Quilt. It reminded me of the skateboarding stuff by John Lucero and Black Label in the late 1990’s. Quilting. Skateboarding. Hmm, I thought, how perfect to balance a bit of these worlds for whom I (and I think Andrew, too) have so much appreciation and respect for!?
I bought the fabric and excitedly returned home to design and cut.
Some time later I had my layout drawn up, and fabrics cut accordingly. Twenty rows of fifteen blocks, arranged in order to diagonally alternate from light to dark. I calculated the placement of reds to make sure I had three rows, and then instead of where the center red row would go, I made one cross, all still following my light and dark rule.
It was glorious! So proud of my layout, I snapped pictures and texted all my quilting friends! There’s, let’s see, well there’s two of them. Okay, and maybe one is my Mom, but still – it’s a very exciting thing to love your own design! Right?
Piecing, aligning, pulling, ironing, sewing: I spent a lot of time thinking about this quilt’s upcoming journey around the United States, and eventually, after much daydreaming, I had made the quilt top. A couple solid navy fabric borders were added. I did this to bring some of the solid navy I’d use for backing around front and really make these colors pop. I bought enough navy to make binding. Andrew was over for a summer bbq, and we had a photo shoot of the finished quilt top out at my pond.
During all of this time, all of 2017, I was attending monthly meetings of my local modern quilt guild and getting to know some of its’ members. To keep the Central Ohio theme going strong, guild member and award winning quilter Cassandra Beaver was hired. She stitched in edge to edge quilting in a woodgrain design of her own. We chose a tighter quilting pattern to prevent shifting over the years, as it’s likely to be laundered a lot from use.
It’s all done now. Andrew will have lots from home to bring with him on his travels. I hope he takes more pictures of it along the way.