Taking in a customer quilt a few days ago, I was reminded once again why quilting for others is enjoyable. Certainly not everything about quilting for others is enjoyable, such as those wonky quilts or quilts with wavy borders. But, I do have the opportunity to quilt some really lovely quilts. Quilts I would never think of or have the time to make. Quilts made of fabrics that are over the top beautiful, fun, or even from another part of the world.
The most recent quilt was made by the Mom of a student I had a number of years ago when I was teaching high school science. When she called the other day to make her appointment I never gave her name a second thought, that is, until just before she arrived. Then I began wondering if she was who I though she was. It was a pleasure to see Carol again, find out how the family was doing and where her son was today. As teachers we remember our students as they were as kids. It is often hard to picture these kids as grown up adults, off on their own, working, married and with children of their own.
Carol’s African Theme Quilt
Carol’s quilt is interesting, made for her daughter-in-law with fabrics her daughter-in-law purchased when she was on a mission trip to Africa. Although we spent some time talking family, we did finally select an appropriate quilting pattern and thread to compliment the African fabrics. It will be fun quilting an all over African type pattern and leaving a no-sew zone around the elephant. The elephant needs custom quilting to emphasize its features. I enjoy working with my customers and prefer to have their input into pattern design and thread color rather than just have them tell me to do what I want. After all, it isn’t my quilt. They should see what they would like.
Interesting and Unique Customer Quilts
Thinking back over customer quilts, there are several that stand out because of the interesting quilt design which gave me the opportunity to quilt using fun techniques like echos, unique borders, fun fills, and even hand guided feathers and fill techniques. Yes, this is all custom quilting. And yes, you must charge more for it because it takes more time.
Abby’s quilt was made by a quilt club friend for her granddaughter. Marcia designed her own applique and did a lovely job making the quilt. Marcia picked out the wide border quilting pattern, butterflies, along with the thread. The butterfly border is just a whisper on the quilt so it doesn’t detract from the applique. The applique areas were lots of fun, echoing around each and filling in the background with fun fills like bubbles and clouds. Each applique area has a different background fill.
Another friend I have known for many years made an applique quilt for her granddaughter, too. This one, however, had very large applique flowers nearly 12″ across. Patty’s instructions were no quilting over the flowers. Again, echo around the flowers. But, because of the large size, they did need quilting just to keep the quilt layers stabilized. A spiral was quilted in the center of each with some detail in the petals, enough to hold the quilt together and add interest. The highly patterned fabrics in the border and center was quilted with an edge-to-edge pattern.
Some quilts are just way too much fun to quilt, like Cindy’s octagon quilt. This quilt was such a bright, cheerful quilt that she named it “Amusement.” It needed a lot of fun quilting. Planning the quilting for Amusement took quite a lot of time and several sketches of the blocks on my tablet using a sketching app before I finally decided on how to quilt the blocks and space between the blocks (sashing). Cindy’s favorite color is orange, however when I told her I had selected purple to quilt the blocks, she decided on purple thread for everything.
Another more recent quilt, made by Norma, was a wall hanging. It is a Judy Niemeyer paper pieced pattern with very large leaves in the center. This quilt has a combination of batik fabrics that are interesting and fun to look at. The border fabric is especially interesting with bubble filled paisley and, I thought, needed a really fun border treatment. This quilting was a combination of both computer guided and hand guided quilting. Although Norma doesn’t like a lot of heavy quilting, or the quilting to be too prominent, she was very happy with the quilting choices.
I am glad to have these interesting customer quilts come through my studio door. They give me the opportunity to be creative and try different techniques. It often takes time, sometimes days, to develop a vision for the quilting design I work up. Once I have a vision, I am ready to get started. And, depending on how much detail goes into the quilting, it may be several days, or more, before the quilt is finally finished. For example, I worked on “Amusement” for well over thirty hours, just quilting.
Fortunately most of my customers piece their quilts very well which makes the job of quilting both easier and more enjoyable. I enjoy the quilting even more when the quilts are interesting, have beautiful or interesting combinations of fabrics, or are unique in some way. Although I can’t keep any of these beauties, I have enjoyed putting the finishing touches on them.