Now I'll be honest... quilting? Is not usually my thing. Or at least it wasn't, unless you count my Laura Ingalls/Cady Woodlawn/American Girl inspired obsession with pioneers and the American West that lasted approximately from 4-7 grade and which spawned many a doll-size patchwork monstrosity... (I was so cool guys, so cool.) But other than that? No, not so much a quilter. I mean, why spend hours precision sewing straight lines when there are frivolous dresses to be made, corsets to be built, and jackets to be tailored?
Plus as one who mostly (solely?) sews garments, I'm often a bit bitter at the array of colors and prints that are available in the quilting aisles... they draw me in with their amazing rainbow of jewel tones and perfectly coordinated pastels only to disappoint when you touch a cotton that is not only practically see-through but shockingly sandpaperesque to the touch. With the advent of extensive online fabric stores and the move to a city with more on offer than just a JoAnns, this is a bit less of an issue, but still... I've been burned before.
Plus there is a bit of a snob factor... this idea that quilting falls under the umbrella of "crafting" and I'm not a "crafter." "Crafters" are bored moms poorly recreating something they saw on Pinterest which was itself totally derivative. Crafters make casseroles out of pre-packaged ingredients because Rachel Ray thought it was a good idea. Crafters glue pom poms on Popsicle sticks and follow directions. No, in my mind, I am an artist. I am a designer. I may use purchased patterns 85% of the time, but never mind that... in my minds eye I am a creative genius and a beacon of style and good taste...
And maybe a little bit (totally) deluded.
And actually? I love Pinterest and scrapbooks and activities involving glue guns. And I'm from the Midwest... if you can hide the taste of frozen veggies with a can of Campbell soup, I'm a happy, happy girl!
So absurd pretensions thoroughly shattered, I embarked on that most classic of crafts, the quilt. What inspired this project, you may ask? Why it is because my cousin Kristin (who is amazing, FYI... doctor, former figure skater, living with her new husband in the world's most amazing Chicago apartment) is having a baby! And I decided to make a baby quilt.
Upon making this decision, I could have behaved like a normal person and thought to myself, "Self, you don't know how to make a quilt. Perhaps you should find some directions or buy a pattern or a book." But that sort of self-awareness and good sense would be out of character. Instead, I busted out a sketchbook and drew out what seemed to be an appropriate design for the situation and promptly hightailed it to the JoAnns to bring my dream to fruition.
Why yes, that is the Chicago skyline... as a quilt. Because goodness knows I couldn't make my first attempt a quilting something normal and based on right angles because that would be too easy.
So, design decided upon and supplies obtained, I needed to figure out how to turn my fevered vision into a soft cotton reality. Now I don't know how you are supposed to do these things but I figured a pattern was in order. So I made a quilt size square of brown paper from old grocery bags, taped it to the mirror in the bedroom and sketched my Chicago skyline again, this time in full size. (Full quilt size, not full Chicago size... that would be both ridiculous and expensive. Plus the baby would get lost.)
For the lake I wanted to create random shapes in different shades of blue and white to mimic motion of water. Again, I wasn't sure how to go about this, so I just started cutting out random bits of fabric and piecing them together until I had a piece a bit larger than the pattern I created.
After I assembled the water and the shore, I cut out my buildings one at a time. I would cut each piece out of the paper pattern, cut out the fabric with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and I slowly started building my skyline.
After most of the skyline was assembled, I started in on the Sears Tower. (I know intellectually that it has a new name now, but I do not accept this so shush!)
So far, the face of the quilt looks like this:
Obviously there is still a lot of work to be done. It needs to be pressed and quite a few of the buildings are as of yet unattached. And that green one in the middle looks wonky. It isn't actually that crooked but I do think the color is a little off and I may have to replace it. Plus the sky? Will be blue and white and gray and cloud-like, and not made of grocery bags. But it's progress and not bad for two evenings of work on a first attempt I think.
Don't think practially! Just follow the guide of your fevered imagination! If you take time to figure out how to do something you very well may talk yourself out of it so it's better to just jump right in!
But, um... if someone has any thoughts as to the best way to do the actual quilting part, please let me know. My original idea was to machine quilt by outlining the buildings and then free-form quilting the water and sky. Now I'm a little uncertain. So now that I've taken the plunge into a quilted Lake Michigan, is there anyone out there who can teach me to swim?