Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A Pair of Cardinals

I've amassed quite the backlog of quilts to share with you, so what better time to start sharing them than now!

One thing that has pleasantly surprised me about doing quilt commissions is how far in advance people contact me to get on my list!  It's so helpful for me in regards to planning, and it ensures that you will have your quilt done when you want it done.  This particular commission came to me early this year by an old childhood friend of mine who needed these done by Christmas.  I wasn't able to start construction on these until the beginning of November, but had been planning for them much earlier than that.
She was wanting two quilts, one for herself and one for her mother, that had cardinals as their focal points.  Cardinals are a very symbolic bird for their family.  I searched high and low for a paper pieced cardinal pattern until I landed on this one.  The blocks that I found though were much smaller than I was envisioning.  I enlarged the pattern pieces as large as the printer at work would allow me to do, which about doubled the size.  Since I don't make the same quilt twice, I proposed making mirrored quilts, so they would be different, yet the same.  She was down.  For the cardinals, I then needed to make a reverse image of the pattern!  My dad has an old light table for tracing that we use mainly for display at the shop.  I cleared everything off of it, and had a tracing party!  Then, I had to reteach myself how to paper piece!  It's SUCH an interesting process that always creates precise fabric works.  
After that, it was just a matter of framing everything out.  I had to make sure I had enough of each of the fabrics that I used for both quilts, and I had to make sure everything was perfectly mirrored.  For me, this was a challenge!  But a challenge that I welcomed.  Towards the end of piecing, I wanted to add in four lines connecting the two quilts.  Within the many representations of the quilts, one was the connectedness between my friend and her mother.  Forever together, even when apart.
When it came to quilting, I knew I needed to keep it simple.  I also knew that I wanted to keep it mirrored as well.  This probably took the longest amount of time.  I would do one section on one quilt, and would then do the same section on the other quilt, so they were always progressing together and so I would make sure to do each section the same!  Since things were slow at work and I was done with school, I took my machine to the shop with me a few days to make major progress.
When I work on quilt commissions, I can't help but pet them as they evolve into finished products.  Maybe that sounds weird, but it's true.  Even I am amazed by the transformations they undergo.  From a pile of fabrics, to a small idea, to imagery spoken through textiles, to layers of warmth, to an artful hug filled with energy and love.  A lot goes into the creation of a quilt, more than most people realize.
Another incredibly special aspect to these particular quilts is their bindings.  My friend sent me a baby blanket that her mother had made for her before she was born, and my friend wanted it included somehow.  I took several evenings carefully deconstructing the baby quilt so I didn't damage anything.  We didn't feel like the light yellow belonged within the design of the quilt, but it felt perfect to bind them in the baby blanket.  I love, love, love the way that turned out.
Finally, I backed the quilts with a super soft vintage sheet, as I do.  She didn't want the quilts to always feel Christmas-y, so with the yellow binding, a yellow backing felt perfect.  Plus, I had two of these sheets, so I knew that I would have enough to back both of them!
And with that, there were two mirrored cardinals, forever connected.  My friend sent me a video of her mother opening her quilt, which made my heart feel all sorts of feels.  I've never seen a reveal of one of my own quilt creation commissions before!  She loved it.  Sigh.
 I hope your holidays are peaceful and beautiful this year.  Until later.

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