Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Birth of a Quilt (Afternoon Delight?)

I was feeling in more than a bit of a funk on Friday. I had been supposed to test for my brown belt in Myo Sim kendo Thursday night, but the test was postponed because of the ice storm we were supposed to get at the same time. The master instructor running the test drives from Bowie, MD to Charlottesville, VA for class and could have ended up driving home in the midst of falling slipperiness. As a result, they moved the test to this coming Thursday, giving the test candidates one more week of practice but, at the same time, one more week of nervous anticipation. As it turned out, the storm never hit here, so I found myself feeling majorly bummed on Friday. I hadn’t tested, and there was no snow on the ground in which to play in nor ice on the trees to lend itself to photographing. My husband had taken my car (an all-wheel-drive Honda Element) just in case slipperiness did transpire, so I couldn't even get out to play.

Creativity usually being a good way to put the "fun" back into "funk," I decided to give myself a creativity challenge. A bit before lunchtime, I pulled out the bag of scraps from the Shooting Star quilt described below and gave myself a two-part challenge. First, whatever I made had to be done before my husband got home to pick me up for the Friday evening kendo workout, which would be at about 5:30. Second, I could not do the “liberated” sort of piecing I prefer to do where the size of the pieces isn't necessarily relevant and there aren't necessarily corners that need to be matched. I had to start with squares or other regular shapes of specified sizes and work from there, matching corner points where necessary.

I started by pulling out pieces of fabric, pressing them, and cutting them into squares of various sizes. As I was doing this, it occurred to me that I really should have photographed the pile of scraps before I started. Alas, I had not. Oh well. Try to imagine a pile of red and black fabrics, with but one piece of beige fabric thrown in. I ended up with 2-inch squares, 2.5-inch squares, 3-inch squares, and so on up to a couple of 6-inch squares. I also left some of the strips of fabric left over from the borders and binding of the quilt as strips, figuring I would use them for borders here.

I started by putting some sets of four small squares together into a 2x2 arrangement called a four-patch block. I then alternated these with squares of the same size in a 3x3 nine-patch arrangement. I ended up with three such nine-patch blocks, and as well as one nine-patch of the same size that did not involve four-patches in it. This told me that the other blocks I made needed to end up being the same size, which was 9.5 inches square.

I kept pulling squares, coming up with various arrangements, adding borders on two or four sides where needed to make each block end up 9.5 inches square. I ended up with ten such blocks, but decided fairly quickly that I did not want to do a 2x5 arrangement of blocks because I wasn’t sure the border strips would be long enough. I also wasn’t thinking of this as a table runner sort of piece. I played around with a 3x3 arrangement on the table, “auditioning” various squares in various places. I finally decided which arrangement I liked best, sewed all the blocks together, and added two borders. Voila! A quilt. I obviously haven’t quilted it yet, but I will, hopefully one day soon. The name “Afternoon Delight” has suggested itself, although no recipient for the piece has yet come to my mind. I say this because I have only kept one of the many quilts I have made; the rest have been given away, albeit some to family members who reside in the same house.

And I did think to photograph the extra block, the extra pieces, and the scraps that were left. For scale, the block is 9.5 inches square, and the piece of red fabric is 6 or 6.5 inches square. The really small pieces in the upper left of the photograph ended up in the trash. The rest have been packaged to be used some other day in some other way, maybe even the next time I need to work my way out of what passes for a bad mood around here.


Debi said...

Geez, woman, you are freakin' amazing! I'm almost hoping for a funk to test out your method of de-funking. Not that I could crank out anything quite so incredible, but I've got tons of paper scraps calling my name.

Chris said...

That is absolutely beautiful, Jean! I'm a huge fan of anything Asian, so I'm in love with it :)