Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I used to piece...

December 1981, I made my first quilt, the Log Cabin on the right. Why is it that beginners bite off so much of a challenge? 100 blocks, cut by hand, sans rotary cutter, and made from the cheesiest cottons from like the store which preceeded K-Mart, and Zayre's which is also defunct. I used a king size sheet as the backing and hand quilt it using a BACK STITCH because a running stitch seemed inadequate. Oy Madone. (The other quilt, the Trip Around the World, was like #5, made in '85). Hand quilted.

There was no quilt store near me so I bought designer cotton remnants from a bedspread factory, cheap. I designed intricate piecing and appliqued those circular medallions by hand. Hand quilted too. Eeekk.

But the colors were so dull . I taught myself how to dye and then my colors came alive.

This Lollapalooza Log Cabin is from the early 90's when piecing was still in my repertoire. Machine pieced and machine quilted. Not bedsize.

But I had other ideas, and piecing or applique would not get the job done. Fusing came to the rescue. Everything became a fused quilt after that and nothing bed-quilt-like got made by me.

Until now...

Now a bed quilt, a mere twin size, 72x96" seems OVERWHELMING.

I panicked in the studio yesterday and quit before I started. But then in the middle of the night, I got up and found my sketchbook and a pencil and began to design. If I divided up the work into four smaller segments of 36x48", then it wouldn't be such an effort. And if could make large simple blocks, then it wouldn't become a 'lifetime career' to make this quilt.

The simpler quilts are the ones that are catching my eye these days, and being basically lazy, and non-finicky, I want this new quilt to be easy, fast and fun, like all the books say. I can't be bothered with a ruler anymore, so it is eyeballing and slashing approximate sizes. The resulting quilt will no doubt be wonky, which I prefer over exacting and meticulous.

Wonky quilts are rarely examined for precision.
Here's the schematic for the Lollapalooza Log Cabin quilt. Using a full size paper pattern ( like 48x39") I cut apart the first vertical panel and began with the top block, making the corner of the log cabin first.
Each following strip didn't have to match the next vertical panel, except in the center. Not anymore planning than that.


  1. Your wonky is cool. My wonky is weird.

  2. Thank you for showing an extra-short extract, so I can imagine the stages of development. It is very logic. Mastering the tradition, then leaving it behind. I'm terribly curious on what comes next!
    -- My husband, lover of classic modern arts, is very impressed! Yesterday, I showed him your galery.

  3. Anonymous11:11 AM

    Lollapalooza quilt pattern ! I have been looking for something like this forever. Was this your design or a commercial pattern? Please point me in the right direction so I can finally satisfy my curiosity as to how this is done.

  4. Anon, I designed this Lollapalooza, so please email me privately and I will explain how it is done. Super easy of course.

  5. Liz in IN11:24 AM

    LOVE this continuum! What a wonderful journey!

    Since it's the holiday season, I'll use a holiday movie analogy. The Bishop's Wife, yes? When Cary and Loretta go ice skating, and the taxi driver joins them, and skates like a lunatic, with wild 'saves' and stumbles and sprawls?

    That skater was in fact the best skater on the ice, and could no doubt have out-skated whoever subbed for Cary.

    Knowing 'the figures' inside out provides a great foundation before moving on to 'freestyle'. Skilz--Melody's got them!

  6. Melody - I love being in your brain. Seeing the sketches that guide you gives me hope for designing my own large quilt. Mine won't be as fabulous as yours, but I'll enjoy it a little more now! Thanks - Leslie :-)

  7. Melody,
    WOW!!! Go for it. You have it down to an easy science by doing it in smaller rectangles.

    Your brain never sleeps like mine. It is those 2:00 and 4:00 A.M. wake ups that the ideas are winners. YAHOO!!!!

    Brenda (knitwit quilter)

  8. Great lesson for us - gives me hope. But not having your wonderful talent, I have a long way to go! Thanks again for your inspirations

  9. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! Your perseverance speaks for the depth of your commitment to the art of quilting!

  10. This is a great progression for us, your blogwatchers. The design talent is so obvious way back when. looking forward to seeing the new quilt, which may not be for a couple of weeks for me so....

    Merry Christmas Melody to you and yours - have a wonderful Christmas, and may 2009 be a healthy and happy one for you.


  11. Melody,
    Wow... you are so gutsy! I never would have tried those quilts you started out with! Now the later works, those really appeal to me! The hand dyed fabrics definitely do the trick, and your designs are very eye-catching... you are a true inspiration!



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