Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eight Quick Childrens' Quilts, Part I

Like many people who have a "making" hobby, I have a long "to-do" list of projects, some partially finished, some of them fleshed-out design concepts waiting to be brought to life, some of them really just pieces of fabric or found fragments looking for a home, and some just general notions of things I'd like to do.  I bet that, given an hour to paw through my notes and storage compartments, I could come up with more than 100 quilts on my theoretical to-do list.  Most of them will of course never be made.

Every year or so, I decide to draw up a priority list of which quilts I really want to make progress on, like some sort of needle-arts air traffic controller assigning landing slots at the great destination airport of all projects.  This kind of list usually structures my creative activity for four to six weeks before all discipline breaks down and I just work on whatever I'm most engaged in.  But the interesting thing is -- and I think I am completely normal in this respect -- it's not like older concepts progress steadily towards the front of the line, and new ideas take a number at the back of the queue.  Instead, a new idea is more likely to jump immediately into production, and the older projects I've been intending to start for ten years are no closer getting underway than they've ever been.

Anyway, I think what happened six weeks ago is that I was making some symbolic gestures related to the organization of my materials stash, and realized that I had saved up rather a lot of 4", 4 1/2", and 5" squares.  I make squares in those three sizes when I end up with smallish pieces of fabric that I know won't be especially useful to me: juvenile or novelty prints, ugly prints, border fabrics, "cheater" fabrics, reproduction or genuinely old-fashioned fabrics, and so on.  I can make blocks with these, but I can also use them pretty readily to make quilt faces that are just simple grids of squares.

Like so:

Face for "8 Small Scrap Quilts for Children #8."
I brought my boxes of these pre-cut squares downstairs, with no particular agenda in mind, and just started dealing them onto the dining table like I was playing solitaire.  Over the course of three or four evenings, I ended up laying out ten separate quilt faces.  And since then, since these have been pretty simple pieces, easy to work with, I've been able to get six of them completely finished.

Last weekend, we took all six of them over to the home of some young people of our acquaintance -- and by "young people," here, I mean people who still depend on their parents (also friends of ours) to dress and undress them.  I wasn't especially expecting that they would be too too excited about a gift of bedding, but when the little girl was asked if she would like to pick a blanket for herself after dinner, she indicated in the affirmative.  And it turned out that after dinner, before anyone could bring up the subject or come up with some sort of system, she marched over, pointed at one, and said "Can I have this one?"  "Yep!" I said.  "You can!  Here, it's yours!"  Whereupon, her brother came over and said "Can I have one too?"  "You sure can," I said.  "I want the black one," he said.  And so I gave it to him.  And they ran over and spread their quilts on the floor side by side, and started playing a game that involved running in circles on the quilts and shrieking.  I felt that the whole thing had gone off magnificently.

The One the Little Girl Chose

The Specs

Pompous Title: 8 Small Scrap Quilts for Children #3, "Pastel."
Serial Number: 63

Dimensions: 54" x 47"
Batting: Pieced Scrap batting.
Backing: Flannel from a damaged fitted sheet, recovered at the Bins.
Quilting: Conventional machine quilting with scrap thread.

Begun: May 2012
Finished: June 2012

Intended Use/Display: Child's blanket.

The One the Little Boy Chose

The Specs

Pompous Title: 8 Small Scrap Quilts for Children #6, "Stars and Planets."
Serial Number: 67
Dimensions: 56" x 43"
Batting: A wonky piece of scrap batting.
Backing: Vertical strips of scrap flannel recovered from the backings of previous quilts.
Quilting: Conventional machine quilting with scrap thread.
Begun: May 2012
Finished: June 2012
Intended Use/Display: Child's blanket.