Last year a longtime family friend asked me to make a quilt for her sister’s 50th birthday. That sister and I were best friends from middle school to well into our adult lives. We don’t talk or see each other much these days as our lives have diverged on different paths, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the rare opportunity to re-connect. Of course I said yes to the quilt project and dove in enthusiastically.
I started by pulling several color stories from my stash that I thought Nina might like and sent photos to her sister, Kara. I also invited Kara to look at my Pinterest board of quilt inspiration and tell me if anything struck a chord. Kara liked all the colors, and chose a few inspiration quilts that had a single block, sometimes a bit wonky. From that, I created three “sketches” in Adobe Illustrator showing different color and design options.
Kara chose a design which I planned to create with the Quick Curve Ruler, a tool I had recently used for a sample at work and really enjoyed. I started with my stash fabrics, cutting and sewing and putting everything on the design wall. At first, it was a big jumbled mess. I had wanted the quilt to be scrappy looking, so my intention was that it have more variety than the Illustrator sketch, but it had gone too far. I stepped back and realized that I had to pay closer attention to the color placement that was indicated on the sketch, and more importantly, that the print fabrics needed solids or near-solids as a foil. Once I got a handle on the specific fabrics, then the quilt started coming to life.
Using the ruler made a pretty precise quilt and I had in mind something with bit of bohemian flavor. The mix of fabrics got me part of the way there, but I knew the quilting would take it all the way. I machine quilted it, loosely following the curves, but adding some undulation. I used variegated thread and changed the colors a few times. I also used variegated perle cotton in a variety of coordinating colors to hand stitch, with large stitches, between every second or third row of machine quilting. The result is a wonderful texture and a subtle softening of the regularity of the ruler curves.
This project was an absolute joy to make. I thought about my friendship with Nina as I chose fabrics and sewed. I was even able to incorporate a fabric her late mother gave to me about 25 years ago. I wish I could have been there when Nina opened the box since the gift was a surprise. But she later wrote, “Every time I look at it I smile and think to myself how lucky I am to have a sister who was kind enough to commission it and a friend talented enough and who knows me well enough in a sort of gut way to make something so perfect for me.” That’s the kind of reaction I was hoping for. I couldn’t be happier.