Monday, May 23, 2011

Huntsville, Continued!

Saturday was full of strips, strings and spider-webby things!

Sometimes it is really a kick to watch “really restrained” quilters dig deep and start going reckless with what fabrics they will put next to others.

We had some who REALLY stretched their boundaries! And then there were those who never had any boundaries in the first place….and it was just fun to watch them play.

I kept imagining them as little girls….you know? You’d have the ones who would gladly dig into the mud to make mud pies, doing inventive things like stirring in rocks, and twigs, and grass clippings and leaves, and letting their imagination take over. HAVING FUN!

And then there is the other group…afraid to get their new dress dirty, afraid maybe MOM would get mad, not wanting to get dirt under their fingernails, or mess up their hair, or reluctant to even feel something that just felt so gooey.

I bet you can’t figure out which little girl group *I* fell into as a child?

Oh yes…I vividly remember a time we went down to the creek and brought home a whole bucket load of tad poles…thinking we could grow them up into frogs. What we thought we could feed them, I have no clue….and pretty soon there was a stinky mess, but the adventure was thrilling!

String quilts are like this. If you allow them to be…..yes….we can start out all neat and tidy with all of our strips arranged by size in neat little rows…but you can pretty quickly tell which category of little girl everyone fit into as scraps exploded and a terrific time was had!

Look for the quilt blocks with the sky blue center. There is an interesting story behind the fabrics! Jane took apart a tied quilt that her mom had made her when she was little…BIG squares of old calico. She is alternating the recycled fabrics from this comforter with solid cream to let the colors shine through, and floating them all on a background of sky blue! I remember those calicoes from outfits I had as a child…my mom had sewn for me with these also! Jane now has a 3 1/2 year old daughter of her own who is going to love this quilt made from the salvaged bits of her mom’s girlhood quilt! Isn’t this neat?

I really love how everyone’s background fabrics were so different..look how it changes the block! There was a lot of fun trading going on, too….we had a terrific day!

Sunday morning before heading to Athens for an afternoon Sister’s Choice workshop, I finished putting the borders on the baby quilt!

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And I have a small apology and clarification to make! The bulk of the African fabrics WERE given to me in Germany, but not by Aby!! They were given to me by Sewkalico Karol-Ann! I hope she will forgive me because those 9 days in Germany were such a blur…you see, I DID sew with some of them at Aby’s house….I was working on some string blocks in the evening, and I included these gifted fabrics in them…so I just got my sources jumbled! I asked her to help me clarify where these fabrics came from so I could tell the recipient more about them and this is the reply I got:

KA writes:

Actually I can't tell you LOL because when I go home to South Africa I just go to the fabric shops that specialize in African fabrics. I think a lot of them are Makoti Wax Prints and others may be printed in South Africa by Da Gama textiles. I know some are Amafu African fabrics (they are the sort of tie-dyed ones with black prints), these I hunted down on a road trip. I have bought fabrics by the side of the road and a very special friend who died last year also gave me some when she heard I was collecting African fabrics, she used to buy hers from an amazing shops which sold remnants from making African shirts... I just love the bright graphics and the daring use of colours. Your baby quilt looks amazing and I am so pleased you are using them!

I’m THRILLED with how this quilt came together and I couldn’t have done it without these fabrics, KA! Just think…end of February I didn’t know WHAT I would use them for…by mid May, 3 months later --- I have a baby quilt for a couple from Kenya and Uganda ready for the quilting machine, with a baby due any day.

I should really name this quilt “It Takes A Village”…..

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I love the bright yellow piece with the heart design! And can you see the elephants on the cornerstone? The panel fabric that Penny gifted me…..I love this fabric too!

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I know you can pick out the “half” churn-dash type block in the border. I originally thought I was going to make THESE blocks, and showcase the African prints in the center…but it was SO big and clunky, I gave it up for the much smaller Kings Crown block….but what was I going to do with one big churndash?? I cut it in 4.5” sections to fit the border! This left me part of the middle section left over, and I trimmed that into 1.5” X 4.5” strips as little border inserts to break up the prints where it looked too blendy going from one to the other too!

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You can see the little insert that looks like 4 squares between the light blue and the rainbow batik….it just was more interesting than simply seaming those together side by side..

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I put inserts here at the end of the yellow with hearts design..before the blue…and after the blue, I used a left over strip of black on white to be a break before adding the family panel fabric again.

When I get home I”ll find a backing and quilt it up!


  1. Love the baby quilt Bonnie!! Everything seems to be perfect for the little one who is on the way.

  2. What a visual feast for the new baby!
    One of my favorite childhood memories is of taking the hose into the sandbox and making a muddy mess--but I don't think I was quite as abandon as the little girl in your cute photo illustration.

  3. Love the freedom you have in the border design. You always make such interesting quilts. I have no imagination and my strongly type A personality makes me do things that are rigidly patterened. If I could have freed myself up enough to cut the churn dash block I wold have had to put it on opposite side in the same relative location. I keep hoping I will gain a little freedom so I keep looking at other quilters. You are great inspiration.

  4. Great class pics! I was really intrigued by the one with the muslin strips and blue background....I thought, depending on how she sets them, she'll get some really interesting effects from the the striping of the colors.....then I read your background story.....how special this quilt will be! Love it!

    Your baby quilt is amazing! What a wonderful gift for the new baby! And a quilt that can fit into their decor, I'm sure!

  5. Love the post and pics!!

  6. Are you familiar with The French Connection in Pittsboro, NC? They also carry African fabrics.

  7. WOW! The baby quilt is gorgeous. I love all the colors.

  8. Aaah, that yellow! It was one of the first fabrics I purchased (it was a lady's sarong :-D). We stopped at some African stalls by the side of the road and I was desperate for fabric, I asked the lady if she would sell me her skirt. She did LOL.
    I have some large-ish pieces if you'd like me to send you a backing?

  9. Bonnie, your baby quilt came out great. Sandi

  10. Anonymous2:06 PM EDT

    I really love that baby quilt - so colorful. And the pictures on the slideshow are fantastic. I remember buying similiar fabric as the ones pictured for the one you mentioned as the backstory. Thanks for sharing.

  11. I am so glad you were able to use the panels I sent. They look great in the border! (So much better than they did in my fabric bin.)Thanks for all the inspiring work you do.

  12. Anonymous8:37 PM EDT

    All I can say is you are amazing!!! -- Andrea Diamond (Poughkeepsie, NY)

  13. Mud cakes ( and fights) here I come! And I still became an engineer, oh well. Thanks for sharing baby quilt pics and explanations/ close-ups. Wow, love it - and I am sure they will cherish your quilt!

  14. I love the Spiderweb block, and the story about the old calicoes was precious.
    Barbara Brackman recently blogged about those old calicoes, and said that a fabric company is reproducing them now! The link is: http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.com/2011/05/quilt-market-virtual-booth.html
    It's interesting how everything comes back into style eventually. I don't think polyester double-knit ever will, but who knows. I have seen some very heavy quilts made out of those fabrics!

  15. I love KA's African fabrics and the ones she gave you are pure heaven. The quilt is gorgeous.

    PS - I'm a mud pie girl too :-)


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