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A Peek Inside the Glamorous World of Commission Quilting, Week Three


This week has been about scheduling, balance and confidence (or maybe lack thereof).

I ended up losing nearly all of last weekend’s productivity because of soccer. Which was bad. Except it was good (bad for quilting, good for soccer).

Caton’s team made it to the tournament finals, which meant I spent all day Saturday and most of Sunday at the soccer fields. And no commissioned work gets done at the soccer field, so things backed up a bit.

Thankfully after seeing Modern Quilting Queen Angela Walters speak to my quilt guild last week, my mind was singularly focused on the free motion quilting I planned to do on this quilt. I drew and drew and drew all week long, hoping to train my brain to relay to my hands the images I wanted to appear in thread on the quilt top.

I had practiced my stitch line drawings on paper before, but my success on fabric had been pretty limited. But this time I had the words of Angela Walters echoing through my head as I stitched and pushed and pulled and turned the quilt under the racing needle.




Leaves started to appear inside the random squiggles I was stitching. The same leaves I drew on paper all week in anticipation of the free motion quilting. Then swirls began to appear as well.

Every couple of minutes I’d stop the machine, rotate the quilt and survey my sewing.

Each time I fully expected to hate what I saw.

Each time I had the seam ripper handy to pick out stiches and start fresh.

But each time I’d think to myself hmmmm, let’s keep going a little bit more.

Until finally, I’d kept going enough times to finish free motion quilting the whole thing.

And I am really happy with the way the quilting came out on it. The combination of the random squiggles, the long leafy motifs, and the spiral tendrils all have a very organic feel, which really compliments the sketchy floral prints.




Most of all, I think this quilt really captures my client’s personality - it’s traditional in color and design, but with a modern twist (no borders, multiple shades of solids) and the fabric prints play old fashioned against new-fangled.




The quilt was delivered on time and gifted the day after. I was lucky enough to get a text that night from the recipient who was very thrilled with her gift.

Ahhh, an exhale of sweet relief!

That quilt is the last of the private commissions I have for the year (though I’ve got several slated for 2015 already - yay!) and so the last remaining work I have this year is the restaurant flag quilt.

I didn’t make a lot of visible progress on it this week but in a way, I feel like this is the most critical progress I need to make.

I spent time this week calculating ratios of the various fabrics I purchased and starting to cut it up and repiece it into what will eventually make up the stripes of the flag.


Flag Fabric Squares


I began by cutting 5” squares of each of the red fabrics. Although I have three red solids and 12 red prints, my desired outcome is to have half solids and half prints comprise the final pieced slabs, so there was a bit of math to figure out how many of each solid and each print I needed. to start with.


Flag Fabric Strips


Once the squares were all cut, I pieced them into chains of six squares each. Then I promptly sliced them all up.

Which felt a little scary, to be honest. It felt weird to spend time carefully cutting and piecing, only to slice and dice them up again.

But neat big squares weren’t going to move me toward my goal of modern piecing. And so I cut.

I cut various strips, I sewed a bunch of them together, and then I proceeded to cut those up too.

I think this is what they call “liberated” quilt making, where you sew things together without too much deep thought or planning, then hack it up and sew it back together in a different way from how it came apart.

Liberated might be the way to describe it if you’re doing it for fun for your own personal project, but when you’re making something for a client, not to mention a commercial client, it doesn’t feel liberated at all. It feels a bit more like treacherous.

But the more I cut, the more I shifted, the more I sewed, the more I reconfigured, the more I began to feel a little more comfortable with the process. I had to trust in my vision, my sketch, and the way I moved the fabrics around. But would it look modern enough for the client?

I don’t know. But I do know that when I left the room to do something, every time I came back to my sewing table and laid eyes on my growing piece of remade fabric, I loved it a little more.

I think I love it a lot now.

So the next step was to float this by the client and get her feedback.


Flag Fabric Slab


I took some pictures to send her but none of them really captured the tones of the fabric very accurately (same problem as last week). I tried shooting in all natural light, some bright, some a little dimmer, some pictures with my fancy camera and some with my phone. No matter how I photographed it, the colors and patterns just didn’t show up true to real life (to be honest they look like some sort of grotesque shade of red, not the beautiful range of rich tones you see in person).

Regardless, I sent a picture to the client for approval to move forward with the process. I haven’t heard back yet, which one one hand makes me nervous (I sent her the picture on Thursday afternoon) but on the other hand, I’d like to think if she felt I was really off-track, she’d let me know right away so I could try another approach.

So now I’m weighing the risk of waiting for an answer and losing precious time versus moving ahead on the fabric slab construction and it not being what she’s looking for.

Decision, decisions.

I’ll report back next week, as always!


In case you missed it:

A Peek Inside the Glamorous World of Commission Quilting, Week Two

A Peek Inside the Glamorous World of Commission Quilting, Week One


Silent Sunday

The End of 100 Happy Days