Charlotte is a fabulous girl. She is smart and quirky and funny and kind and driven and warm and just the kind of person we want our daughters to be. She has been my daughter Margaret’s colleague, study buddy, and partner in crime as they navigated the five years of Anesthesia residency together. More than a year ago, Margaret asked me to make Charlotte and her fiancé, Jeffrey, a wedding quilt. What could I say? Yes, but it won’t be a bed sized one.
This is Charlotte, the quilt. It’s always a little challenging to make a quilt for someone else, especially someone whose taste you don’t really know. This time the decisions came in stages.
I saw Charlotte and Jeffrey on Boxing Day. They were wearing t-shirts that they had given each other. Both were light grey. The quilt clearly needed a light grey background; it’s Kona silver. Like its owners, it would be modern and classy.
After a few false starts, Margaret and I found a quilt pattern, Les Amis, by Shelley Cavanna, the 2018 BOM from Bluprint, that we both liked, although we weren’t sold on the suggested palette. There was a bit of a vintage feel to it, that we thought Charlotte would like. I paid a month’s membership and downloaded it. In February, I spotted the Tilda Applebutter fabric at Quiltcon, sent a picture of it to Margaret, who happened to be with Charlotte, and got immediate approval. I filled my cart with fabric, and headed through customs with a smile on my face. I’m pleading the fifth amendment here about the reason for my smile. After all, I was at the American/Canadian border after a quilting meeting.
You would think that, having found fabric and pattern, making the quilt would be absolutely straight forward. Far from it. Never in my 15 years of quilt making have I ever struggled with colour the way I struggled this winter. I tried multiple combinations and created some terrific cushions. I made blocks that I cut up for scrap quilts because they were too ugly for cushions. I dragged out a least fifty fabrics looking for four families of three that would work together.
I eventually determined that each block needed to be a single colour family. I found three families. There were four different block designs alternating in the pattern. I realized that the fabric I had bought for the background blocks didn’t work, and put Charlotte’s favourite fabric there instead. That looked nice, but I hadn’t bought enough fabric. No worries: I’d order more. My original supplier was sold out, but there was some in Australia. Yippee! Gotta love the internet. I made a green block. It couldn’t hold its own. By now I was sending desperate texts to my friend Gillian, @sewgolly. Not only is she an early riser who is willing to give an opinion at 6am, she has an excellent eye and formal education in colour theory. She told me the green didn’t work because it was a secondary colour and the others were primary. I could put in orange and purple. I didn’t want to put in orange and purple. Feeling spitey, I decided to go with only three kinds of blocks.
Then it was time to decide on a new layout, since the original one wouldn’t work with three colours. That was when Gillian pointed out that a 1:1:1 composition wouldn’t work, because of the difference in intensity of the blocks. I’d need more yellow than red and blue to achieve a balance. Well, sh*t. At least I was getting an education. I made a bunch of blocks and put them on my design floor.
Much as I love the blue blocks, putting one in the centre didn’t work. Nor did a yellow or a red. I contemplated making a single block with all three colours, but for a joke, put the green block in. Yes!!! Now the balance was good. All four kinds of blocks were present. I could put on a ring of blue blocks and be done.It was a nice quilt. But I had a bunch more blocks made, the quilt was a little small, and the green block looked like it had blown in from another quilt. On went another ring of yellow, red and green. And then, because in this case, blue is best, I added a border of blue. That border also meant that my points wouldn’t lose a battle with binding. Here is flimsy Charlotte on my clothesline, all 102 x102 inches of her. So much for not making a big quilt.
The quilting began. I had no idea how I wanted to quilt her, other than that I wanted the grey to recede with dense quilting, and the colours to be prominent. As a result, there are several different dot to dot variations in each colour, but I convinced myself it only added to the charm. The grey is pebbles and swirls. In all, she took 18 prewound bobbins of glide thread, and many hours to complete, but I was happy with her. There was no room for a binding that demanded attention; it’s the same blue as the border. I sewed it down by hand, just in time for a quick wharf shot, before the two of us headed to Nova Scotia.She made her debut at the Maritime Modern Quilt Guild’s meeting. The photo credit for this shot of me bowing to Charlotte goes to Gillian, as does credit for some of the other shots, and the editing of some of the ones that I took.
She enjoyed the garden of the cottage at White Point where we had a early birthday celebration for Christine, @grandbankquilter. She threw down her last challenge at the beach. How do you photograph a huge quilt in the wind?
Well, you get some friends…
Or find a big rock…You can even hang it from a balcony, with the help of those friends. How many people does it take to photograph a quilt? Four. Three to hold it and one to take the picture. (Sherri, @violetquilts, is the person in the middle). But certainly, the most fun is when your quilt makes friends with your friend’s quilt. Here they are, Charlotte and Margie’s Swap together.
Gillian’s Margie’s Swap has some of Gillian’s blocks and some made by her good friend Margie (known on Instagram as @redwood165). Charlotte is the celebration of the love of the quilt’s namesake and her husband, Jeffrey, but also of another friendship, that of my daughter and the newly weds. There they are, each lovely in her own way. Each making the world a warmer, happier place.
The wedding is underway as I type this story of struggle and success. I hope that Charlotte and Jeffrey are blessed with good fortune, good friends and a happy life together.