Apr. 1st, 2014

vom_marlowe: (Default)
Hey, buddy, wanna buy a quilt? *opens trenchcoat to reveal several cunningly folded and hung beauties of dubious provenance*

OK, not really.

But I am selling one of my quilts. I have never done this before, and I thought I'd best explain.

A dear friend of mine is going through a hard time, due to unemployment and Hard Times, which seems to abound right now. My country is still in the midst of a rough depression, and finding work is extremely difficult. This dear friend's husband has been hitting the payment relentlessly, but to no avail.

As a hiring manager myself, I know why. He's overqualified for the few openings available, he's too old, his health precludes him from hard labor, and he doesn't have the chipper-cheery mien of a twenty-something fresh out of college.

In years past, my grandparents had friends just like this. Back then, they would hold potluck suppers and card-parties and dances. A dollar for supper, or a minor fifty cent card party buy in, or another dollar for the dance room. The host and friends would supply simple but tasty food, like fried egg sandwiches or chips, and the proceeds would go to the friend in need.

I'm too far away to offer a party like that, but I can sell a quilt.

This quilt was originally intended as a gift for my mother, and it's named Grrrrl Power in honor of the tough as nails line of ladies from whom I descend. My grandmother once explained to me how to keep a brick on the lid of a toilet to prevent rats entering a baby's bedroom via the sewers and how to rig a similar safety measure for the windows, as babies are particularly vulnerable prey to rats.

This should give you a sense both of the intense maternal devotion and of the sort of environment (urban rough) from which I descend.

I'd like to think my quilts reflect this heritage.

The top (that's the pretty stripy part) is made of strips of fabric dyed by hand in Bali. The Bali dyers use wax to create the patterns, and the repeated handling of the fabric means that the fabric needs to be very sturdy. The wax that remains (in tiny amounts) also strengthens the cloth.

In my experience, the sturdiest quilts are made of Bali handpaint fabrics. Mixed quilts (those with regular patterned quilting fabric or plain quilting cotton) will show wear at the plain fabric first, far earlier than at the Bali fabric.

But I don't use Bali fabric just because it's sturdy. I use it because it's beautiful--created by master craftsmen, I sincerely believe that the care and thoughtfulness that goes into its creation shines through in the lovely tonal qualities of the fabric that results.

The pattern I chose (that's the long stripes) is a simple one, and not particularly challenging to create. It is sometimes used by quilters for a fast and easy project, in which case they sometimes choose the next strip to attach by random, allowing serendipity to guide the result.

Since this was a quilt for my mom, I was a little more thoughtful about it. While I did have a color scheme and some pre-cut strips, I removed those that didn't match the mood and substituted strips that better suited. I ordered the colors in a way that best suited the design I had in mind, and I finished the results with a color (rich red-violet) that would make the center colors float.

This was a tricky quilt to photograph, as red-violet laughs at my little Nikon, and the current crop of storms has made things challenging.

The main colors are: red violet on the outside, a lively mix of bright-dark and bubblegum-light pinks, cream or gray with sprightly splashes of yellow or pink/violet, and some spicy yellows and lovely lavenders.

The backing is a dark red-violet pinkish tonal print.

The quilting was done with pink and lavender Aurifil thread, with a sewing machine but by hand (that is, not longarm production quilted) in a sturdy wide stitched-in-the-ditch style. I find that wide spaced quilting produces the softest quilts for snuggling under. Dense quilting looks fabulous, but is often too stiff for snooziling.

The batting is Warm and Natural, which is what I depend on.

If you have never owned a truly handmade quilt before, you may be nervous about its care and keeping. Handwashing, hang-drying, special washing sodas, etc.

Yeah, I don't hold truck with that sort of thing. My quilts are washed in a big Kenmore and dried in same or on the line, as God intended. I would recommend avoiding any laundry detergent prone to fading (such as Gain), but that is often a matter of preference. If you wish to wash this baby in the bathtub with a teensy bit of OxyClean, that is fine, too.

All photographs were taken after washing and drying, so that you could see how the quilting would look once the fabric had rested post-drying. (That is why you often see before and after pictures on some Etsy listings, by the way.)

I make my quilts to be used. Some people who shop handmade quilts are nervous about putting them to use. By all means use a handmade quilt to cuddle your ancient cat, you sick parent, your cranky toddler, your own chilly toes. Quilts, in my view, are only truly quilts when they are used for comfort.

This quilt is 53" by 63", or "throw" sized. A crib size quilt (for babies) is around 40 by 60, and a large twin bed quilt would be 72 by 90. So this is about the perfect size to cover a person in a large chair/on the couch/at the end of the bed.

Since I have never sold a quilt before, I was somewhat unsure what to price it at. Many production style quilts are sold a bit cheaper, but most seem to be sold for quilt a lot more. I have chosen a minimum of $150 for the start of the bidding. I am leaving this open for five full days. So, bidding closes on Sunday, April 6, at 7 pm.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Cut for large photos )

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