28 May 2016
This wedding NotQuilt was made on a deadline. I wanted to make the happy couple something that would be personal and unique and usable. Thus, the skull NotQuilt was born.
I knew they did not want a quilt that was traditional, nostalgic, looked like something that their grandmothers would make or their mothers would buy, old timey, or country. They were young and modern so gingham, florals, and bows are not on their radar.
They agreed that they liked black, white, gray, and maybe some color. Yellow was okay, as was purple. So I looked over the stash and, lo and behold, I had a ton of scrap that met those criteria.
This is why you save that scrap fabric leftover from making clothing. I had made surgical scrubs for family and friends, using McCall’s 3253. It’s an easy way to make a pull-on shirt without struggling with knits: they are essentially T-shirts. The gentlemen got manly patterns with skulls, graphic designs in black, gray, and white, geometrics; all kinds of things that weren’t floral or country. Much of this leftover fabric found its final home in this NotQuilt.
I purchased fabric for this NotQuilt as the stash did not disgorge enough cloth for a binding or a backing that met the color criteria. Luckily, Joann’s fabric has an extensive clearance counter and there it was: enough fabric in an irregular square pattern in shades of gray and black and even better: one piece was gray, black, and yellow, and the other was gray, black, and purple. There was enough fabric to do both the binding, the backing, and have some left over for the fashion surface and only $1 a yard, too. I bought it all.
I found a lightweight sheet blanket, which is the pale yellow bits. The sheet blanket was the weight I wanted, something thin as this particular NotQuilt was more ornamental, more of a bedspread.
The sheet blanket was thin enough that, if you look carefully, you can see the pattern of the backing showing through. This is what gives the sheet blanket that mottled look.
This NotQuilt demanded a strict layout to control the busy craziness of the fabric. You would not think that white, gray, and black could look so chaotic.
First, I laid out the sheet blanket and pinned on the fabric backing and sewed it on. Then I got out my carpenter’s chalk box, found a yard stick and press-ganged Older Son. We stretched out the sheet blanket/fabric backing combination and laid it out, wrinkle free. With OS, I snapped a series of chalk lines giving myself a grid on the surface of the quilt. These are the stripes you see of irregular grey squares.
I pinned on the first set of inner vertical stripes of the irregular purple square fabric, carried the NotQuilt back downstairs to the sewing machine and sewed them on. Then I went back upstairs, pinned on the inner set of horizontal stripes (same fabric), carried the NotQuilt down the stairs and sewed those on.
I repeated the process, pinning and sewing the outer vertical and horizontal stripes of yellow irregular squares. This gives a grid of similar fabric, comprising four vertical and four horizontal stripes.
Because the NotQuilt base is a rectangle, some of the intersections give me squares and other stripe intersections give me blank rectangles. Think of a pie crust lattice work.
At that point, I stopped to rest and look over the stash. I then chose the center vertical strip of text and the center horizontal strip of chessboard. These are NOT contiguous pieces. Instead, I cut and sewed a series of rectangles covering the sheet blanket and overlapping slightly on the original vertical and horizontal grid.
The next step was adding the remaining horizontal and vertical stripes, connecting one box with the next. I was careful to alternate fabrics, making them mirrors and opposites of each other. There is not a single random element in this surface, despite how it looks. Again, I cut rectangles to cover the blank areas only with a little overlap, folding and ironing down the raw edges.
Once I had the lattice work in place, I systematically filled in the blank squares, keeping all the fabric choices upright and mirroring each other, sometimes across the surface of the NotQuilt in the opposite corner. If you look closely, you will see diagonal lines of color extending from one corner to the other and other diagonal lines making giant diamonds on the fashion surface.
This wedding NotQuilt doesn’t have a separate border of rectangles as I continued the design of squares and rectangles right to the edge. I did do the four corners so that they filled out in a regular way to the edge; the picture is clearer than the words.
Once I had the NotQuilt top finished, I bound off the edges with more of the purple irregular squares and the job was done.
I am very pleased with how this NotQuilt came out. Nephew R is an engineer and this is very regular, linear, and controlled even if it looks chaotic. The more you study the surface, the more matches and pairings of fabric you see.
This example is, so far, the most rigorously controlled of all the NotQuilts I have made. The color, other than the grid work of irregular square patterned fabric, comes from the few pieces of black patterned fabric. These fabrics worked well as their designs consisted of skulls, atoms, and TV sets. There are three separate skull patterned fabrics in this surface. It is very textural as there is not a single piece of solid fabric in the entire NotQuilt, front or back.
R and K said they had never seen anything like it and neither had anybody else.
This wedding NotQuilt was a gift for my brother-in-law and his husband. I struggled with this quilt and didn’t finish as quickly as I wanted too. I delivered it before their first wedding anniversary so it still counts as a wedding gift.
They wanted shades of oranges and brown. This was a real problem for me as I don’t normally use those colors. We had even less money to spare and I couldn’t find anything in the stash that made me happy. I kept putting the NotQuilt aside while I thought about what I wanted to see.
I had an acceptable background fabric, given to me in vast quantities, which I used as the backing and the structural grid. As with the skull NotQuilt, I laid the inside filling blanket out, pinned on the backing fabric and sewed it down. With OS, I measured and snapped chalk lines, sewing down an outer, intersecting set of lines and an inner frame that did NOT connect to the outer grid in any way. Both parts of the grid are made of the background fabric, a very busy orangey-red. I didn’t want to use this fabric as the binding, even though I had plenty of it. I don’t like having the binding blend into the backing fabric. They should be different, even if only in a single color.
Fortunately a neighbor came to my rescue. I had sewed down a few rectangles and the yellow shell squares, keeping to a regular pattern of bars of fabric connecting the inner frame with the outer frame. I hadn’t touched the center medallion. She said, ‘autumn colors! How pretty.’
That was what I needed to hear. Autumn colors! I love fall with the glorious leaves in every shade of red, orange, gold, yellow, and brown. The blockade was broken, and I was able to get back to work.
I hadn’t sewn down that many rectangles, so I didn’t need to rip off any. I dug through the stash and found all my autumn colors, even finding enough fabric to make a leafy binding. As with Starry Night and Skull, the rectangles of fabric are all mirrored and paired. I repeated the binding fabric in the rectangles in the inner frame and in the medallion.
The four yellow squares acted as an anchor, one in each corner of the grid and touching the corners of the center medallion frame. I proceeded to fill in the inner frame and the outer border frame with rectangles. When I sewed a rectangle, such as the brown birds on one side, I also sewed brown bird rectangles on the other three sides in corresponding locations.
The four outer corners were filled a rectangle at a time, overlapping like scales.
The center medallion was much more random. I used irregular shapes, folding, ironing, and pinning them down as they seemed to want to go. There is very little pairing and mirroring of fabrics. As always, every piece of fabric that has an up and down orientation is sewn to run right side up. It makes it more controlled.
Unlike the skull NotQuilt, this example has solid fabric rectangles here and there, giving the eye something to rest on.
Both this NotQuilt and the skull have plenty of white. This NotQuilt has a limited palette yet it has far more color than the skull NotQuilt. Even so, the skull NotQuilt, with its palette of white, black, and gray, looks much more chaotic, even though it is much more controlled. I don’t believe that this is due to my few solid color rectangles. There aren’t enough of them for starters. It might be the strong contrast of the reddish orange outer frame and inner frame to the other fabrics.
This shows that you can’t tell from a description what the finished product will look like.
I think this one came out pretty well, all things considered, and they liked it, too.