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Saturday, March 7, 2015

Something Old, Something New: The Wedding of S and B

….being a direct theft of a quilt design I quite liked, plus some cushy orange flannel for spice.

An ol' college chum, Brian, just married his lady friend Sarah in a truly characteristic, quirky, and delightful ceremony this past January.  As usual, I keenly noted this date many months ago, like back in the fall, planning to finish this here quilt in time for the wedding, and as usual I missed that date by nearly two months.  I blame that on half-square triangle fatigue that set in about half-way through this sucker, but I'm still pretty pleased with the final product, which was delivered yesterday:

Before binding and washing, so the crinkle is not yet established.

In addition to the wedding, which is surely reason enough to make anyone a quilt, Bri also falls on my list for Quilts of Gratitude, since when I was in my unemployable/hospitalized/homeless low point these few years back now, he offered me his mostly abandoned apartment to stay in….for three months.
Three months!  At the time I had no hope of subleasing or even paying him any part of the rent, but he poo-poohed my visions of future reimbursement; and THEN he also got me an interview at his place of employment to boot.  Though I ended up working elsewhere, and eventually did get my own apartment-fu together, I will certainly never ever forget that he was there to lend a hand, quietly and without great fanfare, when I had dug myself into a deep dark hole and was busy trying to scale its clammy sides back up to the light.  All this in addition to seriously being one of the funniest, sharpest, quickest wits I've ever had the pleasure of drinking with.  (And Sarah, thankfully, is a great match for many reasons, not the least of which is that she is ALSO sharp and funny, and thinks the same thing about Brian).  So thanks, Bri!  Though it seems churlish to hope that you have a low point some day too so I can offer help in return, rest assured you have entered the realm of "shirt off my back" assistance, if you ever do.

While I have known Brian for, erm, twenty-mumble years now, I have to say I wasn't all that clear on his design aesthetic, apart from whatever he wears when we meet out for Friday Happy Hour when the weather is tolerable (note to all: we should do that again soon.)  Assuming that he had probably moved on from the Stone Roses/Sally Cinnamon t-shirt he wore when I first knew him, I had to look further afield.  So based on some Facebook photo-stalking, I was struck by this notion that these days, Brian is more of a seersucker kind of guy - or at least, kind of classically preppy in a way that might lead you to believe he could get away with wearing a straw boater, if the need should arise.  So I was already leaning towards menswear-inspired stripes (if not actual seersucker, though one did end up there) and a nice family of blues and grays before I even settled on a pattern.  Then, after perusing many a Pinterest board, I decided that this icy but soothing "Blue Quilt" by Leanne at She Can Quilt, was THE one, in that pre-conscious, gut-led decision-making way in which many of my creative "choices" are made.  So hopefully Brian and Sarah's living room isn't, like fuchsia and lime green, because this might not suit the decor if so (but it could conceivably match Brian's wardrobe, at least.)

My first pull of fabric included some Ralph Lauren-y dark reds, along with a whole lotta blues and grays, some of which were men's shirting fabric, and a smattering of mustard and olive:

After that, it was just get to sewing, and see what clicked. Half-square triangles are the workhorse of the quilting world - you can use the basic block to make near infinity different designs. But that does necessitate cutting out a lot of squares, sewing them together diagonally, cutting the apart and then cutting them down further to the appropriate finished square size, and so this quilt began life as a pile of these:

Initial placements on the Design Board led me to start weeding out the reds pretty early, but by the end of it I'd take off the yellows, that weird orangey gold down there, and some of the darker greens; subsequently I removed some of the more grating teal-y blues, such as this one five down from the top in the first column, the color of which looked fab on Tim's Swoon quilt when it looked like "marine", but which kept catching my eye in a negative way such that on this Board, I dubbed it "scrubs."  And I wasn't caring for the busier patterns and excised those as well, leaving a relatively subtle (for me) palate that really did pretty closely match the original quilt.

Original flavor
Second time around, yellows, oranges, and busy patterns excised.

So as the old-timey rhyme goes:  something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, right?  Old was some of the thrifted shirts, along with the half-square triangle pattern, as old as fabric, or damn close.  Borrowed was clearly the pattern for this particular white and blue configuration, and blue sort of speaks for itself.  But new?  I do like to to try something different on each quilt, and so for this one I bought a load of really fab soft flannel (Mammoth Flannel by Robert Kaufman, this one in Orange Spice, to counteract the chilly sangfroid of the front with some sweet heat on the back).  And as is ordained by the Angels of Quiltdom, my backing was OF COURSE about 3" shy of being big enough to fit, so I added a wee strip of cloudy blue, to call back the front and inject a note of whimsy.

Doctor! Doctor! Whimsy injection, STAT!!

Three.  Fucking.  Inches.  I swear to god. Cloudy with a chance of flannel.

Hot side hot, cool side cool

This quilt was truly a delight to sit under while I was sewing the binding on - that was happening pretty much in the middle of this year's polar snap, when temperatures at night were below zero, wind chill.  There really is nothing nicer than hand-sewing on the couch with a fricking gale-force wind rattling the windows, cozy, content, and blissed out on Netflix binge-watching.  This quilt was mostly bound during a frenzy of the first season of True Detective, which was pretty cool, even if not super linear or even sensible, by the final episode. But the acting was tremendous and the mood, an eerie Southern gothic that I very much enjoyed.

In my continuing quest to sew a label for each quilt that is specific to its recipients, I wanted Sarah and Brian's label to be kind of urban-cool, and also place-specific.  They really are kind of secret hipsters - Sarah, a dean and teacher (but really a DJ), and Brian, an industrial consultant of sorts (but really a writer.)  As my foray into flags during Mike's Knot quilt taught me, the Chicago flag is popular among urban folk on bags, shirts, and tattoos for some very good reasons: it's simple, it's only 2 colors (3 if you're going to count white), it doesn't have any words on it and its weirdo 6 pointed stars, different in arm-width from your basic Star of David shape, are unique and memorable.  It seemed like a good way to memorialize the date and the location of the wedding, though my stars look more like regular old stars than like the Chicago skinny-pointed stars:

In which it becomes evident that my ironing was maybe not up to snuff here.

Double top-stitched to a corner of the back.

Then after washing, it gets pleasingly tattered
Test run on my bed to see how the width ended up - this is about 80 x 60

So there you have it!  A reproduction Blue Quilt, sewn with much love for a thoughtful, generous, hilarious, rockin' couple (whose wedding, it should go without saying for a couple that is 50% DJ, was a superfun dance party, culminating in a simply transcendent 8-minute romp through LCD Soundsystem's "If I Could See All My Friends Tonight" that made me weepy with delight and appreciation for our particular crowd of college comrades, without whom I'd be a significantly more bitter person today.)  I trust you will cozy up under its welcoming flannel for some years to come, but as always, if the pieces start fraying or separating a bit, just holler - I can fix those suckers up in no time and flip it right back to ya, good as new.  Because that is what friends do:  they catch up your fraying ends and they anchor them tightly, the better to keep you warm when the weather is rough.  As I know you will do for each other…..because I've experienced it, humbly, myself.

wrinkles and all

Congrats, love always, and besos!


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