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QUILTY AS CHARGED

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By Kimara - Posted on 26 February 2008

            When I was in college I made my first quilt as a wedding gift for my brother and his wife. I remember how fascinated all the guys around me were. They wouldn’t have been more impressed if they observed me walking on water! Frequently, they’d check on my progress, and look at me with lustful eyes as if I was wearing some low cut, provocative top! It was then that I realized what an aphrodisiac domesticity was! Baking a cake, comforting a child or making a quilt seemed to ignite some primordial internal fire that suggested “this woman make good mate”! I certainly wasn’t intentionally using quilting as an enticement to guys, but I do understand their attraction!

 

            Our love affair with quilts begins early in life. Chances are you were brought home from the hospital swaddled in a quilt made by your mom, grandma, or Aunt Doris. This quilt became your sustenance. You couldn’t sleep without it, and felt abandoned whenever your mom decided it had crossed over from smelling merely pungent, to down right offensive, and ran it threw the laundry. Your quilt, no, your lovey, brought you peace and security, friendship and comfort. And although there comes a time to “put away childish things”, throughout our life most of us are still drawn to quilts.

 

            Quilts perform two very different purposes. First, the functional…they provide warmth and comfort. Even on the most frigid of nights, quilts help maintain body heat and keep us as snug as a bug in a…well, quilt! They can also provide a metaphoric hug when we’re lonely or, when necessary, they can become a cave to hide in while watching scary movies in the dark! I can still see my children and their friends, all snuggled together on the couch, cloaked in an assortment of quilts. Seems nothing bad can get you when you’re wearing an invisibility quilt! Second, they are a creative outlet…whether you are the maker of the quilt or simply using them to beautify your surroundings quilts enhance your environment and personalize your space. There is something almost metaphysical, or at least philosophical, about quilts. The idea of bringing hundreds of tiny pieces together, to harmoniously form a unified whole, is life affirming! Simply put…quilts make us feel good!

 

            To me, quilts are timeless, and often, the cornerstone of my decorating. Over the years I’ve developed a healthy appreciate for not only the warmth quilts provide (I’m always cold, so quilts are a must!) but for the beauty they bring to a room. Every room in our house has at least one quilt in it. Some are functional, some are decorative, but all of them add an eclectic flair that warms and individualizes our home.  

 

Ways to Use a Quilt:

 

1.      Put it on your bed. Uh, duh, right? Well, perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but a beautiful quilt sets the mood for your bedroom. What mood are you trying to create? Quilts of soft browns and blues are restful and can help lull you to sleep. Add a good reading lamp and a stack of “must reads” and golden slumbers will surely follow. Have trouble getting up in the morning? Quilts with a mixture of bright and mellow yellows will help open your eyes and keep them open. Even at predawn hours or on overcast days, a sunny quilt can help to immediately energize you and put a smile on your face. Pamper yourself and keep a vase of fresh cut flowers in your room. Even a couple of daisies can help make mornings brighter! If you are hoping to turn your bedroom into a romantic playground, try a lush quilt of satins and velveteens in deep crimsons and gold. Red helps to stimulate all senses and by adding a few candles, some lusty scented massage oils, and well chosen mood music you’ve created your own personal romantic get-away at home!

 

2.      Tack them on the wall. The open space of modern homes is beautiful, but high ceiling can sometimes feel cold and impersonal. A soft quilt is a wonderful way of combining the freedom of contemporary design with the warmth of traditional decorating. If your house is traditional, a contemporary quilt, with vibrant colors and an abstract design can help lighten the mood of a sometimes stilted room. Above our mantel I’ve hung a quilt that features a contemporary twist to a traditional design. (The story about this particular quilt has a life of its own and will be the subject of its own blog one day!) The quilt is definitely the focal point of the room. Through it I am able to add color and interest. Without it, the room looked stark and unwelcoming. I also have a quilt hanging in the dining room. It is a traditional wedding ring design. Its soft curves help tone down the sometimes harshness of the contemporary lines of our house. As an extra bonus…I keep a tin of straight pins handy, and I can temporarily pin children’s artwork or Christmas cards to the quilt, leaving walls unscathed and the fridge clutter free!


Quilt Over Mantel


 

3.      Use them as tablecloths. Quilts can be found at flea markets, in catalogues, and if you’re crafty, you can make them yourself. I’ve been making quilts since my late teens and my daughter made her first quilt when she was in second grade. (Okay, it was a very small quilt, made entirely by hand, but it was her design and became a beloved possession!) You can also find cheap ones, under $40.00, at many of the large department stores. If you are using a quilt as a tablecloth I have a few suggestions. Use a quilt that you won’t be devastated if it inherits a stain or two that cannot be removed. Use “thin” quilts. It is hard to get glasses and vases to remain standing on quilts that are too “lofty”. And, before using the quilt as a tablecloth, treat it with a stain repellent like Scothgard.

 

4.      Stack them, drape them, pile them, snuggle them. Quilts are an incredibly fun and changeable decorating touch. They bring color, design and warmth into a room. Having a stash of quilts adds interest to your home and can help to bridge the gap between various decorating styles. And, their uses are endless. Thrown over a table they become an instant tent for younglings. Taken outside they become a picnic spread or a sunning spot. Spread on the floor they become a large playpen for pre-crawlers. Use them to protect your furniture from wear and tear, or if you’re too late for that, to cover that brown stain, origins unknown, in the middle of the sofa! And, my personal favorite, pull one around you, and head outside on cool evenings.


Quilt In Dining Room


 

            Quilts are a wonderful way, and often inexpensive way, to bring color and design into a room. They also become a catalyst for eclectic design, helping to bridge different design styles. The uses for quilts are almost as numerous as the designs themselves. And, if you grow weary of a particular quilt, it can always be used as warmth on a bed…now, there’s a concept!

 

Quilts got their start as a very prudent way to make use of scraps of material, but early quilt makers were quick to turn the task into a creative outlet, crafting not only functional bedding, but beautiful works of art. Do you have a favorite quilt or a special way to display one? Do you quilt or have you inherited a family heirloom quilt? Please share!


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Okay...it's totally "Twilight Zonish" that Michelle should mention my housekeeping practices! Tuesday's blog is entitled FLUFFING THE HOUSE which addresses my "cleaning manifesto"! Hope to hear from everyone about their own!

Sarah...glad to hear your son had a better week. Fingers crossed that the worst is behind you! Also, I agree with your husband, that a lock is a must on parent's bedrooms! You don't need to keep it locked, but there are times when couples shouldn't have to worry about unplanned visitors :) I'm also looking forward to hearing about the decorating changes you make. When you're done, send a pic...I'll make sure to post it :)

Tina...You always have such good resources! I check them all out. BTW...I joined the Waldorf Craft group. Thanks for sharing :)

Tina - That tree is really cute! It would make a nice applique on a larger piece too. The thing I do like about the Grandma's Flower Garden is that every flower you piece does give a small sense of accomplishment. The kids like to play with them... arranging them in patterns on the floor pretending it is a big quilt - kinda of a cool puzzle for them.

Sarah - I had to laugh at your comment about your bedroom being all beige (and needing the lock). Frankly I can't even tell you what color my room is... at least the floor. It seems to be the final resting place for all that stuff I don't want to deal with 'right now' and ends up in our room to hide from visitors. Especially laundry! At least it is the clean laundry. Baskets of folded laundry make up the main "decor" in the room. Of course I have come by this honestly! My mom always did the same thing. I'm sure she will probably mention it at some point. Let us know if you picked up something new for the room :).

I was perusing the Sew Mama Sew's quilt-along photo pool on Flickr, and came across this great little piece. It made me think of the quilt that Michelle is making of hand-pieced Grandma's Flower Garden pattern. It seemed like a nice little project that would have more immediate gratification than a big quilt.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/disdressed/2287785922/in/pool-smsquiltingmonth

The link I tried to post above got cut off. If you are interested in visiting it replace the last bit with this... /naming_conventi.html

Quilts always remind me of baby blankies. True security, total comfort! I am partial to the Pin Wheel pattern myself... probably since my baby blanket was in fact a pin wheel quilt and I have in turn made Pin Wheel quilts for all of my kids. Fun, playful and pretty easy to turn out if you ignore the math and just wing it. LOL... nothing like trying to figure out how wide to cut the strips, to cut the squares, to cut the triangles and to get them all to line up in the end - adding in the 1/4" seam allowance, etc. Enough geometry to make your head spin while standing in the cutting line at Joann's.

As for making a first quit... Trip Around the World makes a great starter pattern - it is all simple squares. My first full size quilt was done in this pattern. There are also some great starter patterns that are done in strip quilting. I actually made a Irish Chain Quilt using strip piecing and it was super easy and turned out looking 100x harder than it actually was.

The one I'm working on most frequently right now is a hand pieced Grandma's Flower Garden Pattern. With three young kiddos, I like the non-messiness of hand piecing. No machine set up on my dining room table, no yards and yards of cut fabric and the accompanying strings all over the place and the ease of completing section or two in the evening while watching tv. There is something so amazingly satisfying about quilting by hand using honest to goodness scraps of fabric... although I have no idea how long this is going to take me. Maybe it will be done in time to serve as a wedding gift for one of my kids... lol - the oldest just turned 5. I don't have any pictures of my own but this link will give you an idea of what I'm doing...
http://weewonderfuls.typepad.com/wee_wonderfuls/2004/09/naming_conventi....

As for uses for quilts... I have to add one. We've always kept one folded on the hearth overhanging a few inches to help stop bumped heads instead of using the nasty foam pieces (I had 12 stitches myself from a hearth related fall). Works great thrown over coffee tables, end tables etc to help cover the poky corners somewhere that isn't normally baby proofed (we do this all the time at my grandma's... she has a particularly dangerous side table that the kids are always running by - corner at temple height). Just make sure it is folded a few times where it overhangs so it is adding thick enough padding.

I have only made a few small quilts, but it's something that I have been wanting to explore more. I was very much inspired by the Quilting Month features on the Sew Mama Sew blog. http://www.sewmamasew.com/blog2/

I especially liked the discussion of the 9-patch posted on February 1st. The 9-patch is very basic, but I LOVED the idea of making it into a "disappearing 9-patch." That is top on my list of quilting things I want to play with. I'm tossing around the idea of making a Queen sized quilt, but am feeling a bit nervous about it. I've never made anything so big! But, you aren't going to learn unless you try!

In any case, add it to the list, right? I highly recommend Sew Mama Sew's blog though. It's awesome. (Cool fabrics in their store, too!)

Good morning! I always look forward to Tuesday mornings. After I drive my son to school I get a cup of coffee and sit down at the computer and read your blog. I read others too but you are always the first. Excuse me if my comments are long today because I have lot to say ;) First its almost like a miracle but every since I wrote the comment about my son crying everyday he stopped. His quite on the trip to school but isn’t crying. Thank God! (Ok Kim, I know there will be something else probably soon but your right, we’ll get through that too! I am completely enjoying the easier mornings that’s for sure.

Now, about your blog today. Your house must be beautiful. I love what you’ve done with quilts. I really never thought of using them on the walls. I’ve seen pictures of very “artsy” quilts on walls but not regular ones. They are beautiful. And pinning stuff to the quilts is a really good idea. I have the perfect wall in my family room to do that. Now I just have to get the right quilt! Sadly I can’t sew or knit or anything that requires skill :( But here’s the thing that really made me smile today was when I read your suggestions for quilts in the bedroom. My bedroom is all beige, I mean ALL beige. Beige carpet, beige walls, beige bedspread. I have some pillows on the bed but they always look like they don’t belong in the room. Boy oh boy oh boy, what does that say about the mood in my bedroom? I called by husband at work and read that part of the blog to him and he laughed too. He asked if beige meant no privacy since it seems our 2 kids are always coming in the room. I told him we needed to do something with the room and he said he was all for it. He said maybe we should start with a lock on the door ;) I’ll keep you posted. Have a great week everyone.