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Friday, April 6, 2012

Gift Quilts, Who Cares What Their Colors Are!

I am a prolific quiltmaker. I have been known to start a quilt three days before a wedding and give the quilt as a wedding gift at the wedding. With tons of quilt kits, patterns and scraps at the ready and with my longarm quilting machine, I can crank out a quilt from cutting to binding and label in three days, no sweat. I'm not bragging here because most of the quilts I make are from either scraps or kits and most of the patterns I choose are of the "quick and easy" variety. Applique quilts are beautiful and amazing. I admire people who applique but unless it's hand pieced, if it takes more that a week to piece, I'm not interested. With all that in mind, I will tell you how I approach giving quilts as gifts.

A few times I have actually asked someone which quilt design they wanted and what colors they like. I have even gone so far as to let them pick out the fabric they wanted. FORGET THAT!
I did not enjoy making any of those quilts and was not happy with the finished product. For a long time now, if I am giving a quilt as a surprise or if a family member asks me to make them a quilt, they get what I want to make. I don't care what color paint is on their bedroom walls. This quilt will outlast numerous paint jobs and even a move or two or three so what difference does it make what color the room is at the moment. I choose colors I like and colors I think represent the personality of the person receiving the quilt. Most of the quilts I make are scrappy anyway so the colors are all tumbled together.

Here is a quilt called Stepping Stones by Judy Niemeyer I made for my grown niece. I know this quilt will go in any room in any home she lives in. I had fun making this quilt and the fabrics, Bali Pops were amazing to work with.

Now let's talk about  the pattern or type of quilting technique. I have had lots of clients over the years bring in quilts they pieced because their granddaughter, son, niece, whatever wanted this pattern or that t-shirt quilt. You would be amazed at the number of first time quilters choosing Double Wedding Ring to give as a gift. Often these quilts turn out to be a disaster and in the end, the makers are frustrated and unhappy with the results.

If I don't like doing applique or some other quiltmaking technique, I will not make a quilt using that technique. I don't care if my favorite family member LOVES that quilt they saw in the magazine. If they like it that much, they can learn to make it themselves. I will make my scrap quilts because the times I have made quilts using techniques I am not fond of, the entire experience is drudgery and life is too short for that.

The last thing I want to mention is the quilt size. I don't assume that all my quilts will be used on beds. Children grow from the crib to a twin or double bed and the quilt will out last those changes. The Stepping Stones quilt pictured above is 60" x 68", just a little smaller than I like but the perfect size for my short niece to snuggle under in the evening. A quilt that is easy to drape over a couch, throw in the car or carry in a suitcase will be used often. This is what I want. I love to hear "Aunt Carol, I need another quilt. The one you gave me 10 years ago has holes in it."  Those words just warm my heart!!

 So many of my clients bring in these huge king size quilts intended for young family members. They admit the person does not have a king size bed. What is a 15 year old who sleeps in a twin size bed going to do with a huge king size quilt? He's going to fold it and stuff it into the top shelf of the closet and forget about it. My target quilt size is 75" x 95" because it's portable. It can go from bed to couch to basement to friend's house to dorm room and be used for years to come.

Even babies not born yet get quilts in the 75" x 95" range or slightly smaller. Before they learn to walk they can be placed on top of the quilt to play or nap. As they get older they can sleep under it or cuddle on the couch with it. It's perfect for road trips and camping and visiting relatives.

Recently I have started including washing instructions and a box of Shout Color Catcher with each quilt. I used to prewash all my fabrics but over the years I have gotten lazy about this. I had some fabric bleed and ruin a quilt so now I use this stuff if I prewash fabric and I use it for the first two times I wash the quilt.

Happy Quilting!
Carol Thelen

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