Crazy Quilter Strikes Again

Nancy Russell

Crazy Quilter Strikes Again

by Nancy Russell

Nancy Russell lives in Pasadena, Texas, and has been quilting since 1960.

There they were. Sweet, dainty Victorian scenes in pale blue and melon pink.


 

There they were. Sweet, dainty Victorian scenes in pale blue and melon pink. For at least ten years these squares had lain forgotten in my fabric stash. Now my imagination came alive, and my granddaughter came to mind. I decided to make a twin-size quilt for her. I could feel my excitement build as all the possibilities flooded my mind.

I had two large pieces of pink florals I thought might work for sashings, edging, and backing. I quickly laid out the nine squares in rows. I made a rough drawing, filling in colors with highlighter pens. The printed scenes on the squares demanded ribbon and lace.

The project began quietly enough. However, at some point, Crazy Quilter took over. Every quilter knows her. She's a driving force that won't let you rest. She makes you forget about time and all the chores to be done. She captivates, energizes, and inspires. She is the passion, the muse, of all great art.

The project began quietly enough. However, at some point, Crazy Quilter took over.


 

I call her the Crazy Quilter because I feel crazy when she enters my life and imposes her wild values on my own mundane and dutiful ones. We spent three hours together that afternoon making a precise drawing on graph paper and figuring yardage. Then I went to find just the right materials.

I searched my stash, looking for suitable ribbon and lace. No, not suitable; I wanted perfect. I wanted trim that would make this quilt sparkle, make it exceptional.

I found dark ecru craft lace with blue grosgrain glued in the center. I also found narrow fuchsia ribbon to sew on either side of the grosgrain. I needed seven-and-a-half yards of the lace and fifteen yards of the ribbon. Excitement soared as I discovered I had enough of each. I felt so wonderful, so virtuous, using up material I already had. Crazy Quilter's magic was working!

 

The next day I found enough cream-colored poly-blend for sashings. Even though I don't usually like using poly-blends, I was determined to use materials I already had. A small amount of delicate pale blue floral would serve as frames for the printed squares.

Alternate squares would be pink, appliquéd with cream hearts covered in lace and pink silk ribbon. I found more cream lace, which I tea dyed. It darkened enough to show up against the cream color of the sashing.

Crazy Quilter had me tight in her grasp. The next day I went to five stores in two different counties, trying to match the swatch of blue fabric I'd brought with me. At the last store I found two fat quarters of a matching blue in a different print.

At 1 a.m., I ran to the 24-hour Wal-Mart.

 

Crazy Quilter said three different patterns would be OK if the shade was just right.

At another store I found a pale peachy fabric which complemented the darker melon pink of the printed squares. I bought four-and-a-half yards and planned to use it for backing also. Excitement surged again.

Back home, I realized the fuchsia ribbon was too dark. With pink thread I zigzagged a brighter shade of silk ribbon to the sashings. When I laid the quilt out, the new ribbon shone like neon. I removed it, only to find I had no ribbon the right shade. I decided to work on cutting and shaping the appliqué hearts. No freezer paper! At 1 a.m., I ran to the 24-hour Wal-Mart.

An hour and no freezer paper later, I trudged home, low in spirit, and forced myself to go to bed. Crazy Quilter still wanted to work, work, work on the project. But I was frustrated and at a standstill. Without the additional blue fabric, the right shade of ribbon, or freezer paper, I couldn't do a thing.

At last, after all the running around, staying up late, and spending too much money, I settled into the peace and comfort of appliquéing and quilting.

 

The next day I cleaned up the mess I had made while Crazy Quilter kept nagging me with ideas and suggestions.

The day after, I was up early to drive to a new quilt shop in search of my ribbon and blue fabric. In a state of high anticipation I gathered all my materials and began the hour drive. I love Crazy Quilter's energy.

When I arrived, the shop owner showed me how my pale peachy fabric wasn't working. She suggested a perfect pale blue material, and though I needed only about one-third yard, I bought two yards, just in case. She brought out another brighter salmon fabric which seemed to make all the colors sparkle. Ah, the magic--the wonder of the perfect match! And yes, she also had fifteen yards of the perfect silk ribbon! Crazy Quilter was thrilled! Oh my, another $50? I'd already spent $60. I wanted to use up what I had on hand, but never mind, it's only money. Crazy Quilter got what she wanted. She wouldn't settle for less.

I couldn't wait to cut out the additional fabric and new ribbon, and to lay everything out. I stopped to buy freezer paper. Finally home, I stayed up until 4 a.m. sewing on ribbon and lace, and pressing little fabric hearts to the freezer paper. I sewed frames onto the dainty Victorian squares. I was in quilter's heaven, the "la la land" of creativity where nothing matters except the next stitch, the next completed panel. I fell into bed happy and exhausted.

The next day I realized I had sewn pink around the Victorian squares where I had planned blue frames. So I tore them all off and began to sew on the blue ones. I had sewn two when Crazy Quilter decided the blue just wasn't going to work! I could hardly believe that I was sewing the pink frames back on. Oh well, what's another two hours' work?

At last, after all the running around, staying up late, and spending too much money, I settled into the peace and comfort of appliquéing and quilting. I even managed to work in the pale peach fabric. Yes, Crazy Quilter was right all along. All the effort was worth it. My granddaughter loves her special quilt, and I am pleased too. I look back on the creative struggle as an adventure as exciting as any movie thriller.

Crazy Quilter is at rest now, but I know she'll return. I'll welcome her anytime. Now, let me see, didn't I spot some pale yellow in the fabric stash that would look lovely with...?

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