A few weeks ago I decided to take the wrapper off a little Moda mini-charm pack I had in my stash and do something with it. Are you familiar with mini-charm packs? They are adorable. At 2-1/2″ square, they’re so small you find yourself just wanting to hold them and play with the pinked edges like an old-fashioned flip book. Especially if you’re 3 years old, as in the case of my daughter.
One afternoon, after so many months of playing with it, I thought this mini-charm pack of Cape Ann from Oliver & S might make a cute doll quilt. Forty-two 2″ patches are just right for a 12″ x 14″ patchwork doll quilt. Because I tend to spend too much time arranging patches trying to get that effortless, random look, I enlisted my daughter. My plan was to chain-piece pairs of patches, and then join them into rows, resulting in a quick little project.
I spread the squares out on the floor and asked her to give me two of them to start. I thought she’d just grab the closest two without paying attention, I would piece them, and we’d continue like that until I ended up with a delightfully scrappy, evenly distributed design.
I underestimated the mind of a 3-year-old.
Instead of picking up random squares, she started to hand me matched pairs of prints, as if we were playing a memory game. I found myself taking one of the patches and saying, “OK, now give me one that looks different than this.” And I’d see her looking, evaluating her options, trying to find just the right one. So I went with it. Unless she handed me two patches of exactly the same print, I took the pairs she gave me and chain-pieced them. Then I cut the threads, put the units back on the floor, and again asked her to hand them to me for piecing. At this point, her choices were random, I guess because it was harder to match two pairs at a time. Or maybe she was just tired of being my assistant and was ready to go do something else.
In any event, I joined the pairs as she gave them into rows, and then I joined the rows, again in the same order I’d received them. If you look across the horizontal rows, you can see her logic start to emerge. There are some dissimilar pairs, but most of them relate to each other in some way, whether it’s the color or the print.
So now I have much more than just a cute little doll quilt that gave me a chance to practice my free-motion quilting (updates on that in a later blog post). I have a snapshot of how a 3-year-old views her world and tries to make sense of it, of how she interprets requests and works to live up to expectations. And once again, a quilt ends up being much more than the sum of its parts.