Updated: Nov 27, 2018
It all started with a fish
How to turn a fabric panel into a "one of a kind" queen size quilt in 3 easy steps (sort of):
Ok, maybe it took more than 3 steps, but it did end up becoming a one of a kind quilt, or as the owners of the quilt say, "a work of art".
My dearest friends, Mark and Deb, came for a visit one afternoon and while we were talking Deb pulled a fabric panel from her purse.
“Look what I found!” she says with great excitement. “Can you make this into a quilt for me?”
It was a beautiful fabric panel depicting different varieties of fish swimming in a lake. Funny thing is, I know this panel. One of the first full-size quilts I made and quilted on my long-arm was done using this very panel, and it was made for my husband.
I told her I would be more than happy to make a quilt for her. She then asked if it would be possible to have it ready for her husband’s birthday, which was just over three weeks away!
The answer was a resounding NO! But, I could definitely have it done by Christmas, which was just over four months away.
And so the design process began
Step One: Create your design
Originally I thought I would incorporate the panel with a bunch of log cabin blocks, but as I started making the blocks I realized they weren’t doing the panel any justice. So, it was back to the drawing board.
Step Two: Re-create your design
Then, I came up with the idea of creating a Bargello design around the panel. I wanted the pattern to reflect the whole earthy theme of the panel, so I created a paper chart I could follow. Starting with the water and then the shoreline, forest, mountains, sunset and finally the sky.
Step Three: Choose your fabrics
The next challenge was to find the fabrics I wanted to use. I chose to use all batik fabrics and matched the colours as closely as possible with the colours in the panel. There are forty-one different fabrics used in this quilt!
Step Four: Cut your strips
Using my rotary cutter, this step only took me a few days. I am so grateful to the person that invented rotary cutters. If you are still using scissors, there is an easier way and I suggest you go to the store right now and buy a rotary cutter.
Step Five: Let the sewing begin!
Using the chart I had created, I started building the quilt. Row after row was sewn together and two weeks later I had a finished top ready to be quilted.
Step Six: The real fun begins
The second to last step in making this quilt was to put it on my long-arm and give it the final touches. I chose to do a simple edge-to-edge quilting pattern called “Zephyr”. I felt this pattern represented the waves of the ocean or air currents and would enhance the quilts earthy theme.
Step Seven: Surprise your friends
Once the quilt was finished, I put it on the queen-size bed in our guest room and invited Mark and Deb to come for a visit. The look of astonishment on their faces when they saw the quilt was priceless. There were many hugs and a few tears.
Below is Deb's full testimonial:
"I have known Allison all my adult life. She was my matron of honor. Throughout the years we have enjoyed receiving special gifts from one another. Her gifts to us though have been the most memorable. In total we have 3 quilts that she has lovingly made us.
It took us a few years to feel comfortable using them as they are works of art. When my husband and I each got our quilts made especially with our hobbies in mind we felt privileged. Little did we know at the time that they were just a warm-up to the magnificent quilt that would come to our home. I had given Allison a fish panel to look at. I asked her if she would be willing to make a small blanket. I was thinking a small one for the chair. She said “Ok, I will look for some scrap pieces of fabric and see what I can do.”
A couple of months later I was the recipient of a masterpiece. It was breathtaking. Even to this day, writing this out, my eyes water and I get a lump in my throat. The colors of the piece are stunning, for an artist, a special visual treat. Your eyes drink in the colours as they blend together in minute squares. The time it must have taken shows it was a labour of love.
Our lives have been enriched by her thoughtfulness of these gifts. Can you imagine: Not one, not two, but three pieces of art? I know of very few who are as lucky as I am as I now have a legacy of love to pass down."