De Dutch Quilt and the Importance of Playing

De Dutch Quilt by Wise Craft Handmade

This quilt makes me smile every time I see it. (Update: This quilt is now available as a downloadable pattern in my shop.)

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Would you believe this was never meant to be a quilt? No kidding. It was only ever meant to be an afternoon of playing around with an idea, to use a more planned color palette to eventually create the real quilt.

You see, last year I’d pulled this page out of a JCrew catalog and recently found it again.

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Having just a bit of time one day, I decided to play around with the geometric patterning in the sweater and try some speed piecing. The colors were all pulled the scrap bin, I just grabbed what was there.

Before I knew it, I had played with enough little speed pieced blocks that I could actually go somewhere with them.

Perhaps to a Pennsylvania Dutch area.

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I like the Pennsylvania Dutch style of design and motifs from the mid-century era of Pennsylvania Dutch good fortune hexes  (I’ve painted them). The colors in this became strong and saturated, like those hexes.

The hand appliquéd tulips came much later. I was itching for a new hand project to work on while the family watched TV in the evening (right now we’re binge watching X Files and the kids are hooked). One night I cut out some scrap Dutch-style tulips and hand appliquéd them onto the larger solid squares over the next couple of weeks. My appliqué started out pretty wonky, but I definitely got the hang of it by the end and actually really like it now!

So there you have it. The quilt that was never supposed to be- is. I was reminded of something very valuable while creating this quilt. We have to play folks. Some days, we have to sew something, all the while pretty convinced that it will suck and might be thrown away.

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I look for moments when my mind isn’t racing in a hundred different directions. I don’t find them often, but while planning out this quilt that wasn’t supposed to be a quilt, I found some. To just piece, sew, cut, hope for the best, and let things unfold without a solid goal in mind. It’s a form of letting go and allowing the process to happen that I don’t usually allow to happen. Usually for me, precious free time spent this way usually still needs to yield some sort of result I feel warrants the effort. But going into this one, I wasn’t ready to commit fully to anything and realized that in order to figure it out, I had to let go already and truly see where it would take me.

Then came piecing the quilt top. I suddenly realized I had something that was worth continuing to work on! I started playing with different layout combinations and realized I wanted to turn everything on point. Which led me to my next ad libbing, the eggplant triangles along the border. (Math!).

Oh! And I had chosen a back. The most perfect backing fabric ever.

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But wait, even the basting of this quilt was an experiment. My usual basting method would have worked fine, but thinking ahead to the idea that I might try some hand quilting, I decided to try using water soluble basting thread. I’ve had a spool of it for a long time, but never used it. Those diagonal stitches you see in the above photo are the basting thread. I used a larger, basting sized stitching on my machine and loaded this thread in the top and bobbin (although you could save $ by using it only on the top). And you can see them (in white) on the front below.

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All those stitches disappeared perfectly in the wash. (The vines above were free motion quilted, those stayed.)

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Hand quilting was done using Size 8 Perle cotton in 4 colors- pink, gold, dark pink, and brown, one randomly chosen for each area. I echoed around the tulips and leaves, as well as all the geometric squares.

A coral pinkish/red binding and it was done.

It’s named “De Dutch” after our favorite pancake place.

My lesson here? Play!

 

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