Sartorial considerations

I had to change the name of this quilt; it was to be Sartorial considerations, but my fabric for the label was not wide enough, so I dug out my dad’s thesaurus (my second favourite type of book, after French dictionaries from the early twentieth century) and settled on Sartorial matters.Shirts lower left back prewashNot to worry: I fixed the “m” in Jim’s name, after not leaving a long enough tail to pull through to the back. This photo was taken before the label was adhered to the quilt, and before the final wash which made it nice and crinkly. I cannot tell you anything about these two fabrics, except that I purchased them in Henniker, New Hampshire, on my way back from Nova Scotia in 2013. I think they look terrific together and believe them to be part of a line of fabrics.

Sartorial matters (né considerations) is the culmination of my work in paper piecing. I used the Shirts quilt pattern by Carolyn Friedlander and learned this time consuming technique.

I made some changes (don’t I always?!?), reducing the number of blocks from sixteen to twelve and adding sashing and borders. I like the separation and framing of the shirts that was achieved. I wanted the shirts to look like they were in a closet, since I chose brown for the sashing and borders. I find that I am becoming increasingly deliberate in my quilts as I use more pre cuts. The shirts were made from five charm squares, which measure 5 inches. Each shirt and background took two, while the trim used one.

I spent a long time choosing fabrics for the shirts. I opted to have the trims in solid fabrics and the backgrounds in a crosshatch. I did change the layout and fabrics from my initial plan, but I am happy with the outcome.

Paper piecing is very fussy! Each of the shirt blocks was composed of four templates, which were then assembled to make the block.

I ended up labelling the templates after a disaster that necessitated recutting most of the top two components of the block.  After several evenings and some mornings (4:30 is the new 5:30 for me, whether I wish it or not), I completed the twelve blocks.

I realize that only eight are pictured here, but I failed to put the final four in their own photo! After the blocks were done, the sashing and borders were quick.

I knew that I would not quilt within the blocks, but I wanted the shirts to be defined, so went on to ditch stitch all those little seams. That took several evenings and some of those early mornings! Finally, the quilting. I wanted to densely quilt the brown, but how? I kept coming back to the idea of a closet framing the shirts, but I though it might look weird if the woodgrain changed direction. I also thought about pebbles, but that takes forever (and a lot of thread!). I dutifully made four quilt samples: two to reacquaint my muscle memory with these stitch patterns and to test a variegated thread that I was considering, and two with shirt blocks to see if it all looked too weird.

Shirts pebble sample

Pebbles: The variegated thread was the first casualty. It was just too light for the brown background fabric.

Shirts woodgrain sample

I love woodgrain, but worried about it in the narrow sashing, and changing direction.

Shirts pebble block sample

The pebbled block was OK…

Shirts woodgrain block sample

… but I liked the woodgrain so much better!

So, woodgrain it was! The ditch stitching took forever, but the woodgrain only took about three hours. I think it works, even with the narrow sashing and the directional changes.

Shirts centre prewash

I captured most of the quilt here. This was before it got nice and crinkly in the wash.

Two winners here: I got to learn a new skill and Jim got a retirement quilt! I will miss our sartorial and musical discussions, but maybe he will get some ideas from this for his retirement wardrobe…


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