Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Do You Get?

I know, this sounds like one of those juvenile jokes where you cross two disparate things, such as a cat with a parrot. What do you get when you cross jungle print fabrics with Gwen Marston’s Liberated Quiltmaking? You get a quilt something like this:

Click to Enlarge

When my boys were little and forced to accompany me to the quilt shop, I’d sometimes placate them by letting them pick out a fat quarter of fabric they liked. My nine year old son spotted a whole bundle of animal prints and begged me to make a quilt with them. How could I refuse, even though they were just about they last thing I ever envisioned myself using?

The beauty of making a “liberated” quilt is that you don’t have to start with a plan. I had no idea where this quilt was headed. I just began by cutting out various animals, framing each with a dark fabric named “Kitambaa” (Swahili for “cloth”). These vignettes became the quilt’s focal points.

I added familiar elements like flying geese, log cabin, shoo fly, stars, four patch, nine patch and hour glass blocks, all made with Gwen’s characteristic wonkiness.

The quilt evolved organically. When units were too long, I cut them down. When they were too short, I added to them. And while the layout may look random, units were arranged and rearranged, puzzle-like until they fit.

This quilt was successful on many levels. It used up just about every square inch of jungle fabric we bought. It taught an up-tight quilter how to loosen up and enjoy the process of working intuitively. And it pleased a young boy so much that he's slept under the quilt for 10 years, even taking it off to college with him!

Just in case you were wondering what you get when you cross a cat and a parrot, it's a carrot!


  1. Oh Diane! That quilt is magic! The way you have put it together is really really beautiful! I think the leopard framed in a triangle is my favourite bit. What a lucky son you have! And I so know the story of "can I have this bit of fabric mum!" ... eeeek! It takes every bit of "mumsy" to smile and say "yes sweetheart, that's a lovely bit!"

  2. How fun! And what a nice mommy you are. I still have a hard time buying the weird fabric that my son sometimes picks out...but look what can come of that!

  3. LOVE the quilt! What fun fabrics, and a great mixture of blocks.

  4. Amazing quilt. Greatly educational post!

  5. It's treasures like this that make us quilt . . . we always want the ones we love wrapped in up in our hugs no matter where they go *s*

  6. fun quilt with a great story. I got the joke right - woohoo

  7. Oh that quilt is so cool! And Tonya's right, a really great story and memory now!

  8. Diane, I don't remember ever seeing this one. I can see why he likes it; it is really neat. I used that same zebra fabric in one of my strips and curves quilts. The wonky houses remind me of one of Connie's classes long ago. I wonder if she has Gwen's book?