11 April 2011 to 18 October 2011
Charlene and Pat's daughter
Level of completion: 
Completed and given away

It was never my intention to keep Fledgling a secret, but the quilt is out and gone now without much in the way of written documentation -- but there was a reason, I swear!

It's always hard to admit when a project isn't right. I've had that problem before, and I was grateful later that I stopped quickly before I dug myself into a much deeper hole than I had already done. That lesson served me well in this quilt, though it delayed completion by a few months.

I found a fabulous fabric. Bird fabric, even. When I saw it, I thought it would be neat to use it as a focus fabric and pick solids that matched the solid, 1950s, colors in the bird fabric. Given that it was intended as a child's quilt, the name "Fledgling" was far, far too easy.

These little birdies will just have to be cut apart for emphasis.

'June Song' from Alexander Henry's 'June Bug' collection.Birds of a feather

I'll fussy-cut the birds, and surround them with different solids. The bird fabric isn't a bright white, but instead more of a warm-toned white, so I grabbed a warm white to use for white space. The bright, busy fabric on the right is the quilt backing.Fabrics assembled and ready

Bonus: massively funky awesome backing fabric:

The back of the quilt. It's adorable, it coordinates, and I defy you to find a stain that will show up on this print!

Kid quilts are supposed to be USED after all.

'Jubilee' from Alexander Henry's 'June Bug' collection.Jubilee!

The problem? The design didn't work. I wanted to put the birds in the center of each block and then surround them with different colored blocks, done in a not-parallel-lines pattern. I learned quickly that this method wasted a lot of fabric, was horrifically slow, and still didn't give me the results I wanted. I stopped the project, set it aside, grumbled every time I saw it in the box, and left it alone.

Gotten a few more bird blocks done. Later I'll need to pad them with the off-white background fabric, since I'm not worrying about making them the same sizes. I'm having fun making these.Sunny, bright, in-progress.

In the meantime, Zoe was born. I was late; I'd intended the quilt to be done before she was, and I missed the deadline. I kept reading.

Fast-forward through the first nine months after Jeff's accident; not much sewing happened then, anyway. Id mid-summer, I started idly researching patterns, but never found one I liked. Fast-forward even more, to the Very Quiet Job Interview process; landing the job meant I wanted to take a week between jobs to travel and rest before starting the new job, and suddenly, there was …

An Epiphany.

BADCamp! The Bay Area Drupal Camp. I could go out and see lots of Drupal people at once! I could knock a complicated itinerary back down to a more manageable one and -- hey -- whaddaya mean, @crashtest_ is gonna be at BADCamp?  (@crashtest, aka Pat, is Zoe's father.)

Right. A week to go before leaving for BADCamp, I officially got my shit together in a rather ferocious way. I pulled out the pattern I'd returned to a few times (a disappearing log cabin) and said, "Can I do this?" immediately followed by "Can I do this in time for BADCamp?"

Answer: yes, but it was damned close.

There was a weekend sew-a-thon...

Oh how simple it was, at first. Then it got complicated as I added more rounds...Flickr At this point, I knew we were diving into the realm of Op Art.Flickr Tenzing pounced on the warm spot on the couch as soon as I moved away from it.Flickr Gulp. Okay, let's do this.Flickr

and an emergency check of layout...

I'm going to sit on this for an hour or two. If I want to have it in a transportable condition by Wednesday morning when I fly, I can't wait long, but I do want to sit for a little while before committing via sewing. 

Pattern is a hodgepodge - sort of a bento box, sort of a disappearing log cabin, sort of something else entirely.

Full story at domesticat.net/quilts/fledglingTest layout

followed immediately afterward by the quilt-a-thon. Keep it simple, Amy. Now is not the time to be tracing hearts and flowers. Get a good, solid meander on that puppy, get it bound, and … hey.

Look at that white square.

Ya know.

I could put some tricksy quilting in there!

Cue Amy racing back to our graphic design computer (aka the desktop computer) and rampaging through the decorative fonts. Decorative initials were the order of the day. Something funky and fun that I could trace out with stitching, because hey, I've got rainbow thread and I know how to use it.

I found a good 'Z' and got ready to trace it … sure enough, it was a Sunday night, all the craft shops were closed, and did I have any tracing paper? Nope. So I set the printed letter down on the white square, and started punching holes in it with my quilter's pencil. Shortly thereafter, I realized this was utter lunacy, and somewhat painful to boot, so I started poking starter holes with a safety pin and THEN sticking my quilter's pencil in the holes to make little marks.

Even at this point, I suspected the extra embellishments were wrong, but I thought I'd try it, nevertheless.

Full story at domesticat.net/quilts/fledglingThe traced-out plan

Connect the dots, and you've got a working pattern. I outlined it with thread and then began to fill it in with the tiniest damned stipple I have ever attempted -- seriously, Amy, do not do this again anytime soon without a Very Good Reason -- and the clock was tick-tick-ticking. BADCamp was approaching fast, and I needed to be on a plane.

...and this is what the letter looked like as I filled it in.

Full story at domesticat.net/quilts/fledglingZ is for Zoe

I prioritized. I couldn't quilt on the plane, but I could hand-sew. If I could get the quilt completely quilted, and machine-stitch the top half of the binding down, I could work on the second half on the plane -- or even at the House Of Chaos the night before BADCamp started.

Except, it turns out, that when I'm motivated, I stitch really fast.

I yanked the quilted piece out of the machine early in the evening of the last night I was home, and applied the machined part of the binding. Hmm. Time looked good, so I settled in with an episode of Dirty Jobs. I knew I couldn't stitch for long, because I had to get up at 4am to catch the first flight out of Huntsville the next morning.

By the end of the episode, I'd finished a third of the quilt.

By the end of the third episode, I'd finished the binding. I promptly threw it in the washer, and stayed up just long enough to get it in the dryer, so that it could dry while I slept. I left myself a ginormous note: "DO NOT FORGET QUILT YOU MORON" and went to bed sometime after 10pm.

After the ass of dawn cracked a few hours later, I got up and pulled the quilt out. PLEASE let it not have popped seams in the wash, please please PLEASE. I was shocked to see that there were no pops, not anywhere. I folded it, stowed it in the bag, and made sure I packed needle and scissors to work on weaving in the ends at House of Chaos.

…and the night before BADCamp started, we invited a group of people over to our room to socialize, chitchat, and embeeren. As part of the evening, I said, "Hey crashtest!"

Crashtest helps unfold the quilt for photography

Full story at domesticat.net/quilts/fledglingFledgling, unveiled!

Many photos were taken, most utterly silly, and normally faraway friends held up the previous night's labor of love out straight in the air so I could get one straight-on photo of it before Ms. Fledgling went on to her new life in Washington state.

Yes, Charli, let Zoe chew on it. :)

P.S.: Tenzing loves you.

Just because I was finishing the quilt quickly doesn't mean Tenzing wasn't gonna have his say. All quilts must be pre-loved by the bratcat.

Full story at domesticat.net/quilts/fledglingI'm on to you, Mom.


I can't believe you did this so quickly. It's truly stunning. And the Z is one of my favorite parts! Love the story behind the quilt. It's a lot like the process of writing a book; sometimes the initial approach just doesn't work and you have all these components laying around that won't make a cohesive whole. Until you finally find the approach that works and it all comes together like magic.

PS Tenzing is a wonder.


We love you!  If you ever want to come and steal the quilt from Zoe for a few nights while you enjoy our peaceful little seaside village and relax, you have a place to do it here. Anytime!

Thanks again, and yes, they were silly photos but I was just that happy :)

Pat (aka Zoe's Dad)

Love that bird fabric, love that backing, and the quilt turned out beautifully, as always. :)