Sea and Sky

17 September 2012 to 6 October 2012
Blog entries referencing this quilt: 
Byron's daughter Ada
New Wave
Level of completion: 
Completed and given away

It is axiomatic: every workplace that is partially virtual, and dependent on IRC or chat for department communication, must have at least one unofficial back channel. I, of course, participate in a few of those, and there's one in particular where we have a rule about not talking about work. (Except, of course, when we do.)

A frequently-recurring topic in this back channel, ever since it was created, was the coworker whose wife learned she was pregnant right around the time the channel was created. I lost count of the number of times someone would say, "Hey, it's been a while since we asked, how many weeks along now?" and we'd cheer as the number grew larger.

In a perfect world, every pregnancy would be easy, and simple, and a source of nothing but joy. They aren't always like that, though. Some are stressful and worrisome and the source of many doctor's visits -- and friends, family, and coworkers can do nothing but stand by, cross their fingers, hope for the best, and cheer as the numbers get higher.

Then, on birth day, your reaction is to throw your hands up in the air and say, "Yay! You're here, safe and sound! Welcome to the world!"

With that being said, let's connect a few threads.

Some time before, when we'd learned that the baby was indeed a girl, we started teasing my co-worker about names. We suggested outlandish ones, totally horrible ones, and I finally threw out some nerdy ones. "How about Ada Grace? You know, 'Ada' for Ada Lovelace, and 'Grace' for Grace Hopper? That would be a name with nerd pedigree."

I didn't think anything else of it until a birth announcement came from Portland, and I learned her name was Ada Wren. The nerd in me did a dance for a girl getting a classic programmer's name, and then went straight to Portlandia's sketch, "Put a bird on it..."

"In the bit, the duo is seen entering a home decor store "where nothing has birds on it," and applying bird decals, stenciling birds, and embroidering birds onto lamps, cards, tote bags, tea pots, and other accessories. All the while, "Bryce Shivers" and "Lisa Eversman" make comments like, "What a sad little tote bag. I know! I'll put a bird on it!" The two are super-stoked on birds-- until a real bird appears and they become grossed-out.

Like other sketches on the show, it appears to be a riff on hipster culture; this time, a play on the multiple bird-plastered fashion, accessory,and home items available in popular stores, Etsy artists hawking bird-adorned wares, and a general propensity for designers and artists of all types to add an avian influence to their creations."


I ran full-tilt into my sewing room, mad-scientist style, muttering "I HAVE THE PERFECT FABRIC FOR THIS WHERE IS IT I KNOW IT IS HERE SOMEWHERE" and breathed a sigh of relief. There it was:

There are a total of five bird fabrics in Sea & Sky; this one is the backing fabric. I bought this fabric many months ago in Minnesota, always intending it for a quilt back. I trusted that the right quilt would reveal itself in time.

It did, in spectacular fashion.

Quilt story is at, back

Why so appropriate? Take a look at the selvedge:

I'd been saving this fabric, and didn't know when I would use it -- just that it was beautiful and sweet, and then I found out what her parents had named her. I think a few co-workers may remember me squealing 'I HAVE A FABRIC FOR THAT,' dropping everything, and running into my sewing room to confirm the name.


Quilt story is at's why.

It was large swath of fabric I'd bought on impulse in Minnesota, months back, because I had used and loved another fabric from the same line from Valori Wells for the back of Lily:

This is Valori Wells' fabric 'Ingrid' in the 'gypsy' colorway. The fabric is huge -- close to 52' wide? -- and the blooms and circles are huge! I loved it online, but it's better in person.Valori Wells, 'Ingrid'

I had no plans for where to use it, but I trusted it would eventually find its home. On this day, it did. I started gleefully rampaging through my fabric stash, in classic "no fabrics are sacred, come meet my rotary cutter!" fashion, and started pulling fabrics that made me happy. My first lineup looked like this:

I should need 19 fabrics for this pattern. I have 18, but there's one in this set that I'm not thrilled about.Plotting and planning

It even included the golden mermaid fabric from Heather Ross' "Mendocino" collection, which I've been hoarding because it's out of print, horrendously expensive now, and when it's gone, I'll likely never have any more of it:

The out-of-print gold-and-hot-pink mermaid fabric from the Mendocino line that I'd been hoarding for the perfect quilt. This quilt was it.

(Fabric is an out-of-print fabric by Heather Ross, and is probably the hardest to find of the set ... and hideously expensive now, if you can find a seller willing to part with it.)

Quilt story is at mermaids

But you know what? This is what fabric is FOR. No one's going to understand why I loved or coveted this fabric if it's sitting unused on my shelf. Better to cut into it, send it on, and let other people love it too. (I still have some left, so it will appear in another quilt or two, but I used about 3/4 of what I had of it for this quilt.)

I wasn't thrilled with the darker end of this quilt, though. It felt heavy and unbalanced. I took out the darker colors, saving them for another quilt, and started rampaging through my fabrics. I decided that I should, indeed put a bird on it ... so I did. Four of them on the front, in fact:

This red fabric with little birds is one of the last fabrics I have remaining from my fabric-buying rampage in Hawaii, years ago. I chose it for the color, and only realized later that there were birds.

Quilt story is at a bird on it, part 2
 Once I'd realized there was going to be a bird theme, I went hunting. This is a Liberty fabric that Angel bought at my request, and mailed me from London.

Quilt story is at a bird on it, part 3
 This fabric was the back of one of Jacob's quilts for his daughters. He gave me leftover backing fabric as a thank-you for helping him finish his presents for his girls.

Not only did the color work perfectly, but there were birds on it.

Quilt story is at a bird on it, part 4
 When I was on one of my business trips to Boston, I rented a car for the weekend and drove up to Maine -- because it was there, and because I had never been. 

I came back with fabric. This one, too, was chosen for color instead of motif, but sure enough -- there are little chickens in this 1930s reproduction print.

Quilt story is at a bird on it, part 5

  • More of the pink-and-red fabric purchased in the futon shop in downtown Hilo, Hawaii
  • The lovely Liberty bird fabric that Angel mailed me from London
  • The hummingbird fabric Jacob used as the back for a quilt for one of his daughters
  • The 1930s reproduction fabric I bought as my souvenir of my day in Maine

(There are also two butterfly fabrics, and a frog fabric. I choose to hope that the frogs, and the mermaids, aren't refugees from a water quilt. They always meant to be here!)

The pattern, New Wave, came together gratifyingly quickly, with my usual dose of headphones and podcasts to pass the sewing time.

I started from the pink side, and have been gratified at how fast this pattern comes together. I wish I were going to be home this weekend ... but alas, it must wait.

Pattern is New Wave

Quilt story is at progress

I wrapped it up last night after a marathon binding session, helpfully soundtracked by the Rifftrax version of "Hunger Games," and got it in the laundry before bed. A quick photography session on a Sunday morning and it's ready to go; I think I will hit up the 24/7 mail kiosk sometime today and get this quilt on the road. It's one of the fastest quilts I've ever done, and one of the happiest.

Welcome to the world, kiddo. I look forward to meeting you when I'm in Portland next.

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Love the binding fabric!

And there's also the backing from my other daughter's quilt -- dragonflies, not birds, but still flying!

This is lovely. A great use of the fabric stash. Clearly, you need to return to Minnesota. Then again...Christmas is coming.



The quilt is fantastic! Ada totally digs belly time on the quilt. Thank you thank you thank you! :)


...and remember, when Ada slips, and Inside Fluids become ... Outside Fluids, as babies are sometimes wont to do ... that's what the washer and dryer are for. :D