Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Quilt for Princess Petunia

My little niece, Princess Petunia (not her real name), just turned two this month.  How time flies!  It seems only yesterday that my brother-in-law was outraged by my offer to make his then-in-utero Princess the coolest and most unusual baby quilt ever conceived.  My other sister and I each have two boys, and Petunia was going to be the First Baby Girl in our family -- finally!  I'm not much into frilly pink (whether it's flowering trees or quilts), so right off the bat I knew I wanted to do something different for my niece.  I was inspired by a fabulous large-scale quilting fabric featuring sassy girly-girls and bold geometric patterns in black and white, punctuated by splashes of bright accent colors.  Just like those infant mobiles that are scientifically proven to stimulate brain development!  Think how smart Petunia could have been, if only she had this funky blanky quilt that I envisioned... 

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of emailing a photo of the fabric to my sister, and my bro-in-law stormed around sputtering things like "totally inappropriate" and "what the hell is she thinking?!"  In retrospect, it would have been easier to get forgiveness than permission.  Here's the fab fabric that caused the uproar:

Now, how cool is that?  I mean, really!  Princess Petunia would have been the envy of the playground with this hip, rockstar blanky in tow.  Now, I know what you're thinking -- but the baby's own mother has cute little flower tattoos and long, skinny legs, just like the girls on the fabric, and my BIL approved of her enough to marry her.  These girls are realistically proportioned (unlike Barbie), and the outfits the girls are wearing are downright conservative compared to what twelve-year-old girls wear in New Jersey these days, which is where my sister lives.  However, out of deference to my BIL and in the interests of family harmony, I made Princess Petunia a more conventional baby quilt instead:

Ah, well -- I can't ALWAYS win!  I'm told the Princess is quite fond of her boring ruffled blanky, but the Inked Girls fabric keeps calling to me from my stash.  Just because I can't give it to Petunia (not yet, anyway!) doesn't mean I can't make it at all, right?  So yesterday I pulled out a bunch of fabric to audition different combinations and think about how to best showcase this funky print:

Because the sassy girls on my main fabric are so big, I'm going to need to think outside the box about how to best show them off.  Obviously if I cut them up into tiny squares and rectangles, I will lose the dramatic impact of this fabric!  I went through some of my back issues of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine in search of inspiration.  These two quilts are close to what I want to do:

The one on the left is "My Geisha" by Marie Diederick, and the one on the right is "USA" by Virginia Young, both students of quiltmaker Sandy Turner, who developed this method (see QNM October 2003 issue for instructions).  I like how each "picture" is framed with Birds In the Air blocks and arranged asymmetrically with filler patchwork, almost like a scrapbook page or a collage.  However, I usually like to combine many more fabrics in each of my quilts, especially fabrics that you wouldn't necessarily expect to work well together, like batiks with vintage Asian florals with bold geometrics.  I also think the severity of all the straight lines and triangles in the Birds In the Air blocks would fight the pulsing energy and movement of my Inked Girls fabric.  So I'm thinking of using blocks with curved lines in my quilt instead, more like this quilt by Faye Anderson, which uses the classic Mill Wheel block (This is from the March 2002 issue of QNM):

I haven't done any curved piecing or appliqué in any of my previous quilts (all six of them!), so I'd like to challenge myself to try something new this time. 

I've got some work for my interior design clients that I need to wrap up before the Easter weekend, but then I'm taking a week off to just stay home with my family and recharge.  Hopefully sometime next week I'll be able to spend some time in my studio and start cutting into that fabulous fabric!


Janice the Manice said...

Yes, in retrospect I too wish that I had not shown the fabric to my husband. I would much rather Little Linus vanPelt (aka Princess Petunia) be dragging around a fun blankie such as this. I suppose my penance for such a crime will be watching my daughter carry around baby pink covers until she's in college. Perhaps I could score a quilt of my own... if I promise to share?

Rebecca Grace said...

Okay. This Quilt-in-the-Works has been officially claimed and duly named: Jani Kay's Blanky!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting me and leaving the kind comment. I like Princess Petunia's quilt - love the monogram - very sweet.