Long version of this story: I recently ask a friend to choose some fabric for a tote I wanted to make her. It seemed like an innocent enough question, and I thought it would be a luxury to consult with her before embarking on the project. But her response gave me pause.
I had pulled five or six candidates, explaining that I’d be pairing her selection with some Essex Linen. I can’t remember all the fabrics. I know some had a vintage vibe, including the top selection, from Lori Holt; others were more modern, including the quilting-weight paisley and home-dec fabrics, all from Amy Butler. She liked the colors of the paisley but didn’t gravitate toward any particular design.
It was then that I realized my request for input wasn’t particularly fair.
Would an interior designer expect me to sit down and plan an entire room on paper? Would a landscape designer expect me to lay out the perfect flower bed? Sure, I could give either one some solid ideas—what I like, what is not me, and so on. But I don’t see the world through the eyes of an interior designer or landscape designer. And my friend doesn’t see the world through the lens that I do.
I actually think if I had gone ahead and made a tote bag with any of the fabrics I had selected, she would have liked and used the bag. Seeing the raw materials and envisioning the final product, however, was hard for her. (Heck, it’s often hard for me.)
If I had to do things differently, I think I would either have asked her for some general color preferences or have set her loose in my drawers of stash, just to see which fabrics resonated with her. Doing so would have given me some direction without expecting her to commit to anything in particular.
I decided to return all the fabric to my stash and come up with another pick for this project without her input. Here’s the result, completed with the little that remains of my Hope Valley fats and based on a free pattern from Noodlehead. The DS Quilt fabric below it is another tote in process. It’s for another friend, who has no idea that I’m making something for her, and the fabrics were chosen based only on my keen observations about this second friend’s fabric likes (no interrogation!).
A question for you: in the coming months, I plan on making a quilt for my mother-in-law, at her request. I need to take the lessons learned here and apply them to that project. Maybe I’ll present a few different directions the quilt top could go in and several fabric options. I could even show her my Kona Cotton color card and get some feedback about the palette overall. What do you think about that approach? Any other strategies that may help me?
In other news, I recently joined the New Hampshire Modern Quilt Guild (even though I live in Mass), which meets at Twill, a sweet fabric and yarn shop in Nashua, New Hampshire. In the process, I had the pleasure of meeting Chelsea, from Patch the Giraffe. Here’s the two of us. Chelsea is on the left, and I’m on the right. I’m sporting a ridiculously big grin—it was awesome to be in the presence of so many other quilters for an evening. These ladies are going to teach me so much, I just know it!
If you haven’t visited Patch the Giraffe before, can I point you to some favorite quilts of mine? I love, love, love Chelsea’s modern red, white, and blue palette for this quilt and her fresh take on a maple leaf quilt.
Thank you for reading to the end of a long post! ; )
Update: The second tote is done, made with a plaid from DS Quilts, Quilter’s Linen in navy, and Essex Linen in flax. Take that, Q3 Finish-Along list!
Linking up to ... Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts and Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts