Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Making a Quilt for a Stranger

I've loved peeking into others' sketch books lately, with people showing more of their process in designing quilts. I decided to put my dilemma out here as well. I have a little different problem here, and one that seems to get me quite often. Because I sell quilts, I get a lot of people saying, "You make nice quilts, just make something I'd like." So therefore I'm the designated mind-reader and taste-definer. Although I'm quite confident in my own likes and dislikes, I find myself feeling a bit lost and insecure when it comes to making a quilt for someone I don't really know.

So let's get down to business. I've been asked to make a quilt for an acquaintance of a friend. So I have no communication with the final recipient. They wanted something 'sports-themed' (I know, my heart sank too) and when I asked about their style, I was told that anything classic, not too 'out-there'. I was relieved when they chose the fabric they wanted as their basis for the quilt because as sports fabric go, it's quite nice. It's here, if you want to see it. It's an Alexander Henry Football print called "Goal to Go", and it has a classic feel with a cream background.

So now I need to come up with a design that

a.) Is classic. Something that a majority of people would like.
b.)Not too time consuming or fussy, since I'm not getting rich any too fast.
c.)Uses the cream and red, as the main colors.
d.)The baby's name embroidered or added in somewhere.
What I've come up with so far: I'm going to use this Football fabric as the backing, not sure if I'll bring any into the top or not. I'll use cream as the background color for the front, and red for binding. (I don't usually decided on binding color beforehand, so this might change yet)

Now I need your help. I'm thinking of using red, blue, green, yellow, brown and cream. I'm also not sure if I'll use just one fabric in each of these colors, or an assortment for a more scrappy look.

I started out with this first one, but quickly abandoned it. (my love for HST's is growing, but they're still not my go-to pattern)

Next I tried this one, which I definitely like better. This one would not include the football fabric on the front, unless I did the centre of each block in this theme fabric and bordered them with the other colors.

Next up is a basic pattern that is sort of my favorite right now.

This picture is flipped sideways. The stripes should be running horizontally. I thought since this fabric was chosen specifically for this quilt, maybe I should incorporate some into the front. Now this goes totally away from what my mind is telling me I want to do, but the challenge here is to think like the general population and not like myself.

So if anyone has any insight for me, I'd love to hear it. And be as blunt as you like, because this is not my personal labour of love, I'm simply trying to make something these folks will LOVE and say "this is exactly what we wanted."


  1. I very much dislike making quilts for people when I can't get an exact opinion.
    I think you should incorporate the fabric into the front. I like the idea of just a square in the middle of each block then on the back. Or maybe even that last stripe idea for the back would look really neat.
    Can you find any other sport themed fabric that would match? You could use this different fabric for the middle squares on the front.
    I love your color ideas!

  2. My thought is that if they picked a fabric like that they don't necessarily know what "classic" is when it comes to quilts!

    On the sports theme, I can see checkerboards and stripes as quite appropriate. In fact, all your designs would work. The last one seems a bit busy to me, though. What about an option of all checkerboards or all stripes? Otherwise, I like option 2 the best in this scenario.

  3. EEEK, That fabric is...ummm...difficult. I would probably go with the Benito box. Maybe you could use some of the fabric in the front but I really would only use it in a few boxes surely not every one. What if you combined the look of the boxes with some stripes. Instead of the nine patch idea you could make boxes across one row and a few randomly sized stripes then maybe another row of boxes.

  4. I think you should ask your friend, who commissioned the quilt, if she expects the football fabric to be on the front. If she does expect it and you don't do it, she's bound to be disappointed. You could share with her your favorite pattern (which is my fav too) and explain that you'd use the football for the back. See what her reaction is.

  5. I think the second and the last pic are your best options.
    I like the last one the best as Ashley of Film in the Fridge fame has done several like that for baby quilts and they are quite pleasing to look at and would be quick.
    are you able to ask the person who commissioned you their thoughts on it?
    good luck!

  6. What about something like this quilt by Ashley:

    Use the football fabric as the center, frame it in a solid, and use cute coordinating fabrics around each one. I think it's a great way to use a focus fabric or novelty fabrics.

  7. I agree with Cheryl - definitely a different definition of "classic". You should for sure ask if they expect the fabric on the front (I am guessing yes).

    It seems like it's a fairly big motif so I'm not sure how it would work as the centre of any of the blocks. I think I like AllieKatMom's idea of strips of the theme fabric alternating with 9-patches, but I think I'd make the 9-patches like the one in Example #3.

  8. I would use the third pattern, but use the focus fabric as a larger center square on some of the blocks - maybe all the dark background ones, since the fabric is cream. I can feel your pain - I make quilts for sick folks at church, some of whom I have never met and yet I want to make something they will love - so I have a very similar problem. I usually ask someone who knows them where they would put them on a sliding scale of contemporary to country, then on a sliding scale of neutrals to brights. That helps some! Good luck!!

  9. I would hate this project, because I SO do not like football and I am so glad my husband doesn't watch it, so I feel for you.
    With that said, I think you need to embrace the football theme and go with it. Are these people rabid football fans, or did your friend just want a football themed quilt for their baby? If they are huge fans, then could find out what their favorite team is. That may narrow down the color choices and give you some inspiration.
    I would go maybe with the squares and put a fussy cut image in the center of each. The print your friend picked would go in some centers and maybe this could be another:
    The outer squares could be solids that maybe focus on their teams colors.
    I did a quilt kinda like that (but not football):

    Good luck! Can't wait to see what you do!

  10. An idea for placing the name on the quilt... How about making the center a block that is a football jersey (simple t-shirt pattern) with the name on it, as if it is the name across the back shoulders of a football player's jersey. Please post pics of your quilt when it is done. We'd love to see it :)
    Happy quilting!

  11. It is so hard to create a quilt for someone else!! I feel ya. : )

    I can't get the idea of "Rugby Stripes" outta my head.

    Like if your quilt:

    and this quilt:

    had a baby (with feature fabric on back).

    Or maybe just pretend it's a feature fabric you love, and do something like these. Still your style, still including their footballers and their colors, win/win?

    Good Luck!

  12. I love the last one but it will be a lot more cutting and piecing I would imagine, therefore more time. I think the third one would be gorgeous too, and perhaps better when you don't have an opinion from the "client". I like your colour choices, by the way :)

  13. I like the second one ... maybe put a piece of football in the centre. I'm working on a quilt for a friend's MIL out of '80's baby clothes. It's tough to quilt for someone you have never met or talked to.


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