Thursday, August 30, 2018

African Commission #1

Name: African Commission #1
Dimensions: About 60" x 60"
Pieces: Front - 115, Back - 4
Pattern: Unknown
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: Hand-dyed batiks from Africa, Kona White
Quilting: free-motion on my Juki

So this all started with an email from the guild passing along a request from a woman in Washington, DC who wanted some quilts made from the fabrics she'd brought back with her from her business trips to Africa and China. I sent an email to the address listed and let her know up front what I charge for this kind of work (supplies, plus $20/hour for labor, plus 10% overhead/profit, with a $150 down payment for supplies), not expecting to hear from her again, because that's been my experience when people are looking for someone to make commission quilts. They just never respond or tell me that's crazy. Much to my surprise, I received an answer and she accepted the quoted amount. So I drafted up a contract, since this was my first commission for a non-family or friend, and we got it all signed. She also sent me the fabrics and I got started. First up, washing and drying to get the excess dyes and wax out and shrink the fabric. The washing really changed the feel of the fabrics, because they were very stiff before.

She wanted two quilts made and sent me some pictures of ideas. She was adamant about this pattern being one of the quilts, and unfortunately even after doing an internet search, I still don't know where the pattern came from. So if anyone knows, I'd love to give credit to whoever came up with the original. I would have had to resize regardless, so I drafted the pattern in EQ7, knowing I needed a lap size quilt, and with the intention of keeping the large rectangles as big as possible to show off the fabric to full advantage. I think I may have even measured those fans to see how big they needed to be to get the whole thing on there. I also wanted to make sure that every fabric she sent me was represented in the quilt, except for the panel she'd gotten from China.

I fussy cut, where possible and tried to get the non-blue fabrics over the blue ones, because I was planning a blue and white quilt for the second one (more on that in the next post). I used Kona White for the sashing, because I wanted the colors to really pop and there were too many dark fabrics to consider black as an option. I got the top put together fairly quickly, once all the cutting was done. I do wish I'd maybe interfaced one or two of the loosest fabrics, because they stretched a bit when trying to sew the lengths together, but otherwise the fabrics held up pretty well. I kept updating her with pictures and got her go-ahead on the quilting pattern I wanted to use. My go-to for square quilts: free-motion boxes. Which I think turned out really well and only took me two or three hours. I bound it in the dark brown fabric that she had provided, because it gave the most contrast and also had the best hand for cutting into thinner strips.

It only took me about a year longer than initially agreed upon to get these quilts done for a variety of reasons, but luckily I had a very understanding client. She just wanted the quilts and loved the end result. This was my first quilt finish in 2018, but was quickly followed by numbers two through six. I'd more or less had quilter's block that entire year, plus an infant, moving, watching kids full time and so on. I'm really happy it's done, it's beautiful, and I got paid for it. Not that I want to do a ton of commissions, but every once in a while getting paid to do what I love, as long as it's fair compensation in my book and not a low-ball offer, is nice. So here you go, the first of the two commission quilts. Second one to follow soon.

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