An E-mail went out to the Bayberry guild–a woman wanted three twin size quilts made. This was just the jump start my fledgling business needed. I gave her a call.
My vision of making custom quilts was that people would want something designed as a special gift for a wedding, new baby, or holiday, or that they would want something beautiful for their home decor. It turns out that Brenda ordered a new sectional sofa and when it arrived they had gotten the fabric wrong. It was too light, and she was afraid that her grandchildren would get it dirty, so she wanted something to throw over the back of it. I tried to talk her into finding someone to make slipcovers for her, but she wanted quilts. They didn’t have to be “all patchworky”, though, she would be fine with whole cloth quilts so long as they could be made quickly and inexpensively. It turns out she had looked in all the department stores for something ready made and couldn’t find anything in the right color, which was beige. The room is done in all neutrals, and she didn’t want any other colors in it.
I visited her in her home to see the room and get the pillows that she has as accents so I could take them with me to the warehouse to pick out fabric. Since she was ordering three quilts, I figured I could stay within her budget by getting fabric by the bolt at wholesale. On my way there, I remembered seeing a lovely fabric line of shell prints in neutrals at Cape Cod Quilts and Cottages, so I stopped on my way to pick up a charm pack. As I flipped through it, I told Pat that she probably wouldn’t like the steel blue in it. She said it looked gray to her and if I called it gray she might like it. I also brought along a sample of a white-on-white fabric with a shell motif, since she said her room was decorated with sea shells.
The fabrics in the charm pack didn’t work. The white white was too light–her grandchildren would get it dirty. The brown was too dark. The beige was too pink. And it had blue. I didn’t get a chance to call it gray, I flipped to that fabric and she called it blue. She hates blue. It is my favorite color. I wanted to cry. Who lives by the ocean and hates blue? Okay, we are all entitled to our favorite colors. I don’t like orange and red and that makes some people want to cry.
So, armed with the pillows, I headed to the warehouse. In the lower basement I found a white-on-muslin close-out to use as backing, and upstairs I found a cream and an ombre that went from white to brown. But I still didn’t have anything with shells on it. I had been hoping to find the white-on-white shell print in beige, but that was last year’s design and they didn’t have any more.
On a visit to Quilter’s Palette, I was telling Diane about my search and she told me she had the exact fabric I was looking for. So now I had three fabrics plus a backing fabric. In any other quilt, I would have used any one of these fabrics as a background and used a range from light to dark with some other colors and a range of scale of print, but for these quilts, the light couldn’t be too light, the dark couldn’t be too dark, and there couldn’t be any other colors. It was a challenge for me–definitely out of my “box”.
The featured quilt was quilt number one. After seeing some of my work, she had decided that she did want something pieced after all, and she would like two quilts the same and one different. Here is quilt number two, which is the same as number three.
I was a little nervous delivering them, but Brenda was thrilled. She said I matched the beige exactly and it goes perfectly with her decor. The shell print is a little hard to detect unless you are up close. It was definitely a learning experience for me. I learned that if I listen carefully to what is important to a client, I can make her very happy even if the quilts are not to my taste.
As I was leaving, she asked me if the quilts were machine washable. “Oh yes,” I told her, “Everything is 100% cotton.”
“So should I use cold water?”
“I wash all my quilts in warm water. The fabric is preshrunk, so they will be fine,” I told her.
“Yes, but will the colors run?”
I had to choke back a laugh. What colors? And now the tune of Three Blind Mice was playing in my brain. “Three beige quilts, three beige quilts, see how they run, see how they run.”
And so ends the happy tale. Brenda says she will call me next summer when she wants to redecorate the blue room. Which is actually a white room with blue accents. I think I will enjoy that project a little more.