Not Quite White

Quite a few years ago, a friend said to me, “Lainey, if you ever make me a quilt, I want it to be an all-white quilt.” Because I lack any sort of internal filter, I immediately replied, “Well, it’s pretty safe to say I’m never going to make you a quilt, then.” Jerry was — and is — horrified that I said that so instantly. My friend just laughed, because she accepts me for what I am and that’s why we are friends.

Mary is slightly color-blind and doesn’t have the love for color that I do. She dresses in neutrals and black, primarily, and very excitedly reports to me whenever she buys something colorful. Her home is beautifully decorated with neutrals and black, vintage and new, and she goes to estate sales often to find beautiful things. She *loves* antiques.

The night of the fire, I was out of town. After I talked to the house sitter and Jerry and my parents, I called my friend and her husband from Nashville and got their answering machine. I left a message, telling them that I had learned that our house had been on fire and that the house sitter got all of the animals out and could Mary and her husband please go over and check on the dogs since Linus and Logic would be calmed by seeing them. Apparently, I got the answering machine because she and her husband had already heard from another neighbor that our house had burned and we were out of town — and they were already on their way over to check on the dogs. They ended up taking the dogs home with them that night, and kept them for over a week while we figured things out. And not because we asked — but because they insisted. It still makes me weep when I think of it. Our dogs are BIG and hairy and exuberant and taking Collies home to a house full of Standard Poodles couldn’t have been an easy enterprise.

So right. They are THOSE kinds of friends. The kinds of friends you hope that you could be in a disaster, and the kinds of friends you’re desperately glad to have when you’re neck-deep in a crisis that you never thought would happen to you.

So Jerry has kind of been urging me to rethink the whole White Quilt idea.

I still couldn’t do it. While I love the idea of a wholecloth quilt, I don’t want to make a white one. I do want to do one sometime, though. And cutting up white fabric just to sew it back together…. not really something I want to do.

BUT. Fabrics that are not quite white? Maybe I could do something interesting there — and appeal to Mary’s need for calm when it comes to her bedlinens. “Low Volume” (i.e. low contrast) fabrics are very on-trend in the modern quilt world right now, so I’ve been picking up LV fabrics here and there for a while now. I signed up for the Inside Voices club at Westwood Acres and have been getting 12 fat quarters of low volume fabrics per month for about 6 months now. With my stash of LV fabrics from Pink Castle, I had enough to make a quilt, maybe. So I asked Mary what size quilt she’d like to have, and she cheerfully texted back, “Queen!” Oh. A BIG one, not just a throw. Allrightythen.

And then, Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew posted her Summer Slice Tutorial on June 23. I pulled out all of my low volume fabrics that very day and started cutting them into the sizes I would need to create the quilt I wanted to make, which were slightly larger than Allison’s tutorial. But the design is very definitely hers.



I had close to 80 different LV fabrics represented. This was going to be amazing if it worked, and a spectacular waste of fabric if it didn’t.

Jerry left for Kwajalein, so I had evenings while he was gone where I’d feed the girls, and then camp in front of the TV with my cutting mat and ironing board and prep the blocks for the next step. I did use my favorite method for sewing half-square triangle units, rather than cutting the squares into triangles — this way I didn’t have to sew bias edges at all through the whole process. I figured with 120 HST units in the quilt, a few repeated combinations of fabrics wouldn’t be detrimental.




I love the pile of trimmings that accumulate when you clean up HST units. This is only about 1/3 of the trimmings, because I had to keep clearing my work surfaces to make space.



Helen and her friends Hannah and Lizzy helped lay out the blocks in a pleasing manner, and then I sewed them all together. It turned out even better than I expected, and the progress shots I sent to Mary were received with great enthusiasm. I kept calling it “Not Quite White,” which made her laugh.


In our indoor lighting, the quilt looked very yellowish, but Mary and her husband have a wall of windows on the east side of their bed so I know the quilt will get lots of natural light, especially in the mornings. The fence photos of the quilt top gave a better representation of the true colors of this quilt.



Friday helped me layer it, as always.



Then I quilted it with a simple flower filler, because it’s speedy and soft.




Once I finished the quilting, Logic (the shaved one) and Logan performed quality control. Logic is one of the dogs that Mary and her husband took home that night. Logan is new, but loves Mary too.



Not to be outdone, Friday started tunneling around on the edges of the quilt.



Jerry helped me select a nice pale gray fabric for the binding, and I got the whole quilt put together in about 4 weeks from start to finish, which is a personal record for me for a quilt of this size. It finished at about 90″x105″ which is large for a queen but Mary says it’s perfect. She and her husband came over for Champagne Friday on July 18 and we gave it to them, fresh from the dryer. I had to wash and dry it and hermetically seal it to get the cat dander off of it, since Mary is very allergic to cats.



Because it rained torrents all day on the 18th, I wasn’t able to get fence photos of the finished quilt, so I asked Mary to send one of it on the bed when she had a chance. This is the better of the two photos she sent, and she says it’s wonderful and feels so good to sleep under a quilt made with that much affection sewn into it.




And she loves that it’s “Not Quite White,” because that means that I put my stamp on it so she’ll always remember where it came from.


We have amazing friends. Truly.

One thought on “Not Quite White”

  1. Oh, it’s so very lovely!! I love your take on this and that it still has that worn, antique-like feel to it that your friend loves. You have some serious talent!

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