Finished: Escapade

In July, Jerry and I took a trip away for the weekend, just the two of us. This wouldn’t be significant, except that we have been been so occupied with the business of living and parenting and working that we just kind of have forgotten to do that for a while. The last weekend trip we took away from our kids was in January– of 2006. Almost a decade. This is not good, and we have decided to be very intentional about getting away more in the future, because being away from the daily distractions like that is a good way to remember why we got together in the first place. We’ve been lucky in the almost-decade since our last escape that the adversities we have faced have brought us closer together, instead of pushing us apart. Many couples aren’t so lucky. But it hasn’t always been easy.

We went to Chattanooga, and stayed at the Chattanoogan in the Warehouse District. It’s a neat hotel with a courtyard outside, live music on the weekends, and many great places to eat and shop within walking distance. Champagne was waiting in the room when we arrived, and we had dinner at the hotel in the restaurant downstairs.

On Saturday morning, we had room service for breakfast, which was an indulgence that neither of us had ever had before. It was outrageously expensive but fun anyway, and the food was very good. After that we went to Spool and picked out a huge stack of fabrics — some for a quilt I was going to make for a friend getting married, and some because I loved them and they just needed to come home with me. While we were there visiting with Maddie and Flaun, we mentioned going to a glass studio in Fort Payne, which was going to require quite a bit of driving time during our day and so we needed to get on the road. Maddie suggested instead that we go to iGNiS Glass Studio downtown. We did, and we were able to help make two hand-blown glass ornaments for our home!

The owner at iGNis directed us to Taqueria Jalisco, a teenytiny little Mexican restaurant in Chattanooga that had the most amazing tacos I have had in my life. I came home and tried to recreate them, but only came marginally close to the originals.

For dinner on Saturday night we went to Urban Stack, a bourbon-and-burgers restaurant. Fantastic food, but the real hit of the night was our discovery of the Whiskey Smash, a mixed drink that I *have* managed to figure out since we’ve come back from the trip — after a tremendous amount of recipe testing, I must admit. (Ahem.) My recipe is close but not identical to the one I linked above.

Our conversation during dinner wandered, talking about what we’d like to do again when we came back to Chattanooga in September for the AQS show, since I had just been notified that A Semma Tree had been accepted into the contest. We talked about quilt design ideas for the fabric we had bought that morning, and I thought of the Double Wedding Ring quilt pattern, and Victoria Findlay Wolfe‘s recent book, which details the design and construction process of some utterly fantastic double wedding ring quilts. I ordered the book from Amazon while we were sitting at dinner, feeling inspired. I knew I’d need templates or the dies for the AccuQuilt cutter that my mom has, and I wanted to get started right away. Then I realized that I already own the Quick Curve Ruler from Sew Kind of Wonderful, and the Metro Rings pattern would be a great (and fast!) facsimile for the Double Wedding Ring — and I wouldn’t have to wait to start it. My mind was abuzz with the possibilities, and Jerry was intrigued by the idea, because he wanted to remember the trip, too.

Sunday morning after sleeping in (UNDISTURBED BY PETS! OH! THE LUXURY!) we went to Tupelo Honey Cafe and had a yummy brunch before driving home. Everything about the weekend was perfect, and I wanted to be sure to always remember it — and especially to remember how important it is in a marriage that you sneak off together to remember why you liked each other in the first place. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant room service experience — just an escape.

So I started making pieces when I got home, and tossed some sections up onto the wall. After a few pieces were up, I decided that Jerry needed a ring to represent him, and I needed a ring to represent me. Using the colors in the fabrics as my inspiration, I chose blue for Jerry and a poppy red for myself, and created a pair of interlocking rings for us.

As more sections were put on the wall, I started having fun making the rings more erratic and the backgrounds low-contrast, especially as you moved away from the interlocking solid rings. The idea I was exploring was having double wedding ring pattern easiest to see when you were closest to the interlocking rings, and deconstructed and harder to discern the further away you got — to represent how focused on each other we were on our trip, and how chaotic life can get when it’s been too long since the last trip.

I discovered that when I’m playing with blocks or block parts on a design wall I open my eyes SO wide that they dry out very fast. That’s … weird. I kept having to leave the room to make myself blink.

I started raiding my stash for fill-in backgrounds for the left-most side of the quilt, because I needed lots of white/off-white/taupe/low-contrast backgrounds and cornerstones to achieve what I wanted. Originally all of the cornerstones were acid green, but I decided that I liked the effect better when those were a bit mixed as well.

And then I ran out of some critical fabrics. I ran completely out of the solid taupe background fabric, the plaid background fabric, and the polka dot fabric. I was very low on one of the off-white fabrics that I had picked up at Spool, so I sent them a message to see if they still had yardage of those four…. and a few others, maybe… They took care of me, shipping fabrics right away, and I was able to make the bottom row and finished putting the quilt together. Hooray!

Of course, Friday had to test it. Note that Ella is nearby, waiting for her turn.

I was very pleased with how it turned out.
Then I decided to quilt it so that the traditional ring pattern would be visible on every block even if the pattern had been deconstructed. This required a lot of use of water-soluble pens and rulers to make all of the markings, but a little bit at a time, I got it done. 

Feathers and ribbon candy, two of my favorites. Initially I didn’t stitch-in-the-ditch around all of the arcs, but I ultimately went back and did that. It made a huge difference to the overall look of the quilt.

The back was really fun to look at, since the quilt pattern was so consistent. I used rulers for the markings but not while I was quilting, since I don’t have a way to keep the quilt AND a ruler stabilized while I’m machine quilting. But even so, it looks very even from the back — I was pleasantly surprised about that. 

 

When I finally got to the left edge (I start quilting in the center and work my way out in a kind of spiral fashion), I could barely wait to rinse out the markings so I could see what it would look like finished. That spurred me on to keep quilting!

Ahhhhhhhh.

 

The cornerstones each got a curved crosshatch, which was really fun to do.

Ella would appear instantly anytime I spread the quilt on the floor to admire it. She knew she looked awesome on it.   

Of course, Friday didn’t want to be left out.

Another little detail: all of the quilting was done in one color thread: Aurifil #2600 (light sand), except for the interlocking rings. They are quilted in their own matching color, so that they can be found when you look at the back as well. It’s a very subtle detail, but I loved the look. Ella brought her fish toy and sprawled right next to the block where the rings interlock.  

The quilted texture must feel really good to cats. When I finished hand-sewing the binding to the back, Ella materialized on the center of it.

Then she channeled her inner Twyla Tharp and did some modern dance.

And the finished Fence Photos! There’s a little over-exposure in the left corners, but since those were mostly white anyway I decided that it didn’t matter — the fact that they’re over-exposed just adds to the design.

Escapade, started and finished in summer, 2015.

At 7:30am the light hits the fence just right.
  

Mmm, delicious. Can you see the interlocking blue and red rings?

There they are!

All finished and ready for our local quilt show in 2 weeks!

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We did go back to Chattanooga again last weekend. We stayed at the Chattanoogan again, had lunch at Taqueria Jalisco, dinner at Urban Stack, and bought some fabric at Spool. And we had “Escapade” appraised at the quilt show. I don’t have all of my quilts appraised, but the ones that mean a lot to me and would be hard to replace, yes — after getting only $75/quilt for the ones we lost in our fire, I’ve learned. Insurance companies just have no concept of the worth of these treasures.

 

And we are already planning our next escapade.

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