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Laurie Niles

Dream material

December 29, 2008 at 7:21 AM

Do you go on creative binges? An idea strikes, and however ridiculous the logistics of its implementation, however disruptive it may be to "real life," however unrelated it may be to the things you are "supposed to be doing," your creative idea must have its way. That's what happened to me this Christmas.

Late in November, my daughter expressed the wish to change her bedroom. Specifically, she wanted a green and purple quilt. After visiting Target and several other stores of similar price range, we realized that such an object did not exist in the reasonable universe. (At $250 a square foot, I quickly ruled out the custom-made quilt...)

"Do you want me to make it?" I asked. Big smile.

We went together on the day after Thanksgiving, and we emerged from the fabric store with material that was sparkly lavender, fuzzy white, swirly purple, light green with stars, deep leafy green...whatever struck her fancy. She wanted a big patchwork, easy enough. With much excitement, we showed our project to Robert.

"Let me get this straight," he observed, surveying the pile of material. "You take all this material, then you cut it up. Then you sew it back together again. Am I right?"

Well yes, but ...NOOOOO....There's the beauty, the fun, the total distraction. All that comes from the engineering, the math, the way to make it work! 120 squares, 10 different kinds of material, all different amounts. No square can touch another of the same fabric, the textures must be spaced properly, the colors must balance...

It started in my head, some of it made it onto paper, and soon enough the entire thing was laid out on my studio floor. In surprisingly short order, it was assembled. Then, I decided to make it reversible. Then I had all this leftover fabric. So I had to use that to make a pillow sham. A reversible one. A miniature quilt on one side and something with buttons on the other. And how about one of those giant pillows to sit on? A head roll? A throw? My 1964 Singer roared, and I kept churning out more, until all that dream material was used up.

The quilt was from..."Santa." With a note: "My elves were all busy, so I asked your mom to make this..." To be very honest, it kind of went together that way, like it had its own energy and I simply chased it down. She smiled, another big one.

It's interesting, creativity. It's kind of about love.

Are you required to do it? That's work. Or, are you inspired to do it? That's love. When it's inspiration, you chase it down its crazy path.

QuiltReverse side of quiltPillows

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 7:28 AM

Laurie, you have so many interesting talents.  I wonder where you get the time and energy to pursue them all. Going shopping for the material with your daughter was the first step of the sharing and love.  Your photos look beautiful, although I'd like to see more details.  This is truly a work of inspiration and love.  Your daughter is very lucky to have you for a Mom.

From Paul G.
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 8:04 AM

I agree with Pauline, in the fact that you have so many diverse talents.

I liked the second picture. Simple, but with enough detail and deapth to the point it's not boring nor overwhelming at the same time.

I've been having the same thoughts as you lately, but in my own way. I really like the title "Dream Material" and think it has so many meanings! You really have a way of taking something and "compressing" it to where it's simplified but extremely interesting. I think tomorrow I'll write about "my dream material". Thank you for inspring me:)

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Wow!  That's beautiful!  As someone who finds sewing on a button an extreme test of skill I am very impressed by the end results of your project.   Beautiful colours and I love the way everything is different yet fits together so well.  You can come and "interior design" my apartment any day!

From Jodi B
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Wow ... what a neat quilt. I know how much hard work that took. Your daughter must have been so happy! Now it's time for the new paint.... LOL

My husband is an engineer who has a saying... "if you don't have it, make it". Which usually is my cue to hide the duct tape :)

Take care and Happy New Year to you!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 2:40 PM

nice job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


From Laurie Niles
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 4:00 PM

Now Jodi, that sounds like a much more interesting blog, "Hide the duct tape!" LOL!


From Donna Clegg
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 7:01 PM

Laurie = quilter extraordinaire!  Grats on completion of a beautiful project(s)! 

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 8:38 PM

That’s one fine job you’ve done, Laurie!

I’m all for creative binge and the holiday season seems to be designed for that: you shop for gifts among all the mass-produced stuff with the ugly price tags, you hear yourself saying, “Hmmm, I bet I can make it myself a better one with less cost.” Then you find yourself in fabric shops and craft stores, spending evening after evening having fun with all the materials you’ve bought and churning out one product after the other. For me, this year it was the sock monkeys and funky reversible fabric bags with embellishment. I’m having some problem uploading photos here but will post them once I’ve figured it out.

A nice thing about this type of creative binge is that I can do it while I am listening to music or an audio book so it's a one-stone-two-birds sort of thing for me.  But really, it is about love -- the love, stich by stich and moment by moment,  we give it to ourselves and others whom receive the end product.  

From E. Smith
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 10:16 PM

Wow, that is extremely impressive!

From Jerald Archer
Posted on December 29, 2008 at 10:54 PM


I am very impressed that you have performed such an act of both love and sacrifice for your daughter. Such an act of love brings back many fine memories of how my mother and grandmother would produce many fine gifts that we could not readily afford at some store. Being unable to find the item onhand was actually a blessing in disguise. The whole idea of the gift being hand wrought and unique makes it priceless. The quilt will always be a symbol of your love and hopefully a family heirloom for generations to come for your family. The cost is pointless, but in these days of uncertain economic situations, it shows that one is still able to use their own resources and talents, and that not everything is always available at Wal-Mart! I hope you and your family had a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

Jerald Franklin Archer

From Royce Faina
Posted on December 30, 2008 at 2:25 PM

Lauri blows me away! Now that IS a snugle quilt if I do say so myself! Comfy to the max! Very pretty!

(Why did it take the guys so long to post??????? hmmmmmm.)

From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 30, 2008 at 10:52 PM

Very nice!  Handmade quilts are just so special.  We have stacks of family quilts that go way back.  Hook rugs too.  They are amazing to look at, and of course, use.

I bought a fancy-shmancy EXPENSIVE designer quilt from a Big Box Store That Goes Beyond Bed And Bath a few years ago, and although the fabrics are stunningly beautiful, the whole thing is falling apart now due to shoddy workmanship.  A total waste of rubles. Bleh.  I hope one day your kid enjoys showing her kid what she made with Mommy, many, many, many, many, many years from now...


From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on December 31, 2008 at 3:30 PM

Aw, that's so sweet Laurie! What a wonderful gift for your daughter. :) I love doing creative stuff like this that's totally unrelated to music. Technically I have no need for collages and beading and whatnot, but I just love the process of having an inspiration and then going for it, you know? I love how I have more time for this kind of thing over break. 

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