Ebony and Ivory and the ‘Lightbulb’ moment.

14 Sep

If you have read many of my blogs, especially the earlier ones, you may have gathered that I design patterns.  I have lived overseas on and off since the ’70’s and have always been fascinated by the children in the countries I have visited. As a  result, when I came to design a range of patterns featuring little girls, inevitably they had to be dark skinned. I had the greatest fun deciding what accessories to put in each picture. As I sketched my little girls I realised that I was being influenced by my surroundings. The dresses worn by them were subconsciously based on the ‘Merie blouse’ which is the outfit worn by women and girls in Papua New Guinea. It is of a simple design and I suspect that, as in most of the countries I have visited it was probably first invented  to protect the modesty of the female members of society — most likely by missionaries. Whatever the reason, I found my little girls were wearing them – and why not? Add a pair of bloomers and off we go.

'Ebony' with a skipping rope.

The skipping rope was made by fusing a piece of fabric cut using a piece traced from the pattern. I then used a wide satin stitch to go over the whole ‘rope’. I think it is quite effective. It certainly worked better than a couple of other solutions I tried.

I linked the blocks together by using different coloured gingham for the dresses and then changed their characters by varying the hairstyles.

Mellow in yellow

I also thought a couple of cute toys in the form of teddy bear and bunny rabbit would add a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’. (Take no notice, I am merely indulging  my inner child.)

On some of the prototypes I did for this quilt I used curly wool and real ribbons for the hair and bows.  I like experimenting with that sort of variation but they are only really suitable for a wall hanging hung out of reach of small fingers and I like my quilts to be touched and loved and therefore easily washed so all the accessories are firmly stitched down.

Teddy bear

'Bunny' Rabbit

I decided to do the blocks ‘on point’ so I needed something to make them square again – if that makes sense. I hit upon using the same fabrics as in the dress, bloomers, shoes etc and doing some crazy patch. I love crazy patch, it uses up all the odd bits of fabric and always ends up looking good. Every example is different too as new fabrics and combinations are used. Add a few metres of sashing and a border and ‘Bob’s your Uncle’.

The Finished Quilt.

Would that I could stop there but, no, I had to make another. I reasoned that sometimes people cannot see what is before them. If I presented a quilt with little dark skinned children and they wanted one with light skinned ones then they may not make the connection. I therefore made another quilt, this time with pink fabric for the skin colour. That is why the quilt pattern is called ‘Ebony and Ivory’ – simples.

Just in case you are still paying attention and haven’t fallen asleep, bear with me whilst I present ‘Ivory’.

The Whole

You will see that I have also changed the colour scheme. I know I have often bought a pattern as it has caught my eye mostly because the colours are mine and I would hate anybody to miss it because they couldn’t see past the colours.

Ivory With Baskets

Ivory With Bear

Ivory With Rabbit

Ivory With Skipping Rope

Of course I finally had my ‘lightbulb’ moment and realised that If I did both dark and light skinned children on the same quilt then I only need  make one quilt for the pattern photograph. Not only would this be a lot less work but also I wouldn’t have to squeeze two photographs onto the pattern cover. I am sometimes amazed at my own genius. As you will see in a later blog, I did, indeed use this brilliant idea in another pattern. I did, in fact use it in two patterns which, if you are paying attention you will realise means I have saved myself a lot of work although this does not mean I saved time. What it does mean is that I can squeeze in another project I wouldn’t otherwise have done.

If you would like to make one of these yourself the pattern is available on my website  www.nsaaquilting.co.uk – or link to the right.


2 Responses to “Ebony and Ivory and the ‘Lightbulb’ moment.”

  1. Kathy Osterby September 17, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    I love how you take such playful things and combine them with children in your quilts. I wish I had your imagination as far as designing the quilts.

    • quiltaholic September 18, 2011 at 6:25 am #

      I am glad you like them. I have a couple more patterns on a similar theme coming out soon. Hope you like those too.

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