four garden quilts

four garden quilts

By Patricia Belyea

WAUCONDA WA  On April 13, Jane Sassaman wrote this Instagram post: I have put together a few textile treasure boxes. These are 7 pound layer cakes representing 20 years of my fabric designs for FreeSpirit. Each box is unique and has the equivalent of 20 yards of fabric in fat quarter to half yard cuts. This is an archeological dig through a colorful collection of Sassaman design history.

For $140, I bought a box of Jane’s goodies. At $7 a yard, it seemed like a brilliant thing to do.

I asked Jane what it was like to release her archive of fabrics to the world. Jane wrote back: This "sheltering-at-home” business has been a blessing and a curse for all of us. As a traveling teacher, I always have a tight schedule to blame for ignoring certain studio chores.

But now that excuse has disappeared and I could no longer avoid the huge piles of fabric which have accumulated over twenty years of designing for FreeSpirit. Each design is part of my history, so somehow each little scrap seemed precious.

However, enough is enough! Why not share the wealth with my quilting friends instead of hoarding it in overflowing baskets, bags and boxes? So I sorted through it for the largest cuts and layered them into large USPS flat rate boxes. Each box was different and was like an archeological dig through my designing life.
It really tickled me to share all that vintage Sassaman with other folks who have the same love of color and fabric fondling. It makes me feel like Santa Claus! So that’s a win/win!
When my box arrived, I pre-washed and pressed all the delightful pieces of cotton. This gave me the chance to assess my collection and think about what I wanted to make.
I decided to make kid quilts for my two neighbor families in Seattle. The prospect of making fun and carefree quilts pleased me—especially since it rained non-stop for ten days while I was making them. I created 32" x 40" compositions with 8" final blocks. On my huge design wall in the Okanogan Highlands, I worked on all four quilt tops at the same time.

For the quilt backs, I sewed together larger pieces of Jane’s fabrics. When a back was not quite big enough, I added extension fabric to the edges—knowing that the facings would hide my little secret.

I pin basted the quilt sandwiches on a table top. What a savings for my back!

The quilt sandwiches were stitched-in-the-ditch using Aurifil 50wt mid-gray thread. For the batting, I used Hobbs Natural Cotton With Scrim that allowed for quilting to be 10" apart. With 8" blocks, the quilts were secure with just the perimeter stitching.

The quilts have been shipped to their new homes. I included a note to the mothers that said: These are not precious quilts. They are made for lying in the grass and daydreaming. Or sitting at a picnic table and keeping one’s legs warm. Or using at the beach.

There was LOTS of Jane Sassaman fabric leftover. The extra pieces of designer cotton were mailed to a friend in Friday Harbor who can hoard as much as she likes and share the rest with her quilt guild.

Here are the finished quilts!

IGNACIO’S GARDEN QUILT: Quiet and thoughtful, six-year old Ignacio is sure to enjoy the butterfly jungle print and the golden worm pattern. The back of his quilt is made with vintage IKEA fabric.

INEZ’S GARDEN QUILT: Bright and lively, this butterfly quilt perfectly matches the energy of two-year old Inez.

WALTER’S GARDEN QUILT: Four-year old Walter orchestrated his family’s Halloween costumes last year. Walter was a spider, his mom was a web, and his dad was a fly.

MARIE’S GARDEN QUILT: A new being on this planet, Marie was born on my mother’s birthday in February. Marie’s family loves to garden so her blue/green quilt is filled with flowers and bugs.

I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about my junior neighbors and making these cheery quilts for them. Now I’ve got to get back to my personal project of creating complex curved quilts with vintage Japanese yukata cottons!

To visit Jane Sassaman’s website +click here