I first became acquainted with Sam Hunter’s work earlier this year at QuiltCon. I passed by a booth with a big quilt hanging on the side of it that read “she was a nice girl, until she took up quilting.” I was in LOVE. I’ve always been romanticized by the notion that all quilters are really just signing their names in cloth. Leaving a bit of themselves in every project. Whether with dots, dashes and commas in the form of tiny half square triangles and four patches, or emblazoned with a bold, full signature in the form of rich, red, over-sized star blocks, makers have been leaving their mark in fabric for generations.
And text on quilts isn’t a new thing. It doesn’t take too much perusing through the annals of quilting history to find that quilters have often desired to be clear in the messages they were communicating. Whether improvisational piecing, planned patterns, or applique, text has been appearing on quilts for quite some time.
So, what’s so special about this book? Well, for one, the alphabet is offered as a paper pieced pattern, which comes on pull-out sheets that can be enlarged or reduced to meet the needs of the project. And while there are “12 Chatty Projects” as is explained in the title, Sam does a brilliant job of giving the information you need for making your own design. Your own project. Your own signature.
It’s the little things, literally, that make this book wonderful. Like explaining how to space letters apart properly, and using ascending and descending space. She includes the formulas for calculating the spaces needed for different sized lettering, and you can just feel that typesetting must be an additional love in her life, right along with language itself.
I also love that the book includes a clearly written and well photographed explanation of paper piecing. I found her directions to be very similar to what I do when paper piecing, with only a couple of slight variances, which is to be expected from one quilter to another.
When I bought my copy of Quilt Talk: 12 Chatty Projects, I knew almost immediately what I wanted to make. Earlier this year I hosted the “Our Neighborhood” project, and had five guest judges for the final virtual quilt show. I had referred to them as sewlebrity judges during the project, and knew that they each needed their own sewlebrity sign. So, I picked out a shiny bit of metallic gold fabric, and got to work. Obviously I needed to make five of the signs, but I have learned from experience not to make any assumptions about making multiples of something until I’ve made at least one of them. No matter how excited I am.
It was a good thing I allowed my practical self to rule over my impetuous self. Because I hated it. It turned out terribly- the gold fabric didn’t stand out against the osnaburg fabric the way I had planned, and it just looked so very boring. Not sewlebrity-like at all. I was disappointed, but not deterred. So I tried again. I thought a darker background and spunky border would do the trick. Nope. Still wasn’t happy.
So, I tried again.
I loved how the fabrics finally started to speak to what I feel like it means to be a sewlebrity, and as I worked on each project it became clear which of my judges would be receiving which sewlebrity sign. It made the making even more enjoyable. I hope they enjoy having them as much as I enjoyed making them!
No worries, the gold fabric still made the cut. But as the binding rather than the letters. Oh, and I made one for me too.
I know, I’m no sewlebrity, but it nice to feel like one once in a while. And just because they are so stinking fun all together, they are hanging on the studio wall for a minute or two before heading off to their new homes.
Pretty sure this won’t be the end of this obsession, though. Just sayin.