paper quilt

One of my favorite stationers, Linda & Harriett, posted about a contest a few weeks ago which immediately piqued my interest. An unspecified number of people could sign up, receive a box full of letterpressed delights from older L&H lines, and create a paper quilt of their choosing that could potentially win them a big prize. I was SO eager to try this, and promptly sent a message to Liz with all of my details. A few days later I received the box, opening it excitedly. I have purchased L&H stationery for a few years now, deeply enjoying the textures and colors Liz chooses for her cards and sets. L&H cards have been our holiday cards two years running. It's just a good fit.

The cards I received were a challenge, though. I don't want to give anyone the impression that I was ungrateful, because I'm still over the moon about having this opportunity, but this was clearly a challenge handed to me rather than one I created for myself. Inside the box was an assortment of cards and calendar panels, mostly flanked by white space, with softer pastel shades to accent them. And pink. Lots of it.

My understanding of quilts is that there is an intentional contrast established between fabrics, light and dark, to not only create a pattern but to force that pattern to lift itself from the fabric and become dimensional. My mother worked on a quilt for the better part of my childhood, I have a quilt that was my grandmother's in my craft room, I love reading about quilts, I often consider quilting as a potential hobby. I knew that the concept was both possible and something well suited to my talents and interests. But the problem with being pushed out of my Color Comfort Zone, as I described it to Liz, is that I couldn't find anything, or use my imagination to create anything, that made sense. I attempted a four panel quilt with a lot of "movement"...I could barely see the difference between the light and dark. The pattern didn't jump out. It was just pale and plain. I tore up tiny 1.3" squares into tinier squares in complete frustration. Em encouraged me, as always, and said that even if I didn't like the colors I could create something I was proud of, without a doubt.

Then I stumbled on this quilt pattern from You Had Me At Bonjour completely randomly last week while scrolling through my Google Reader. Obviously the first thing to grab me were the colors - tangerine and shades of natural linen - a personal favorite. But the pattern seemed suited to these more muted colors from L&H. The pattern was also 18 squares wide, which matched the requirement of an 18"x18" square as per the L&H instructions. Fantastic! I hate math, anyway! I found the most vibrant portions of the cards and calendar panels in my box, I cut them into carefully selected 1" squares (not carefully cut 1" squares, though, which is a lesson in and of itself!), and I spent two hours painstakingly choosing the proper placement of each square so as to highlight the contrast. It worked.

I let the 18" square sit on our dining room table for a few days so I could absorb it and make sure I was happy with it. By Saturday night it was do-or-die time for the quilt, as there was little time left in my weekend to finish a new one (and limited supplies, too!). I put on the some crap TV (Southern Nights, if you must know), I carefully pulled back each 18" row of 1" squares, laid down a long strip of double-sided tape, and carefully replaced each square into its permanent home. 324 squares later (and many brain cells lost thanks to my choice of quality programming) the piece was securely attached to the cardstock behind it. I pulled out ribbon in various shades of pink and brown and considered lining the areas between "dark" and "light" to emphasize more contrast, but it didn't look right. I attempted to stitch the lines with embroidery floss, but again, not right.

In the end, I decided to leave the quilt as it was, in all of its imperfect square, light and delicate glory, and simply edge it with a few extra pieces of Studio Carta ribbon in shades of pink. I photographed it with whatever light there was left on Monday afternoon, and sent it on its merry way. The voting for the quilt submissions will happen this week. I have little to no hope of winning, but I do feel accomplished. This was an unusual and ultimately important lesson in perseverance...of the crafty variety, anyway.

Here are a few Instagram photos detailing my progress:
stacks of squares -- strips of paper --  letterpress crab -- a new mission -- finally done


  1. I can see how the papers you received presented a real challenge, but I think you did a wonderful job. The low contrast makes it seem kind of vintage, or something!

    1. Thank you, Sheila! It does definitely have a vintage feel to it!


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