Tuesday, January 25, 2011


One of the techniques I learned last year is that of Braids, or French Braids. No, I am not talking about the plaiting of hair (learned that technique years and years ago). What I am talking about is the technique in which you lay out strips of fabric so that they resemble a braid. This technique uses strips of fabric, and sometimes little squares too.
The first Braid Quilt I made was last winter. I was going to visit my (now) in-laws for Christmas for the first time, and wanted to bring AJ's mother something I'd made for her. In their kitchen they have a granite counter where they eat their breakfast, and when the counter is not used for food, it is a place for plants, and crafts, and newspaper reading. What I'm saying is AJ's parents use it a lot. So I decided to make a runner for this counter. I'd never made a runner at that point, and the concept of long and skinny as opposed to chunky and squarish was one that took me a while to get used to. How do you make a long and skinny quilt that's not too too repetitive, but not too varied either? How do you give it consistency in length? Those are the thoughts that occupied my quilty mind,
As a side-note, I am one of few people I know who actually designs quilts in that in-between state between sleep and a wake...weird, I know. But there it is.

I was having a rough time finding a pattern for Lucille's counter-top runner. So I went to the fabric store and began looking at books. Runner books. But I didn't find anything I liked much. Finally, as I was browsing the books, I came across this book about a technique I had never heard of, Braiding. Curious, I cracked it open, and immediately found the pattern I wanted. It was the first photo I looked at in that book. The idea is to have fabric in gradient shades build on each other in a longish patchwork piece. I bought some fabrics that seemed festive to me, and that I thought would go with AJ's parents' house, which is filled with cream and brown.
And I made this:

The strips of darkening brown are sewn onto the squares of green in an alternating pattern, starting from the center and working outward.
A detail of the center:
And one side going out from the center:

After all of this cream-to-brown action, I needed the back to be something different. And yet, I waned it to go with the front, so it couldn't be TOO different. Here's what I chose:
It was quite a fun challenge learning this new technique and learning how to do runners. The challenge with runners, or long-and-skinny wall hangings is keeping it straight and not having the piece veer one way or the other. This one involved a good deal of stitch ripping and resewing. Not my favorite part of  a project.
However, I enjoyed the Braiding so much I decided to do another quilt with it, and I'll post about that next.
Yep. Braids.

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