First Position

This quilt’s story (well, one of them) is about listening to my gut.

I made a resolution some time in the recent past that I would listen to my gut more. I wanted to make things that came from the unique parts of me, rather than making things that I thought other people would like.

I call it First Position, partially because I tried to listen to my gut about every decision involved in making it, and when I do that, the first position is usually the right one. No over-thinking necessary.

First position full

I knew that this would be a special quilt to me when I picked out the fabric back in April. I was getting ready to go to Mid-Atlantic Mod, where I would have the first chance for some selfish sewing in awhile. I had been wanting to play with pale pinks and black and white prints, so I started a stack. When the light beige and white print from Carolyn Friedlander’s Doe collection something caught in my gut. The black and white, pink and tan started to look familiar and new and right and very, very interesting. Trying to find the words to describe it, I realized: they were the colors of my dance bag from my childhood. Yet another meaning for First Position.

Rounding out the fabric, I incorporated that idea in the shapes. Triangles for tap and jazz, soft lines for ballet. contrast and subtlety. Black, white, pink, and beige. I was in love.

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I felt a lot of pressure to make something amazing with these fabrics that I loved, but the plan was to default to my gut, so I just made shapes that I loved. I used the 3 1/2″ quarter circle template from Jen Carlton Bailly and made blocks slowly when I was between other projects. I learned to pair the fabrics semi-randomly, avoiding putting busy prints together. I stopped at 25″ square because my gut said so.


I couldn’t figure out how to quilt it, but it was July and we were going away. I had been wanting to try hand quilting, and found the perfect shades of perle cotton. So I hand quilted. It was so relaxing, and highly imperfect. So imperfect that I loved it even more. It reinforced that nobody else could make this specific quilt. It made it even more an expression of my specific taste and skill (however shaky that was on the quilting side of things). It inspired me.


And then a funny thing happened. This quilt that was a pure expression of me, that I found both beautiful and familiar and full of flaws, this quilt that I made as an exercise in trusting my gut? Other people liked it too. Go figure.