Kaffe Fassett Pattern
For years my favorite Kaffe Fassett quilt has been his wonderful Haze Kilim quilt, shown below as it is seen in his book, Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts (which he wrote with Liza Prior Lucy). So I was excited when Emily chose this pattern for her first bereavement quilt using her mother’s beautiful clothes. Even more exciting, Emily wanted to be involved in the process even though she lived in California and I was in Washington state.
Organizing a Unique Project
From the rich selection of her mother’s clothes, I chose items that fit the warm color scheme Emily preferred and set to work. Every piece of the patchwork had to be cut out of a fabric sheet made by sewing strips of clothing together. I spent the first week preparing all the clothes and cutting them into strips of varying sizes. I arranged the strips by color, hung them on hangers all around my workspace, and they became my ‘color pallet’ much like an artist lining up his paints. It took another week to make about a dozen fabric sheets – each displaying a dominant color scheme, half of them light and the other half dark as seen below:
Out of each fabric sheet, I cut one or two larger triangles and also seven matching smaller triangles per one large. The small triangles needed to look as if they were an extension of the large triangle.
Adjusting the Pattern for a Bereavement Quilt
The Kaffe Fassett pattern was designed using regular 40-inch bolts of cotton fabric such that his fabric sheets were about 18 inches wide and 36 long. However I was making a bereavement quilt using shirts, blouses, pants, scarves, etc., so my fabric sheets were much narrower and more irregular. At times I had trouble finding room on the sheets for all the small triangles I needed to cut. Sometimes I had to make a mini-fabric sheet just for a few small triangles.
The pattern called for a light triangle on top and a dark one on the bottom to form a diamond shape. Below are a few of my early diamonds.
Appreciation of Kaffe Fassett’s Specific Instructions
I’ve made many quilts based on Kaffe Fassett designs, and I often use them more as guides without paying much attention to the instructions. Not so with the Haze Kilim quilt. I read these instructions over and over and would have been lost without them. One challenge was keeping the small triangles with their “mother” triangle. To accomplish this, I put numbers on all the triangles (note the small dots on the diamond shapes above). I kept a tray of envelopes with matching numbers, putting the small triangles in the appropriate envelope. When sewing time came, this was a life saver. However, there was a problem:
I couldn’t take the time to add the small triangles on a design wall in order check the arrangement. This is when my number system really worked (note all the numbered tags). I was able to check out an artistic arrangement without all the clutter and time it would take to pin all those little triangles on the wall.
Following the detailed instructions carefully, the actual sewing was the easiest part, although I had to pay close attention to all those little triangles, deciding where they went and making sure they got there.
Emily chose the perfect backing, incidentally a Kaffe Fassett fabric. It is shown here against the backdrop of a patchwork in progress.
After spending about five weeks making this quilt – a time I thoroughly enjoyed – I got this response from Emily soon after she opened the box and looked at her quilt.
“Oh Rosie, it’s so much more beautiful than I ever imagined . . . I’m astounded.”
And since that time she says she carries it with her almost everywhere she goes, “It’s like I have a little bit of my mother with me,” she informed me.
Making this quilt was such a creative experience and I need to thank Emily for allowing me that joy and for supporting and encouraging me all the way through. I’m also very appreciative of Kaffe Fassett’s genius for all he’s done with his patterns and fabrics and instruction to help us along the way. I’m in his debt.