Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It All Begins with This

A germ of an idea, and a perchance internet sighting of the perfect focus fabric while checking store hours on the website while traveling to the last quilt shop of our Oregon coast personal shop-hop last fall ... in Astoria ...
a panel depicting salmon canning labels of the 1890s era from canneries along the Pacific coast, most of which are from old canneries at or near the mouth of the mighty Columbia River.

So, how did this become my inspiration fabric for my newest quilt-in-the-making?  Many years ago right after graduating high school, my husband packed all his belongings and his cat into an old Ford van and headed to Oregon.  His destination was Astoria, near the coast and where he attended Clatsop Community College while also working at the OSU Seafood Lab.  After all these years Astoria and the surrounding area remains his favorite place on earth.  So, when we traveled back to Oregon on vacation last fall he suggested we visit all the quilt shops we ran across while driving the coast from Port Orford to Astoria.  How could we not?  I started picking up random fat quarters of coastal themed fabrics with no particular idea in mind except that they might eventually become part of a lap quilt for him.    Then we found our inspiration fabric - perfect theme - perfect dark colors that he favors - and the focal point of his new quilt.

The first couple of blocks:


Nearly every fabric in this top (so far) is from pieces we picked up while in Oregon last fall, with just a couple from my older stash that have Oregon connections.  The massive jetty rocks, forest ferns, conifer Coastal Range forests, ocean swells, beach grasses, sand dollars, and doggie footprints (our old dog made the long trip with us) all make an appearance in the blocks.

Cutting the panel into useable block centers did present its issues as the fabric was printed totally askew, and there was no possible way of cutting even rectangles since not only were the outer borders off-grain but some of the actual labels were printed with a bend so the left side of the label angles upward. You can see the upward bend in the labels at the lower left of the first photo in this post. Frustrating, and noticeable on individual blocks, but hopefully with the variety of fabrics being used once the entire quilt is put together, sandwiched and quilted, the imperfections won't be terribly obvious. Faults aside, I am loving the deep rich colors of these quilt blocks. Twelve of the fifteen canning label blocks are completed and the rest should be finished today. Then comes the fun of creating alternate blocks!  I can't think of a better way to spend a stormy February day.


11 comments:

  1. I guess because I live in Oregon this quilt caught my eye. I love it!!!

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  2. OOOh I love those old nostalgic label prints. And those are particularly nice examples. Astoria is a beautiful area! What a nice way to celebrate your trip and personal history!

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  3. A quilt full of meaning. What could be better!

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  4. Haven't lived in Oregon, but have visited many times and loved it. What a perfect quilt for your hubby. It is very rich and color saturated. I don't think the little variances in the corners will be a big factor in the finished quilt. Hubby won't care, will he? : )

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  5. What a wonderful remembrance quilt for your DH of his time spent in Oregon! It's a perfect "guy" quilt.

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  6. Those are going to be wonderful blocks that bring back a lot of memories. Looks like you're making the imperfections in the printing work out okay. You'll be the only one who ever notices.

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  7. I think the panels are beautiful, I never would have thought of a quilt looking at them, but the colors are so rich and the pictures are interesting. I know your husband will love his quilt.

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  8. Just perfect! I love creating those visual memories in fabric, so using all your regional finds is perfect for this quilt. I looked close at the panel and see what you mean about the labels not being quite straight. You will have to use some trickery in your piecing to unbend those labels...or not.
    I love the deep rich colors and think this is a perfect man quilt.

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  9. Don't you just love it when a quilt simply comes together like that? Those are really beautiful prints in that panel. It's going to be such a wonderful memory quilt for your hubby!!!

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  10. Those labels are absolutely fabulous! That is going to be a spectacular quilt for him. I always find panels tough to work with too. I have learned that if you wash and starch them before cutting into them that it works out better.

    Two of our sons headed to Alaska one summer to work in the salmon fishing industry and loved it. They have so many fond memories as well.

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  11. Gotta love a husband who wants to visit all the quilt shops in the area while on vacation! Love this story of your/his quilt.

    When I visited Oregon many years ago I picked up several lighthouse panels...I am still saving them for that special project!

    He is going to love his quilt and all the good memories that it captures.

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