Sunday, May 29, 2011

Scrappy Courthouse I

In 2008, I made my first scrappy courthouse steps quilt. I saw one in a book and fell in love with it and started making mine at a quilt retreat. I used one inch strips and loved it. But once back home, I realized that there was no way I could continue working with those skinny strips for very long, so the quilt ended up as a (quite nice!) wall hanging. See Courthouse Steps to Justice, April 2008.

Nevertheless, I always wanted to make a real quilt using that pattern, so a few years ago, I decided to work with two inch strips and started the first of what I am determined will be a series of scrappy courthouse quilts. I love the way they look and it is such a great way to use up fabric scraps. I need a two inch strip at least 18 inches long and at most 54 inches long of any given fabric, plus somewhat less than a fat quarter for the center squares. That's just a whole bunch of scraps and I love that about this pattern.
I am still a hand piecer at heart and this is a great project for that. It is easy enough to make one block at a time, and doing so enables me to make sure I keep the fabrics in the right orders, which is the trickiest part of doing this. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to planning the overall layout, just made one block at a time, but am very happy with the way it came out. I had fun using all kinds of different fabrics together, both some older ones and some very new ones including some novelty prints.
I wanted the back to be scrappy as well so I decided to try what I had read about somewhere once, to copy the front onto the back but in a much larger version and made a couple of very large courthouse step blocks. I didn't work the dimensions out in advance, so I still had to add some extra borders, but I still like the way it looks.
I didn't have a plan for the quilt when I made it. I just wanted to make it, I really liked the pattern, wanted to experiment with the larger strips, and needed a hand piecing project. So when it was completed, I added a label - which I think one should always do lest one forgets when it was made etc.! Then I kept the quilt at my house, and only used it once or twice in a pinch hoping that the rightful owners of the quilt would soon turn up.
They finally did in May of 2011, when my dear friend Atteeyah Hollie married her dear friend Nate Stone - who is also a very good friend, but who I don't know nearly as well. Steve and I worked with Atteeyah for many years at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta. Atteeyah came to the Center as a fellow when she graduated from Dartmouth and very quickly turned into an investigator and paralegal who stayed with us for quite a long time doing incredible work in the jails and prisons in Georgia and Alabama. Nate was with her all the time, but he was an architect, so he didn't work with us, we just got to hang out with him occasionally when there was a bit of free time at parties and such.

Atteyah left the Center shortly before we left Atlanta, to go back to her native California to attend law school, but a year ago she and Nate returned to Atlanta and Atteeyah is now a lawyer at the Southern Center where she again works with Steve while Nate has been teaching math at the Atlanta Public Schools (due to the depression, there is not a lot of work for architects these days, but I bet he is a great teacher.)

So when these two lovely, engaging, exciting, smart, beautiful, and wonderful people got married and I didn't have any time at all to make them a quilt, I immediately thought that this quilt would be great for them. It seemed especially appropriate for Atteeyah to have a quilt of the same pattern as the one which hangs in the offices of the Southern Center where she works.

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