My answer to the age old question is – the chicken(s) came first.

Both of the chickens in my Baskets and Chickens quilt were made in 2010 at an Empty Spools workshop with Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston.

They were “spare parts” and lived in my bin of chicken fabric as I collected….. and collected….. and collected…..(chickens, eggs, chicken wire and chicken scratch fabric)…..all with the idea that some day I would make a chicken quilt.

In December of 2014 I took a basket class with Freddy and made 6 baskets – more “spare parts” that joined my chickens in the chicken fabric bin. I knew they belonged together; I just didn’t know how.

In the fall of 2016, I pulled the bin out, determined to finish up projects or move them on to someone else. I tried to give my friend Lynne the two chicken blocks but she said no, they needed to go into my still unmade chicken quilt. Sigh…. I put them on the design wall with my 6 baskets.

One thing I knew – I didn’t want to make any more chicken blocks but I was bothered by the fact that the two chickens I had faced the same way and were different sizes – one was really tall and skinny and the other short and plump….. After weeks of looking at those two chicken blocks I realized it wouldn’t take much to switch the beak and tail feathers on the tall chicken, take a few inches off her height and she would not only be close to the other chicken’s height but they would then be facing each other……

I’d like to say that from that moment on the quilt made itself but that was not the case. I had to make more baskets.

I made two traditional(ish) baskets.

I made three baskets with chickens sitting in them.

I made baskets using chicken fabric.

I decided I finally had enough parts. My original, vague idea involved baskets, chickens and scraps of chicken fabric all randomly sewn together – somehow. I moved pieces around. I left it alone and let it marinate. Sanity prevailed and I decided to sew the parts together in rows.

Some of my chicken scraps went into the rows of coping strips for each row.

Other scraps were incorporated into the background. I used Gwen and Freddy’s rule for making parts fit by adding on or cutting off fabric wherever I needed to make the blocks the right height for each row.

I machine quilted it with a free motion overall pattern inspired by the swirling design on one of the black and white fabrics.

The quilt back is pieced with the fabrics that didn’t make it into the front.

It took 7 years, but I finally found a home for my chickens. Best of all, my chicken fabric bin is empty. I’ve made my chicken quilt and I’m passing on the chicken fabric I didn’t use! Not only does it feel great to have finished a project but I love the quilt.

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14 comments

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It really is so Freddy and Gwenny. I love it. Gwenny and I had some email not long ago. She seems great. How are you?
Not doing any quilt traveling this year. To much going on here. Hoe I see you sometime. Christopher is working at Pixar where Vivian(?)
is head of the kitchen whatever. Funny

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Hi Sharon – yes, it definitely has that Freddy/Gwen look. Takes me back to when we first met. Keep me posted when you will be in town – I’d love to catch up.

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Hi Fern, I arrived at your blog via the Plaid Portico, really enjoyed seeing your Baskets and Chickens Quilt — I too had a basket full of chicken fabrics and finally put them into a quilt way back in 2005. I got a kick out of recognizing some of the same fabrics in your quilt, you really were collecting for a long time!

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Hi Marie,
Thanks for stopping by – yes, I was collecting for a long time. I did find lots of scraps that pre-date when I bought fabric so it looks like I’ve been collecting longer than I have. I’d love to see your chicken quilt!

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I love your quilt

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Thank you!

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LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!!! You know how I feel about the chickens LOL!!! They were my favorite part of the ‘ranch’ life…
The quilt is AWESOME !!!

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Thanks. Chickens always make me happy.

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cot, cot, codot!!!
Will the chickens go to the Library???
What an amazing quilt!

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🙂 French speaking chickens!!I love it but they won’t be going to the library.

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Hi, Fern, I love this story of the slow development of the chicken quilt, and the result is fantastic! I think happily of our workshop with Gwen in Santa Barbara – I am finally getting around to finishing one of the pieces I made there. Yes, some things just need to perolate. Sending good wishes to you!

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Thank you Caroline. I would love to see a picture of your finished piece! I will sorely miss Gwen’s workshops now that she has retired.

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LOL, I also have a chicken fabric bin. This is a great idea! Congratulations on finishing an old one, too. 😀

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Thanks! I’m pretty sure there are a few of us with a chicken fabric bin!

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