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.