My Mom lives in Arizona, land of sunshine, heat and cactus. I like to visit her pretty home in Sun City; she lives in a 3-bedroom ranch that she has transformed into what I think of as “quilting central.” Mom is exacting, deliberate and unhurried in her approach to quilting, and those attributes are apparent in her finished projects. Simply put? They are stunningly well crafted and very, very lovely, even when you flip them over and look at the reverse side of the project! Yes, my Mom is a quilter who creates gorgeous bed quilts, lap quilts, placemats, wall hanging, table runners and practically anything you can imagine. In comparison, I am an expert in sewing decorator items like chair covers and valences.
Before I fly west for a visit my Mom will suggest a project or two for me to do while I’m there. The conversation began casually enough this time. “Darlene, would you be interested in recovering the dining room chairs we bought the last time you visited?” My brain is off and running as I imagine the finished project! Mom knows that I enjoy decorating projects and that I’m good at them. My Mom is a master quilter and I am a master of home decorating!
The day after I arrived I separated chair seats from chair bodies and snapped a few photos. I took photos of her wall colors and existing valences since Mom said she wanted chair covers that would blend with those valences. Off we went to her local Joann Fabrics superstore (wish we still had the superstores here in New Jersey; sigh). Up and down the rows we went looking for the perfect decorator fabric that would blend with her valences. We saw many lovely fabrics, but none included the blue-y green colors in her existing valences.
We narrowed the choices down to three. We admired one fabric in particular, but we knew that the colors weren’t quite right (unless we squinted really hard) so I asked her, “Would you like me to make valences that match the chair covers?”
We looked at each other, and the deal was sealed. We raced back home. We measured the windows. I figured out how many yards of fabric we needed (even remembering to account for the repeat in the fabric. Note: If you know me, you know that it’s a no-talking zone when I’m figuring out yardage or any other mathematical stuff!). We drove back to the store and purchased the yardage we needed of the face fabric and lining. It was a whirlwind of activity and fun. But we did, of course, stop to eat dinner.
The following day I recovered the chair seats. As I stapled away, Mom washed and dried the chair frames (have I mentioned that my Mom is an incredible house cleaner?), then I screwed the newly covered seats back to the frames. We couldn’t stop staring at them. The colors in the fabric complimented the wall colors, the kitchen cabinets and even the floor! The chairs looked awesome and they made her kitchen/dining area look awesome too. The following day I cut/sewed/hung the first valence. Stunning! And I finished the other two valences the following day. While I sewed long straight seams and ironed, Mom sewed sashing to a UFO (quilters’ speak for an unfinished quilt project).
By Sunday night the chairs and valences were in place and the whole area was transformed. My Mom even agreed that the ugly “tiffany” lamp in her kitchen was much improved when viewed against the elegant new valences! And my Mom? By the time the car service came to whisk me back to the airport and New Jersey she had finished yet-another quilt top. We talked about possible ways she would back it and how it might be quilted.