I've been working bit by bit on this quilt for many months, sometimes setting it aside to work on something else when I needed to contemplate the best way to tackle the next step. I had been collecting fabrics and ideas for about a year before I started, picking up some prints with labrador puppies on black and on cream, some paw prints, on black and on toast, some bones on black, and other supporting fabrics in gray/black, golden/brown, and an appropriate backing.
First, a look at the final product (do you realize how hard it is to photograph a king-size quilt all by yourself?)
One day I finally had a plan in place but still had a lot of work to do in designing the blocks. I found the pattern for the appliqued centerpiece (20" x 40") at http://www.quilterscache.com/B/BlackLabBlock.html although it is for a 9" block and I had to seriously enlarge it! I also added a true-color tennis ball and red collar because that's what our dog had. Quilting for this section was all free-motion fill.
Then I wanted some dog heads for corner pieces and, finding none, I designed paper-pieced patterns myself. I made two versions, one with the mouth open and one closed. Some were reversed so every corner has one of each head and they all face inward. These were quilted with echo lines just outside the black heads.
The adorable puppy fabric was fussy-cut so there was one puppy featured in each block. I built star blocks around them using black paw-print triangles around the light blocks and toast paw-print triangles around the black blocks.
These are all quilted with echos around the featured puppy with thread to match the background.
In all the white diamonds and squares created by the joined stars I did free-motion quilting of paws.
The first border is a pieced block of dog bones. The quilting is a combination of echoing inside the pieced bones and free motion bones in two sizes.
The final border is a nifty bone print (see left above) that is quilted with script listing all the goofy commands we taught Chuck the Dog. These include:
- take a lap (whereupon he would race down the stairs and run warp speed around the perimiter of the one-acre yard and return)
- car (he would go to the side of the road and lay in the ditch until the car had passed)
- whisper (would get a very soft woof)
- roll-roll (he would bat a tennis ball to you with his nose and wait for you to roll it back to him)
- cheese (he would sit patiently with a slice of cheese balanced on his nose until he got this command that he could toss it in the air and carch it to eat)
- up Chuck (the command to get in the back of the truck to go for a ride)
- window (when riding in the cab of the truck he would put his leg on the armrest to stick his head out)
- wood Chuck (if you wanted him to go get a chunk of firewood off the pile)
- sit, down, and stay
- shake (yep, he would shake all over)
- take a bath (he would run down to his wading pool and get soaked in the water)
- meow (the OK to chase stray cats out of the yard)
- gently (if you wanted him to take something from your hand with just his lips instead of his teeth)
- table (the OK to get up on the picnic table on the deck)
- get your ball (he would take off immediately and always knew exactly where he had last left it)
What a goofball he was! In keeping with the spirit of his sense of humor I found the perfect print to use as a quilt backing. You guessed it, it's 'bark'. LOL!
Because I have only a small throated sewing machine I had to construct and quilt this project in stages. I started by joining and adding the star blocks to each side of the center panel. Working with the backing kept whole, I sandwiched this section with its batting in the center of the backing. This section was quilted in full. Then I spliced on batting for the top and bottom section of stars, joined these sections on and quilted them. Then the pieced bones were added to the sides along with their batting and then the same with the top and bottom bones. After quilting these I added batting for the printed borders at the top and bottom and, while adding the side borders, I spliced on side extentions to the backing. These borders were all script quilted and the binding applied.
And now, after all these years, Chuck the Dog gets to be up on the bed.
This quilt was truly a labor of love - for both my hubby and the great dog who inspired it.