Five Quilts in Four Weeks

Between the middle of September and four weeks later, I started and finished four quilts, and I also put the binding on a fifth one. This isn’t my preferred way of working but deadlines piled up on me. Here is a quick run down:

When I returned home from a high school reunion, Jim informed me that brother-in-law Dan was granted an “honor flight.” According to the website, “Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials.” Dan’s trip to DC was scheduled for less than two weeks later. I wanted to make him a quilt. Coincidentally, another brother-in-law, Sonny, was also taking a flight in mid-October. One quilt wouldn’t do; I would make two of them.

When I need to  make a quilt in a hurry, I often design it using Electric Quilt software. Currently I’m using EQ8 (version 8.) I designed similar quilts for both men. The medallion format with which I’m so familiar uses block “borders” for these, making sizing simple.

Dan’s Honor Quilt. September 2018. About 66″ square. Photo by Jim Ruebush. Border blocks (hourglasses and puss-in-the-corner) finish at 8″.

Sonny’s Honor Quilt. October 2019. About 61″ square. Photo by Jim Ruebush. Border blocks (rail fences) finish at 6″.

Both quilts were easy to execute, but Sonny’s was actually much simpler. It uses all one block style, alternating blue and red, and solid white as the only background fabric. The only complexity in Sonny’s quilt, in terms of the block borders, is the blocks combining half-square triangles and rail fences. It took a bit for me to work it out, but in truth it was really easy to do. If I ever make them again, I’ll show you how.

I used all stash for both quilts, except borders and backs. Both used lots of smaller pieces for the blues and reds.

In the midst of making these, I realized my sweet neighbor Heather’s baby shower was in early October. I planned to make a quilt for the baby, but he isn’t due until December, so I wasn’t in a hurry. With the shower coming up, that changed things!

I used the same rail fence blocks that were so quick for Sonny’s quilt. Once the front was finished, I gleaned leftover parts from another project to make the back, turning the quilt into a two-sided quilt. All fabric was from stash.

Heather’s baby quilt, front. October 2018. About 46″ square. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Heather’s baby quilt, back. October 2018. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

The fourth quilt was a hostess gift. Jim and I went to Peru! (We’ll write about our trip soon, on Our View From Iowa.) One of the meals during our tour was at a family home. The tour company recommends bringing a small gift for the hostess. It’s a way to connect with the family, as well as show gratitude and have a way to say something about your own home.

My original plan was to take a small wall-hanging that’s already finished, but it wouldn’t fit nicely in our carry-on suitcases. Instead I started a new one, with the primary design being a map of Iowa. The fabrics chosen represented the corn and soybeans grown here, as well as the broad blue skies. Using a quickly-traced outline of Iowa, I cut the assembled cloth to size and appliquéd it to a background fabric. On the left (west) and right (east) sides of the map, the blue stitching represents the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Hand-stitching through the map, and machine-quilting through the background, completed the design. On the back I adhered a label, written in Spanish, to explain what the image is and how it represents Iowa.

Un Mapa de Iowa. October 2018. About 15″ wide.

Last but not least, I also put a binding on a VA hospital quilt, which was finished except for that. It will be donated at my next guild meeting. No photo of the finished quilt.

It was a busy month for quilting, and as you may or may not have noticed, I didn’t write here at all during that time. As soon as the Iowa map quilt was finished, we left for Peru, giving another two week gap. One thing to note is, the longer I go without writing, the harder it is to get started again. Hopefully this will break the ice and I can shift into semi-regular posts again.

Thanks as always for reading.

29 thoughts on “Five Quilts in Four Weeks

  1. jeanswenson

    So glad to see you back to your blog, I was beginning to get worried! I can see that with all you’ve accomplished in the past two months – with quilting and travel – how that could slow the writing process 😃
    Glad to see you back, and to hear what you have been up to.

    Reply
  2. katechiconi

    I noticed, but assumed that life was throwing you a series of curve balls. So it was, but good ones! That’s a pretty impressive display of industry for only 4 weeks! Glad you’re back safely from your exciting trip.

    Reply
  3. Judy

    I was wondering why I haven’t been seeing your posts, now I know. You have been busy. The quilts are pretty as usual.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I have been busy on the QA facebook page. I’ll admit, I quite enjoy the interaction there, and it’s easy to pop in for a minute and pop out again. Peru: blog posts coming soon. Thanks!

      Reply
  4. laura bruno lilly

    Oh how special for the brothers-in-law to receive honor flights…and how special of you to hasten making a quilt for them each to take on their respective trips.
    The Baby quilt is refreshingly modern – I’m sure mama-to-be was blessed!
    And that Iowa piece? What a fantastic ‘hostess’ gift – so appropriate for the exchange of info in a personal way.
    Whew!
    Ya done good!

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks. Yeah, the back of the baby quilt… I do not love using grey, but I actually really like this, too, maybe better than the very ordinary front in cheerier colors. 🙂

      Reply
  5. tierneycreates

    That is a lot of quilts in a short period of time! Yes I heard of the Honor Flights as my coworker recently went with her Vietnam Veteran father on one. We all sent him thank you cards for his service before the flight, which he did not know about, and then they did a “Mail Call” during the flight home from DC and surprised the service men with bags of letters each thanking them for their service, etc. The quilt you did looks amazing!

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Tierney. Yes, we also sent notes for the mail call. I think that’s a wonderful feature, and maybe as important (or more) than going to DC. It’s a lovely way to honor people who, whether they ever saw combat or not, were willing to serve our country.

      Reply
  6. Lisa in Port Hope

    I know what you mean about taking breaks from writing, it is hard to make it a (good) habit again. but on the other hand, it sounds like you had an amazing vacation! Thanks for sharing the quilts you designed. I like the bright gold as an addition to the valor quilts.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Lisa. Just to be clear, these aren’t actually “Quilts of Valor.” That’s a specific foundation and group, and things given under that name need to meet their own requirements. It’s a very cool group, but I didn’t go that way. Thanks again!

      Reply
  7. KerryCan

    You’re back! I have been wondering and hoping it was just busyness what was keeping you away. Busyness, indeed! What a lot of quilts you’ve made–I especially like the Honor Flight ones–our neighbor went a few years ago and I don’t think anything ever made him happier than that trip. Looking forward to hearing more from you!

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Kerry — yes, I’m back! I think the break was helpful in various ways, and I’m hoping to go forward with a more engaged attitude. Thanks for thinking of me.

      Reply

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