Tag Archives: family

The Baby is the Best Part

I made a bunch of quilts last year, but because I didn’t blog at all, I didn’t show them to you then. You’ve already seen Melting Pot, Cimarron, and But Love Lasts, but there are a few more to show you.

Besides the ones listed above, I also made two quilts for babies. Some people looooove making baby quilts. Some people even specialize in them. It’s not really my thing, though I’ve certainly made a few over the last 17 years.

One of my baby quilts last year was for my own grandbaby. He’ll turn two soon, and is a walkin’, talkin’ delight, as all grandbabies are.

His mom, our dear daughter-in-law, grew up near Mt. Rainier in Washington. It’s a beautiful location, and Jim and I have had the opportunity to hike in the national park.

Mt. Rainier, Washington

A year ago I realized that fabric panels celebrating the national parks were available. They are based on historic travel posters promoting the parks. I bought the one for Mt. Rainier.

It was slightly tempting to use the panel as the center of a medallion. Because. That’s what I do, right? But this was for the baby, and the intention was for it to be a play mat or cuddle quilt, nothing special. And that’s exactly how it turned out. 🙂

As you can see, the baby is the best part.

My Favorite Fabric Purchase in 2018

You know those big dinner salads you can get at some restaurants? The greens cover a platter, and there are a variety of toppings, and at least two condiment containers for the dressing. You can eat and eat and eat and eat. Your dinner companions can finish their entree as you just keep eating, with little apparent progress on your meal. Using fabric stash is like that, with the added problem of the server coming ’round and putting more salad on your plate now and then.

Some people measure stash in and stash used over a period of time, a calculation that is not interesting to me. Since all my fabric collection is in a fairly small space, it’s easy to see when it’s increased or decreased. Most years in October, I do a “state of the stash” post to review it. This year I didn’t, but the text of the post would be similar: It changed! I have a bit more! or a bit less!

As I look at this quickly-passing year, I do notice how my stash has changed. It is a bit smaller than a year ago, and I didn’t buy a huge amount this year. As always, most of my projects relied heavily on stash rather than new purchases. And as always, my favorite fabric purchases are those I used right away. 

I did buy mostly new for two projects. Georgia’s graduation quilt is from white and light grey, at her request. I rarely use grey, and white is not typical, either, so this was a rather hard quilt to make. I don’t remember the size, but it covers her queen-sized bed nicely, so something like 96″ square.

Georgia’s graduation quilt. Queen-bed sized. May 2018. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Almost all of the grey got used up in Georgia’s quilt. The leftover greys became the back of Heather’s baby quilt. Leftover white went on the front.

Another project that required new fabric was the wedding quilt for Son and his bride. To make Hands and Hearts, I needed to buy solid black Kona for the background, and a variety of batiks for the hands. The green batik in the wreath and corner Celtic knots was from stash, as were the components in the Claddagh ring and the fussy-cut hearts. The hearts actually came from something purchased in 2007, so it’s one of the older pieces in my cupboard.

Hands and Hearts. 29″ x 29″. July 2018. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

It would be hard to pick a specific favorite fabric from 2018. Since I don’t think of myself as a fabric collector, the best fabrics are those that are most useful. Sometimes that means they’re quite ordinary. Solid white, solid black, pastel batiks, grey and white prints. None of these are exciting, but the quilts they made were gifts of love.

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 appliquĂ©d 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.

Hands and Hearts — A Quilt From the Whole Family

Do you remember this piece? I made it in April as a “sketch,” just something to try forming shapes and colors and lines into a picture in appliquĂ©. It’s a representation of a Claddagh ring. The traditional Irish symbol represents love (heart,) loyalty (crown,) and friendship (hands.)

The pretty heart in the middle was printed like that from fabric I bought eleven years ago. I drew the hands and crown from the basic Claddagh ring symbol. And then I encircled it with a ring of batik. It is all on a black Kona cotton background.

At the time I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it, or if I would do anything more. I considered the possibility of creating a small wedding gift for Son and his fiancĂ©e. But I didn’t have a plan.

 

Then about a month before the wedding, I started hankering to make that gift. I thought it would be meaningful to represent the closest family members in a personal way. Including Jim and me, our daughters’ families, and the bride’s parents and sibs’ families, there are 20 of us. Because there were already hands in it, I wanted to use a handprint from each. That required swift help from the bride’s family, as well as from our daughter who lives far away.

I asked for a photo of each family member’s hand, on a piece of white copy paper with all the edges showing. That would allow me to standardize the sizes to scale them as needed. Either hand, left or right, would do just fine. Here is my hand.

I cropped the images to standardize size around the paper, and Jim cleaned them all up to create a good outline for each, and to remove the wrists. (OW!)

He and I agreed on a size as compared to the hands in the Claddagh ring, and as they would appear on my monitor, and we re-scaled them all to that. I flipped each image and then traced each hand as it appeared on my monitor (basically as a light box) onto a separate piece of fusible web.

I’d already decided to use a different fabric for each of the family units (Jim and me, bride’s parents, older daughter and family, etc.) There were six different families, and six different fabrics used for the hands.

Besides manipulating the hand images, there also was the matter of the Claddagh ring. First, the pretty pink heart in the center somehow picked up a minor stain. Second, it was appliquĂ©d on a relatively small piece of fabric. I wasn’t sure how big the quilt would be, but knew I needed more than the 15″ or so that the ring was on. Also, I thought the green batik ring by itself was a little stark, and I wanted to add leaves around it to create a wreath. Ultimately, I redid the Claddagh ring completely on a new background, large enough to contain whatever else came next.

I zigzagged the ring with leaves and the other components of the Claddagh symbol down to the background before dealing with the 20 hands. Then I began arranging the hands. Jim had already done a mock-up in Photoshop for me, so I had a pretty good plan to use. I put the parents’ and siblings’ hands in the first ring around the Claddagh, and then organized the sibs’ partners and children in the outer ring.

Here are a few pictures of the process as it developed. One of the families has seven members, so distributing those hands in a balanced way led many of the other decisions. Also, the tiny hands were paired with larger ones. Even when all the hands were in place, there were gaps that looked awkward. I filled them with more hearts cut from the same fabric as the center heart. Finally, I drew Celtic knots to add to the corners. Click on any picture to open the gallery. 

I knew that I wouldn’t stitch all the hands down with the domestic machine, as I was afraid that manipulating the fabric so much would loosen the adhesive and make the whole piece look worn and tired. Instead, I did raw-edge appliquĂ© around the hands and across the palms when I quilted.

Besides the appliqué-quilting on the hands, I also did a small free-hand design within the black background, and once I got it off the frame, I went back to the domestic machine to zigzag the Celtic knots into submission.

Rather than applying a basic double-fold binding, I faced it with black to give the edge a smoother finish. When it was all done, I used a black Pigma pen on the muslin backing to write the names on each of the hands, and complete the labeling with the name of the quilt, the bride and groom, and the wedding date. Again, click either photo to open the gallery and see larger. 

I love that the quilt comes from the contribution of all the family members, and that Jim worked so closely with me on its design. The style is unique, maybe even quirky, certainly bordering on folk art. It’s also very personal, just as intended.

***

My running list of finishes for the year:
1. Fierce Little Bear
2. VA hospital quilt
3. VA hospital quilt
4. Charlotte’s Kitty
5. The Old School House
6. Georgia’s graduation quilt
7. Where Are the Birds? (landscape tree quilt)
8. ¡Fiesta!
9. Hands and Hearts
10. Shirt

 

Finished and Mailed

Before our latest travel adventure, I finished the muslin mock-up. It was the whole cloth quilt I made to test my quilting pattern for one of the red and white quilts. All it needed was a binding, which I finished by machine.

A dear niece asked if she could buy it. While I’d be glad to sell a lot of my quilts, this wasn’t one of them. Truly, it was created as an experiment. While it turned out very pretty, I couldn’t in good conscience sell it to her. Instead, I offered it to her as a gift.

This morning I put it in the mail, along with a bobbin of the quilting thread so she can mend it when needed.

Quilt for Becca. 68″ x 68″. July 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

It was darn hard to get a good picture. It was hard to light it evenly and to avoid washing out the contrast and texture provided by the quilting. Here are a couple of pix from before binding, so you can see the detail better.

Also see the prior blog post for more information on my process.

At any rate, I’m happy to have finished it and given it to someone who truly wanted it.