Tag Archives: Gift

Shadow Play

This year I met a young woman, Michele, who lives in Tennessee with her husband and 3 daughters. Michele is in her 40s; the daughters range in age from 19 to 9. Michele was diagnosed with the same kind of breast cancer that I was. Her tumor was larger. In younger women it tends to be even more aggressive and dangerous.

Michele spent much of the year so far having chemo treatments. She started with the same course of four sessions of two different drugs that I had. After that were another twelve sessions with two more drugs. For more than five months she went regularly to the hospital to be poisoned, and still had a household to run, to the extent she could.

Sometimes, especially with larger tumors, chemo is administered before surgery is done. The intention is to shrink the tumor, and in the best cases, to eradicate the cancer cells. Recently she finally had surgery, a double mastectomy. There was good news and bad news in her pathology report. The good news was the surgery had “clean margins,” meaning that the surgeon was able to excise all of the tumor area with a little to spare. Also there was no evidence of lymph node involvement. The bad news was, there was still active cancer in the tissue. All the chemo did not completely eradicate it.

After some healing she will start a series of reconstructive surgeries. It’s a long road.

I thought she could use some comfort while she recuperates. I made her a quilt. At approximately 72″ x 62″, it’s big enough to watch TV under on the couch, snuggling with one or more of her daughters. The block style is named “Delectable Mountains.” It’s a modern variation of a traditional block of the same name. I named the quilt “Shadow Play.” Though dark times can come into our lives, shadows only appear when there is light.

Shadow Play. 62″ x 72″. Delectable Mountains block style. November 2019.



A few weeks ago I showed you a preview of a quilt in process.


It was a wedding gift for a friend who has an interesting story, and now that the wedding has occurred and the present opened, I can tell you more about it.

The friend, who I’ll call “JM,” retired a couple of years ago from his many years as a clergyman. Long ago in another life he fell in love. But times were different, and he felt called in a conflicting direction, as well. With some initial regret he put his feelings of love behind him and entered the priesthood. He served loyally and joyfully, ultimately trading his church duties for leading a social service agency. And finally funding for the agency was depleted and he retired.

About the same time, by chance, he met again his love from so long ago. They found there was still a connection and fell in love again. Earlier this month, they married.

Jim and I made a quilt for them to celebrate the new beginning to their lives. I named the quilt “Reconnected.” It suits both their story, as well as the format of the quilt.

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Not quite a row quilt and not quite a block-format quilt, the sashing links alternate rows together. I found the inspiration for the quilt from the blog jmn creative endeavours. The blogger (named “Judith” I think) was very kind to let me use her layout, a version of which she had seen elsewhere.

As I said, Jim and I made this together. He helped with both sewing the framed blocks and with quilting. He also chose the border fabric, which is also used on the back, and he suggested the color for the binding. We used 5″ cut squares for the center patches. They are framed with 1″ finish strips, for 6.5″ finish blocks. The linking/sashing strips also are 1″ finish. The finished size of the quilt is something like 55″ x 68″. It’s a good size for a couch throw.


Disappearing 9-Patch

I’m making a disappearing 9-patch as a gift. Though it isn’t for the holidays, I’d like to finish it before the end of the year.

Have you ever made one? They are super easy and fun. Those two reasons are enough, but I also want this gift to be practical, something that can be USED and loved, not put aside as special.

The basic concept is to make LARGE 9-patches, and then cut through the middle of them, both directions. In that way you make 4 blocks for each 9-patch. Each block has a piece of the center patch from the 9-patch. Here is a 9-patch I made for my project:

It’s ugly, huh? But it does NOT matter what the 9-patch looks like, because I sliced through it to make 4 separate blocks.

Wow, that one’s out of focus. But you can see that there are 4 blocks. Each has a corner that is large from a black print. Each has a corner that is small from an orange print. And each has two “legs” that are green or blue or purple.

(Full disclosure: JIM is HELPING me with this!! He is the one who sliced up the 9-patches, and the other day he helped sew the 9-patches!!)

Now, if we just arranged them like that, it wouldn’t help at all. But if we start to twist them, you can probably see the charm.

I made 22 9-patches. Cutting each into 4 pieces, I have 88 blocks (4 x 22 = 88). I’ll put these into a layout that is 8 blocks by 11 blocks. Each block will finish at 8″ (I’ll get to that in a minute) so the quilt will be 64″ x 88″. This is a good size for a twin bed.

Okay. I made 22 9-patches. I used 6″ cut squares, which means each patch finished at 5.5″ square. That means the 9-patch finished at 16.5″ (3 x 5.5″). Add seam allowances, and the UNfinished 9-patch measure is 17″.

Read that again if you’re confused. The UNfinished 9-patch measure is 17″.

When I slice through middle, I have 4 blocks that are UNfinished at 8.5″, or 17″/2. That means the blocks finish at 8″. A layout of 8 blocks by 11 blocks will give me 64″ x 88″.

My 9-patches ALL have orange or pink for the center patch. That means EVERY block will have a small patch that is pink or orange. My 9-patches ALL have black prints for the corners. That means EVERY block will have a large patch that is black print. And my 9-patches ALL have blue, purple, or green for the other patches, which means EVERY block will have blue, purple, or green as its legs.

I recently showed you a VA hospital quilt made with a similar process. The only difference is I elongated the 9-patch. Its process is described here.

Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Company shows how to make one using a charm pack. The only pre-cuts I ever buy are fat quarters, and even those are rare. So charm packs? Not for me. But it can short-cut the process even more.

This is a great present for someone who won’t need to keep it as a “special” quilt. I’m having fun making it, and I can’t wait to see it finished.

Have you ever made a D9P?