Tag Archives: love

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.

But Love Lasts

A year ago I had lunch with a friend, and I had the honor of presenting him with a quilt. Ira is a longtime acquaintance but recent friend, someone who knew my son but didn’t really know me or my husband, though we have several mutual friends. And we have something in common that has bonded us forever.

A few years ago, Ira was diagnosed with breast cancer. More than 275,000 women in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Men can also have breast cancer, though they account for only around 1% of cases.

Ira was treated and his cancer was in remission. In Fall of 2019, Ira found out his cancer had metastasized to his liver. When that happens, it is not liver cancer. It is still breast cancer. And though there are a variety of treatments that can extend life, metastasized breast cancer is a terminal disease.

Educator, composer, performer, conductor, coach, husband, dad, grandpa, friend. When he got the terminal diagnosis, Ira had recently retired from his career as a music professor. Even outside of the university setting, even with cancer, he still carries on all of these roles. I made him the quilt to commemorate the part he played in my son’s life, and his retirement, and to provide comfort as he deals with his changing health. He has told me he sits with the quilt on his lap as he composes now.

But Love Lasts. 42″ x 51″. For Ira. 2020.

The leaf-style blocks are called “Maple Leaf” blocks. They were made by both my sister and me in four different sizes from 6″ to 15″, using a 3″ overall grid. I showed you the beginning of the leaves project here. (She got all the ones I didn’t use.) The layout is my own design, with 3″ finished squares to fill.

The name of the quilt is “But Love Lasts.” The name evolved over the weeks that I worked on the quilt. It started with my thoughts about seasons, and especially the notion “to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Cultural references are from both Ecclesiastes and from Pete Seeger’s “Turn Turn Turn.” Seasons turn. The maple leaves turn to brilliant reds and golds, dropping from trees to turn again a dusky brown, and finally to dust as snow falls, days begin to brighten, and tender shoots erupt in warmth again.

Seasons turn. But love lasts.

He is surrounded by love, the love of his family and friends and people beyond his knowing, now and before him and after him. Love lasts.

When I saw Ira for lunch, I presented the quilt in a cloth tote bag I made, decorated with a few of the 3″ patches cut for the quilt.

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

 

Unstitched

Yesterday I began quilting a gift for someone special. You may have seen the top before in this post. It’s been patiently waiting while I ventured through the Delectable Mountains, completed (except binding) a project with my small group, and survived Fire and Ice.

Sometimes I have trouble getting the right thread tension, so I checked now and then and it looked very good.

I got done with the first pass of quilting. It’s an area about 16″ x 74″, or something like that. It looked good, went easily. I was happy. I rolled the quilt to advance it on the frame.  And I noticed … there was a big pleatey area all down the right side of the pass. The backing fabric hadn’t been pulled smooth and taut enough when I pin-basted the edge, so I stitched in pleats. 

I climbed under the frame to identify and mark the pleated areas with pins through from underneath. From the top, I found the quilting line that led through the pleats. I free-motion quilt, so the line can range a bit, wandering backwards and forwards, left to right. The quilting line covered a larger area than the pleats did, about 16″ x 12″. I made a fence with pins around it, to define where I needed to unstitch.

An area that took less than five minutes to quilt took more than an hour to unstitch.

Once I finished and removed the pins, I clamped the back fabric to pull it smooth. I sprayed the area lightly with water, on both the top and back of the quilt. With drying, the holes from stitching close up, and the fabric on the back dried taut, not saggy.

Today after going to the gym and errands, I’ll get back to the quilting. Wish me luck!

Doing For Others

This morning I’m quilting another guild donation quilt. They were pieced by other people.  This is the fifth one since I started these a week ago. I do not love them, and I do not love working on them.

But THIS: when the world feels dark and upsetting, there is nothing better than to DO something for someone else. If you feel discomfort with the world as it is today, DO something for someone else. One of my favorite quotations is from the Reverend King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

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LOVE is shown by doing. DO for someone else.
Drive out darkness. Drive out hate.
Choose love.