Monday, April 28, 2008

A Long Time Ago and Far, Far Away

I never did finish my quilt from the beginner quilting class I took way back when. But I believe this is the first full quilt I made after that. This is Kim's college days quilt. I think I made it for her birthday during her junior year at Notre Dame. It is a giant star in peach and green and does not have traditional binding; I sewed the edges envelope-style and turned it right side out, then tied it. Kim still uses it, especially when company comes to visit. I remember laying it out on the floor of the quilt shop and how excited I was that my oldest would get my first totally completed quilt, perfect for her dorm room. I envisioned her showing it off to her friends and how they would envy her. It's a bit faded now and has a tear and maybe a stain or two, which shows how lovingly it has been used. It's made its way from Connecticut to Indiana to California, and hopefully will wind up back in Connecticut in the not-too-distant future.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Kim's and Stewart's Wedding Quilt 2002

This is my daughter Kim's (House of Prince) and Stewart's wedding quilt. They were engaged for a year and a half, so I had plenty of time to design and make it. I think what took the most time was thinking about it, how to make it personal for the both of them, and then scouring my favorite quilt shops and quilt shows to find the perfect fabrics. My two best buddies were very instrumental in this pursuit. The one thing I allowed Kim to choose was the color (blue and white). She had also requested a nautical theme, but I was way ahead of her on that one. She and Stew both love to sail, and he's a surfer as well. Almost all of the fabrics have a water or sky theme. If you click on each picture you can see much more detail.

I did not count the number of fabrics I used -- LOTS! But only one white, a very small paisley that I found in Pennsylvania at the Lancaster show. I bought the whole bolt, and then a second one so I could complete the back. The center of the quilt is, obviously, a Mariner's Compass, with a border of Ocean Waves. (Thank you Mary B. Hayes for inventing Thangles!) Once the quilt was finished, I presented the top at the wedding rehearsal dinner with a story/label (which I still need to put on the quilt). One of my concerns was that, if this was to be an heirloom quilt and I were to hand-quilt it, the wedding couple probably wouldn't see it again for another 5 years, so I let Kim make the decision. She opted for machine quilting because, "it would be an heirloom no matter what," and because she would get it back much faster. So, I went to the best machine-quilter I knew at the time, Mary Eddy of Jellybean Quilter fame. I traveled to Newtown, CT where she has her studio. We worked together in designing the quilting patterns. The result is so spectacular that I wanted to put it in the Northridge quilt show, but I would have to be a member of their guild. (Come to think of it, I spend so much time in Northridge, I might as well join!) So it's not made it to a quilt show yet.

Kim and Stew were married in Mystic, at the Seaport, on the river, so I used the Mystic Compass Rose as the center of the quilt. Let me tell you, this was no small feat to accomplish. The compass measures 36" across. I ordered a special industrial-type compass-making tool because a pencil and string did not work. I drafted it on freezer paper taped together on my kitchen floor. Once that was done, the plan was to paper-piece the thing. Believe me, cutting into this beautiful drawing was scary. But I was brave, not so confident. The only other spot of color is the red fleur de lis to mark North.

The one thing I asked Mary Eddy to put in the quilting were zodiac signs in four corners of the top, one each for Kim and Stew, one for the month they were married, and one for me as the quiltmaker. She used trapunto to make them stand out. This is Pisces, my sign. Appropriate, don't you think?

The rest of the quilting looks like ocean waves, wind and stars.

I recently returned from a brief trip to California for my grandsons' big birthday party, so I took these pictures of the back of the quilt. Below are close-ups showing the quilting on the back:

Back of compass.

Detail of compass point.

Detail of small inner compass.

Detail of side showing stars.

I tried to wash all of the fabrics first, but there were times when I had to reach into my stash to find another perfect fabric, not realizing it may have been unwashed. So the first time Kim washed it, it ran--just a little. I'll let her tell you that story.

Although a lot of quilt experts would have you believe that quilts should never see the light of day, this quilt is lovingly used, which is the whole purpose of making it in the first place. What's the point of making a thing of love and beauty and hiding it away for the rest of its life, which then becomes, why make a quilt in the first place?