I once read an article about “divorce quilts”, textile art projects made to help process the difficult decision to end a marriage. I can definitely see the therapeutic value, but I like what customer Beth M. had in mind much better… she asked me to make a quilt celebrating the start of her and her children’s new life.
The overall design of her quilt is vintage 1930s, a postage stamp Irish Chain design on a white background (all the squares are reproduction 1930s fabrics.) Appliqués appear in the areas formed by the chain, each turned under and hand embroidered with a blanket stitch – again, an old-fashioned, classic technique.
In a way, the design builds on history to create a new future. That feeling is echoed in her choice of appliqué ideas. There are blocks that represent heritage – a shamrock for Ireland, a thistle for Scotland – and blocks that represent now – a beloved family pet and shared activities like movie watching. Every single element in this quilt is meaningful and all are designed to symbolize the foundation on which she and her children will create their new life.
When Beth and her children curl up in this quilt, it’s not just their bodies being warmed, it’s their hearts, too. This is why I make quilts. I want to create beautiful, thoughtful, treasured keepsakes that touch people deeply. Laugh, cry, reminisce and dream about your bright, new future ~ a good quilt should encourage all that and more.
Think Miss Piggy will karate chop me to get at my new Kermie custom quilted tote bag?
The story of this quilt starts two years ago.
A customer had requested a Duke University-themed toddler quilt that I just happened to be working on during March – at the very same time the Blue Devils were advancing towards their 2015 NCAA Tournament Championship.
Now I’m not saying Whimzie Quiltz had anything to do with their win, but if my working on that quilt helped in any way… well, I wasn’t going to let that advantage slip by again.
So in 2016, I started a quilt celebrating my alma mater, the University of Kansas, during March Madness. And guess what?!? KU lost in the fourth round. So much for that theory…
The Kansas quilt was half-way finished, but I was too bummed to continue to work on it and carefully tucked it away.
As Selection Sunday rolled around again this year and the Jayhawks earned a #1 seed, I took the quilt out again, determined to finish it before this year’s tournament ended. And I did –
Ain’t she a beaut? That was a lot of appliqué work there in the center, but the oversized Jayhawk mascot came out great. And I love me some scrappy fabrics! My favorite part, though, is the asymmetry of the logo contrasted again the symmetry of the borders – it’s such a cool overall design. I crosshatch quilted the squares, with meander quilting in the logo and red border, and, for a little variety, added piano key quilting around the outside.
The basketball tournament structure has created a saying that college champions are “made in March”. Turns out this quilt was, too. It took two years – two tournaments, really – but by only working on it during March Madness, this quilt was truly “Made in March”, as well.
Rock Chalk, Jayhawk – Go KU!
I mostly design my own quilts, but there are times I’m browsing Pinterest and see a quilt that just makes me green with envy. Lorna McMahon’s Black Birds quilt pattern was on of those. I mean, look at this quilt to the right – is it not the cutest thing you’ve seen today?
I purchased the pattern last September intending to make a version pretty close to hers, maybe in different colors, but mostly the same. Then, one day, I’m looking at her design and it hits me – if those birds had shoes they’d be Jayhawks!
If you don’t follow college sports, the University of Kansas mascot is a made-up bird with a yellow beak, red head, blue body and BIG yellow shoes. I graduated from KU in 19?? (like I’m going to give my age away) and I’m still a proud alum.
With just a few additions, I was able to turn the black birds I already loved into Jayhawks, making a unique and personal quilt just for me!
KU’s campus is located in a city called Lawrence near the Kansas River, which is locally called the “Kaw”. Having spent a number of lazy afternoons in a local park watching the river flow by, I choose this quilt’s aqua background fabric so I could name the quilt “Bird Watching on the Kaw.” (I know the river is actually a muddy green, but, hey, watery blue worked with my color scheme 😀 )
The birds themselves are scrappy and I had such a good time picking out various blues and reds and yellows. The quilting was super easy – just wavy lines from side to side to give the impression of water flowing by; since the quilt is backed with Minky plush, the simple quilting keeps the nap from being crushed, too.
I LOVE this quilt. It’s fun, it’s warm and it’s finished just in time to do some ‘bird watching’ during March Madness 2017. I’ll be snuggled up – and cheering the KU men’s basketball team on!
Rock Chalk Jayhawk – go KU!
Nothing like starting the year off right… please welcome the first completed Whimzie quilt of 2017!
I love it when a client lets the child a quilt is meant for be part of the custom quilt creation process. I usually provide 3-4 designs for a customer to choose from when they are first thinking about having a quilt made. When it’s a kid making the choice, they gravitate to the brightest, happiest, most-est fun option. Every time, without fail. Kids are the best!
Which is how I ended up working on this super cute quilt. Little Katherine wanted a cat themed quilt in her favorite color. She fell in love with the whimsical cats on the feature fabric and I pulled the purple 1, purple 2 and purple 3 colors (with a blue accent) directly from it. The repeating block is a mix of a traditional four corners block and a classic four crowns block that I christened the FOUR PAWS block, just for her design.
I included a coordinating sham as a thank you for this order. Together, the set turned out “purr-fect”. I hope she enjoys cuddling up with them all through her childhood – and beyond!
My last quilt of 2016 was finished just in the St. Nick of time! Whew.
It was fun to once again be working on a holiday quilt during the holidays. And since it is for me, I kind of used this one to practice a few new techniques.
The first is pretty obvious – I chose Moda’s Spell It With Fabric patterns for the letters. Not easy, and very time consuming, but still fun to see all the names come together. I combined the names with some reindeer fabric I had in my stash to make the quilt a bit wider. There wasn’t much of this fabric left, so I was thrilled to design a quilt that would squeak by with just what I had available.
I also did some fancy free motion quilting on the border. My inspiration was this Holly Leaf Tutorial from The Inbox Jaunt. I discovered her by accident, but Lori has some fantastic machine quilting ideas over there on her blog and I’m a follower now for sure.
The final technique I tried out for the first time here is trapunto! I couldn’t get a picture to show it well enough, but there is some extra batting behind Rudolph’s red nose “O” that makes it pouf out delightfully. Well, delightfully to me, since my first stab at this stuffing technique actually worked!
I’m calling this one Santa’s Subway, partly because it’s a subway sign and partly because reindeer are Santa’s “ride”.
Merry mass transit, y’all, merry mass transit! 🙂
While putting the final stitches on 2016, I realized a few Whimzie Quiltz projects from the year didn’t get posted. This one is from October…
2016 was quite the year for love in our house as we celebrated two weddings in our extended family. For both, I made variations of Buggy Barn’s “Heart Crazy” quilts for the happy couples.
While the first was more traditional, I got to have a little fun with this quilt because the bride and groom wanted a Elvis-themed Las Vegas wedding. I chose this fabulous “early Elvis” fabric for the backing and picked colors for the hearts on the front based on all its bright pastels. Don’t you love how setting them on a scrappy black background makes them pop? It’s exactly what the Vegas strip should look like in fabric. 🙂
After reviewing pretty much the entire Elvis music catalogue (and getting quite a few songs I hadn’t thought about in years stuck in my head), I settled on “Love Me True” for the quilt name. The lyrics seem perfect for a couple just starting the rest of their lives together…
Love me tender
Love me true
All my dreams fulfilled
For my darling I love you
And I always will