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!
As a Kansas Jayhawk, March is a special time of year for me. Being a quilter, though, gives me another reason to love March Madness. Over the last 11 years,** I have made custom quilted items for fans of a number of college teams. This year, 7 of the teams in the NCAA tournament have a connection to a custom Whimzie quilt.
Did your team make it to the Big Dance but you don’t have a Whimzie quilt to celebrate with? Contact me today to make sure you are “covered” next year!
**The Jayhawks have been regular season Big 12 champs for 11 straight years; Whimzie Quiltz has been in business for 11 years. Coincidence? I think not! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Sadly, I’ve reached the point in my life when I can look back on “good ol’ days”.
It really hit me last year when my alma mater won another regular season men’s basketball title – in the Big 12 Conference. Not that I wasn’t proud (10 straight! Rock Chalk Jayhawks!) but the hoopla really drove home the fact that I could remember, and remember fondly, when our conference was the Big 8 – you know, back in the “good ol’ days”…
- Back when I road-tripped to Lincoln to root for the Jayhawks even though it was a lost cause
- Back when KU v. MU game days were another battleground in the War Between the States
- Back before my sister divided our family by attending that other Kansas college (and then my brother followed her there, the traitor!)
Back when rivalries were real.
Fortunately, as a quilter, I can not only remember the good ol’ days in my mind, I can recreate the feel of those times in fabric.
Each school in the former Big 8 is represented by their logo. Mostly I used logos from the 80s, but Iowa State’s original cyclone design was a bit too detailed, so theirs is more modern.
The remaining blocks are SQUARE IN A SQUARE blocks in each team’s colors – crimson and blue for Kansas, light and dark orange for OSU, etc – laid out in the shape of an “8”. I even cut the corners and sides of the actual quilt to further enhance the “8” design. (Lesson learned – binding inside corners is NOT easy!)
I found a wonderful text fabric for the backing on this quilt that featured lots of sports related words. However, it was black and white and looked a little stark next to the rich, warm colors on the quilt top. So I dyed it match the grey letters spelling out “BIG”.
Now when I’m watching the Jayhawks on TV and start to feel a little nostalgic, I have the perfect quilt to curl up in. Bring on March Madness 2015 – I’m ready to create some good new days!