After I helped my friend Neani submit her quilt entry to Sacred Threads 2019, she challenged me to make and submit a quilt as well. The deadline was less than two months away! I took on the challenge!
I had been thinking about making a portrait quilt of my Dad.
I already had the perfect photo. But I had never made a portrait quilt. I
enlarged the photo, made a pattern, then another pattern, until I was
satisfied. I auditioned fabrics from my stash and found this wonderful gradated
fabric with enough tones to work.
The project took on a life of its own as I selected, cut and
fused the fabrics. My dad as a young man emerged. Then I started adding thread.
Working a bit each day, I watched as he was transformed into the older man he
was. His own shirts added the final touches.
The quilt was accepted at Sacred Threads and was on display
there during the month of July. The following paragraph is adapted from the
text used in the exhibition book.
My dad has been an inspiration to many. Over the past few
years of his 95 he developed dementia. Even so he still taught his family and
caregivers so many lessons. This quilt is based on a photograph taken just
after a haircut last year. His smile is lively and bright! I wanted to capture
his spirit in fabric. After I started the portrait, Dad developed pneumonia and
passed on surrounded by his children. We are sad to let him go but happy he is
at peace and reunited with our mom. Serendipitously, purple is the color for
I received a wonderful comment from someone who saw Dad’s portrait at Sacred Threads. I have no idea who wrote this. It really means a lot to me. I am grateful for the person who gave me this gift.
“I love his eyes, I feel they tell me some of who he was. Kindness
and understanding and love, that is what I see. I lost both of my parents,
first my Mom, to Alzheimers. When Dad passed I was surprised to also grieve
again for my Mom. It was as if with him still alive, a part of her was still
here. Thank You!”
There are several babies on the way in our family, so I’ve started making some baby quilts. I tried several new techniques on this one. I pieced the triangles on the serger instead of the sewing machine. It went together quickly and should add to the durability of the quilt. Then I quilted using special rulers and a ruler foot, with two different sewing machines. There’s quite a learning curve to using the rulers!
When it came time to bind the quilt, I could not find the binding I had originally cut. So I found coordinating solid fabrics and tried the faux piping method of binding. I think it looks much better than what I had planned!
When my girls were young the mending pile only seemed to grow, never get smaller. When I did get around to tackling it, I’d find they had already outgrown some items so I really didn’t have to mend those!
Now when I get ready to quilt or sew, I find a few items have accumulated by the sewing machine, waiting for repairs. I’ve changed my attitude. I consider this mending to be a warmup exercise. It may involve simple repairs that can be quickly accomplished like sewing on a button. Or it may require more creativity like finding the right color fabric to patch a hole. Either way, I am accomplishing something and getting reacquainted with my sewing space. (Note–this is not an invitation for you to drop off your mending pile!)
Today’s stash included a couple pairs of spring slacks to hem for my aunt. As I pulled the hems out I remembered that we used to save that thread so we’d have a perfect color match for the new stitching. I don’t have to do that because I’m fortunate to have a large collection of thread to work with. This is only one small selection!
Now that repairs are done I think I’ll stay and quilt a while.
What I thought would be easy enough–making one block a day in the Splendid Sampler sew-along–lasted one day. Until today! This pattern called for an embroidered motif in the center. I had a piece of tatted lace that my sister-in-love Marie had made some time ago. Unfortunately it had gotten stained and set aside, waiting to be useful. It was the perfect size and shape for this block! I used sharpie markers and alcohol to dye it. I like the result!
This morning we walked toward the mist. It looked like we would enter the mist but it was elusive. The quiet was broken only by cicadas and our occasional words. It was a lovely, cool start to a very warm day. As we walked I remembered this little quilt I made in a workshop with Lauren Kingsland. She showed us how to draw the design and couch it with a single piece of yarn. Yes, it is one continuous line. The button in the center is from my great-aunt’s collection. I quilted it with my serger using an overlock stitch. I call it “Healing Meditation”.
I finally finished the quilt and pillow sham for my aunt. I had rearranged some of the blocks in a top I found in my grandmother’s stash. A friend, Dawn Cynamon, did a great job quilting it on her longarm. I applied the binding completely by machine. Now it’s delivered and fits her bed just the way she wanted. Aunt Dot is very happy!
You might notice an interesting treatment on the corner at the foot of the bed. That corner fell to the floor and then some, creating a trip hazard. We folded the corner up and pinned it with a no longer used breast pin from her collection. She thinks it makes a nice finishing touch. So do I!
My quilting project this week had me reminiscing about my grandmother who did a lot of clothing and quilt making. I remember visiting when I was small and every time the button tin fell on the floor and I had to pick all the buttons up! Later she showed me how to hook rugs with wool strips she had dyed and cut from old clothing. She also braided rugs and made baskets and trays from the long pine needles she gathered in Florida.
I used a quilt top from her stash of unfinished projects and reworked it to fit my aunt’s bed. There were enough blocks left to make a pillow sham.
The bow tie blocks were all hand pieced and machine stitched together, probably on her little featherweight. That’s the only machine I remember she had. It’s now living at my house!
Lots of memories in those fabrics too–I recognize many of them from clothing we used to wear.
The quilt top, sham and backing are all ready now to be quilted. I could do it myself but there are so many other projects I want to work on so I will have one of my friends quilt it on her longarm machine.
Ethel, that’s my mother’s mother’s name. I am privileged to have my grandmother’s well-loved treadle sewing machine. Her serial number was issued in 1910 so she’s over 100 years old. I used to sew on her when I was in high school, about 50 years ago! She’s a Singer 66 back-clamper with “red eye” decals. Recently I bought an adapter so I could use side clamp feet as well.
I decided to use Ethel in making the quilt in my last post. She stitched a beautiful, even stitch. There’s a quiet rhythm to using a treadle sewing machine that’s very relaxing. There’s also the connection to my grandmother and my mother who both used this machine, and probably my aunts as well. It was a pleasant experience that I will probably repeat.
Of course, I will not neglect my modern computerized machines! I enjoy sewing on all of them.