Four Quilts for Christmas
Elvira Illig. She is such a joy to work with!
Somehow the one planned quilt for Chris' dad's Christmas gift evolved into a hefty stack of four quilts—one for each member of his immediate family.
The quilt for Chris' mom was a tough one to settle on in terms of both fabric selection and quilt design. I wanted something with lots of greens so that it would go nicely as a throw in her living room. I sent pictures of several lines of fabric to one of Chris' sisters to help me choose. Daisy Chain seemed to be the clear winner which was great because I had an un-dented stash of the line in my closet.
I didn't know it until after I had already finished all of these quilts, but back when Cathy and Les (Chris' dad) were first married, they went antiquing for vintage quilts. It was kind of their thing. It's amazing that after knowing their family for 10+ years, I had never heard this before. I was so surprised and initially was baffled at how I didn't know this tidbit about my in-laws and was trying to figure out why I'd never seen their collection of quilts. But, then it dawned on me that they must have been destroyed when their home burned down in the mid-1990s. It is a tragic story and one that really changed the face of Chris' family—all of their family stories tend to begin with "before the fire" or "after the fire." My heart breaks every time I hear those words.
Next time we visit her in Des Moines, I'll have to take a photo of the quilt in Cathy's livingroom because I have been told that it looks awesome sitting on her rocking recliner which really makes me happy. I wasn't sure if she would love the quilt. But, now, after having heard the story about how they used to collect quilts, I am certain that this probably warmed her heart. And, even though we have that lovely mother-in-law/daughter-in-law tension that comes so naturally when a woman's son marries a strong woman, there is nothing that could make me happier than to know that she was touched by the gesture of me having made this quilt for her.
The back of this one feels a little psychedelic to me, but I love it just the same. It's one of my favorite Daisy Chain prints and I have oodles of it in my stash. This quilt was also quilted by Elvira on her longarm and, if I had taken the time to photograph this more than an hour before giving it to its recipient, you might have been able to see the beautiful quilting. It really made the quilt.
After finishing these two quilts up, I realized that it would be really special to be able to give quilts to each of Chris' sisters as well. By the time this dawned on me, it was a Saturday morning already late in November and I knew that the designs had to be simple and that I'd have to quilt them myself in order to get them back in time to give during our Christmas trip to Des Moines in mid-December. I remember shooting out of bed that morning and going straight to my sewing space where I began cutting into my new Daisy Mae stash without much planning. Before I knew it, I had strips of Daisy Mae and Kona Snow in piles all around me with a couple of vague ideas floating in my head as designs. It was a mess and when I looked down at what I'd cut, I was suddenly very nervous about what I'd started.
Thankfully, things turned out just fine.
Meredith, the older of Chris' two sister (she's the middle child), was an art student and has a very eclectic yet modern sense of style. In the interest of really trying to keep things simple, I started piecing a kind of random top of strips and eventually ended up with this . . .
Sometimes when I look at this one, it feels a little empty to me. But, when you see it in person, it just works. You can kind of see my straight-line-quilting on this one if you can get past all of the wrinkles.
I really love the scrappy binding on this quilt. It helps things feel a little more complete and it's something I will definitely be doing again in the future. And, that backing fabric from Daisy Mae is so forgiving when it comes to my quilting. It was a good choice!
The quilt for Lindsey and Cooper, Chris' baby sister and brother-in-law, was a little more tricky to figure out. I had cut all of those Daisy Mae and Kona Snow strips and was bound to doing something with them. I had a feeling that I wanted all of the fabrics butting up against each other but also wanted there to be some white space on the quilt in order to make it big enough in a short amount of time. I started sketching out an idea and quickly realized that it was very similar to something I'd seen before. While I didn't use Amy Butler's Mid Mod quilt pattern at all, the design is nearly identical.
I quilted this one with concentric squares using 2" masking tape to mark my pattern. I wish I had thought of using varying widths of masking tape to mark off quilting designs earlier in my quilting "career," but I am glad to now have this trick in my arsenal (especially since I have a new machine intended entirely for machine quilting . . . more on that to come another time).
I am pretty smitten with the scrappy binding on this one as well. There's something warm about scrappy binding, don't you think? And, again, the backing on this one was very forgiving to my quilting which makes me a happy camper.
I know I have said before that Chris and I really like to give unique or handmade gifts to our family and friends. We figure that if we are going to give, then the gifts should both come from the heart and delight the recipients in some unexpected way. While I was nervous about not having any other gifts to give this year, I think it all turned out ok. Everyone seemed to really love their quilts. And, even though they didn't have many packages to open, I hope they can sense the love (and, yes, expense) that went into each of these quilts.
The only real regret I have about these quilts is that I didn't have time to get them photographed before we left for Des Moines. I don't have good photos of all of this work which is a little heartbreaking to me!