Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Graduation Quilts

We had a wonderful time last weekend in Memphis with my sister and our kids. My sister and her neighbor put on an unbelievable fireworks display that rivaled the one we have here annually at the Pops on the River concert on Independence Day! The photos I took of them were not good and I won't waste your time with them. But prior to the fireworks show and as mentioned in my last post, we presented the kids with their graduation quilts. Warning: LOTS of photos ahead!

Ladies first--Kelsey graduated in 1999. I made the quilt in 2007 and it was the first one I quilted on my longarm, and you can tell! I don't have any close-ups of it to show you how wonky my quilting was on this one, because Kelsey and her family had to leave early. The pattern is "Just Can't Cut It" by All Washed Up Designs. I made it as a sample for the shop and used a fabric line from Clothworks that I can't remember the name of. This is a very easy quilt to make and can be easily whipped out in a weekend. 

Jack, our oldest, received his quilt the weekend before he graduated in 2000. I had entered the quilt in a show so it was actually finished on time. It is the "The Over Under Double Disconnected Woven Squares with Shading" pattern by Mary Ellen Hopkins, who just passed away this week (I loved Mary Ellen--she was full of life and hilarious). Another incredibly easy quilt, but you can't find the pattern anywhere. I had not seen his quilt in a very long time and I was surprised to see how little quilting I did on it--it was quilted on my domestic machine and I took designs from the different fabrics, digitized them in my embroidery software, hooped the quilt and stitched them out. Jack and I were talking about the lack of quilting and we decided it needed some hand quilting added to it. Don't know when that's going to happen, but it may be later in the year when it cools off. As a side note, some of the fabrics I used in the quilt had a little bit of metallic in them--which has now all washed off in the last 13 years.

Ross is next--and his quilt is my own design. After I completed Jack's quilt, I decided I was ready to spread my wings and create my own design. I worked for hours and hours and hours in Electric Quilt (version 4!) and after auditioning 100 (no exaggeration) layouts, finally settled on the one I thought would work. In 2001 I started collecting fabrics, and thinking I had plenty of time, started pre-cutting the pieces for paper piecing (72 paper pieced stars!). The sewing bee I was in at the time spent each member's birthday working on the project of the birthday girl's choice--so we worked on Ross' quilt for my birthday. Six of us paper pieced 22 star blocks and some of the checkerboard blocks that day--which left 50 stars for me to do. I didn't think I would ever get those stars done and said to myself many times, "What was I thinking?" Just tearing the paper off the stars took FOREVER--and I had help with that, too! 

The quilting was no less labor-intensive. I echo and outline quilted each star, and quilted a spiral in the center with radiating rays in each point of the star. The background was simply swirls. In the blank spaces of the borders, I quilted exaggerated stars and more swirls:

The checkerboard blocks have 25 1" finished squares each. 

I used leftover 1-1/2" blue and yellow strips to make the square to cut the bias binding. The back was a neat batik I found on sale:

I'm so glad this quilt is Finally Finished! And Bin 2 is now empty!

And we finish with David--his quilt is from the Cozy Steps pattern from the Cozy Quilt Shop, a part of their Strip Club we had promoted at the shop. I knew I couldn't undertake a project as complicated as Ross' quilt. When I made it I honestly wasn't sure if he would graduate from high school--he's incredibly smart, but he didn't think it was important to turn in assignments, etc. When I finished the top, I thought it was so ugly that I asked our store manager to make the quilt again in Christmas fabrics. When I found the one I made in the big bin three weeks ago, I thought I had hit the jackpot--then I opened it up and saw how small it was. No borders. And the fabric I had set aside for the borders just didn't sing to me. So I dove into my stash and found two border fabrics and put them on. Then I put the quilt into the longarm and had the wild and crazy idea to do grid work in the borders. 

Big grid work, my friends, is a two-man job on my longarm--someone has to be in the back to make the adjustments on the guide for each line you make (45 degree angles) from the front, and telling you when you're literally about to go off the grid! 

I did a fill-in design in the center section and the more I worked on it, the more I fell in love with it. It's true; quilting makes the quilt.

I love this quilt. David loved it, too--the next morning I went upstairs to tell him breakfast was ready and he was snuggled up underneath it--in July. Wish I had the camera with me at that moment. Here's the back where you can see the grid work in the borders and the fill-in design:

God Bless Katrina--I was rushing to get both quilts done and she stitched down David's binding for me. 

So that wraps up the graduation quilts, and gives us two more that are Finally Finished in 2013. I told my husband yesterday, "Wouldn't it be neat to give them a quilt every year during our July gathering instead of Christmas?" Just a thought...don't know if I can pull it off, but I have my thinking cap on and we'll see.

If you've made it this far through the post, thank you for indulging me. I'm so happy to have these completed, and I believe I have regained my quilting mojo--let's hope it stays for a good while.

I'm going back to studio organization and am purging a lot of books and patterns and just uploaded them last night to one of the quilting/sewing online flea markets. If you're interested in taking a look, see them in my Destash Patterns and Destash Books photo albums. I'm also heading to a quilt show on Saturday with the Girlfriends, and am hoping to be really good and not buy fabric--unless, of course, it's needed for one of the projects in my head. But notions and thread are fair game!

Have a wonderful weekend--and happy quilting!

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