Around the mid '80s I started 2 identical quilts for my youngest son's trundle bed. They were simple quilts, alternating scrappy nine patch blocks with squares of a wildlife print. I finished the first quilt then put the basted second quilt aside to finish later. More than a decade went by and the first quilt was falling apart so I finally decided it was time to finish the second quilt. When I took it out of the box I discovered it had been basted with straight pins! I replaced the pins with safety pins and hand quilted it, probably with 1/4" stitches. This was a quilt to be used. It didn't have to be perfect. When I was ready to add the binding I thought I remembered how, so I stitched to 1/4" from one end, pivoted, stitched to the next end, and so on. I soon realized my mistake but wasn't about to take out all of those stitches. Besides I didn't think my teenage son would notice the rounded corners or even know that wasn't the way it was supposed to be. When I presented the finished quilt to him, the first thing he said was "Why are the corners rounded?!"
He never did use this quilt, not because it wasn't perfect but because he didn't want it to become worn, and possibly because he preferred the comfort of the first quilt that he had used for so many years. He kept his first quilt through several moves until it was accidentally left in the attic during a recent move and damaged beyond repair.
Now the seam ripper is my friend. I use it often and recently removed the binding from a quilt because it shrank after washing and distorted the quilt. And I will never again forget how to bind a quilt!
A friend and co-worker of mine was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Breast Cancer about 5 years ago. We both worked at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska at the time. As a direct hire nurse, annual leave would only cover part of the leave needed to complete chemotherapy after surgery and recovery. Another of our nurse-friends asked me to help raise money. I decided to make a quilt to raise funds to help cover the extra leave needed.
I designed a simple quilt, using fusible web with grids. This gridded fusible web was designed by Dina Pappas from Eagle River (Dina's Cozy Cabin Quilts). Dina is known for her watercolor quilts and has appeared on Simply Quilts (episode #628: Watercolor Quilts). She lives in Eagle River, Alaska. http://www.dinascozycabin.com/default.asp. Fabric was purchased at Joann Fabrics in Wasilla Alaska, where I live. After finishing the quilt top, I looked for someone to do the quilting. After much searching, I found Pam Darwin (http://www.pmquilting.com) in Palmer Alaska, who graciously donated her long arm quilting skills and time to finish the quilt. Pam and her husband Gary not only do long-arm quilting, but also hand-dye custom flannels and Kona Cottons.
With help from other nursing friends we put out the word, made and sold raffle tickets for the quilt and other items that were donated. It was heart-warming to see the outpouring of love. As a result, we were able to raise $3,000 to help our friend through a troubling time.
After watching a show on TQS with our lovely guest Eleanor Burns I decided its time to make a tumbling block sewing the 'Y' seams. I can remember plain as day the giggles from watching this show and the encouragement given in the end to "try" out those 'Y' seams!
I started out pretty good sewing three diamonds into individual blocks. I sewed 13 blocks into long rows. I had like ten rows sewed together like this. Now I had to sew these rows together; "yeah right-wrong way". Lets say I've had my taste of Mr. Stitch Ripper for the year...my time has been put in for the year! I was in tears and the quilt almost went into the garbage can out of fustrations. The only thing that kept me going was "try try and you can do it and you'll figure this out"; the correct way thinking I'm stitches away from happiness through the tears. I asked for help from my TQS friends and I got great help right away and I'm very greatful. My quilt top got pieced,not perfect points but close enough.
Then I pinned my quilt and I started quilting. Guess I have to say; I rolled up my pants legs once again and I went for it with the encouragement of Alex's feathers. I'm doing feathers in every diamond thats 390 diamonds. I should be feather queen of the month!!! lol. I dared not to look at my feathers till I got my first 130 done, because I had enough diamonds done and I wasn't about to turn to Mr. Stitch Ripper again. I was past the point of no return! They are not perfect feathers but with this much 'practice' its not looking bad. I'm pretty pleased.
I've learned a lot from many great teachers and friends from TQS . I'm writting this story because I have been the quilter who looked through the window at patterns and quilting and thought 'that is beautiful, but its to hard for me' never giving it a second thought for months, years. Well I rolled up my pants legs and jumped right in and found it isn't as bad as I thought it was. My quilting has improved in many avenues due to the great inspiration and the lessons taught by you everyone. So many thanks to the TQS Staff, Teachers, Friends, for my quilt "Stitches away from Happiness"
Thank you so much TQS and Sue Garmen I bounce out of bed this morning my first thought is today is Eleanor Burns and BOM, life is good. Each month I print a copy of the pattern one for me and one for a dear quilting friend who is struggling with cancer treatment. She isn't able to work on the blocks right now but seeing the pattern helps her look to the future when she will be able to work on it. I tell her I accept nothing less than full recovery. Keep up the good work, each morning the first thing I do is check TQS world.
One of my many nieces has been diagnosed with scleroderma. This past spring she developed pneumonia and was hospitalized. Since her family lives many miles away from most of us, nobody really understood the severity of her illness. You would think a 20 something would have no problem recovering from pneumonia, but 6 months later and she is still in the hospital, having overcome several bouts of pneumonia and other assorted infections.
When it was clear that she would be in a care facility for a long time, the family rallied and began sending gifts to help her pass the time and give her a lift. And of course, whenever I am faced with the decision of what to send as a gift, the answer is A Quilt!
I already had a quilt top mostly made that utilized a lot of solids. I envisioned a quilt with family signatures and space for her visitors and care givers to sign. She would be covered with love! I had made the quilt top approximately 4 years ago without any real purpose in mind. I even was able to walk over to my desk, open the drawer and put my hands on the leftovers that make up the border.
Around Easter I had as many family members sign the actual quilt as possible. Others (from Maine, Florida and Oregon to Missouri) sent signatures on paper that I traced onto the quilt.
So far the entire quilt was from my stash, but I didn't have a fabric I liked for the binding. Told my husband I had to go shopping and darned if he didn't move two pieces of fabric in my sewing room and find the perfect binding fabric! (I have now lost all credibility with him and can never go shopping again.) Finished the quilt, bought markers, boxed it up and shipped it off.
Upon receiving the quilt, everyone in the care facility had to come and sign it. It was a huge hit! It was on my niece's bed for a while, but they have it on the wall now. The bright colors really help personalize the stark hospital room. My intention was a quilt made with love and prayers for her to show off and share, giving a place to focus attention and conversation away from her all the time. That has worked wonderfully and I'm so glad I did this!
At our 4th of July party I had family members sign names and make comments on strips of paper that we made into a paper chain. This was mailed also and I see it is strung up over the quilt. Quite by coincidence, the colors of the papers perfectly match the quilt.
I'm so thankful to have a hobby that gives such a perfect outlet to make connections with people and bring such comfort.
My DH grandmaw gave me a call and asked me if I would quilt one of her cross stitch sunbonnet sue quilt tops for her great granddaughter's birthday. I quilted her quilt top and she was very pleased; it was a real pretty quilt. She got out another old bag with a old quilt top in it and says to me, "you can take this home with you and quilt it if you want and have it. And, if you don't want to quilt it thats okay too." She told me stories about the different fabrics.
I brought this quilt top home. A few weeks later I took the quilt top out of its bag and thought it's an ugly quilt top and the workmanship was horrible, so I stuck it back into its bag and tossed it to the side. Another week passes by, I take it out of its bag I feel the same way and toss it off to the side. A month goes by I take it out of its bag the same thing and I toss it off to its side.
One morning I got up and 'thought about all the stories grandmaw told' about the different fabrics in this quilt and I thought "What a Beautiful quilt"; she had many loving memories put into this quilt top. How did I not see this beauty to begin with and why did I not remember her stories? A Huge lesson learned. Every hour I spent quilting this quilt I though of grandmaw's fragile poor eye sight and her weakened hands of arthritis and all the memories that she has cheerished of her Mothers aprons, hospital gowns, curtains from her home.
I really enjoyed quilting this quilt because this quilt by far has the best story through Loving memories that I have ever worked on. I look at quilts now and I think of all the beauty that's within and not just its outside beauty. The quilt had two stories: a big lesson learned and many Loving memories. I told my story to grandmaw and her children standing by her side and then she told her story about her mothers fabrics in the quilt. In the end she says there is only one thing: "Who do I leave it to when I'm gone?" She says: "Kathy I would like to leave it to you", she giggled and says, "since you think its an ugly quilt!" She Loved her quilt and It was Beautiful.
This summer I lost a friend to melanoma cancer. Not an unusual statement as many people lose friends and family to this dreaded disease every day. My story is not the loss of my friend but the pleasure she received in the gift of a quilt from an organization called Victoria's Quilts Canada. I requested the quilt for her after hearing about their work while participating as a Guild delegate at the Gathering of the Guilds in New Brunswick, Canada.
Victoria's Quilts Canada is a national non-profit charitable organization with headquarters in Ottawa, Canada. They have no paid staff but are completely run by volunteers. It was formed in the United States by Deb Rogers as a tribute to Victoria, her sister-in-law. The Canadian organization was formed by Betty Griffin with Deb's blessing. Their mandate is to provide comfort quilts to cancer sufferers when requested by loved ones or family.
My friend received the quilt 2 months before she died. It traveled to doctors and hospital visits and finally to hospice care. Everyone who visited commented on the cheery fushia and pink quilt which brought a smile to my friend's face. Her last pictures are of her with the quilt. She felt wrapped in love. I am now making a quilt to donate for someone else to enjoy as she did.
I was visiting an old friend I hadn't seen in years. After I shared my relatively new interest in quilting (about 5 years worth), she said, "Maybe you'd like to see my mother's quilt. It's nothing fancy, but it needs repair. Perhaps you could tell me what could be done with it." I love old quilts, and was anxious to see it and give some advice!
My friend brought out a bed-size quilt that her mother had made. Her family was Mennonite (akin to the Amish), but this was the only quilt her mother had made. And her mother died early, when my friend was a little girl, of pancreatic cancer. This was the only thing she had left from her mother, as her father had re-married and everything else had been disposed of. I examined the quilt carefully, and this is what I found:
The background fabric was white, and looked like cotton dish towels, seamed together. Each block had an embroidered flower in it (all the same design.) in pink and green. The embroidery was frayed in places. The outer border, a light green, had deteriorated in places. The hand-quilting, which was a simple channel design on the diagonal, was missing in several places. As I examined the quilting closely, I could see it was not particularly skillful, but nevertheless beautiful in its own way. The thread was pink. I laughed when I noticed one of the channel lines got "lost," and actually diverted into an adjoining line! I imagined this mother wanting to make a quilt but probably feeling the effects of her illness. Perhaps it was going to be cross-hatched, but she didn't have the energy to do that. The binding was also in poor shape, and my friend shared with me that her stepmother had tried to repair the first binding, but didn't do a very good job. It was simply stitched onto the edge with the sewing machine, and was uneven and unsightly. I decided the back of the quilt was OK, as my friend told me the quilt would not be used as a bed quilt, but would simply be displayed. I wanted to leave as much of the original as possible.
Needless to say, I brought the quilt home to work on it. I was thrilled to find a matching hand-quilting thread, and set to work. I picked out old, frayed stitches and re-stitched, trying to match the original quilting. I did the same with the embroidery stitches, using matching floss. Then came the border. With today's vintage fabric reproductions, I was able to find the exact solid green! I was thrilled. I removed the tattered parts and inserted new borders where necessary. The binding? I totally removed the binding that was there and put on new, again using a matching vintage reproduction.
Nothing was more rewarding than being able to return this quilt to its owner, now refurbished and ready to display! I trust it will be a comforting reminder of the mother she lost, the love they shared, and also our friendship. I was so happy to be able to help.
I am a planner, list maker, and organizer, but most of all I enjoy precision piecing quilts using modern timesaving techniques. Like many quilters, I get ideas for new quilts faster than I can process them so my list is quite long.
Earlier this year I was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer and my concentration level went to near zero, but I discovered I could still make quilts. Sewing is like walking for me. It's just one stitch in front of another. It doesn't take much concentration but you do have to watch where you're going. Those of you who have been sewing for a long time know what I mean.
When our quilt guild asked for more Susan G. Komen miniature silent auction quilts for our quilt show last May, I spent a weekend piecing this Sunshine and Shadow quilt while waiting for test results. The squares are 3/8" finished, it was machine quilted diagonally, and a ribbon design was quilted in the border. I haven't been able to locate the photo of the finished quilt. It received a member's choice and honorable mention award at the quilt show, even with its imperfections.
Since then I've pieced several more quilts that weren't on my list, finished one work in progress, and purchased fabric for two new quilts this week, one of which is already in progress. These quilts have extra blocks or cut-off triangles that will inspire my next miniature or donation quilts. My energy level has remained high and life is good.
Soon my treatments will be over, my life will be back on a new schedule, and I will be making a new list. I may not finish much on that list this year, but am thankful for the doctors, nurses, and medical technicians who work together to make it possible for me to continue to make my lists, and for the prayer and support of family and friends.
You do not have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Listen to your doctor if he says you have calcifications and don't skip your mammograms. If it's caught at an early stage treatment can be minimal. Don't assume you won't be the one because no one in your family has had it. Only 20% are family related, the other 80% could be anyone.
Take time to make a miniature donation quilt. All it takes is a weekend and the leftover scraps from another quilt. It doesn't have to be fancy or even a prize winner. It may remind someone of a quilt from their past and make their day. If your quilt guild doesn't have a silent auction, help them start one, or check on line for other ways to donate your quilts. Every little bit helps. You can make a difference. Every day is a new day!
Last year Sept 07 until June 08 was the 30th year of the Fraser Valley Quilters' Guild. Our guild has always had a banner. It is hung at every meeting and anytime the guild is on the road at various community events we participate in throughout the year. Our last banner made in 1986, when Expo was here in Vancouver was really showing its age. I have been looking at it for about 4 years now thinking we really need a new banner. Being a single parent working a few jobs I didn't have the time to do anything about it by myself. Until a couple of years later.
At the first meeting in Sept 07 the president was talking about the things planned for the guild as it was the 30th year. The banner was looking worse after a well meaning quilter had tried to wash it to freshen it up. I was sitting beside a friend, Val Smith, who had just retired from teaching and was enjoying her new found quilting time. I asked her if she wanted to make a new banner with me as a birthday present for the guild. I was so excited when she said yes.
It wasn't until October when we were at a retreat that we had the opportunity to plan a design. The design came together in about 20 minutes and the first drawing was about a 2" square. We both had the vision and decided to get together in November to start.
We wanted the colours of our guild logo, which are purple, pink, teal and blue. We also wanted to design a quilt that somehow, spanned 30 years. Using different techniques and patterns we accomplished it. The quilt looks like the Fraser Valley, from the mountains, to the river, to the trees and the train. We asked 13 ladies from the membership to make us a small quilt, without telling them what it was for. The instructions were simple, make a traditional quilt, completely quilted and bound. We asked them to let us know what pattern they were going to do so that we didn't end up with multiples of one pattern but other than that we waited until Feb for them to all be turned in. And then had so much fun one afternoon laying them all out on our train, just in awe of the workmanship of these tiny pieces.
It took about 5 months to complete. We got together maybe 6 times to put our sections together but other than that we never sewed together in the same room. We divided the parts up and each did sections on our own at home. Once the sections of the background were together then we passed it back and forth to each add more. I got the finished top in April and there is almost 80 hours of quilting in it. All of the small quilts were added at the end. The banner then went back to Val to bind it and add an amazing label.
The May guild meeting started out like any other. Val was the guest speaker that day. She is an amazing quilter, award winning several times over and her trunk show was awesome. Everyone was so busy watching her show no one noticed when I loaded the banner on a stand and covered it with a sheet. At the end of her show she asked me to bring it up to the front and we said Happy Birthday Fraser Valley and took the sheet off.
It was so much fun to see the looks on about 130 faces as they all stood up to get a closer look. We made thank you cards with a picture of the banner for the ladies who made the mini quilts. They were surprised and pleased to see what we had done with their quilts.
The new Guild year starts in a couple of weeks. We are moving to a new venue and the new banner will be hung in it's new home. It'll be a new day!!!
Cher in Vancouver, BC