Saturday, March 8, 2008

Five Pounds of 501 Love

Jeans. Dungarees. Denim. Next to our favorite jeans what else is there? A new friend at work came to me one day and asked if I had any ideas as to what she could do with her late husbands jeans. "He had tons of them!" she told me. Something for her daughter who was becoming a teenager this year and it would be her first birthday without her Dad. We looked together at a couple of different examples and my friend decided that the circle jeans quilt was the way to go. She picked her secondary fabric and brought it along with the overflowing tall kitchen bag of jeans one afternoon and put it in the trunk of my car.

I started cutting circles. 7 1/2 inch circles. Many, many, many circles.
I felt a connection to my friends late husband as each pair had a history, some were newer than others, some had minute bleach specs or tiny (very tiny) mustard looking spots. All of them were freshly laundered and obviously cared for through out their existence. All of them were 501, most of them had the little red pocket tab ~ these were pinned together with the hopes of incorporating them into the design, but they looked rather distracting. I am sure they will show up on another project soon.....

My plan was to make a full size quilt, but we didn't have enough jeans...."no problem" she said and delivered another half bag I had enough for a twin size quilt. Each circle was marked with a 5 inch square on the wrong side and I started sewing. Four pieces in a strip, then the four circle strips into 20 strips lengths.

The pink squares were next ~ easier to handle as I could rip these with greater accuracy and then stack and rotary cut them. each square went into the center of a circle and the 'flaps' were folded over the square, pressed, pinned and basted. When the three strips were done I started sewing. The edges of the flaps were zig-zagged with my favorite 'denim flavored' thread in an S pattern from top to bottom and then repeated to close each strip. Short sides first then long. When the three panels were completed, they were connected to make the 5 foot square quilt. It wasn't as big as I had orignally planned but it was getting so heavy that I feared the poor girl would be under the blanket and unable to roll over!! This baby was heavy!! I was compelled to weigh it before I delivered it.......5.2 pounds!!

When I brought the quilt to my friend last week, I was feeling a bit sad as I had been working on it for a while and got accustomed to each panel and the variations in each circle-square. It is by no means a precision quilt, in fact the more it is used, the more it will soften and the edges of the circles will fray and become soft and comforting.

I hope my new friends daughter feels a closeness to her Dad through this quilt. It represents the days her father had here with her; her mother's love for her and the love she wants her daughter to remember. This is without a doubt the most special piece I have made.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Fruit and vegetables

When friends of mine told me they were expecting their first child, my brain began the process of designing their baby quilt. I thought about the gift that would express my enthusiasm for motherhood, tie in family history, be a teaching tool for their new son and be beautiful. I knew I didn't want a typical 'baby' quilt and my thoughts kept coming back to the new mother's grandparents who spent their lives as farmers in Calabria, Italy.

I looked in my quilt books and online and would always come back to the "Escaping Bugs Bottle" quilt pattern. I purchased the RJR Farmers Market fabric for all but the blueberry print and used what I had in my stash for everything else. The standard quilt design just wouldn't satisfy me as I was eliminating the actual escaping bugs.....

I decided to add a counting theme to the produce and after playing with the fruit and vegetables for a couple of days came up with this arrangement. I included some bugs, the two mice and one snail. My kids would come in and make suggestions and move things around and when it was done and ready to stitch we were all happy with the arrangement.

The pieces added for counting were appliqued after the main body of the quilt was pieced and a variety of stitches were used depending on the texture of the specific item. I added a seed packet on the bottom row with their surname and thought I was done......

Then, there was a request for each person invited to the baby shower to bring a book. I had my son photo-shop out single pieces of fruit and vegetables from the fabric and used them in the layout of the book, adding the English and Italian counting theme. Iron on tee shirt transfers were used to keep the pages fairly waterproof and the batted pages were bound with bias tape.

My quilts aren't the precisely pieced works that some people expect; I don't follow any one specific pattern and use more of a organic process than most.