|Bella Quilt for Kathy|
Some time ago I posted a poll on my facebook page. This poll was for my family and close friends, asking them if I were to make them a quilt, how involved in the process they would like to be. My aunt Kathy asked to be surprised. So surprised she was!
|"bricks" border, close up.|
To give you a little bit of back story, when I was about 10 years old my Aunt Kathy went through a phase of quilting - yes a phase (she used to hop from one craft to another before settling down to polymer clay). During the year that that phase lasted she made quilts for her kids, as well as all the nieces and nephews. I still have the beautiful rail fence quilt she made me that year! When the quilting phase passed Aunt Kathy gifted me her sewing machine, I was about 10 or 11 years old, and that was my first sewing machine.
Anyone who knows my story knows that I fell for sewing right away, starting by sewing faux fur stuffed animals, then self designed purses, and a few random articles of clothing. I used Aunt Kathy's old White machine for several years (I still have it and it's still working).
Much more than giving me a sewing machine Aunt Kathy gave me a desire for creativity. She was always crafting, and selling her creations at craft shows. It was at her house that I really saw that creating is a way of life and not just a hobby. Beyond that, Aunt Kathy gave so much of herself to us that I don't really have words to explain it. I hope that I can be that kind of aunt to my nieces We always knew she was there, and she took care of us in a special "aunt" kind of way.
So obviously she needed a quilt. :)
I've been working on this quilt for about a year, under the tag "Bella Quilt." It was originally inspired by my obsession with these giant paper pieced patterns. The book and paper patterns there were inspired by the intricate tile and mosaic floors in Italy. I did in fact purchase the Bella Bella Quilts paper patterns, but I was not very excited about how cookie cutter the quilt would be (I don't like to follow patterns, I like to make the decisions).
By March of last year I'd created the NY Beauty block for the center (the only piecing in this quilt that was not hand drawn by me), and I'd decided to stray from the Bella Bella style but didn't completely know how I was going to do it. I had hand drawn the paper patterns for that first round of flying geese and pieced it up to that point. I was fortunate enough to be at the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild's spring retreat with Robbi Eklow -- and in chatting with her (late late at night), and looking at her quilts I decided that I should have some of the round borders flowing off the edge of the quilt. Robbi explained that it would make the borders come together a bit easier since they wouldn't have to be perfectly circular. Thanks for the inspiration Robbi!
I gradually pieced the remainder of the round borders. Each one designed and drawn by hand by me (using sheets of freezer paper). It was a bit challenging, and fear of screwing up all that complex work that kept me from finishing it up right away.
From the center out, here is a description of the round borders:
- NY Beauty (paper pieced, pattern found online)
- Circular Flying Geese (paper pieced, hand drawn)
- Pebble raw edge applique (segments of the arc drawn out by hand, the circle fabrics were fused with Wonder Under, then die cut using an Accuquilt Studio cutter, then the circles were fused down and free motion quilted into place)
- Teal and white bricks (strip pieced units which were then cut with a template, then paper pieced into arcs)
- Large black and white border (paper pattern pieces drawn by hand, cut from yardage)
- Large flying geese (paper pieced, hand drawn, then appliqued into place using feather weight fusible interfacing to enclose the edges, then top stitched into place on the last border)
|The crazy backing!|
I used all the leftover scraps for the backing, and stippled the entire quilt with a few random hearts included.
|Prayers in binding.|
The final step in making this quilt was writing the prayers in the binding. I inscribe my quilts with prayers to the recipient in the seam allowance of the binding. The prayers aren't visible once the binding is finished, but Aunt Kathy will always know that she's wrapped in love and prayers.
|Pretty binding, pretty backing!|
As I mentioned above, Aunt Kathy requested that this quilt be a surprise. So she didn't have any part in the decision making process. I asked my uncle, her husband for suggestions of what colors to use (without skipping a beat he said "black and white" because of Aunt Kathy's favorite signature jewelry pieces she makes). I also drew a lot of inspiration from her pinterest boards. I even had my own sneaky board where I'd hoard all these ideas.
|Crazy paper pieced curved borders!|
Last weekend we went back home to visit family, and I was able to give Aunt Kathy her quilt in person. It was a pretty awesome experience since she was surprised! I feel really lucky to have an aunt like Aunt Kathy, and it was a lot of fun making this quilt for her!