Wednesday, May 29, 2019

TGIFF! and My Mother's Lilacs

Welcome to my blog and my turn to host TGIFF! If you would like to be a host it is easy-peasy: you can sign up here! If you're new to my blog, I hope you'll poke around a bit, maybe even investigate my current ongoing QAL, Beothuk Star.
For those of you who read this post and it wasn't then the TGIFF post, don't be confused. My originally planned finish did not quite get finished due to a bunch of real life happenings, but this post was only published hours before, so with the approval of the monthly manager, Anja of Anja Quilts, I am using this post to host. Did you follow all that?!😜 With any luck I'll link up the originally planned one with my own linky party!

My finish was actually a finish back in February, but I couldn't tell anyone...

However, I can now, so it is finally time to show you my latest publication in all her glory and intricate detail. There will be lots of pictures, but then you know me, that's how I usually roll! And, in keeping with how I roll, there's a pretty amazing story to go with the making of this quilt.

I named this quilt 'My Mother's Lilacs', as it is a tribute to my mother in design and in fabric. I designed it back in September 2018 when we Island Batik ambassadors got a call for submissions for the May/June issue of McCall's Quilting with the theme of mothers in mind. I submitted it. And.

It didn't get accepted. I was disappointed as I thought it a perfect tribute: block, fabric and issue, being one year to the very month since my mum had died. A year later I still can't say that without tearing up, can barely write it. Just doesn't seem real. I think being so far away exacerbates that 'can't be real; she's still there, in her house' feeling.

But then! Round about the beginning of December I got an email out of the blue saying they'd like to use my quilt for the July/August issue and could I get it made by mid-February? Yikes! .......  Yup!

The design as submitted. Note the working title which is not the title of the quilt in the magazine, nor the final name of the quilt!
Okaaaay.....  I had just finished celebrating the wedding of my daughter, Dayna, was about to take off for a week's vacation in Florida, and then had another week away suddenly just all happen, Christmas with Brianne and Brady, AND, we already had had our Mexico trip booked since September.... Yikes. But I'm good with deadlines and a tight time schedule. Ask my 'boss' at Benartex!
Let's back up a tad. Here is some advice for those readers thinking of submitting designs to magazines and ezines. They do prefer a digital design, but they have accepted hand drawn on graph paper designs. I have two to support this, My Mother's Lilacs, for one, and On the Plus Side, which appeared in Modern by the Yard's March 2017 issue, and was my first publication. A good piece of advice, though I'm proof that this isn't necessary, is to give an idea of the line of fabric you intend to use, and so you should have approached a fabric company ahead of time about it. Basically, a good design is a good design and the editor of the magazine will recognize that!

You can see my two blocks and my notes of figurings. You need to do this meticulously ahead of time if you are putting in a request for fabric; never 'guesstimate' the amount of fabric! This also helps for when it comes time to constructing the quilt, as there is always a time delay between when you request fabric to when it arrives and you start making your quilt. Good notes and clear figurings (that you will understand two months after you've written them) are essential.
Also essential is writing up the instructions on your computer as you make the quilt. When I was going back to February for in-progress photos of the making of this quilt, I was so surprised to see that I constructed this quilt from the outside in, much like my soon-to-be-a-finish quilt, Luminous Layers!

So when I submitted the design for the Mother's Day themed issue, one of the suggestions for what the editors were looking for was to use the Mother's Choice block, which is the centre block below.
They had also suggested a couple of fabric lines, one of which was the just-released 'Lilacs in Bloom' by Jackie Robinson for Benartex Fabrics. My mum loved lilacs; we had several bouquets cut from those in her yard and her neighbours' yard at her funeral.
These are in one of our neighbours' yards, glorious deep purple ones.
Well, with the block, Mother's Choice, the fabric line, Lilacs in Bloom, and being just four months after her death, I made this quilt as a tribute to my mum.
Taken a few years ago, when she and her BFF, my Auntie Norma, friends from age 16 to 81, went back to England for a school reunion.
My cousin, Susan, Norma's daughter, sent me that today, on the very day where I was putting this post together. Norma had posted it today on her FaceBook, so I'm thinking there's a reason why all this fell into place...

I began sewing the quilt upon our return from Mérida, Mexico, and it wasn't long before I had a flimsy, despite the myriad of HSTs!

With a border this gorgeous (and note said border was not part of the original design, but when I spied that lush striped fabric, how could I not?!) anyhow, I just had to mitre the corners. Wait until you see the other amazing design aspect of this border fabric! 

Do you see that the huge green diamonds form a huge Mother's Choice block in the quilt?! You know me and my love of layers in design. I also floated the Baby Bud block over the quilt as another layer, and nod to the lilac, which is a cloudburst of baby buds on each stem!
Hobbs so very kindly provided the batting, and I just loved working with this one! They actually sent me TWO, suggesting if I wanted, I could use a double layer, something I've never done, for the quilt, or use the other in another quilt (which I did, but that's another publication, and I can't talk about it yet...) I can't say enough good stuff about their battings; I've bought them before I became an ambassador for Island Batik. I first bought them in the US at JoAnn, but I now buy them at Michael's in Canada, and use a coupon to get a most excellent price!

This beautiful lilacs print went on the back.

As is the case with many of my quilts, I didn't have an overall plan for how to quilt this; in fact I had almost NO plan. However, I have learned from past experience to trust the quilt; it will talk to me, and inspiration will come. And did it ever. I know some of you will think I'm a flake, but Mum was with me as I quilted this quilt; I felt her presence.
One way to turn a corner when quilting ribbon candy. This is an Angela Walters technique, get smaller and smaller, eyeballing a 45° angle to bounce them off of.

I knew I'd quilt a 'framed' row of ribbon candy between the border and the actual quilt as a blending technique between the two, but also to weave the ribbon candy beneath the huge diamonds. After that, I had no clue what to quilt in that gorgeous low volume. (It's so low you'd think it's a solid but it's not and it's so subtle I can barely stand it I love it so much.) In fact, there a piece, or maybe two that are the wrong side up that I found and it was too late to change it, so there you go. Have I found them again? Nope.

Remember that I said that I'd just finished celebrating the most magical wedding ever, my daughter Dayna's? I'd made Dayna a small makeup clutch for her big day, one for my other daughter Brianne, and I'd planned to turn a trapunto square made 10+ years ago in a class into a little clutch for myself.

That never happened. However, that particular trapunto block happened to be lying on top of a stack of fabric, all forlorn, (yeah this was three months later, I know, but I am so glad I hadn't put it away) when I spied it, or perhaps Mum nudged me, and DING!DING!DING! there was the motif: a fan.

Mum loved fans. You may recall the second quilted piece I ever did was a fan cushion for her, which she had first on her couch and then had it to sit on on her computer chair. She loved that cushion. I made her a tribute fan cushion last year as one of the Island Batik challenges. Here is that post.

Well, the size of the fan motif we'd done in that traphunto class was a perfect fit in the 'V' of the diamonds. Could I draw it and make it work?

You betcha!
I used my Quilted Pineapple arcs, made a heart template out of good old paper (I can draw pretty good hearts!) and trusted my FMQ skills.
You can see how subtle this low-volume white is in this photo.
You can see I drew the outer and inner curve and then used my ruler to echo. See the bobbles? Bet you didn't in the previous photo, as your eye fixes all the imperfections. :-) The figure eight is what I drew as the starting point to form the rest of the feathers within that arc; I don't draw any more than that initial one.

In the corners, I emulated the fan design, with an arc, and also repeated the feather motif, but all the feathers are going one way. Each of the four corners swirls outward so that if you put all four corners together as one block, they'd make a circle. I like that!😁
The only part of the quilting I wasn't as pleased with was my ghost Baby Bud block in each corner. It didn't quite pop like I'd hoped, even with the matchstick quilting. You can see that each Baby Bud block got a curlicue centre, trying to keep the curves and flower idea theme.

Here's how they flow from 'V' to corner to 'V'.  Notice that I'd decided to keep the curves going by doing arcs from point to point in the Baby Bud blocks, matching thread colours. 

Three Aurifil colours and one YLI.
You can also see that I'd done one of my favourite fillers, this fat flower and loops, in the huge diamonds once I'd done three passes of echoes as well as SITD (stitch in the ditch). Curves and flowers motifs themes carried through!

Piano keys straight lines went in the lilacs border. I did not want to detract from that gorgeousness!
Again, I had some stalls when it came to the very centre, small Baby Bud block.

Having master quilters' books on hand, the likes of Angela Walters, Christina Cameli, and Judi Madsen often, no always, without fail, provides inspiration, and the sort of question mark curlicue I quilted in the purple diamonds is another Angela Walters design for diamonds. Her Shape by Shape books are invaluable resources. Dot to dot went in everywhere else within the block, and then in the soft grey (another great low volume fabric) rectangles I first did three straight lines as I did in the huge green diamonds, and then quilted free-flowing feathers inside that area, and echoed them. In the darker grey surrounding that, you can see I did straight lines all through it, bringing the straight lines from the outer lilacs border (remember the piano keys?) into the centre. Or, carrying your eye from the quilt centre out to the final border, whichever way you look at it! It was purposeful on my part.

What to do in the light purple floral I used for the hearts that sit inside the darker grey?
Why, a similar motif to the tiny buds and flowers in the fabric! This is what I call a lazy daisies meander, similar to my fat flower and loops meander in the green. More connections.😊

Here's a shot of how it all flows:
I haven't washed the quilt yet, and just look at that scrumptious texture! Early morning sunlight helps it shine.

The shots below show you how the fans fill each 'V' between the huge diamonds. I also like how the effect of the ribbon candy waving beneath those green diamonds shows up well here.

A shot of the full back:
Man our lawn is so green due to all the rain we've been getting!! Doesn't it show off the purple well?! Mum's favourite colour was green, hence the main colour of the quilt is green. She particularly loved olive green, and pale green...she loved ALL greens!

Here's the label:
I always sew it onto or into, as an integral part of, the backing so that it gets quilted through and is much more difficult to remove.

For the binding I used the black in the line.
It looks like I did a flanged binding, right? Nope. Remember I mentioned the other amazing design aspect of this striped fabric I used for the border? Do you see how the lilacs are framed by deep purple tiny buds, and then a 1/4" olive green stripe? With very careful cutting and sewing on of the binding, I was able to make full use of that 1/4" green strip! When I was doing the piano keys quilting motif, I was careful to travel along the inside edge of it to help it pop, knowing I'd be stitching the binding down along it. This border is 7 1/4" wide finished, from green strip to green strip! I machine-stitched the binding to the back by glueing it down first and then stitching in the ditch from the front to catch it. I remembered my satin 'mmm! quilts' label too!

The early morning sun this particular day was perfect. So is the cotton/wool batting. You can see the two bottom corner arcs of feathers, how they flow toward the top of the quilt. Those in the top flow downwards.

The magazine is now available everywhere you can buy magazines!
As is always the case with a print publication, the quilt maker gets two copies of the magazine. I decided that the second copy would be the prize in last week's linkup for my Beothuk Star QAL which is going on right now, and there's still time to join in if you like! Click the button in the sidebar or the Quilt Alongs tab up top for information. Brady once again picked a number out of 13 entries, and it was Ioleen who won! She has been notified and the magazine is on its way to her! I even got a mention in the From the Editor section, and that made me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Back to Lilacs, I will definitely be keeping this beauty.
Looks pretty good on our queen-size bed!

I think it will become the May quilt, as that is when the lilacs are at their fullest. Sadly, we have lilac 'snow' on the grass now since I took this shot. Thanks to my intrepid quilt holder, lilac trimmer (I thought he'd trimmed them too hard when he put in the chain link fence, but man oh man, did they flower this year!), and dormer maker, MacGyver, for holding it up.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: My Mother's Lilacs - original design published in McCall's Quilting July/August 2019
Size: 85.25" square
Fabric: 'Lilacs in Bloom' by Jackie Robinson for Benartex
Backing: as above
Batting: Hobbs Tuscany cotton/wool blend
Quilted: on Avril: 394 606 stitches
Threads: Pieced with Aurifil; quilted with Aurifil cottons 50 wt, YLI variegated 40 wt.

Linking up
Quilt Fabrication
My Quilt Infatuation
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Busy Hands Quilts
Cooking Up Quilts
TGIFF at mmm! quilts

Well! Let's show off our finishes for this last week of May!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


  1. It's beautiful. And the quilting... I always love reading your stories. A great quilt as a memory of your mom.

  2. Congratulations! It is stunning!

  3. Lovely quilt! You look so much like your mother, I thought that was you in her picture!

  4. Totally gorgeous beyond everything else . And to keep, and remember your Mum, extra special.

  5. I got my McCall's magazine the other day, but never got around to looking through it until this afternoon, and, "Hey, look! There's Sandra!" Your Lilacs quilt is just gorgeous, and such a lovely tribute to your mom. I'm just in awe of your quilt design ideas, Sandra, even more so now that I am sewing up one of them and seeing first hand how it all comes together.

  6. Oh my goodness, Sandra, that quilt is to die for! It is stunning in design and execution, and your quilting is fabulous. Your mother would be more than proud.

  7. A beautiful quilt and a beautiful story, you're mama's watching from above and smiling down at you.

  8. Wonderful post. Your step by step explanations/photos are so helpful and instructive. Thank you.

  9. The quilt is stunning and filled with love. It’s a wonderful tribute to your mum! Sandra, your quilting is outstanding.

  10. I'm sure your mom would be so pleased, and so proud of you! What a beautiful quilt, Sandra, from start to finish! Well done!

  11. Fabulous. Love this quilt and how you thought it through. Love the story. Your mum lives on in your heart and your deeds and always will.

  12. Well my comment just disappeared into the ether. I'll try again. Gorgeous quilt and as always amazing quilting. I think MacGyver's lilac trimming put the fear of God in them, so they decided to bloom profusely to prove their worth. I love lilacs and their sweet perfume, but the resident deer "prune" mine so only the tallest blooms survive.


  13. Your quilt is just beautiful!! The quilting on it is gorgeous and the designs that you quilted really set if off!! I'm interested in your quilt label, did you make it, design it or buy it? I really like it also. And the lilac's, wow, I have never seen lilac's that tall!! They look like lilac trees, they are just awesome!!! Well, I think I have used most of the adjectives that I can think of, so I will end by saying "Beautiful Quilt, Great Job"!!!

  14. Hi Sandra! You surely didn't disappoint in the ode to your mum. She would be so proud of you with your choice of greens and gorgeous lilacs. I do believe she was with you while you pondering this as well as sewing it, and your first submission just wasn't meant to be. Instead the perfect timing for everything to fall into place was chosen for you. Your quilting is just spectacular, and I especially love the arrows radiating out from the corner heart. Very cute! ~smile~ Roseanne

  15. Such a beautiful quilt and so much bigger than I thought when you started the blog post. I don't think you got any sleep between the time you got back from your trips and the deadline to have this done. It's wonderful to have your Mom standing beside you whispering inspiration in your ear. She would love this quilt.

  16. Your quilt is beyond amazing. The thought process, planning, piecing and quilting all done with loving thoughts.

  17. Absolutely gorgeous! What a wonderful remembrance for Mother's Day. And congrats on getting it into McCall's.

  18. This quilt is a beautiful tribute to your mother Sandra and as the weather is delayed we are just getting our lilacs now.

  19. When you said your Mum was right there with you while you were quilting, tears sprang into my eyes and I got a little frisson. Yes, I know she was there. And how very, very proud she would have been both of your publication and more importantly of your AMAZING talent showcased in this quilt. A keeper, for sure!

  20. Wow, Sandra, it's amazing!!! Well done and thank you so much for sharing all the quilting details. I love how it all flows together. Well done. Congratulations!!!

  21. Such a beautiful quilt and an amazing tribute to your beloved Mum. I enjoyed seeing how you quilted all the different areas, and it is gorgeous. Of course you must keep it!

  22. The quilt is gorgeous, and your quilting has made it even more beautiful. I'm so pleased to hear they are publishing it! So well deserved, and such a lovely story, thank you for sharing.

  23. Absolutely beautiful, and the quilting is stunning and perfect for it! Congrats on your publication!

  24. This is a beauty! i love the stories - so.much.meaning. I love the pattern, the quilting, the hearts - it is all so perfect! I so admire you ability to get things done! Congratulations to you on this beauty and its publication.

  25. Awesome quilting!!! Awesome quilt. Loved reading all about your mom and the lilacs. They smell so heavenly right now.

  26. Your use of the colours with the design is spot on and you have outdone yourself with the quilting, Sandra! What an amazing tribute!!


  27. I am actually happy you decided to use this post for TGIFF. I had started to read this post the other day but got distracted and I wanted to finish it. This worked well. Sandra - a couple of things - firstly, the quilting on this piece is incredible, honestly! It is so gorgeous. I am really in awe. Secondly, you sure look like your beautiful mama. She was a lovely woman. Congrats on this accomplishment and being published (again!) You created a wonderful quilt here!

  28. WOW!!! What an amazing Tribute - it is just a gorgeous quilt! and the quilting takes it over the top!!! I am so glad they decided to use your design!! Congrats

  29. OMG! That is an amazing quilt! I love the fabrics, the pattern and that quilting WOW! Congrats on another successful magazine submission.

  30. Congratulations, Sandra. This is a gorgeous quilt. I love the colors and fabric line you chose and the story linking it to your mother. The quilting is of course incredible. The way you've taken the negative space within the block and made them shine is amazing. Thank you for hosting TGIFF.

  31. Congrats on this getting a second chance - beautiful quilt with beautiful quilting!

  32. Your quilting is divine! Thank you for sharing so many details and beautiful pictures of your project. (And thanks for hosting TGIFF!)

  33. Amazing, Sandra! The design is beautiful and the quilting is absolutely gorgeous. I love all the different designs you used and the way it all comes together so nicely. Congratulations on the publication, too :)

  34. So beautiful with all your meticulous attention to detail. As always, I do so appreciate your many photos AND the fact that clicking on them enlarges them so I can really see what is going on. I don't think I've ever seen lilacs that gorgeous deep purple. I wish the season for them could be a lttle longer.

  35. Congratulations-It`s just fantastic!

  36. An amazing quilt and story behind the quilt. Your quilting is simply amazing!

  37. No, I do not think that you are a flake. I think that you are a good daughter who misses her mom. This quilt is beautiful in itself for so many reasons - your original design and the exquisite quilting, elevated by being published and being acknowledged by the editor itself. But what makes it extraordinary is that it is tribute to your mom!!! You did her proud, Sandra.

  38. Such a wonderful post as always...Your Mum would definitely have been with you during the making of this quilt. This is sublime and no wonder it features in a magazine..hope I can pick it up in the UK.
    Love and hugs Sue xx