Friday, November 1, 2019

Nana's Closet

I have another item checked off my Q4FAL list! This is now the last of four quilts I have made for each of my niece and three nephews. This last one came about after my mum passed away last year. Some time after the funeral, I was gathering up the quilts that I'd made her, and my nephew Dray wanted to keep some stuff I'd made. A conversation ensued and an idea was born: for his quilt he could choose some of Nana's clothes and I'd make his quilt with them. One of her favourite plush throws was draped over the back of the loveseat, and I said I could use it as the backing if he liked. He thought that was a good idea. So last summer, he and my sister Linda, his mum, went through Mum's stuff and chose several pieces. Here is what they became.

My mum did not wear pants very often; only when it was cold. She loved skirts, broomstick ones especially. Made of rayon, they are airy and swirly and girly. They are not fun to sew with however, so I knew I'd have to tame them somehow, and I'd have to find a simple pattern with larger patches. I was going to make my Pocketful of Sunshine pattern, as it uses 5" squares. Somewhere along the way though I had the idea to make a plus quilt.
That elephant fussy cut plus is still one of my favourites in the quilt!

I cut the first few squares at 5", like my original Pocketful pattern, and then I had the brainwave to use my die cutter. Unfortunately I only have a 4.5" square die, so that is what I used, and I simply trimmed down the first few I'd cut. It worked pretty slick for some of the fabrics like the rayons and the polyesters, not so well for the skirts.

Here's that same plus quilted up
After several squares, I realized, duh, I could probably cut the centres for the pluses as rectangles 4.5 X 12.5". That speeded things up as far as cutting and piecing! I had it up on the design wall fairly quickly. The time-consuming part was ironing on the interfacing. Half way through, I found pre-cutting the interfacing to the sizes I needed, rectangles and squares, and then adhering the interfacing onto the clothing worked the best.  
The pieces had to be pinned onto the wall though because one of the interfacings was a slippery one.
They had included a much-loved lavender cardigan. It was a tricky one to work with, especially to quilt over, but I had to include it. I put three half pluses along the edges. You can see part of one below. I was doing okay cutting up the clothes, just a little bit of nostalgia happening, until I pieced the cardigan beside the floral skirt you see below. Then I lost it; I just saw her in this very skirt and cardigan outfit, felt her presence so strongly.
More fussy cut elephants from the same skirt, red ones this time, with a different section from the skirt for the top and bottom of the plus.
The white with the green sprigs on it is a dress I made her that she ADORED. It is so thin that I had to double-layer those pieces, as I did with the yellow polka dot ones you see in the lower right, same dress pattern. The white with large fuchsia blobs is yet a third make of that same dress pattern. I had the very same one too, but no, we never wore them at the same time!

I had planned a 12 by 16 blocks layout so that the quilt would fit on the 50 X 70" plush blanket. It barely did fit crosswise; there was maybe a half inch to spare either side, if that, but both top and bottom layers were stretchy so I knew I could encourage them to stay together. I put a polyester batting in because the quilt was already fairly weighty, and the poly is lightweight, as well as a lot of the fibres were polyester on top and bottom. As you can see, I did a very large gentle meander, the largest I've ever done. The layers barely fit under the hopping foot; the cardigan part was the worst, and did go a bit wonky in one place. But I didn't stress as much as I usually do when I'm quilting a quilt; I knew this quilt was chock to the brim with love and care and meaning and that's all that matters.

All done. Do you see the four Union Jack squares? In a plus tessellating quilt such as this, there will be some pluses that only have one square, so I had the idea to use scraps from some projects I'd made her. This was from her much-loved placemat, Land of Hope and Glory, I made a few years ago using the Union Jack pattern of Molli Sparkles. She loved it and used it on her tray when she'd eat a meal in front of the TV.  Just the other day I came across this photo she'd sent me in an email:
That's her homemade broccoli soup! In the background you can see another runner I made her. Auntie Norma, her BFF of nearly 70 years, is now the caretaker of the placemat.😍

The pale green fabric with butterflies is important because I'd used it on the back of Burst of Spring, the tabletopper I made in Tish's Fireburst QAL. I'd bought the fabric just a couple of months before she passed away. Butterflies are seen as the sign of the presence of a passed-on loved one, and the summer and fall of 2018 we seemed to be inundated with them. So, butterflies in her quilt. Lastly, in the bottom left and top right, second row, are the very very last scraps of her beloved bag I made her that she literally wore out. It actually went with her to the Other Side. I had replaced the straps once, and she wore them out too! I love that. I couldn't believe I had enough to make two 4.5" squares; I thought it had all gone. Perfect.

Another tough fabric to work with was the brown gold and black one below, her scarf. It just had to be in the quilt though somewhere, delicate and easily fraying as it was. I interfaced it as well which helped tremendously.
Spot my initials?

As always, I quilted the recipient's name into the quilt. The white is a skirt I think I made her., but it's not as definite a knowing as the three dresses. The black and gold ones you see on either side of Dray's name plus were probably her two favourite ones and they have the most pluses in the quilt. Isn't that yellow, red, black, and turquoise one just a beautiful print?
She wore that yellow skirt a lot.
Here we are having tea at an English tearoom in non other than Sarasota, Florida! And note the snippet of skirt you see her wearing! That's Auntie Norma with us.
I didn't worry too much about what went beside what, and about balancing values; I mainly balanced placement and let the quilt just happen with very little agonizing and overthinking as I am normally wont to do! I like this randomness to the quilt that happened; it's homey and comforting.

The back!

I am pretty sure I bought her this snuggly blanket at Zellers years ago. It had a pocket sewn onto it that you could fold up the blanket into so it looked just like a cushion. One thing about plush backs, they show the quilting just fabulously, don't they? I love the embroidered snowflakes on the blanket.

This is more the true colour of the green. Gosh angles and lighting especially for plush fabrics change the appearance so much. This photo also shows our Burning Bush in her full autumn scarlet finery. I can't wait until she gets bigger like some of the massive jaw-dropping ones in the 'hood.

The label, which I forgot to apply before layering and loading the quilt, so it is hand-stitched on, and not quilted through as per usual.

My Auntie Phyl gave me these labels she'd bought way back when and never used. They are large so that you can write lots of detail. The 'When this you see, Remember Me' was on them, so perfect. You can see her lavender cardigan in this shot, and how it went a little wonky in quilting; I had to hand turn Avril's wheel to get her to go over the seams! I LOVE that I made sure to use the ribbing so it's obvious what the item is.

The binding is left over from the quilt I made her for her 80th birthday. She loved green. Period. Olive green was probably her favourite hue though. I sewed it to the back and top-stitched it down on the front. I cut it a little wider than I normally do, 2.5" due to the thickness of the three layers in the quilt.

I knew where I'd take some 'quilts in the wild' shots of this special quilt.
Annabelle's is another of Kingsville's beautiful old homes. We are known for pristine examples of Painted Ladies and 150+ year old homes. This one was built in 1859, and serves the most delicious lunches, and wonderful tea, even proper English tea service (three choices, check out the menu). I took Mum here when she visited us for Dayna's grad in 2015.
We both LOVE our tea. Thus, Annabelle's was so fitting a place, and they do such an incredible job of their front garden's stunning display! Mum loved her flowers; gardening to her was like quilting to me. Life blood. She was always so amazed (and jealous) of how wonderful and humongous our impatiens grow here. They're finishing now but still pretty glorious for the end of October. Here is a photo of Mum and my girls at the next-door-but-one former tea room, The Victorian Rose, aka The Rose and Thistle Tea Room, I showed you in my last post. We'd just had lunch there!
This was around October 9, 1988. Dayna was christened on Oct. 9, exactly 5 months old, easy to remember. Brianne was 2 years, 3 months. That bench is still there and in the photo I took on Tuesday!

One last photo (literally) on Tuesday before I packed it up and mailed it off to Alberta.

Fitting yet again. That's an English oak towering over it.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern:  plus quilt
Size: approximately 50 X 65"
Fabric: my mum's clothes and a few cotton scraps
Backing: a plush throw
Batting: 100% polyester
Quilted: on Avril; 24 660 stitches
Threads: pieced on my Bernina with Mettler polyester; quilted with So Fine #403, The Bottom Line in the bobbin

Now I'm off on a new adventure, quilting my first semi-custom quilt for a customer! I'm nervous. It's going well so far though. Here's a sneak peek:
Nancy made this quilt using my Blue Skies & Sunny Days pattern on Etsy. She made the bigger size and then added 6" borders to make it just shy of a twin size! It is just gorgeous, in my favourite colour combo. More once I'm finished.

Linking up
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
The Madd Quilter
Quilt Fabrication
Alycia Quilts-Quilty Girl
TGIFF at Slice of Pi Quilts
Clever Chameleon
Dizzy Quilts for the Q4FAL


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your mother. The quilt will be like a big hug from her.

  2. Beautiful job, Sandra, and truly a labor of love.

  3. What an amazing quilt - so full of memories! Good luck with the commission!

  4. Oh the memories stitched into a lovely quilt to bring warmth and quilty hugs to your nephew. I'm sure as you worked on it the memories brought you comfort also. Love it!

  5. Such a special quilt full of memories. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Such a sweet thing you are doing, a quilt full of memories that are cherished. Gosh you look so much like your mum!

  7. What a great idea. I typically only use cotton clothing when I make memory pieces, but now I am inspired to branch out. Your quilt for Dray is lovely.

  8. Oh my, I'm sure that was an emotional quilt to make, and yet very comforting too. Your mom was a beautiful lady, and you look so much like her :-) What a lovely tribute to your mom, Sandra, and a generous gift to your family. I love the thoughtfulness you put into the making of the quilt. She would be proud of you :-)

  9. I admire that you persisted with love until the completion of this beautiful quilt. What a lovely gift for your family.

  10. How touching that your nephew wanted some of his Nana's things to remember her and what a wonderful gift you made for him, even letting him choose what pieces to use. It may have been a challenge to complete, but you're not afraid of challenges and it must give you a ton of satisfaction to see it done.

  11. What a wonderful memory quilt. Your nephew will cherish it.

  12. Precious quilt story. Great photos. Love it, Sandra! Those stars fell nicely across the bottom.

  13. Wonderful story and so fun to see pics of your mom with glimpses of the clothing in the quilts! What a wonderful gift for those nieces and nephews.

  14. What a wonderfully special quilt! To make a memory quilt from your own mother's clothes, as requested by a beloved nephew...priceless. And I'm certain that the reason you teared up when you put the lilac cardi with the floral skirt was that she was TELLING you how much she loved that outfit! It was her stamp of approval on the whole project. When the tears come, they are a portal to something important, I'm sure of it :)

  15. I do love memory quilts, always unique and so very special. It's wonderful that your nephew requested you make him one with your Mums clothes, a loving memory of her.

  16. Sandra this is such a wonderful quilt. Soooo many special memories stitched up together.

  17. Such a beautiful and loving quilt. Your nephew will treasure it forever. You and your mom look so much alike. All those wonderful memories you have of her that you share with us bring a smile to my face and a lump in my throat. Great job!

  18. What a sweet sweet quilt filled with great memories!! He will cherish it forever!

  19. What a perfect quilt for Dray!! He can always wrap himself in the memories and love of his grandmother and aunt. Love that you used her sweater!!! Those weird fabrics are so hard to sew with after getting used to quilting cotton, but you did a great job.

  20. Of course you felt her presence. I love that your mum wore a skirt with elephant fabric, that would be my favourite too! What a lovely tribute, Sandra!