Saturday, December 21, 2019

Grace

This has been another year for new experiences, and, as I approach a rather sobering milestone in 2020, I am quietly pleased that I am still learning, still trying new things, still up for challenges. More on this in my 2019 Review and Planning for 2020 post. This quilt was a commissioned one. I do believe the only previous commissioned quilt was my mum's request in 2016 for one for her brother, which I called con fuoco. This quilt is also a squirrel, a 'Drop Everything And Make it!' project, which I will link up with my party on the last Saturday of the month where we celebrate all those DrEAMi projects.

When Dayna's good friend in Alberta lost her baby in her second trimester, in November, she talked at length to me about it, and one of the first things she asked was if I could make her a quilt. We both knew it needed hearts on it. I sent her a couple of images I found on Pinterest, we chatted several times, and somewhere in the conversation I said what if I design one with hearts floating all over it... And, as designs are wont to do, this design became much more than I'd originally thought.




Yes, this quilt is one of those squirrels that happen due to a sad event, but most necessary to chase with laser focus. And besides, we all know that I work well to deadlines.You see, Dayna and Tyler are going to Alberta to spend Christmas with Brianne and Brady (I may be a tad jealous), and she wants to give the quilt to her friend when they are there. They leave on Sunday.

Edit: I pointed Dayna in the direction of Lindsay's posts about the loss of her son, Afton, during her second trimester, on Pinch of Yum. I've mentioned this terrific food blog several times. Lindsay's posts helped Dayna in knowing what to say to her friend, and then Dayna, in turn, gave the link to her friend to read the story, which has helped her. It's very raw, but if someone can do what Lindsay did, which helped Lindsay herself deal with her tragedy, and then can in turn help someone else deal with a similar tragedy, what a wonderful act this was.

Not all designs take on a life of their own, but many do, and I am not always aware of it when I'm in the throes of creating, whether it's the drawing on graph paper, colouring, EQ, cutting, figuring, sewing or quilting part of the entire process. But many a time, somewhere in all of that process, a quilt design takes on its own personality, and I feel I am just the vehicle for the power of the design to come through. Often that happens when the quilt is on Avril, and I start quilting it. For this one, it started in the actual graph paper sketching, erasing, sketching again, flowing process. Ideas, design elements, and symbolism all started to flow.



I say it often, but there is such a thrill taking a quilt from graph paper or digital sketch to life in fabric. Not such a thrill is fighting the oft-present wind here to get a flimsy shot! Monday the quilt was on graph paper, Wednesday a flimsy, Friday night a finish!

Graph paper doodling, thinking, is where the idea of the large shadow heart came, a design element that is not new for me, the shadow woman, as Kathleen has called me! However, half a heart was different: a heart that's been broken. Dayna loved the symbolism. The jagged lines then came to me to further that idea, yet the jagged edges are not all the way through the heart's centre, implying that healing has begun, or will begin. I emphasized the jagged edges with straight line quilting. Everything else is gently waving, flowing, curves.

Floating hearts, of two sizes, 6" and 12", symbolize the love surrounding her friend, love near and far. Some hearts are floating off the quilt, giving it a modern flair, but also symbolizing love never ending.
Here it is on the design wall in the building process. I often build, cut, and piece all at once, weaving back and forth between all three as the quilt evolves. Modifications and corrections can be made seamlessly (pardon the pun, I couldn't resist).
Ease of construction also is a factor in the design, and fairly early on, I knew the quilt would be made in three uneven, asymmetrical sections.
Dayna was clear in her colour scheme: pink and white. The soft pink for the large shadow heart is a Henry Glass fabric, 'Tranquil Garden', one I bought, ironically, but magically so, with Dayna in 2017, when we were in Edmonton for my mum's passing and funeral. Sadness, hurt, and healing in the form of a little fabric therapy then... and being used now in a healing quilt for her friend who lives there. I love the connections. They are always there; one just has to pay attention.
One needs to pay attention to one's own pattern... However, it was late at night for me, so this was a cue to go to bed and continue afresh the next morning!

She wanted lots of white for healing. White also symbolizes innocence and purity, very fitting for a tiny soul. I pulled a couple of white backgrounds and some pinks from my stash. I just knew that the Lizzy House 'Constellations' white was the perfect background, but oh, I did not want to part with it. It is my absolute favourite, more than the Moda Grunge I've used on two quilts, both given away, Aidan's 'Radiance', and my friend Linda's, 'Cat-Eye-doscope' which is where my other favourite got used up, Zen Chic's Modern Background Paper. However, this year my word, if you will, my focus, has been on generosity, and so I told myself, let it go, use it. It is perfect. And Dayna loved it as well. Good news: I must've bought 3 yards because I have just about 1.6 yards left! About a week and a half ago, when Dayna was over, we finalized the pinks, and I got to work literally as soon as I'd posted my first Island Batik 3D Challenge, Holiday House, just eight days ago!

Once the flimsy was done, I first laid it on our bed, where Bella hopped onto it within seconds. She can sniff out a new quilt in no time! I gently removed her onto the bed and fluffed the flimsy back out, covering her. She was quite happy to be under it. Rufus, on the other hand, was perplexed.

Much to my delight, I discovered I had enough Hobbs bleached 80/20 batting left over from The Kelpie's Star for this quilt, which by then had been named Grace, such a fitting, perfect name for a wee soul that left our world way too soon. That was another request: that I quilt Grace's name into the quilt.


Before Dayna had asked me to quilt in Grace's name, I knew that the top solid pink smaller heart would be Grace's, and it alone would get fancy quilting.

This shot shows the beautiful background fabric, so well, soft pink and blue stars, the occasional gold one. To quilt that heart I just drew a heart within the patch with a Blue Line marker, and then FMQ-ed feathers on either side. A great tip from Angela Walters is to start with a figure eight when you're going to do feathers on either side of a line, and then you can 'bounce' off it to form the feathers.

Dayna also requested a Minky backing. My LQS in Leamington, A Stitch in Time, has a Minky room, you may recall. It is wonderful! Dayna chose a plain, but very furry Minky. I had no problem with it, except for attaching the binding; I had to keep tucking the strands down to align the binding edges with the quilt edges! This shot shows the quilting in the different sections: wavy lines across the background and floating hearts, and a hearts and loops meander over the large shadow heart. This FMQ design element happened, as they oft do, on Avril; prior to loading it, I had figured due to time constraints I'd just do wavy lines across the entire top. Nope. Not quite. I stitched in the ditch around the shadow heart to help stabilize the quilt and to provide travel lines. I like how the small feathered heart at the top of the quilt shows up so well on the Minky.

I used one of my vintage fabrics out of which I also made a heart within the quilt, one from oh, I'd hazard a guess, 1993-1995, for the binding. It's R.E.D. for Fabricland cotton, and I bought a ton of it at the time. My kitchen then was grey cabinets (interesting how all things come around, as grey is so popular now) with soft pink, then known as dusty rose, accents. I'd made chair cushions for my oak chairs out of this fabric, a tea cosy, folded patchwork coasters, and various other items. I love how the older pink fabrics such as this one, and 'Vintage Collectibles', another excellent quality Fabricland one, also an Eleanor Burns one from early 2000s, play so nicely with new ones, such as the solid, Downton Abbey, Henry Glass, Tula Pink's 'Parisville', and Pearl Bracelets ones to mention a few.
I machine stitched the binding to the back of the quilt, and then top-stitched it down with a pink Aurifil 50 wt, Gütermann white cotton in the bobbin. I remembered to sew in my satin label before the binding!

For the quilt details label I made a 4" heart and attached it to the Minky before quilting. For privacy, I've smudged out Dayna's friend's name.

Part way through quilting, I wanted to recognize Dayna's friend, her husband and 2-year-old somehow within the quilt, so along the bottom edge I quilted them each a heart. My initials are, as per usual, in the lower corner.

The setting sun on Friday evening showed off the texture quite well, so I took a photo even though it hadn't yet got the binding on.

I've written the pattern, just needs a couple of final diagrams. It includes instructions for both the healing heart as well as a complete half heart. I'm looking for a couple of pattern testers. Testers will receive the final pattern free and your choice of another one of my patterns. I'm hoping to release this in January; besides a comfort quilt, I think it could be a great modern Valentine's quilt. Therefore I'd like the top made by the second week of January. Send me an email: ephdra@gmail.com if you're interested!

The quilt is in the dryer for a few minutes as I type. Once it's dry, I'll add one more photo of it in all its crinkly soft goodness. For now here is a photo I took without sun, without a tree shadow, and without binding!

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: Original design
Size: 48 X 64" before quilting; 47.5 X 62.5" after quilting and laundering
Fabric: Stash and scraps for the floating hearts, 'Tranquil Garden' by Mary Jane Carey of Holly Hill Quilt Designs for Henry Glass & Co.; background is 'Constellations' by Lizzy House for Andover Fabrics
Backing: Minky by Shannon Fabrics
Batting: Hobbs bleached 80/20 cotton/polyester
Quilted: on Avril; 58 192 stitches
Threads: pieced on my Bernina with Gütermann cotton; quilted with Superior So Fine 50 wt top and bottom

Linking up
Confessions of a Fabric Addict
The Madd Quilter
Quilt Fabrication
Alycia Quilts-Quilty Girl
TGIFF at Home Sewn By Us
Clever Chameleon



26 comments:

  1. What a gorgeous quilt! So sad for Danya's friend. My daughter calls my quilts "hugs from home", so what a wonderful healing hug you are sending.

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  2. I know the love and care that went into the design, construction, and gifting of this quilt will wrap the friend in the love she needs. Beautifully made.

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  3. Sandra, this is just beautiful and made with so much caring. It practically radiates love and comfort.

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  4. Hi Sandra! Oh, my heart just aches for Grace's peeps. Having been through all the what-might-have-been, and the plans that can't help but be made, I know Grace will always be missed. What a sweet way to always remember a sweet baby. I just adore her single small heart - oddly enough it really stands out amongst all the others. The background fabric could not be more perfect, and the ragged half-heart just sums up the situation. {{{Hugs}}} a bunch for that whole family. I hope they know that not only the friends and family they are aware of are holding them up and surrounding them with strength, but that there is a whole wealth of quilters behind them silently sending them prayers and good wishes. You know I'd raise my hand for testing but just cannot with a sweet girl's birthday coming up on January 4th. {{Hugs}} for you as well - I adore seeing Rufus wondering what Bella's doing. Merry Christmas to you and your family! And thanks for linking up to TGIFF. ~smile~ Roseanne

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  5. What a perfectly beautiful gift for healing. I know it will be loved and appreciated. The symbolism is so touching. I think people are better about comforting couples who experience miscarriage or loss of an infant compared to my (our) era. Healing comes slowly with the support of friends and family.

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  6. What a beauty, Sandra! I love everything about it, except the reason it was needed. The layers of symbolism you added and the gorgeous, modern design are both fabulous. I hope Dayna's friend feels all the love and support that was stitched into this beautiful gift.

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  7. Sandra, this is such a beautiful piece of art! So many heart-felt symbols of love and tenderness make this such a personal gift. She will be over-joyed as she wraps herself into this quilt and feels the love that was put into this. What a blessing you've given her!

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  8. Beautiful post, beautiful quilt, beautiful sentiments, beautiful soul (Sandra). What a lovely gift for the family but oh so sad that it was needed. I Know it will bring the family much comfort. I love also the mix of fabrics, old and new. Just lovely. I would love to jump and offer to test this pattern but my own time constraints make me say no - although the squirrel in me is arguing about that :-) Another time perhaps. Hugs and Merry Christmas

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  9. Sandra I can feel the love that you sewed into this beautiful quilt. The symbolism is sure to give comfort to Dayna's friends family. Gorgeous feathers in the heart, you my friend have outdone yourself with this one and in such a short time.

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  10. Beautiful quilt with such great attention to healing details for the family! I don't know of a single adjective to use. Just amazing!
    Connie W. c_s_wolfe@yahoo.com

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  11. What a treasured gift it will be to remind them of a sweet baby girl. It's a quilty hug. At first glance I thought it was a large angel wing. Hugs to you and them.

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  12. Such a beautiful quilt, Sandra - it is right out of your heart, and such a lovely gift for your daughter's friends. Beautiful!

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  13. Absolutely beautiful quilt, Sandra. I always appreciate your sharing your process and thoughts, but especially with this quilt. Your process shows all the love and artistry that went into the designing and making of this quilt. What a lovely gift for your daughter's friend.

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  14. The quilt is beautiful. To have designed, pieced and quilted this treasure in such a short time is a testament to your amazing abilities.
    Pat

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  15. So glad that you were able to stop and make this beautiful quilt of remembrance. Hopefully the hearts will pull away the sorrow for the family.

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  16. When I saw this quilt I didn't get it. After I read the reason for it, I was struck with how lovely the design is. The colors are striking in a very soft muted way. This will give much love and comfort. Great design.

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  17. What a beautiful gift for the remembrance of one so cherished and anticipated. It is so hard to lose that dream and we are a society that has not really learned how to embrace those who are suffering. That pain has no timetable. This quilt is a tangible reminder of Grace and the love that embraced her. You and Dayna are so thoughtful and this cannot help but bring comfort to all three. I love the three hearts at the bottom and that feathered heart is fantastic.

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  18. What a beautiful quilt to help heal the hearts of Grace's family. I need to make something like that for my granddaughters...they lost their dad on Thursday. A quilty hug made with love.

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  19. I'm not crying, YOU'RE crying. Sniff! Oh, this is just so wonderful and beautiful and magical and necessary. I know you're no angel (too feisty for one thing) but someone, somewhere just nodded sagely and started embroidering your initials on a set of wings. <3

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  20. Oh, Sandra...the quilt is so beautiful and the story behind it is so heart-breaking as well. I think your piece of art/generosity will go a long way toward healing Dayna's friend's broken heart. I understand their loss as we lost a grandchild but in my daughter's first trimester. Isn't it amazing how one comes to deeply love a little one even before they've made an appearance? Thank you for sharing the story as well as your design process. If you are still looking for a pattern tester I would love to be considered. Blessings...may you and yours have a blessed holiday season and a happy new year

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  21. I agree with all the others, the quilt is beautiful, and all your thoughtfulness in preparing and making the quilt makes my heart smile. I have no doubt there will be much comfort from this quilt. The colors are so soft and pretty, and the minky backing adds a perfect touch. You have a generous heart, Sandra!

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  22. The quilt is beautiful, Sandra!
    I loved reading the back story.
    A great quilty hug! A lovely gift for your daughter’s friend.
    Amazing quilting, as always!
    Hugs,
    Barbara xx

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  23. Such a lovely and loving gift, Sandra. I know it’s from your daughter, but it’s from your heart, too. Once again, meaningful touches all along the way. Isn’t it amazing how those very much needed quilts get made in a snap? The family’s hearts will always be a little bit broken, but healing will happen, and your quilt will help so much to wrap them in love. Grace, indeed.

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  24. Oh gosh ! that is gorgeous, and the thoughts and sentiment behind it... it will hug her!! How sweet ;-)

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  25. It is a beautiful quilt! I am sure Dayna’s friend and family will treasure it!

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  26. Beautiful and so meaningful. Thread and fabrics make the quilt but all the details and the thought that you put into the making of it have infused it with soul. I can almost picture her receiving it and bursting into tears. I am also sure that this quilt will bring comfort and healing.
    I also take a break when I begin to make mistakes :-)

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