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).
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!
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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
Threads: pieced on my Bernina with Gütermann cotton; quilted with Superior So Fine 50 wt top and bottom
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