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Summer Sampler Quilt


I would like to briefly interrupt your Christmas planning to bring you a bit of summer in December—My Summer Sampler quilt is complete! : )
My mother-in-law had hip replacement surgery last Friday. The surgery had been scheduled for January, which I thought would be good timing for me to make her a quilt. When a spot opened up for her to have the surgery earlier, I thought I might not be able to manage it, because I was already so busy. But then I realized, I had the perfect quilt for her, and it was already very much in progress … my Summer Sampler!
The top and the back were already done, so all I really had to do was quilt it and bind it. But of course, I can never leave well enough alone or make anything easy for myself. I immediately decided that the current size was too small to be useful, and I wanted to make it bigger. So between Wednesday and Monday, I took the borders off the original top, made eight additional sampler blocks and added them, put new borders on, added to the back to get it up to size, basted it, quilted it, and bound it. Whew!
When I decided to add the extra blocks, I wanted to find and choose new block designs quickly, so all of the pictures in the Summer Sampler Flickr group were invaluable to me. Many of my new blocks were inspired by the extra blocks that some of you made. I love Claudia’s beautiful red and aqua quilt, and the additional blocks she chose were brilliant, so many of my new blocks came straight from her quilt. Thank you, Claudia, for inspiring me! : )
Here are the blocks I added:
Another Star of Virginia (tutorial here)
Another Greek Cross (tutorial here), but I changed up the colors/values to give it this octagon shape
This fun star-within-a-star block
My version of the Diamond Chip block, from Sarah Fielke’s book Quilting From Little Things, as seen on Monica’s Happy Zombie blog
Snowblossoms block (free paper-piecing pattern available here)
Another HST-type block
This cute star variation
So here’s how the top started out, before the extra blocks …
And here again is my refashion/completion.
And my MIL seems to just love the quilt. She said it’s beautiful work, cheerful colors, and that she will “treasure it for the rest of her life.” Wow! She’s a very practical woman who isn’t at all prone to exaggeration, so that was a wonderful compliment coming from her and really made me feel great. I’m so glad she can enjoy it while she’s recovering.
So, that’s one major thing off my list. I’ve also got our Christmas decorations up and made excellent progress on my Secret Santa Twitter Swap item, so I am feeling a lot less stressed today! Score one (or several) for me.
Quilt Stats:
Size: 60″ x 74″
Design: From the Summer Sampler Series Quilt-Along, hosted by Kate, Faith, and myself, plus eight extra blocks. For tutorials for the original 12 blocks, click here.
Fabric: Various lines/prints, with background in Kona White
Quilting: Free-motion stippling by me on my home machine
Back: Various lines/prints
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Three Generations

Eighty-eight years ago, a little girl was born on a farm in rural Michigan. She was the second-youngest of nine kids. As a child, this little girl watched her own mother, who was the daughter of German immigrants, sew and quilt—something she did far more out of necessity than enjoyment. It was the Great Depression, and those nine kids needed clothes and bedding. Buying a quilt from a store would have been an unthinkable luxury.

And so, the little girl learned to sew and quilt too, just like her mother before her. It was just one of the many chores that needed to be done around the farm. Yet another item on that list called “Women’s Work.”

Three of my grandma’s original five blocks

The little girl grew up, moved away from the farm, and had five kids of her own. Money was still tight, but not quite like it used to be. She still sewed and quilted here and there, but the necessity of it declined steadily as the years passed. Quilting became something she did more out of habit than anything else. Around the time her youngest child moved out of the house, she hand-pieced five curved pinwheel quilt blocks. Then she put those blocks away and never sewed another. Why? Maybe it was her arthritis flaring up. Or maybe she realized she didn’t have to quilt anymore. What had once been a chore no longer was. Store-bought bedding was well within reach financially. And she finally had a little time to herself, to do exactly what she really wanted to do, probably for the first time in her adult life.

Now the little girl obviously wasn’t a little girl anymore. In fact, she had three adult daughters of her own. And those grown-up girls had all learned to sew too. Sewing was, after all, still on that list of Women’s Work. Even if these girls didn’t end up needing this particular skill, they were still expected to have it. So they all dabbled in it a little.

But the world was changing. It was becoming less expensive to buy bedding than it was to make a homemade quilt. Not only that, but that Women’s Work list? Was getting turned upside down. Women could do many things now that weren’t on that list. In fact, for a while, it became necessary for some women to put the list aside. They had to temporarily distance themselves from it, in order to prove they could do other things. One of the original little girl’s grown daughters now had a daughter of her own, and that little girl grew up thinking sewing was just about the most uncool thing imaginable. Seriously. She wouldn’t be caught dead sewing her own clothes, bags, or a quilt.

But of course, as that third-generation girl got older, the world changed yet again. Sewing is no longer a life-sentence to dorkiness. In fact, “handmade” is experiencing a coolness renaissance. Maybe this third generation has decided that we’ve done enough to prove ourselves as women (or at least we’re done trying). Maybe we’re tired of made-in-China mass-produced comforters and clothing. Maybe all the other things that might keep us from quilting and sewing are now taking a back seat to creative expression. In fact, for so many of us, it’s a wonderful way of expressing ourselves and getting a little more fulfillment in life (and we’re lucky that we have the time and money to spend on it).

Whatever the reason, I have my mom and my grandma to thank for the fact that I am able to quilt today. I don’t do it out of necessity. I don’t do it because it’s expected of me as “women’s work.” I do it because I love it. How lucky does that make me? (And all of us!) In a way, I can do it only because of the inroads women made in the previous two generations.

So, a few months ago, I took those five blocks that my grandmother hand-pieced 40 years ago and made 12 more. My mom made a handful as well. And we put them all together into this quilt: The Three Generations Quilt. I tried to make it both a little vintage and a little modern. A little fun and a little serious. I tried to put a little piece of all three of us in there. I tried to make it representative of our stories: Three generations, and what sewing and quilting has meant to us, as women and as creative people.

Size: 86″ x 93″ (queen size – the picture above is on a king-size bed)
Design: Based on Red Pepper Quilt’s Pinwheel Baby Quilt
Fabric: The pinwheels are mostly vintage fabric (my grandma gave a lot of her unused fabric to me). I supplemented that with some of my own, mostly Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt. The centers are Moda Bella Solids Baby Yellow. The white pinwheel background is Kona White (although I think my grandma’s blocks used repurposed sheets). The borders around the blocks are from Darlene Zimmerman’s Paper Dolls line, and the sashing is Kona Tan.
Back: Paper Dolls again, plus I pieced blocks of scraps down one side.
Quilting: Stippling in white thread, done by the long-arm quilter at my local quilt shop.


Three Generations Top

My Three Generations quilt top is finally done and off to the long-arm quilter. What a relief!

My goal with this quilt was to create something that was both vintage and modern at the same time. I wanted it to look as though it owed something to every time period during which it was worked on. Basically, I wanted to span the last 50 years of quilting in this one single piece, and maybe use that to tell a story about the three women who worked on it. Lofty goals, and I’m not sure if I accomplished my mission, but you know? I love it just the same. Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It’s not exactly my usual style, but it’s not exactly not my usual style either, if that makes any sense. Plus, it’s colorful and fun and pretty and sentimental and will be a genuine family heirloom someday.

And it’s clear that all of my stops and starts and pauses to regroup and redesign were entirely worth it. So I guess working on this quilt has been a lesson in trusting my gut. When my gut says I need to change something, usually my brain screams, “No way! Keep going! Just finish the freaking thing!” (Sometimes I think my gut is a better quilter than my brain. My brain always just wants to hurry up and finish, so I can move on to the next project that it’s cooking up.) But this quilt shows that I’ll be happier in the long run if I put in the extra hours, effort, and thought to make it right. Brain and gut need to work together for optimal results. : )

The quilt store is estimating that the long-arm quilter will be finished with it around Oct. 19. I need it no later than Oct. 21 to be able to give it to my grandma when I see her in person. So there is a glimmer of hope that it will be completely done, when I wanted it to be! I’m prepared for disappointment, but encouraged nonetheless. I’ll post full details on this quilt (fabric, etc.) when I get it back from the quilter.

P.S. Check out my blog’s snazzy new look! I figured it was time to settle in and hang some pictures on the wall in this bloggy home of mine.