Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Blogger's Quilt Festival #2: Jan & Kitty's Amish Caravan (Quilts 42 & 43)

Amy's Creative Side is hosting a Bloggers Quilt Festival as a fun way to share our work and meet other blogging quilters. Since this has been my year of social quilting, I can't help but join the fun. And, because this has been my year of social quilting, I have lots of quilts in progress, but not as many finishes...yet. 

For my first entry, I shared my latest quilt, Fireworks for Ingrid. For my second entry, I'm sharing a project that I never made time to write up before, a collaboration with my father-in-love we called "Jan & Kitty's Amish Caravan."

My in-laws live in the Netherlands, so when we built our house, we built it with a second master suite knowing that when they came to visit, they would stay awhile. When they came in 2015, they stayed for 6 weeks. 

When you have company for that long, you can't spend all your time on vacation, so while Niels was at work and D was at school, Dad and I decided to make quilts for their new caravan. I had offered to make the quilts, but he wanted to make them together. It ended up being  fun way for us to connect. 

Jan wanted clean lines, dark prints, and an easy pattern. Once we landed on a design, it was off to Joann for fabric selection. It was a fun afternoon stretching my mastery of Dutch as we discussed the nuances of color.

I was able to see my Dutch parents in a new light as I guided them through the process. They are a really good team, and even when they have differences of opinion, they are able to work things out.

Jan wanted to do as much of the actual sewing as possible. He took to the machine like a natural. 

Because we live close to Amish country, we decided that it would be fun to incorporate a bit of our local culture in the quilts. While Jan was assembling the top, I created the Amish horse and buggy on my Silhouette Cameo. I like that as they travel around Europe in their caravan, they are taking a bit of us with them. 

All those curves and tiny parts were intimidating to a new quilter, so I did the applique.

Once the buggies were attached, I handed the reins back to Jan and he straight line quilted the tops before I took over to do the label and binding.

Such a satisfying feeling to finish a quilt.

When Jan and Kitty returned to the Netherlands, they sent me this picture of their quilts in their caravan. It makes me so happy and loved to see them.

Come on over to Amy's Creative Side to see more amazing quilts as part of the festival.

Also linked to:
Design Wall Monday @ Small Quilts & Doll Quilts
Finished or Not Friday @ Busy Hands Quilts
Linky Tuesday @ Free Motion by the River
Let's Bee Social #195 @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Midweek Makers #90 @ Quilt Fabrication
Monday Making @ Love Laugh Quilt
Moving It Forward @ Em's Scrapbag
Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation
Oh Scrap @ Quilting is More Fun than Housework
Off the Wall Friday @ Nina Marie
Show Off Saturday @ Sew Can She
Wednesday Wait Loss #32 @ The Inquiring Quilter
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
WIPs on Wednesday @ Esther's Blog

Blogger's Quilt Festival #1: Fireworks for Ingrid

Amy's Creative Side is hosting a Bloggers Quilt Festival as a fun way to share our work and meet other blogging quilters. Since this has been my year of social quilting, I can't help but join the fun. And, because this has been my year of social quilting, I have lots of quilts in progress, but not as many finishes...yet. 

My last finish was completed in July, just before our trip to the Netherlands. This quilt, which I made for my sister-in-love, Ingrid, is my first original paper pieced design. I love how the blocks seem to float on top of each other. 

 I've been doing a fair amount of paper piecing this year as part of Blossom Heart Quilt's Milky Way quilt along, so I started playing with designs on EQ7. Each of these designs uses the same block. I decided on the bottom right, which I'm calling Floating Fireworks, with Ingrid's version called Fireworks for Ingrid.

It was the first time I made a paper pieced pattern on EQ7. I'd like to figure out how to adjust the shading because the dark sections could discolor light prints.

I fold freezer paper when I paper piece so I can my templates over and over. Here's a great tutorial if you are new to paper piecing.

Each of the prints I used reminded me of fireworks.

The blocks came together quickly. The hardest part is that my design wall in our narrow laundry room, which makes taking photos difficult.

I have to step up on the counter most of the time, and even then, I can't get a full picture of anything over a full quilt. Does anyone else find that patterns appear better in a photo than real life?

Once my quilts are pieced, I get a chance to find any errors, though it takes a little more time to fix them at this point.

I continued the spiral theme in the prints with my quilting. 

Of course, the best part of quilting is delivery day! 

It's always fun to surprise someone! And I figured if she didn't like it, I love it and would have taken it right back home! But alas, she wanted to keep it!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grandma's Kitchen, block #12: Kitchen Door

It's been three months since I started making a block each week as part of  Pat Sloan's Grandma's Kitchen. I decided early on that this was exactly what I needed to do to make the memory quilt for my Gramma Ann. In recent weeks, I've shared the theme with my mom and aunts to get their input. At this point in the project, it's more important to me that the quilt blocks reflect the things that were important to Gramma, even if they don't necessarily fit the theme.

One of the most important things to Gramma was her Catholic faith. I knew that one of the blocks would have to reflect that part of her.

I chose the turquoise blue print because it reminded me of rosary beads. The jade rosary in the picture is the souvenir I brought her back from my trip to China in 2007.

I found a quote that connects the door theme to my faith block.

Pat drew inspiration for this week's block from the kitchen doors so many of her family members have or have had. 

In her introduction to this week's block, she wrote, "I wish I had photos of the doors in my home. The shipping department over the years has taken photos of mundane things like that, which over time, are really not mundane. They are the little pieces that make up our whole life."

This idea really resonates with me, especially as I have been pouring over my photos of Gramma each week looking for different details. I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to spend a few hours in Gramma's home in Arizona by myself. I took pictures of every room, just the way she left it before she went to the hospital. It was after that stay, that Gramma moved into assisted living. The beginning of the end. I think I knew it. And taking those photos was my way of accepting that reality.

Gramma was not  happy about the move She was proud of being able to live independently at 90, and it was hard to have that taken from her. I know a little something about having the life I love taken away. 

It's now been 13 years since sustaining my brain injury. As a result, I lost my job in publishing, my burgeoning writing career, the home I loved, and more than one friendship that couldn't adjust to the changes in me. I can say that now without bitterness, but it took many years before I accepted my new normal. It's easy to say that my faith got me through, but it did. But it isn't so simplistic. My faith changed me, but my faith changed, too. I like to think that both me and my faith became more compassionate, more whittled down to the essentials, more loving.  When so much was taken from me, I became more grateful for the things I still had, and more open to receiving what came my way. 

My ability to write professionally was taken, but my creativity bubbled up through quilting. The pre-TBI me would never have embraced quilting. Yet here I am. 

I made a memory quilt for Gramma before she died. It's one of my favorite accomplishments.

She loved that quilt. When she calle me to thank me, she said,"It's my whole life." At the end, the quilt was placed over her so that the hospice staff saw the vibrant woman she was, not the frail patient in the bed. 

I know her faith helped her prepare to say goodbye to this life and all those she loved.

When Gramma was raising her five girls, they lived close enough to the Catholic church that they could walk. I took my family to their little hometown of Blackduck, MN in 2015 when we were (relatively) close by in Bemidji for Russian camp. Of course we stopped by the church where Gramma spent so much of her time.

Look how cute my mom and aunties were when they were small and dressed in their Sunday best.

When I think of Gramma's faith, I also think of the little church in Wickenburg, Arizona where she attended until she couldn't attend anymore. I think of the big wooden Jesus statue that fascinated my young son, and keep him occupied during Mass. 

I think of how my mom and aunts have a different faith, but how Gramma brought them to mass one last time for her service. 

I think she must have been smiling to know she got them all back to church!

And I think about her ashes being reunited with those of her love.

We are just about halfway through the quilt along. We still don't have a layout yet, but I'm starting to see how it will come together. Pat suggested we hold up our blocks to see if any stick out as not fitting in. I had mentioned last week, that I wasn't happy with my attic window. I'm certain I will be changing that one, but first I need my headache to lighten up a bit. It's been a real pain lately, in more ways than one.

Previous blocks:

If you'd like to see what I'm currently working on, follow me on Instagram at de Jong Dream House.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Grandma's Kitchen, block #11: Peppermint Swirls

We are nearing the halfway point in Pat Sloan's mystery quilt along, Grandma's Kitchen. This week I steered way off from the theme of candy. I'll explain how I got here in a minute.

Block 11 is called Peppermint Swirls and is inspired by the peppermint candy that filled her Na-Na's purse.

I love the community on Pat's Facebook page. My fellow quilters inspire me with their interpretations of Pat's weekly blocks. I especially like how Glenda White made her candy M&Ms instead of peppermint swirls.

My goal has always been to make this a memory quilt about my Gramma Ann. While Pat is focusing on the kitchen, my Gramma had a whole bit life outside that room, so my blocks reflect that. I try to have some connection to the theme, but sometimes I wander...

Wandering Whistling Duck
When I first started this quilt, I would talk to my mom about Gramma. Then, when we were on vacation with my Aunt, I added her to the conversation. Now I have my mom and all four aunties chiming in with their thoughts and memories. 

When I told them about this week's themes, we talked about Gramma liking lemon bars, ice cream with chocolate sauce, sticky hard Christmas candy (I'm picturing the ribbon kind), little boxes of raisins she shared with her great-grandchildren, and chocolate covered peanuts, which I quickly dismissed as looking like poo in this block layout!

Then my aunt Mary reminded me that she loved turtle candy.

That made me think of real turtles.

...which reminded me that one year for her birthday or Mother's day, Gramma's five daughters pooled their money to give Gramma the gift of a zoo sponsorship at the Minnesota Zoo. For one year in the 80s Gramma was the not-particularly-proud patron of the Wandering Whistling Duck.

Fun fact #1: The wandering whistling duck used to be called a tree duck, but the name was changed to reflect the whistling sound it makes when calling and flies.

Fun fact #2: I'm pretty sure my mom and aunts picked the wandering whistling duck because of its name. 

Fun fact #3: Apparently Gramma was not impressed that her daughters spent money on a duck, but it provided a lot of laughs over the years, mostly over her response. And, in my mom and aunt's defense, since she grew up the wife of a game warden, caring for wildlife as a gift wasn't that much of a stretch. I know there was a picture of her taken by her name plate, but it was before the cloud and it seems to be lost forever.

Now, as far as making my block, I stuck with the applique theme. I started with the image of the duck from earlier in the post, and removed the background using PowerPoint. I kept the shadow because I wasn't sure at that point if I would use it or not. (I didn't).

I printed the image on fabric stabilized with freezer paper.

I trimmed it down into a tight rectangle before applying Heat N Bond Lite.

Then I trimmed the duck and shadow.

I used my standard white print background and water print for the background.

I added a 80s era Minnesota Zoo logo sign and sun.

I used a teeny tiny zigzag for the applique.

I know some people remove a layer of fabric when they applique. I haven't figured out how to do that when I use Heat N Bond, so that lesson will wait for another day.

My quilt blocks so far. As much as I'm loving my cactus in the window, I'm thinking it may be too dark. More to ponder...

Previous blocks:

If you'd like to see what I'm currently working on, follow me on Instagram at de Jong Dream House.

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