Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Quilts #86, #87, and #88: Texas Strong

I didn't have any quilt finishes in August--partly because we were on vacation for half the month, partly because I'm doing a lot of social quilting, and partly because I've been dealing with massive headaches due to my brain injury. BUT...I finished FOUR quilts in September, as part of my One Monthly Goal hosted by Elm Street Quilts. Today I'm going to talk about three of them, my trio of Texas Strong quilts I made to be distributed by Quilts of Compassion as part of the disaster relief recovery. 

But first, a little personal history. Many, many moons ago, long before digital camera or smart phones, I was a poor recent college graduate in Des Moines, Iowa. Even with my new degreee in Human Relations, Religion and Linguistics, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was looking for a job in Residence Life, but hadn't landed one yet. I was offered a job on campus as Assistant Hall Director for our largest hall for the summer, which housed incoming freshman and their parents for orientation. 

My boss, the Hall Director, was Karl. He and his wife were very recently married, and put off their honeymooon until after the school year was done and our summer hall was open. As he and his bride left he sternly warned me, "Do NOT call me unless there is a HUGE emergency." (Did I mention this was before cell phones?). So I was on my own, running the hall, managing the staff, and welcoming hordes of new students and their families to Drake University.

This was July 1993. And Des Moines flooded. I was woken up in the middle of the night by an RA on rounds when the power went out in our building of 600. And, as I soon learned, throughout the city. The VP of Student Affairs arrived a short time later and we went door to door with flashlights, waking our confused guests and urging them to get on the road home.

Iowa Cubs stadium
For two weeks we were without water. Anheuser-Bush stopped making beer and shipped water instead. President Clinton came to town to survey the damage and this iconic photo was taken.

"I feel your pain."
During this two week period, I got the news I was waiting for: my first real job offer, as a hall director at a college in Texas. I packed up my things and headed to Houston. Oh, the irony. Rescued from a flood by moving to Houston. 

Flash forward (cough, cough) 24 years and I'm sitting in my comfortable, air-conditioned home, with running water and electricity and I see pictures of flooding in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. All of a sudden, I was 21 years old again, alone and dealing with disaster. I had to do something. First I sent money. Then I started thinking about quilts.

I did a quick Google search for Texas quilts. I knew I wanted to make a flag because Texans are mighty proud of their state. (The "Don't mess with Texas" slogan was very popular when I lived there). I found four styles I really liked. 

1. Wonky log cabin. Found on Pinterest with no source. GRRR! 2. Squares. Uploaded by Holly Cooper. The quilting on the star inspired my quilting. 3. Long strips. Uploaded by Megan Myers. 4. ItsaLindy on Etsy
I loved the idea of making my quilts from scraps, so I choose option 4. The only version of this quilt I found online was the one posted by ItsALindy on Etsy. She opened her shop in 2010, but hasn't had any sales and this is the only image in her shop. I have emailed her, but haven't heard back. It's quite possible that she forgot she had the shop and doesn't check her mail. I don't know her real name so I don't know how else to look for her to find out if this is her original pattern or if there is another out there. At any rate, it was easy to reverse engineer. But I would like to give credit where credit is due.

At the same time I started these quilts, I stumbled upon a garage sale of a late quilter whose kids were selling her stash and supplies. This was one section of her mostly quilt shop fabric.

I came home with a pretty amazing selection of fabric for these quilts and my Tula Pink butterfly

Then it was time to cut lots of strips. I hoped to make a nice dent in my scrap stash, but I really didn't! I did have have a nice trip down memory lane as I remembered the quilts and people I made with my scraps.

Between the simplicity of the pattern and the magic of chain piecing, the blocks came together very quickly.

I'm always amazed by scrappy quilts. Prints you think you could never use turn out be just the right bit of interest in a bigger pattern.

Because I used scraps and strips from the garage sale, I aired out the quilts while I worked on the stars. 

The stars are made of scrappy white strips.

I usually back applique with Heat N Bond Lite and use my Silhouette Cameo to cut shapes, but because the star was so big, I made it freehand and used Sulky KK 2000 basting spray to hold it to the quilt before appliquing with a zig zag stitch.

I was rethinking my decision to make the stars out of strips when I saw how tiny some of the corners were.

For quilting, I echoed the star.  1/2" inside the star, and 1" around the star.

I was really proud of my 8-year-old. He loves NASA and has been praying for Houston in particular. He loves all things space, and has dreamed of working for NASA since he was three. (He used to want to build rockets, but now he wants to work on the Mars habitats). I wanted to include him in the process, so I asked him to calculate how much binding I would need for the three quilts. I was really impressed with his work. 

He explained his "new math" as he worked the problem and I realized that much of what he's learning to write out is the way I do math in my head, like counting by tens and then ones. Then my mind was really blown when my husband showed him how to convert his long math into algebra and he totally got it!  He had no problem filling in the blanks and X didn't scare him at all. I told him that I didn't learn algebra until 9th grade, and still it confounded me. Yay for new math!

I used the same binding for all three quilts, and using my son's calculations, I had just enough. I usually wind my binding around a spool, but I needed to go big.

I finished the first quilt as Niels was putting D to bed. He asked if he could sleep with it. 

Ever since I started quilting four years ago, D has always wanted to "add his love" to the quilt by snuggling in my finished quilts. With his connection to Texas, I was happy to say YES.

I hung the quilts out again for photos. D is signing "I love you" to NASA and everyone in Texas affected by Harvey.

Niels thought I should have a photo with my quilts, too.

Early in the process, I decided that I would send these quilts to Quilts of Compassion. 

Fun fact: Quilts of Compassion was founded by my friend and fellow brain injury survivor, Janice Grimes. We met when we both lived in Grand Rapids fifteen or so years ago. Janice started Quilts of Compassion in 1999 and I have been able to watch with admiration as her ministry has grown from donated quilts to our local hospital to the national, multi-faceted organization it is today. At long last, the head of my church's quilting group invited Janice to talk to our group and I am so thrilled that Quilts of Compassion is now in our rotation! We were able to donate 71 quilts for the Harvey deployment.

This is Janice and I with the fourth quilt I donated. I'm calling it my Garage Sale Vintage quilt. I will be posting about it soon because it has a unique story all of its own.

As with my Quilts for Pulse quilt and other quilts I donate,  I may never know who receives these quilts, but my hope and prayer is that they provide comfort in a devastating time. I hope they feel the love and prayers that have been poured into each stitch and as they cuddle underneath it, they are overwhelmed with the knowledge that someone cares for them and sees the struggle they are facing. As a family, we are praying for them as they face the long, difficult road of rebuilding and grieving what has been lost. I know flooding. I know Texas. I know loss. I hope they know they are loved. 

To see more pictures of this quilt in progress, look for #TexasStrongQuilts on Instagram.  If you'd like to see what I'm currently working on, follow me at de Jong Dream House

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  1. Beautiful quilts and a beautiful story! Your kindness and generosity will surely bring blessings to others, and (I hope) to you as well.

  2. These quilts are beautiful and you've got quite the story there. Thanks for linking up with Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal and congrats on your finish.

  3. Awesome! The quilts are wonderful and I know the recipients will be thrilled!

  4. Wonderful story and the amazing heart that accompanies it. The quilts are amazing. You are an inspiration!

  5. Beautiful quilts, thanks for linking up! It's funny that you mention new math, I also realized a while back that it is how I do math in my head :-)

  6. Thank you for sharing something so beautiful, both you, the story and your quilts. Thank you.

  7. I enjoyed reading your blog about the Texas quilts, an linking it to your own experience with flooding as a young woman. The quilts are beautiful and will be much appreciated, I'm sure. And you have a real talent for writing too.
    Kind regards, Jenny from New Zealand

  8. Seeing D put extra love into your quilts by snuggling with them brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful quilts, full of beautiful hopes. Thank your sharing your design process and end results!

  9. What a wonderful way to show your love for Texas!!

  10. Your Texas quilts are wonderful. As an Ohio girl now living her senior years in Texas I think the Texas flag is one of the prettiest state flags. I have made placemats similar to your quilts but bed size is spectacular. Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. Beautiful quilts. Beautiful story! Thanks so much for sharing it on Wednesday Wait Loss.

  12. Beautiful meaningful Quilts and such a wonderful story behind them. God bless you and all your group who donated.

  13. So much emotion in just one post. It is overwhelming. I am humbled by your kindness. I am sure these quilts will mean the world to the recipients.

  14. I enjoyed reading your story and seeing how you constructed your quilts. They look so nice! You are right, fabrics I don't think will work somehow seem to transform into just the right piece once they are sewn to another piece. I love the scrappy look of your quilts, and that your son wants to add his special touch of love.

  15. Oh Wow! Your kindness is going to be such a blessing to three families in Texas. I thank you for sharing your story too - this is why I love to read quilt blogs. Thanks for linking with Design Wall Mondays, I am adding your blog to my favorites list today. God bless you.

  16. Thanks for sharing your story and the process of creating those amazing quilts! They will provide love and comfort for people in need, you are such a generous and talented person!!

  17. thanks so much for sharing your story!


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