Sunday, March 31, 2019

One Monthly Goal :: March 2019 Update

March 2019 is one for the books. I'm not ready to fully reveal the news quite yet, but we should have a big announcement next month. What I can say is that I didn't get to spend nearly enough time sewing or sleeping this month!

I didn't realize that my month was going as wild as it was, but I'm glad that for once my goal was only to work on a quilt, not finish one! My goal for March was to work on the Omigolly quilt for my son's school secretary. I didn't make a lot of progress on my goal, but I did manage to do most of the prep work.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the month, Omigolly is an enlarged version of the Omigosh Quilt by the late Sue Garman.  This is Sue's original version with its itty bitty half inch blocks.

Omigosh is on my to do queue, but first I will finish Miss Jennifer's Omigolly. Here are blocks from each to show the size difference. The smallest pieces in Omigolly are a massive one inch in comparison.

This was my original idea for Omigolly. The idea was to make a tree reminiscent of our school logo out of the brown, green, and blue blocks.

But then I had a different idea. Miss Jennifer is the glue that keeping everything running at school. She is our heart. We love our teachers, of course, and other staff, but Miss Jennifer is often the first and last face our students see. And like, a lot of administrators, her work is vital but easy to overlook. I saved her quilt for last because I wanted her quilt to be the connection between all of the other school quilts I've made. It took most of the month to dig through all my scrap bins to find at least three 1.5" strips from each of the eleven quilts I've already made for the school and staff. 

Jennifer's favorite color is blue, so had a new idea. I will use navy, royal, and baby blue blocks to make a heart and scraps from all the other quilts for the nine-patches and four-patches.

I can't seem to do anything the easy way, so it's taken me awhile to get started. I don't want any of my patches to repeat so I'm taking a little extra time to make sure that I don't have any repeats. 

I'm hopeful that the tedious part is done and now I have moved on to the more fun part of seeing my blocks come together. 

I'll keep plugging away on it so it's done by the end of the school year, but I suspect I will be very easy on myself for the next month's goal. 

You'll be able to find pictures of my progress on this quilt as #OmigollyMissJennifer.  To see what I'm currently working on, including my 2019 Brain Injury quilt, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

Previous OMGs:
March 2019 - Omigolly Miss Jennifer

June 2017 - Niels' Weighted Blanket (full post)

Linked to: Elm Street Quilts

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Quilt #125 :: Mrs. Miller's Steinway

It's March, which means that spring break is here. After that, the end of the school year--D's last at his amazing school--is edging closer, and I am edging closer to the end of my list of thank you quilts for the staff. My latest finish is a quilt for D's music teacher, Mrs. Miller. (Settle in, this is a long, photo-intensive post!)

One of my absolute favorite pictures from the last six years is this one, taken after his first day of kindergarten and he didn't want to go home. Mrs. Graves, our principal, is the foreground, coaxing him out. (Mrs. Graves received her quilt last year). Mrs. Miller is laughing in the background. I love how it captures her joy. She is a wonderful gift to our school 

Making this quilt was my February One Monthly Goal. Some of you already know about the inspiration, but I will summarize here.

I first started thinking of Mrs. Miller's quilt last spring when I made an inventory of what I had left to do. Of course it would be music-related and I wanted to incorporate the school song. For several months, this paper was all I had in the project box for this quilt.

When we came in to say hello at the open house in August, I took a picture of the sheet music to our school song.

There are a lot of great music quilt out there. I was leaning toward a log cabin piano quilt I saw, but was hoping for something a little less time intensive because the next and last quilt will take a quilt. When I saw these two quilts, especially with Deborah's appliqued sheet music, I knew what I wanted to do. (I asked both quilters about the source of the quilt. Deborah said she saw it somewhere, then sketched it out. Lynn said that it was in a magazine years ago. If anyone knows the answer, please let me know!)

After having no luck finding the pattern or designer with a reverse image search, talking to those who had posted their version, and scouring Pinterest, I opted to reverse engineer the squares and HSTs of the original design.

I started with the Trip Around the World background because it was the easiest. I was still figuring out how to do the keyboard and bottom of the piano. It was was a little wasteful to do the background this way because I wouldn't be using many of the pieces, but it was very helpful for finding the center. 

That reminds me that one of the few quilts I still have to share is the baby quilt I made for my cousin's son. It was my first (and only) Trip Around the World. Maybe I'll share that one next. 

It ended up being a good way to plan the colors because my goal was to use only scraps and I found that I was a little short on some of my original choices.

Once the background was sorted, I started adding the piano pieces. 

I used four different shades to convey depth. 

I made lots of edits along the way. For example, I changed the pedals from gold to silver. 

And it took me a few tries to figure out which back leg I needed (or didn't).

And the lift really gave me fits! How to make a diagonal piece. Where does the lift start? Where does it end? Should the edge of the piano be angled or straight? 

If I had more time, I would have paper pieced the blocks with the lift, but instead, I made bias tape and appliqued it down.

While I was working on this quilt, I was constantly looking at photos of grand pianos on the internet. One day, I was at a house with a real live grand piano!  I took a million pictures and got down to eye level with the keys to see how they should look.

If I were to make it again, I would like to try to add a lamp or metronome. 

The bench was pretty easy to figure out. Using HSTs on the top corners really helped with the perspective. The pedals are half the size of the bench legs. 

And then it was time to make the keys. I found a small piano keyboard print and the large piano print
in the inspiration picture, but neither was the right size so I realize I had to make them individually. It was a little trick getting the spacing right. I opted for 1/4" between the black keys within an octave and 1/2" between the octaves. The black keys are 1/2" wide.

I thought briefly of stitching lines to indicate individual keys, but I decided that was too much crazy math!

So much tiny!

The center of the quilt looked a little plain, so I decided to add the Steinway name and logo. I wish every music teacher could be gifted a Steinway piano for all the tireless work and love they pour into our kids, but alas, I can only make one. 

The new skill I am most excited about is thread painting. I have seen some incredible thread painted quilts at shows and it's been on my bucket list to try. I've learned how to set my Janome 9400 up for free motion but I'm still in the train wheel stage. But I knew enough to have an idea.

First, I printed the logo on freezer paper, and ironed it in place. Then with my needle speed as slow as it would go in the free motion setting, I stitched through the freezer paper

I started with a practice piece of fabric. Good thing I did. There was a learning curve!

By the time I finishe the logo, I was feeling pretty confident.

Now I was ready to do the real thing, with metallic silver thread.

The hardest part was actually picking off the tiny pieces of paper. I was able to put my new cordless mini vac to good use. Best gift ever. 

This shows the scale. 

The last thing was to add to sheet music. When I furtively asked about the music for the school song, Mrs. Miller was kind enough to send the sheet music home with D. I took a picture of it, then adjusted it online. I cut a letter-size piece of music fabric and printed the sheet music on the wrong side.

I thought I was done with the top...

but then I realized I print page 3 of the sheet music instead of page 1. Gah! And this is the part where I learned that Steam a Seam 2 is magic! I used to use Heat N Bond Lite, and it really bonds! I like Steam a Steam 2 because it's two-sided. I can move a piece around if I realize the placement isn't perfect. When I made the sheet music, I had already topstitched around it to secure it to the quilt top.

Once I ripped out the stitches, all I had to do was iron the fabric again and came right off! Magic! I was so afraid it would pull or rip the fabric underneath but it was perfect.

When I made the sheet music the second time, I remembered to take pictures. I like to cut 1/4" strips of the Steam a Seam 2, take off one side of the protective page, and line the edges of my applique, with the sticky side down. This is the process I use for my labels as well. The paper side is just rigid enough to hold the 1/4" seam when I fold and press the seam over. Then I lift the seam up, remove the paper, and finger press it back down.

I cut the corners to avoid bulk.

Next, I cut a piece of Steam a Seam 2 the same size as my fabric piece and, after removing one side of the protective paper, place it over the entire thing.

The adhesive is activated when pressed and the seams are secure.

Finally, using the same method, I created the label with PowerPoint. I cut a piece of white music print 8.5" x 11", pressed a same-size piece of freezer paper to it, and print my label.

The only thing left was to let D work his magic of imbuing the quilt with his love by sleeping with it.

After taking my traditional photos from the back porch, I thought I was done. But then as we were driving around an area I wasn't familiar with, I saw this piano-shaped sign.

Because D is more interested in Mars than music, pianos have been off my radar. It wasn't until we pulled off the highway to find it that I realize it was a Steinway gallery!

I learned the value of the Steinway name as a girl taking piano lessons in Minnesota. There was no question that it was the name I would give to Mrs. Miller's quilt. What I didn't know was the history of Steinway's presence in Ohio, particularly with Oberlin College and Conservatory, which became the first all-Steinway school.

We made plans to return in a few days with my quilt. When we arrived, we stopped inside to ask permission to take a photo outside. 

The manager of the Cleveland Gallery, Bryan, was so generous! He invited inside to take photos with the Steinways. Here are a few of my favorites. 

The gallery itself is a wonderful place with gorgeous, gleaming instruments and walls covered with photos of Steinway artists and technicians.

The area where we took photos was set up as a concert area where artists are invited to come showcase their talents. I'm so glad we saw that sign!

This week I also learned that the former Steinway gallery location was recently purchased and will be restored to its former glory.

By this time, I had a grown quite attached to the quilt. Alas, it was time to take it home. On the last day of school before spring break, I caught Mrs. Miller by surprise on her way to the parking lot. 

There are few things better than delivering a quilt in person to someone who is both surprised and appreciative.

Her expressions were priceless. I'm so grateful that a friend was there to take pictures!

Because it was pick up on the last day of spring break, it was a little busy as parents were driving up, but I loved seeing the faces as they watched the scene unfold. My favorite photo is when D's regular teacher, who received her quilt last spring, came over. 

D has learned a lot more about music that he acknowledges and everytime he belts out tunes from John Williams to Mozart to Queen, I know it is her influence. 

As the proud daughter of teachers, I know how hard Mrs. Miller and other teachers work. I hope this shows just a small bit of appreciation I have for the love the pour into my son.

This has been such a fun project, I hate to see it go. But these pictures remind me that it is now exactly where it was meant to be. 

You'll be able to find pictures of this quilt on Instagram at #MillerMusicQuilt. To see what I'm currently working on, including my 2019 Brain Injury quilt, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

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