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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  1. Great work,Jen. Teachers don't the bonuses, holiday gifts, etc that are given to other professions, so I know how this quilt will be treasured! .

  2. Wow! Such a thoughtful special gift for a special person. Thank you for sharing your design process.

  3. I love that quilt too! Your work is exquisite!! I love that you were able to take pictures of it at Steinway & Sons and it showed what a fabulous job you did on the emblem!! The pictures of her seeing the quilt for the first time are priceless and the shock on the other teacher's wonderful. This will be a precious heirloom for her family, cherished for generations! As a retired teacher, I know how much the teachers appreciate these kinds of gifts!

  4. Very special gift and fabulous quilt. Thanks for sharing all the photos of the special moment. I'm sure it feels wonderful to be appreciated for both the maker and the recipient.

  5. This is a tremendous gift - so nice to see it finished and given! How cool to get it photo-op'd at the shop. Jen, you are extremely talented at inserting design details that elevate a pattern to new heights!

  6. What an amazing gift. Your work is exquisite. I love how the gradation of the trip around the world background provides a glow to the piano.

  7. What a beautiful quilt and those pictures are really amazing!

  8. What a thoughtful and beautiful gift. Your quilt turned out magnificently! I have to tell you, I was nearly in tears by the end of the post. Be sure to thank your friend again for those magical photos that captured every expression. Outstanding!

  9. What a beautiful story, and how serendipitous to run across the Steinway gallery! Thanks for linking up to What I Made Monday.

  10. OMG -- what a wonderful gift. what a wonderful quilt. I was lucky enough to have use of a Steinway for several years. Unfortunately I don't play. Mom was trained as a classical musician but I wasn't interested as a kid. (Boy if I could go back and tell that kid some things!) But my daughter has played piano for years so the Steinway was left to her. She finally took it to her house when she had a big enough space. Your quilt is amazing. I'm so in awe of all you did to make this such a perfect quilt for Mrs. Miller. Didn't know about Oberlin and Steinways. Congratulations on a job well done and photographed.

  11. This quilt is just stunning. The thought and intent and love that you put into your quilts shines through. I'm so glad that the sheet music was easy to replace!

  12. Oh my goodness -- this is AMAZING, especially all of those details you added to for personalization. I can't believe you achieved such a realistic logo result through thread painting, and with the added challenge of metallic thread at that! And adding the actual sheet music, printed onto fabric, with the school song... Absolutely stunning, no wonder the poor music teacher was bawling! :-). Mission accomplished, SuperQuilter!!! Can I ask for more information about how you printed onto the music fabric and the label fabric? I used those printer-ready fabric sheets once before but when I washed the finished quilt I was REALLY discouraged by how much the colors faded in a cold wash cycle. I'm currently percolating ideas for a chemo quilt that I'd like to make for a church choir director, and would love to incorporate fabric printed with some of his favorite choir anthems -- I'm just leery of using those same prepackaged sheets of fabric and having the music disappear from his quilt the first time it gets washed. If you're printing onto a music printed fabric, they must not be precut printer sheets, are they? I'm curious about whether you're using a laser or inkjet printer, whether you have to put a special ink cartridge in the printer, and what if anything you're using to set those dyes. Or is this technique just better suited to projects that are going to be wall hangings and never ever get washed?

    You TOTALLY nailed this quilt. Congratulations!!

    1. I know what you mean about the printer-ready sheets. I used them at first, but found them to be pretty stiff, and the colors darken after washing which makes photos harder to see. What I do know is cut 8.5 x 11 pieces of Kona white (or any thick white fabric) and freezer paper. I buy it in pre-cut sheets, but you can also cut from a regular roll. I press the fabric onto the freezer paper, which makes the fabric thick enough to run through my regular ink-jet printer. I iron the label before removing it from the freezer paper, which seems to set the ink. (Be sure to wipe off the iron before using on regular fabric). After removing the paper, I use Steam a Seam as explained above. I hope that helps! I really need to make a separate post on labels at some point!

  13. What an amazing quilt and labor of love!

  14. This quilt is one of my all time favourites ever. I'm glad you were able to change the music sheet so that it was right for you. The piano gallery photo shoot was a terrific idea that got a life of its own and the photos you got of the handover are precious beyond words. Thanks for sharing at Clever Chameleon.


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