Saturday, June 1, 2019

Quilt 130 :: Omigolly Miss Jennifer

Back in 2013, I was talking to a few moms at my MOPS group about preschool options. One mom told me about a hidden gem that I hadn't heard of before. It's a community choice school, which means it's a public school (no tuition!). It followed the state guidelines, but had some flexibility in how they achieved those goals. It had a STEM focus, and used project-based learning. I was intrigued. 

So one day, about six years ago, I picked up D from the preschool he attended four hours a week at our church and we drove over to the new school. I was only four years into motherhood and new to the world of pick up lines. As it turned out, I had arrived just as the school day was getting out. D and I walked into the school and were greeted by a bewildered staff member who wondered why we were there. 

I'm sure I said something like, "I heard there was a school here and wanted to check it out." The woman, who later learned was Miss Jennifer, patiently asked me to hang out while parents picked up their kids and we'd talk when things settled down. At that building, there was an indoor pond by the front door with books on display. D, age 4, picked up a book and quietly read until Miss Jennifer was free to give us a tour. 

The school was as wonderful as I had hoped and D had a blast reading all the signs in the rooms and along the hallway. I asked when he could enroll and was disappointed to learn that there was a waitlist. I filled out the paperwork and began our wait. 

A few months later, we got the call that there was an opening and D could start in October. Fast forward six years, and my little boy is now a decade old and a few short days from the end of his elementary career. And still, when we arrive, or when we check him out, Miss Jennifer is the friendly face that greets us.

When I first started working through the list of teachers and staff for whom I would make quilts, I knew I wanted to make a quilt for Jennifer that would convey how she is the thread that stitches all the pieces of our school together. She may not be known as well as our teachers or principal, but her quiet work behind the scenes is what makes our community run smoothly. I spent awhile thinking of a pattern that would show her connection to everyone else at school. 

I remembered a stunning quilt I saw at a quilt show a few years back. It's called Omigosh by the late Sue Garman. I wish I had a chance to have met her when she was alive. I'm sure we unknowingly crossed paths at the Quilt Festival in 2014. Both Sue and her husband, Jack were legends at NASA. I would have loved to have heard her stories about NASA and quilting. 

I remember being stopped in my tracks when I saw the quilt because the pieces were SO tiny. I started a version of Omigosh a few years ago. The squares of the nine-patches finish at 1/2"!

I saw a "supersized" version another quilter made and thought it would be fun to make one of both. 

My Omigosh is going to take years, I suspect. Especially because anything I try to make for myself tends to get sent to the end of my to do queue. As I made the first two supersized blocks--which are still pretty small with nine patches made of 1" squares--I thought of who would be worthy of a quilt this time consuming. Miss Jennifer, of course!

Jennifer's favorite color is blue, so I made all of the churn blocks in shades of blue. 

I laid them out so that the light blue blocks would make a heart. The reality turned out a little more subtle than I had planned. I wanted each block to be different, and my goal this year was to only use my stash. I am drowning in blue prints, so I'm happy and somewhat shocked that I had this many blue prints!

For the nine patches, I used blues from each of the churn blocks from squares for each of the 12 school quilts I have made over the last six years. 

I had the idea to use scraps from the other teacher quilts a few quilts ago so some of the strips were already set aside, but it probably took two weeks of sorting through my bins to find at least 2 strips from each quilt!

For the other scraps, I thought of the quilt as a sort of I Spy quilt with some fun fussy cut blocks. 

A few Dutch squares to remind her of the de Jong family.

This little Viking was featured on the school quilt I made, and is a nod to my Minnesota roots.

Of course, we are in Ohio, so I included local sports teams, too.

l didn't want her to forget my aspiring rocket scientist, so there are a few blocks for him.

And finally, I have a little nod to the first quilt I ever made

D happily did his part to impart love into the quilt by being the first to sleep under it. 

When he was awake, he used the quilt as a background for a fun impromptu photo shoot. 

So hard to believe his days at SCOPE are ending. So many transitions in the days and weeks ahead.

Thank you Miss Jennifer, and all the teachers and staff members who pour their hearts into their kids. 

To find pictures of my progress on this quilt, check out #OmigollyMissJennifer  on Instagram. To see what I'm currently working on, including my 2019 Brain Injury quilt, follow me at deJongDreamHouse.

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  1. What a beautiful quilt, and what a work, such tiny pieces! Miss Jennifer will be over the moon with a present like this! Your son looks cute. It is so important for our children to have good teachers. They deserve a medal, or...a quilt!!

  2. Wow, it looks wonderful! So much work and love, to fussy cut such small squares! When I see the quilts you made for that school, I want to become a school teacher!

  3. PERFECT pattern for Miss Jennifer!! A million little pieces for the million details she takes care of on a daily basis. That quilt is SEW sweet!

  4. Such a beautiful quilt! I love the heart that took shape in the middle of the quilt. And those teeny pieces...Whoa!

  5. I love tiny, even though it is tedious. This is an elegant quilt filled with lots of meaning. (I doubt I could ever go back and find scraps from prevous quilts. Not that don't save scraps, but that they are not that organized.)

  6. OMIGOSH, INDEED!! What an amazing quilt -- so intricate, pieced with so much love and meaning. I adore the little Viking and the astronaut. Congratulations on creating this wonderful blessing for Miss Jennifer!

  7. What a machine you are churning out an intricate quilt like this, while still adding in fun little fussy cuts along the way and filling your sewing with meaning. I hope you will take care to back up and print your blog so you have extra copies of all these memories for D and family to look back on his early years.

  8. Beautiful quilt for a beautiful teacher who has dedicated her life to teaching young people. How lucky for you to have found that school! Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

  9. Beautiful! I love all of the personal squares you included. What a special quilt. Thanks for linking up to What I Made Monday.

  10. Oh it is a gorgeous Quilt with an amazing story!! and your impromptu photo shoot - you have a good looking kid!!! He is adorable!

  11. WOW! To say your quilt is stunning doesn't even seem to adequately cover it!


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