Friday, May 18, 2018

Quilt Goes to Market Without Me

I've been honored to be asked to make several of my hexified panel quilt One Block Wonder variations for Timeless Treasures Fabrics over the last several months. The first two, In The Garden and Tuscan Poppies, were each featured in January and February of this year on their blog, my blog, and across social media to promote the Reverie and Tuscan Poppies fabric lines designed by Chong-a Hwang. After those were complete and shared, I was asked to make a third sample to be featured at the 2018 International Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon. Despite the fact that life got complicated in the midst of this project, my husband Leslie and I managed to still make the deadline and, indeed, Dancing in the Moonlight is now hanging in Portland!

The request for the third sample came in early February from their new marketing director, Hayden Lees. The skew sheet for Chong-a Hwang's Fly By Night was emailed to me as the fabric I would be using for the next quilt, but told it wouldn't be in from the manufacturer until at least mid-March. We sent Hayden our yardage request, enough to make the quilt including borders and backing, and waited. The deadline was to have it shipped hopefully by May 1 to be photographed before going to market in mid-May; however, there was a little flex there if needed. We finally received our shipment around March 22 and were ready to get started.
Unlike other hexified panel quilts we had made, this one was requested to finish about 80"x80", much larger than we were used to, not to mention square! Les and I put our thinking caps on and went to work. We cut the strips at 2 3/4", which has become our favorite size to get a large number of hexies to work with, as well as to concentrate the color within the units for better designing. We worked together to sew all of the units into two halves, all chain pieced in sets of 12. Once the sewing was done, I spent an evening pressing all of the seams open and pinning the halves together so we could go to the design wall and get started on the layout. 

Because of the overall quilt size we needed to end up with, we used a double repeat of the yardage for the center. Using a nearly square center, it would be easier to build the hexies around and come out with a square quilt when we were done.

Luckily we have two 4'x8' sheets of insulation board covered with batting that are mounted on the wall to be used for designing.
The layout evolved over several days into what felt like two trellises climbing up the sides of the central panel, with the gold dragonfly hexies scattered across the top as though dancing across the midnight sky of hexies.
Even before the layout was complete, we pinned the accompanying fabrics up that would be used for borders to get a feel for where we would be going to reach the final size. The design wall luckily is large enough that we were able to accommodate the entire layout including experimenting with borders along one side.
As we neared the finish of the design process and started sewing the strips together for final assembly in early April, my husband managed to tweak his back and ruptured a disk. Our focus shifted overnight to running to doctor appointments and physical therapy. I continued to work, but lost my drive as I worried about my husband. I was finally ready to pin the layers just before May 1. Suddenly I was so grateful for the flex to ship it directly to Hayden in Portland just before Market and have him take photographs later.
The quilting process started about the same time Les learned he would soon be having surgery. I worked long hours to get it done as quickly as possible so I would be free mentally to be there for Les when he went in for major back surgery. In reality, I didn't finish quilting until after he returned home from his 5-day stay in the hospital. While he slept, I quilted, knowing the deadline to ship was fast approaching. 
I worked with a new design that hopefully would better fill each triangle of the hexies, thereby balancing the overall quilting with whatever I would put in the central panel. The experiment worked for the most part; although, I still had some serious waves when I laid the finished quilt on the floor to check it. The pebbles and outlining of the individual dragonflies in gold were still too much to balance and create a flat, square quilt without blocking.
As a final process, I stitched an overlock stitch on my sewing machine all the way around, put the quilt in the washer for a rinse and spin, and pinned the damp quilt to the design wall. With Les's help holding the T-square, I used blue painters tape to outline the quilt on three sides. Lots of pins later, we let it dry overnight and then I spent the day binding, looking at the clock every 30 minutes and wondering if I would make the deadline.
Before sending Dancing in the Moonlight off to Portland, I took one more picture of the completed quilt for my records, boxed it up, and headed to the FedEx office in Lawrence. It, indeed, arrived as requested in time to hang before Market started. Whew! I truly didn't know what to expect when we dove into this project, but am completely satisfied that, together, we did something amazing once again. The unexpected life event that threw us off has been resolved. Les is now recuperating from his back surgery and is back to his sewing machine a little each day. We are taking a short breather before diving into our next project. Many thanks to Timeless Treasures for trusting us to come up with a sample worthy of hanging at Quilt Market this year!

More snippets from the sewing room soon...

Fraternal ties extend to quilting!

The past several years, I have been blessed to be asked to help make very special quilts for the state officers in the Kansas Order of the Eastern Star. Several of the Past Grand Matrons who are in charge of making the quilts for the incoming Worthy Grand Matron and Worthy Grand Patron each year are quilters, and some are not. I've worked in tandem with the quilters, helping with assembly as well as quilting, and have made an entire quilt for a non-quilter. Each project has been so special and seeing the recipients with their quilts is quite a thrill knowing I had some small (or not so small) part in making their gifts.
My journey with these wonderful gifted quilts began in 2014 when I made 20 personalized mini-quilts for the grand officers to be gifted by then-Worthy Grand Matron Donna Fagg. She and I worked back and forth to get the colors right; make sure the names, offices, and escorts were all correct; and come up with a finished design that met with her vision. It was somewhat of a challenge as these were made of silk, shantung, and cotton. I used a pinking blade in my rotary cutter to reduce fraying and produced what felt like pounds of silk "dust" that was everywhere in my sewing room. In the end they were wonderful and so gratefully received by each officer.

Later that same year, I was asked by the officers to make signature quilts for WGM Donna and WGP Mike. Two identical quilts, each with blocks signed by all of the officers, were made and gifted at their Christmas party.

In late 2016, I was asked to make quilted wall hangings for the new WGM Susan and WGP Pete to be presented at their Christmas party. These were, again, customized to represent each of their themes and emblems for their year in office.

For the incoming 2017-2018 Worthy Grand Matron Wanda Ryan, I was blessed to be able to help with the making of her special quilt as well as quilting it. Past Grand Matron Pam Abel pieced all of the snowflakes, while I pieced the central Eastern Star emblem, using Wanda's father's neckties for the colored star points. Wanda's father had recently passed away and PGM Pam and Wanda's family thought using the ties would be a wonderful memorial to be included in her quilt. 
After the quilt was assembled and bordered, I got it back and quilted it using lots of ruler work to make the secondary design of stars in the quilting itself. I was able to be at Wanda's reception to see her receive this special quilt.

The current 2018-2019 Worthy Grand Matron Mary Hayselden and Worthy Grand Patron Steve Boyer received their special quilts just in the last few weeks. I quilted WGM Mary's Hawaiian applique that was hand appliqued and made by PGM Pam Abel.

I was asked by PGM Susan McGinnis if I would be willing to make WGP Steve's quilt since she is not a quilter. I chose the Two-Fabric Bargello pattern, added just a touch of purple as a third fabric to highlight one of his colors for the year, and worked with a black-to-silver ombre and a coordinating Effervesance fabric. The overall look of the finished quilt reminds me of a sound wave that I felt suited his interests in music and radio, and had it quilted by my friend Sandra Morgan Cockrum with flames that tie into his love of Harley's.

In future years I have no idea whether I'll be honored with the opportunity to help on these special quilts again; however, if asked I will definitely say yes! Eastern Star has been part of my life for over 40 years and I love being involved both in my local chapter, as well as helping at the state level with such special projects.

More snippets from the sewing room soon...