14 March 2009

Labor of love - Nana's memory quilt

I've been working in secret on a memory quilt for my mother in law's birthday. This is my first memory quilt and the fastest I've tried to pull off a quilt of this size.

Smiling faces and poems for the front. And yes, this started out as five large disappearing nine patches. (Guess I'm on a roll with those!)
The back is pieced with a strip of 8" fabric and notes from her grandchildren. They are all cute messages, but I think my favorite is the footprint of baby Evan. That tiny footprint pretty much says it all.

Some details up close.

The practical:
My husband thought purple was her favorite color and I rarely see her without a Vera Bradley bag of some sort usually in purple, blue or green, so I chose fabrics in these colors from my favorite fabric designer, Kaffe Fassett.

It's lap size (50" x 60") because my mother-in-law is a knitter and while knitting warms up your forearms, it leaves the rest of you chilly unless you're sitting beside a warm fire or can knit while walking on a treadmill...

Because of the high recommendations it received, I used Printed Treasures sew-in fabric for the photos and artwork. I haven't had a chance to wash the quilt yet since I just finished in time for her surprise party today, but I've got my fingers crossed that all the positive reviews are accurate when they promise the printed fabric can be washed.

Savannah's picture in the quilt. She was most excited to have been placed in the same row as her cousin Abby - the girls share the same temperament; imaginative, creative, sensitive, affectionate.

The rest:
I really wanted to make something special for her birthday. As I started the project I realized that this was not so much a gift from me as it was from all of her grandchildren - their smiling faces with toothy grins and cute notes of love and appreciation for their Nana. That's what makes the quilt special. Really, it's all these little people that make up her legacy. I hope she enjoys it.

Things I learned:
No matter how alluring the thread-count and manufacturer's name, don't use tightly-woven fabrics for the quilt back. Even though it seems simple and plain to use a quilter's cotton or a muslin for backing fabric, it is easier to baste and quilt and hides needles and threads better.

Don't keep your magnetic pin cushion anywhere near your sewing machine. The magnet can cause your machine to go haywire.

Keep an assortment of sewing needles on hand for troubleshooting issues that arise with different fabrics when sewing. Sometimes the best needle for quilting is not a quilting needle but a denim needle or sharp needle.

EQ6 quilting software can be really helpful, when you have limited fabrics or time and can't "play" around with a design. After using it for a week, I give it an 8-star rating (out of 10) since it is missing some features that would have made it easier to use. Here are some of the designs I considered:

A modified log cabin - I almost made this one but thought I was too short on time. The heart in the bottom corner was an applique I considered adding, but it seemed to draw too much attention away from the grandkids.

Another layout for a disappearing nine patch quilt. In the end I decided I wanted the kids' pictures and art to be the showcase, not a more artistic design.

A straight-forward alternating square block pattern that I still really like, but was worried that my choice of such vibrant fabrics might not blend as well with this design.


Miri said...

What a wonderful gift...the quilt is just beautiful in itself...the pictures of the grandkids just make it extra special and adding the notes and footprint on the back was sheer genius!

Love it!

Atlanticsong said...

Thank you Mimi! I'm just glad I could pull it off so quickly.