Every quilt has a story. This is the story of the first real quilt I made.
In the spring of 2015, Jennifer, Jessica or JJ…whatever name she goes by in any given group, asked me to make a quilt for her, as she had just purchased a new home. She is my daughter. I was thrilled. I had only done one quilt project, a small meditation mat in chakra colors, quilted with infinity patterns.
I asked what she had in mind and she mentioned the picture in her bedroom, Starry Nights by Vincent Van Gogh. Ok, now I had some guidelines for her queen-sized quilt. I began the search for fabrics and was excited to create something with that famous painting as a model.
I didn’t ask her, but I never thought she would want a quilt that looked just like the picture. I thought of using the colors and the painting as inspiration. I began to try laying the prints out in a design that followed the trees, village, stars, moon, etc. That was not working!
I must give credit here to my friend, muse and sew mate, Jude Brown (www.judemadeit.com). She kept me on track and from getting discouraged with this big project I had taken on. I had decided on a random, traditional, almost scrappy pattern with what turned out to be very small squares for this large quilt. Oh well, this is part of who I am…I don’t usually take an easy path!
Finally getting my groove on, I had the squares on the design wall and was ready to sew the strips together. Next step…decide on the backing. Again, never taking the easy way out, I decided to use the same color story and create a modern quilt style back so the quilt would be more or less reversible. I think somewhere inside me I was afraid JJ would not like the top, so maybe she would like the back.
All this took several months! I did not actually start until her birthday, July 16! So it is a birthday and house warming gift at that point. I got the top and the back finished by late August. I was really happy with the outcome of both sides. Then another delay…we had planned a month trip to Italy. I had hopes of getting the quilt done before then, but nope!
Upon our return home, my next job was to sandwich the top and bottom and then the whole thing needed quilting. My hope was to do the quilting, but I soon realized there was no way I could work this large quilt on my small Bernina (the same old machine that had made so many of JJ’s childhood clothes)…
I took the “sandwich” to Kim McCray at Windswept Quilting and am so happy I did. I can’t say how happy I am with the outcome of her quilting on this project. I simply told her I wanted something swirly to go with the theme of the painting. She took it from there with her beautiful freeform work and this makes the whole thing so beautiful! Thank you, Kim!
So, the quilt is finished except for the binding. I am ecstatic and can’t wait to finish to see the completed project. The binding process was a time when I could reflect on so many things and I appreciate having this time mostly alone. Everything about this quilt evokes my love for my daughter. I have remembered, prayed, been frustrated, lifted her up, and more during the process, but during the binding I was particularly aware of how a quilt is like life, how it takes shape with trial and error (especially if it is your first one). The way you can take all these little miscellaneous pieces of fabric and create a masterpiece is kind of amazing. You see, that is what JJ is to me…a masterpiece. I know she, like all of us, is still a work in progress, but I am so proud of the woman she has become. Bumps and bruises, both self-inflicted and mom-inflicted (others too, but this is about us) have been taken in stride and she glows with talent, wisdom and beauty!
As I am writing this I think of a picture that was taken of us long ago…about 22 years…that reflects a bit of a starry theme…
JJ, may you continue to dream and reach for the stars. May you sleep under this quilt and dream of all your hopes and desires, knowing that I love you and that I am thankful for you and the opportunity to make this quilt, which has now become Merry Christmas too! How could I have known it would mean so much to me!