Monday, August 8, 2016

Faith & Freedom, a finished quilt

In mid January,
Jodi asked if she could hire me to make a quilt 
for her oldest daughter
and her husband.

before quilting.
(and before I moved around a block there on the top left)

She knows my story
(that when I sew for pay,
I use 100% of what I earn 
to buy sewing machines for Rahab's Rope,
so women rescued from the sex trade
can learn a new skill 
- sewing -
 so they can support themselves
and their families
and with dignity.)
and she knows that I love to infuse meaning into my work,
so she thought I was just the person
to make this special anniversary gift.

First and foremost,
Chris and Kristin's
(how cute is that?!)
Chris and Kristin's 
love for God needed to be evident.

And coming in a very close second,
their love of freedom,
and for each other.

We messaged back and forth some ideas,
then drawing inspiration from this pin
and Fig Tree's Milky Way pattern
I drew up a design.

Then I re-designed it,
so it wouldn't be quite as much of a puzzle to put together
once I had all of the components pieced.

(also known as Pookie Bear 
to those of us lucky enough to know her as a little girl ;-)
met Chris in the Afghanistan desert,
while she was an Airman
and he was a soldier in the US Army.

Between them,
they've served our country for 16 years!
(Thank you!!)

They are celebrating their 3rd anniversary on the 24th.
(This is the 3rd time they've celebrated their anniversary apart
due to deployment and separate duty stations.)

I chose to use a range of cream - tan colored neutrals
to represent the sand they met on
and since Kristin prefers vintage over modern
I went with a whole slew of prints
(with a few solids thrown in)
rather than a single solid tan for the background.

 I bought all the fabrics I found 
that were in the right color family
(and since I ordered a lot online,
I bought quite a few that weren't in the right color family, too.
I now have a decent stash of darker tans)
but I selected a few based on their interests,
like these:

Chris works with Special Forces, and I thought the fabric with letters and coordinates was perfect for that :-)

and a few more that I apparently didn't photograph.

Kristin's favorite color is green,
while Chris's is blue,
so that determined our color scheme

plus - green is the Army color,
and blue is the Air Force color....

but I had to add a little red,
*freedom* calls for red, 
I think.

I picked a pinky-red 
to represent their daughter, Adelynn
(and even free-motion quilted her name in that firework/star,
but you have to look really closely to see it)

I'd already started making my blocks
when Jodi messaged me
that she'd like Africa and Germany represented, too.

because Kristin lived there for 6 months, 
teaching school in Ghana,
and Chris will be going there for his next tour of duty.
(Now, is his next ToD,
so he is actually in Africa right now)

That one was easy,
because I won a few yards of this awful blue and green zebra fabric
They say if you cut it up small enough,
even ugly fabric looks good,
so I kept it.
I'm so glad I did,
because it was just perfect for this project.

needed a nod,
because both Christopher and Kristin were born in Germany!

That one caused a bit of consternation.
How was I going to represent Germany??

I have a couple of blogging friends that live in Germany,
so I thought maybe I could ask one of them to send me something.
Also, there's Karen,
whom I met in Dallas,
when she was moving back from Germany;
I thought she might have a small strip of suitable fabric....

But I'm not very good at asking for favors,
so I googled German fabric designers,
and found that Brigitte Heitland was born in Black Forest, Germany.
(one of the places, incidentally, that our families visited together!)
And I just happened to have a couple of pieces of blue zen chic
in my stash :-)
so it seemed like an excellent choice.

I had intended for the church to be a little more subtle 
then it ended up,

but then I got to thinking,
isn't that really how it should be?
(Not the church, exactly, but our relationship with God.
It should be evident to all,
not just those who look closely...)

So I decided it was fitting that the church
was so 'front and center'..

I tried trapunto for the first time on this quilt.

Suffice it to say, there's a bit of a learning curve,
and it definitely requires some extra time,
so it's not a technique I'll probably use terribly often,
but I was glad to push myself and add to my skills
and it's a perfect addition,
in my not-terribly-humble opinion ;-)

Because I didn't want my church just floating out there in space,
I anchored it on a lush green lawn
(made from 184 pieces of  36 different fabrics)
where you can imagine people sprawling about on quilts of their own,
to watch the sky explode with color.

Even though there are plenty of triangles in the background
I used a few in the grass, too,
so they'd be more obvious,
because Jodi had requested something to represent the Trinity.

Tri-angles; Trinity...
(I thought it worked)

it added more dimension to the grass ;-)

I added the improv curves to the horizon,
another new-to-me technique,
because I thought it would be far more pleasing to the eye
than a hard line.

I admit I was quite nervous
cutting curves across my already completed firework blocks,
but I'm pleased with the outcome.

I think next time I play with improve curves, though,
I'll do it on fabric that didn't take me hours and hours to make first.

Jodi had mentioned a quote that Kristen and Chris like
from a paper by Gordon Hinckley
'a silver thread in the dark tapestry of war'
(or maybe it was a sermon? 
I looked it up,
but I've forgotten now)

I wasn't sure if I wanted to add the quote to my design,
but I knew then and there
that I was at least adding some silver thread 
to the quilt.

The doors and windows seemed like the perfect spot.
(Serendipitously, the silver thread
refers to a new church,
planted during the Vietnam War.
I didn't learn that until after I'd started quilting the church.)

I had an awful time finding something I wanted for the back
and frankly,
I was being cheap especially thrifty.

I charge for expenses
plus $10 per hour for labor.
I pay myself back for the fabric and notions,
and then all of the labor that I'm paid
goes to buy sewing machines.

Because Jodi is so special,
and I knew I wanted this quilt to be extra special
(aka - would take a really long time to make!)
I didn't want to charge by the hour,
so just quoted a flat price.
My goal was to keep costs at $100, so I could give 3 machines.

Needless to say,
it's nearly impossible to make a lap sized quilt
for only $100 in supplies,
so I'd already gone over my self imposed limit.

I really wanted to give 3 machines, though,
so I was just going to cover the additional cost.
And I didn't mind, 
because it was for Pookie...

So - back to my backing dilemma.

Tyler fussed at me for being cheap,
and said, "It's for Kristin.
Buy the backing that the quilt deserves."

I finally found a soft flannel,
with blue and red stars on a mottled tan background.

(I somehow missed getting a picture of the whole back of the quilt)

I prewashed it with extra warm water and dried it on high,
after have been advised to do so by my google search,
and then I sewed two 70 inch x WoF pieces together,
after carefully glue basting my (horizontal) seam.

And darn it!
That fabric had shrunk enough
that is was too short.
(I hadn't thought to measure after pulling it out of the dryer - duh)
So I pieced in a strip of the fabric I'd bought for binding the grass portion
and all was well.

I was out of both my bamboo blend and Warm and White batting
(I don't even know how this happened!)
so I ordered more bamboo
and while I was at it,
to try.

While I was waiting on the batting to arrive,
I worked on my surprise quilt.

The new batting seemed pretty soft,
a bit heftier than other battings I'd tried,
and it had great reviews.
so I figured I'd give it a whirl.

That was a good call; 
it's very nice,
and I will certainly order it again.

I'm sure it's partly due to the flannel backing,
but this quilt is really snuggly with a lot of weight to it.
It quilted up nicely 
and hand-quilting was comparable to hand quilting bamboo.
Definitely better than Warm and White.

The fact that it's inexpensive is a happy bonus.

I didn't want the binding to frame the quilt
as much as finish it off nicely,

so I chose Michael Miller's Theory of Aviation
since the colors seemed perfect
(and hello - aviation / Air Force...)

and made yards and yards (and yards)
of 2 1/2 inch bias binding strips
which I then sewed by machine.

As you know, not my favorite method,
but more durable, I'm told ;-)

After quilting the church,
I free motion quilted loops and swirls and asterisk fireworks
to create a great texture

and I hid a bunch of words 
and their wedding date 
among the quilting, too.

Like little surprises to be found :-)

I worked from a list of qualities and attributes that Jodi had given,
but added a word of my own, too.

Since I didn't have a single color that was just right,
I quilted the grass with 4 different green threads
in a sort of spiky zig zag of different heights.

I ended up quilting it a little more heavily than I'd planned,
but after washing, that area was still plenty soft and drapey.

All together,
I used 125 fabrics,
1800(ish) yards of thread
2 cans of sizing and 1 can of starch
prob'ly 10 needles
4 oz of basting spray
over 100 hours
and lots of love and prayers.

When I received the check from Jodi,
she'd paid me a lot more than the agreed upon amount.

I'll pay myself back entirely for all supplies,
and I will be able to give five
(five!! :-)
sewing machines 
to Rahab's Rope.

Jodi ~ Thank you for supporting my dream,
and helping me 
help precious women.
And thank you 
for allowing me to participate in a family heirloom.

I hope I correctly interpreted all of your hopes and wishes
for this special gift.

Kristin, Chris ~ I hope when you use your quilt,
(and please - use it!)
you feel the love of your family,
and my love, too.
Your mom is so, so proud of you both!
I feel like I know you now as a woman,
and not just the chubby curly haired, sweet lipped baby and toddler 
of my memories.

Happy Anniversary!

It was an honor to make your quilt.


  1. I absolutely love it! I love the design, the final product and the great thought and care you put into it. Such a treasure!

  2. Wow - this is an amazing story, and amazing quilt. I love how the colours and fabrics represent parts/memories of their lives. What a wonderful gift for them to treasure. Also what a wonderful thing you do by purchasing new machines when you make a quilt.

  3. Your quilt is a work of art! So beautiful!

  4. This. Is. Amazing!!! Really, I'm floored by how gorgeous this is and how much love and meaning you put into it. Seriously, I'm tearing up right now. The church and all the meaning of the colors and fabrics - just wow! What a treasure you created. You inspire me with your generousity, Tracy. You are a really cool lady. (Sorry I haven't been to visit your blog lately. We moved from Vegas to Germany and it's just about killing me. Haven't had a machine accessible in 6 weeks. Right now they are both on a boat.)

  5. Thank you so much!!! It's gorgeous! Me and Chris love it. Can't wait for him to get home and see it in person. He can help me find the hidden words, I'm having a blast looking for them. You have such an amazing talent. I love that you're using it to help such a good cause. God bless you and your family. Thanks again for such a wonderful anniversary present.

  6. Wow a very special journey full of love and hope, thank you for sharing it with us.

  7. Oh wow what a wonderful quilt and a wonderful post - the love that's gone into this quilt and all the special secret bits brings a lump to my throat. thank you so much for sharing it with us, that is one very special creation :)

  8. Beautiful, Just beautiful. Speechless

  9. I love this quilt and the quilting. You did an amazing job! Also thank you for the story behind it and through it.


You're leaving me a comment?? Oh goody! I love comments :-)