Memories to Heirlooms
Memories to Heirlooms
Do you have a friend that you have known for years; through their children’s births, through good and hard times? I have several. The children of one of these families made me an adopted aunt. I have been to birthday and Christmas celebrations, summer picnics and weddings. Through this I got to know their extended family including their Sasha, my friend’s father.
Their Sasha made a career of the Air Force. It was there he met is match, a registered nurse, also in the USAF. Sasha and MomMom were a match made in heaven and tough and nails. It prepared them to raise their five children in the service, where they were stationed all over the world.
Sasha retired from the Air Force June of 1971 as lieutenant colonel. He was a hospital administrator in the Air Force and continued that career in civilian life.
He was kind, funny, bright and honorable. I loved kidding and talking with him. After he passed, my friend asked me to make 10 pillows from his dress uniform, over coat, dog tags and medals for the men in the family. Once I could bring myself to cut, it became a remarkable experience. Each pillow was unique but on each one I placed his monogram and made a pocket to hold a card that listed his honors.
I feel blessed to be able to use my talents to help tell his story and make something so special for the family. I believe he would have been happy and honored with the results.
If you have items tucked away for safe keeping, we could work together to create heirlooms that you live in your home and the homes of people you love. Contact us and we can start a special tribute.
My brother, Mike, tells the story about visiting Great Grandma and Great Grandpa when my beloved stuffed animal, Sleepy Cat, had been left at home. At bedtime, I was inconsolable because I had never slept without my dear friend. Great Grandpa, in his kind and quiet way, walked out of the room, returned with a big fluffy slipper, and handed it to me. Problem solved.
Sleepy Cat was with me well into my adulthood when she was well past her prime.
I share this with you so you might understand that when I first saw Celia's Slippy Blanket, all worn and torn, I understood this was a well-loved, dependable, dear old friend.
Celia thought Slippy was lost for good but recently found it at the bottom of her childhood closet while helping her mother move. Celia claimed Slippy Blanket as a child when her parents didn't like how it slipped off their bed. She just loved it's slipperiness and has fond memories of its original gold background and pink roses. Several weeks after I received Slippy, Celia contacted me to explain how important the curved quilting (bottom left-hand corner of the above picture) was to her. She told me that as a child, she would trace the stitches with her finger. I had to look very closely to see what she meant, which only deepened my understanding of their bond.
As I started to work, I counted 5 past surgeries; from zig-zag to fine hand stitches to darning. For years, life has been breathed into Slippy Blanket, and now it was my turn.
Celia's primary wish was to restore Slippy to it's silky, fluffiness in either pink, grey or a combination of the two.
I knew Slippy was made from a synthetic fiber by its feel and durability. To determine which fiber I conducted a burn test. Conclusion: polyester because it melted to hard ash. (Fabric Mart has great instructions for conducting and evaluating a burn test.)
Did you know polyester fabric could be dyed at home? I didn't until I talked to the wonderful people at Dharma Trading Company. They told me about iDye Poly, and the results were fantastic. I sent the samples off in the mail and Celia settled on the raspberry color.
Slippy was dyed outside using a turkey fryer. It was great not to have the fumes in the house. I also dyed some small spools of cotton quilting thread to see if the whole spool would take the dye. Answer: Cotton does not take iPoly dye as polyester does.
Slippy was studied to determine how much usable fabric was available. Then it was graphed with movable "puzzle pieces" to determine how to remake Slippy as large as possible. Only once this was decided was any fabric cut.
The pieces were sewn using a French seam, which encases the edges. Then the seam was folded to one side and stitched again, resulting in a strong bond and design detail.
Some of the fabric pieces needed to be patched or reinforced. Rather than sew down the patches, which would affect the feel, patches were fused using iron-on webbing. I tested 4 webbings: Heat and Bond, Light Wonder Under, Heavy Wonder Under and Ultra Hold Heat and Bond. For the test, each was fused to a scrap of fabric and washed with 5 different loads of laundry. Ultra Hold Heat & Bond had the best hold but stiffened the fabric. The other three all held well without impacting the feel, so I went with Heat and Bond. I applied it on the wrong side of the fabric at every place Slippy could use some reinforcement.
Putting it together
Slippy ended up being a good-sized quilt tied with white wool yarn. The pocket in the corner is large enough to hold Slippy's Story Starter as well as Celia's chapstick and worry stone. The button is a vintage yellow rose button reminiscent of Slippy's faded roses and the roses from Celia's childhood bedroom. Two "finger" blankets were also made for Celia to keep in her pocket when life gets tough.
Best wishes to Celia and Slippy for a long and happy life together.
Have a beloved keepsake that is past its prime? Contact me so we can discuss the possibility of giving it new life!
I was pleased when Ashley and James accepted my offer to make a tree skirt as a wedding gift. James is the grandson of one of my best friends, Mary Lou Ellsworth, and although I have heard stories about him all his life, we have only met once. Other than wanting it to have a Moravian star, the couple gave me complete creative freedom. Ashley told me they were more traditional with their Christmas colors and decorations. I knew that all six of Mary Lou's children display Moravian stars each year to have some Pennsylvania in their holiday. I was good to go.
So began the search for a patchwork pattern of a star. I settled on this one by Jinny Beyer called Sea of Crisis. At first, the name did not seem Christmassy, but the design was perfect - so perfect that I did not look at how complicated it was to make. Those two thoughts converged for me as I worked on this piece.
Here are two Jinny Beyer designs.
Putting this star together took persistence and resiliency. That continued once it was together, as it did not lay flat, so I had to ease into a curved piece. The more trouble I had, the more I thought about the star and the journey Mary and Joseph had to make:
Let it shine!
The five stars were fitted into the skirt, bordered with thin red pipping. The edge and center was made from a beautiful holly fabric with gold accents. The skirt was finished with simple quilting.
A Little Note
A pocket was sewn to the back to hold a note to the happy couple. May this skirt grace their tree for all their Christmases to come.
The fabric on the left was the right tone but too bright for my current project. Solution: The soak the fabric in tea until it mellowed to the perfect color and set the color by ironing the fabric. (I usually use basic tea, but used Chai Rooibos for this.)
Jean is the owner and designer for Remember When Studio.