Memories to Heirlooms
Memories to Heirlooms
My father could build anything; a horse barn, a collapsible display case for my teddy bear business, or even a log cabin stacked like firewood. When he worked, he often made a jig - a tool to help him repeatedly make the same thing the same way each time.
Because of him, I knew I could make a jig to cut out Ukrainian Peace Ornaments so that the design would always be centered.
The ornaments reminded me to create additional jigs to help me with recent projects. I used them to center a plaid on a square and embroidery on other ornaments. Papa has been gone for almost 30 years, and more often than not, he is in my thoughts and I credit many of my skills and knowledge to his teachings. Thank you, Papa.
"How can I help?" That is a phrase that comes to my mind when I hear someone is in need. That help often comes at the point of my needle and thread. This project was one of those times.
One of my sister's good friends, Mary, has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia. I had heard that "fidget quilts" are calming and beneficial to people with this condition, so I offered to make one, and recently, my sister, Lee, agreed to work with me on it. Lee and I think very differently which makes working together a fun adventure, and the end product is always better than if we had worked separately. Mom completes the team, adding her creative insight.
The texture is essential to a fidget quilt, and dogs are essential to Mary. We sourced the texture from my fabric stash and the dogs and batiks from the fabric store. Mom, Lee, and I laid out the design, I sewed it together, and Annie the "Lab assistant" managed quality control and canine character.
We decided on a lap quilt since Mary is always cold. Mom, Lee, and I worked on placing fidget actives at the quilt edges, making it easier for Mary to use them.
Mary loves the quilt, has it with her almost constantly, and fidgets to her heart's content. It was a bonus working with Mom and Lee. It is always a gift to spend time together, and It stretches my creative thinking in ways that I can't do on my own.
My clients are kind, sentimental, and generally looking for a way to share and preserve the story of a loved one or memory. I tend to feel an instant bond with them and am grateful to "meet" their loved ones through their eyes. Ryan's story is the most recent I worked on, and after hearing about how joyful, generous, and full of life he was, I genuinely wish I had met him and heard his laugh.
In the bag delivered to me were nine plaid shirts and one Crippled Bear Inn t-shirt. The t-shirt was significant because it represented his hometown and many great hunting trips. For the centerpiece--a buck head stencil. We decided on a brown background and, to honor Ryan's love of hunting, the camo from fabric option 2.
I cut four squares from each shirt and applied interfacing to each to keep it from stretching. After working hard to be random with the layout, my sister helped me reorganize it with a pattern in mind. As usual, the end product is always better when we work together.
Although correct for the turned head, the right antler seemed unbalanced to me. However, when I duplicated the left antler, we liked it and decided to go with that. We also discussed camo vs. black for the head and decided on black.
The Wall Hanging
The finished product is a lap quilt or wall hanging. I am pleased with how the plaids blended and brought your eye to the center. I made sure the brown border on the back was as wide as the pocket to hold the Story Starter. I chose a pocket from a shirt that buttoned closed. The Crippled Bear Inn shirt looks perfect featured on the back.
I was excited to find an embroidery design that mimicked the stencil on the quilt. It added to the messaging. A Story Starter tag fits snugly in the monogrammed pocket on the back. Of course, there had to be a touch of camo. They are a great keepsake of the life of a remarkable man.
I feel truly blessed to work with such wonderful clients who collaborate with me. The result is always better when we work together.
Have a person or memory you would like to honor with an heirloom? Contact me; I would love to discuss it with you.
One of these is not like the other. One of these is not the same!
Especially when so many are struggling, I was thrilled to be asked to make this welcome quilt so it could hang at the entrance of a local church. It was displayed there for two years before I got a call that there was a problem. Can you see it? Yes, the bottom columns of color are out of order--once you see it, you can't unsee it!
Thankfully, my clients, Steve and Nancy, contacted me and allowed me to correct it. I hand-sewed new fabric over the orange and yellow pieces on this quilt and had it back to them before the next church service. I also made a second one for them because it was the right thing to do. So now they have the original hanging to make everyone feel welcome and a spare to share however they wish!
How do we change the world?
My friend and fellow maker, Amy Holland, told me she was doing a craft show to benefit Ukraine and agreed to sell ornaments for me. That same day I heard of the sudden death of my cousin Denise Petty. The family requested that we do something nice for someone in her honor. So the ornaments became my way of honoring Denise's life of service by helping the people of Ukraine- with Amy's help.
My garden is where I feel the most centered. I chose fabric with leaves, and placed this circle . . . well. . . centered in the quilt. Balance is illusive to me but it is worthy pursuit.
The design quilted in the center is the art of CaRE-mate Jeff Wibberley. I only knew him as a sweet and determined man battling cancer, not realizing he was a pillar of our community who had dedicated his life to the service of others. Despite the fact that he could not speak, he exuded kindness. The second day of class he came with "doodles" he had drawn for each member. I chose one of the simplest to quilt, and replaced "Amy" with "Peace, Courage, Health, Hope."
Jean is the owner and designer for Remember When Studio.