20 Projects. A collection of 20 unfinished sewing projects that I discovered stashed away in my sewing room while packing up to move from Texas to Colorado.
I promise there is more going on around here than sewing, though you wouldn't know that from my last few posts. The hiking and biking and home repairing/remodeling posts will come, but I have to admit, I am SO happy to be finishing and enjoying these 20 Projects!
Two years ago I rounded up all these sewing projects that needed completion. I unpacked the cardboard boxes in my sewing room one day because I was looking for a particular little bear...
A Pillow: Uncle Sam
He was stitched over twenty years ago (!) when all I did was cross-stitch in my spare time. (Single and no babies!) I didn't know what to do with him, so I put him away for safe-keeping. Then, many years later, I saw this post of Kristyne's at Pretty By Hand. Adorable! When I saw what she did with her old cross-stitching, I was so glad I had hung onto my little bear.
I had always known I would make a pillow cover. While working on the Pinwheel Sampler quilt (posted below), I decided to incorporate the bear into one of the pinwheel quilt blocks I was making. Patriotic fabrics and colors for points of the star. Navy blue polka dots for the back. Clean, simple straight lines for the quilting.
I really love that bear! I named him Uncle Sam.
A Quilt: 4th of July Picnic
When I first saw Rachel Griffith's (of p.s.i quilt) beautiful Pinwheel Sampler quilt, I imagined taking a picnic on the Fourth of July! I wanted this quilt in fabrics of reds, whites, and blues. Rather than use one fabric line for all of the quilt blocks as Rachel did, I decided to have a little fun with unrelated fabrics. If you look closely, you'll find little girls having a picnic with their dolls, cherries and blueberries, ladybugs, stars and stripes, bottles of Coca-Cola, Texas bluebonnets, red bicycles, sailboats and anchors, daisies, roses, and even Mickey Mouse...scenes of summer.
I had completed the pinwheel blocks in Texas, but between that time and the time that I pulled them back out in Colorado, I had collected some new red and blue fabrics that I really loved and wanted to include in the quilt. I culled out four of my finished quilt blocks and replaced them with new ones. I stuck with the red sunflower fabric that I had purchased in Texas for the binding, used the big navy and white polka dots that I love so much for the backing. I had planned on quilting with a simple cross hatch pattern to allow the fabrics and the pinwheel patterns to stand out (rather than the quilting), but after I stitched the first two cross-hatched lines, I didn't like it. I didn't want to rip out those lines, so I decided to double up the cross-hatched lines. I think it looks a little bit like the lattice on the top of a homemade peach pie...summer! Perfect!
I made a miniature of one of my favorite blocks on the quilt top for the label, which includes the name I gave the quilt. It reads: Pinwheel Sampler for a..."4th of July Picnic" - 2015.
A Recipe: Alton Brown's Blueberry Soda
Our favorite drink this summer! Lightly sweet, crisp, refreshing. Lighter than sugary colas, less expensive than bottled natural sodas. Use gloves if you don't want blueberry-stained fingernails. :)
20 oz. fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
7 ounces of sugar
1 lime, juiced
1. Bring the blueberries and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a colander lined with cheesecloth that is set in a large bowl. Cool for 20 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the skin and pulp.
3. Return the blueberry juice to the saucepan along with the sugar and lime juice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large canning jar or other heatproof glass container, and place in the refrigerator, uncovered, until completely cooled.
Combine 1/4 cup of the cooled blueberry syrup with 8 ounces of carbonated water and pour over ice.
Yield: 3 cups of blueberry syrup, enough for 12 glasses
Happy, Happy 4th of July!!! I pray you are blessed with a beautiful day with family and friends, filled with hope, filled with peace, filled with love.
20 Projects. A collection of 20 unfinished sewing projects that I discovered stashed away in my sewing room while packing up to move from Texas to Colorado.
Every quilt is loved. Every project brings happiness. Every scrap of fabric brings beauty. But some quilting projects are just extra special. Some projects are made with an extra dose of love. This is one of those projects for me. A quilt filled with memories of spring days spent with my young children.
The idea came to me three years ago. I was out picking strawberries with the kids one day at Froberg's Farm in Alvin, Texas. We tried to visit the farm every spring to pick enough fruit for strawberry shortcake and strawberry cobbler and strawberry lemonade and lots of strawberry preserves.
I took it all in. The green of the plants. The red of the strawberries. The white of the strawberry blossoms. The blue of the sky. The pink of the under ripe berries. The yellow of the sun. My mind went straight to Fig Tree Quilts' fabric line Strawberry Fields, and I started thinking about a quilt. It had to be full of pinwheels spinning in the breeze, covered in strawberries, with big white borders. So, in a way, this extra special quilting project became a scrapbook of our day, made from fabric.
After our pails were filled and our Froberg's Market chocolate fried pies were eaten, I went home and ordered the fabric. I decided to use only the reds, greens, pinks, and creams from the line. (Yes, I am hoarding keeping to use for another project the aquas, tans, and yellows.)
I made a field of 30 pinwheels and added borders from Kona White and a strawberry print from Strawberry Fields. Then, because I was too chicken to free-motion quilt it, I put it to the side. That is how it came to be one of my 20 (unfinished) Projects. I pulled the quilt top out in March of this year (three years after I started it) and ordered a green print from another Fig Tree line (Avalon) for the backing and used a polka dot fabric from Strawberry Fields that I had stashed for the binding. (I love a polka dot binding!)
After practicing free-motion quilting on Emma's Berry Sweet Bag, I finally took a deep breath and stippled a nice, big quilt! It's far from perfect, but I'm so glad that I went for it. The squiggly quilting lines remind me of bees buzzing around from strawberry blossom to strawberry blossom. The straight lines quilted on the borders are reminiscent of straight rows of strawberry plants. It's clean and simple.
I labeled the back of the quilt with a miniature pinwheel that reads: '"Strawberry Breezes" 2015, Made in memory of spring days at Froberg's Farm in Alvin, Texas.'
I had so much fun looking through old photographs of the kids today. I knew I had picture of the kids picking berries somewhere, and I just had to include them in this post. Oh, my heart. I think of those little ones eating strawberries right off the plants every time I see this quilt.
John built and stained a beautiful quilt ladder for me to put in our bedroom. I keep this favorite quilt folded on it, close to me and close to my heart.
A little quilt for a little man. My nephew, Denver, (or Denver Bear, as he is often called) was born last year on my father's birthday. He is adorable, if I do say so myself. He looks very much like my sister did when she was a baby, and that is just so fun to me.
When I told my sister I wanted to make Denver a quilt, I asked her what theme or colors she would like, and she settled on a beach theme. This makes perfect sense with him growing up on the Gulf Coast. How fun is it that she named one of her boys "Denver" and lives in Texas, and I named one of my boys "Austin" and live in Colorado?!
I had a lot of fun looking for beach-y looking fabrics in shades of blue. I especially love the sailboats and ocean crabs from the Kaufman line "Don't Be Crabby", but my absolute hands-down favorite is the Michael Miller fabric from his "Out to Sea" line entitled "Find the Narwhal". SO cute! (I can't help but think of Mr. Narwhal telling Buddy the Elf goodbye in his magical narwhal voice as he leaves the North Pole to find his father. "Bye, Buddy. Hope you find your dad.") Yes, SO cute!
To finish out the theme, I found a couple of beautiful blue batiks at our local fabric store, Sew Steamboat. I had never used batiks before this quilt. Evidently, they are heavily used by quilters here, but I have never really cared for them. (Addicted to Moda!) However, I took one look at the blue batiks and decided that they looked just like Hawaiian shirts, so I had to add them. I'm really glad that I did.
The quilt pattern is "Little Man" and is included in the book Simplify by one of my favorites, Camille Roskelley. I love that the fabric cuts for this pattern are large enough that you can really see and enjoy the prints and patterns on the fabrics. It's a fun quilt to make! Especially when you know it's going to an adorable little Denver Bear down in Texas.
Almost finished. (Just a few little decorating details here and there and two more mattresses to purchase.) Company ready. (We've had visitors!) And now blog ready. (But please cut me a little slack on the pictures. My indoor-room-without-a-source-of-natural-light photography skills are nil.)
If you need to catch up on The Bunk Room posts, Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. And just a warning: this is a long post. (My longest post to date, in fact, but I would rather finish this up project than have several more posts on it.)
We took inspiration for the room from the old Western Stagecoaches, which used to run through Colorado, primarily in the 1800's.
We are so excited to have these six bunks finished! We chose simple, white bedding for the sheets and coverlets and topped each bunk with a western-inspired, red-striped throw pillow.
This bunk room (found on Pinterest) served as the inspiration:
Each bunk also has a shelf at the headboard for each guest to set keys, a wallet, cellphone, watch, etc. The vintage-inspired lanterns and tin signs were all found on amazon.com.
The Big Bed
Six bunks for the kiddos and a queen-sized bed for their parents. John built and stained the bed frame in the garage, took it apart, brought it inside, and reassembled it in place.
Pinterest provided the inspiration yet again:
John designed the bed frame to have 14 inches of clearance underneath for guests to stow their luggage in order to keep the floor space open.
We went with the same white bedding as we used on the bunks. I made pillow covers for three large, square pillows from a white sheet and ordered the cowhide pillow cover from an Etsy shop, InteriorLuxuries.
The End Tables
There is very little room on either side of the bed, so John stepped up to the plate (again) and offered to build the end tables. They needed to be tall enough for the bed, and I wanted them to have shelves for selected books.
Rather than use the same stain for the tables as we had used on the beds, we decided to go with something lighter, and for our tastes, a bit more whimsical. We went with a bright blue stain, which took me a bit out of my comfort zone. It turned out to match exactly the light, bright blue in the bed's quilt. I'm so glad we gave it a shot! The color is best represented in the second "End Table" picture above.
The end table shelves hold selected books with western or Colorado themes. There is a shelf with picture books, an interactive story book, and a couple of Nancy Drew mysteries for the kids. Another shelf contains the entire Lumby series. (Oh, my goodness. One day I will write an entire blog post about Lumby.)
On the other side of the bed you can find a group of books about life in the Old West, in addition to Ree Drummond's story The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - A Love Story. My sweet sister-in-law, Melanie, stood in line for hours at a bookstore one day to meet Ree and surprise me with a signed copy. Truly one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.
And last, but certainly not least, is a memento of John's young adulthood. John's dear grandpa handcrafted a cowbell out of sheet metal, then hand-stamped it and presented it to John one summer after John had been out to Grandpa's farm for a long summer visit. It makes me tear up just to think about it. Every time I see that bell I can only smile. We have made the most wonderful memories out at Grandpa's farm. I love that we have a piece of those memories in this room.
The Linen Cabinet
The Linen Cabinet. Or as John affectionately calls it "The Piece of Junk Furniture". Why? Because in an effort to not buy any more building materials, he made the entire cabinet out of leftover materials. He swears that every single piece of the scrap wood that he used was bent and warped. I don't believe him. I like it. A lot.
This time IKEA gave us some ideas:
We used some leftover paint for the color, but if I had it to do over again, I would have gone with a color that is a shade or two darker, so that it wouldn't blend into the wall as much. I'm hoping to fill the shelves of the cabinet with colorful quilts, which will help, I think.
On top of the cabinet we placed two hurricane lantern lights, purchased from amazon.com. I love them for this room. The flames flicker like candles when turned on, and they glow with a soft, warm light.
I wanted to have a guestbook for visitors to sign on the cabinet top, but I didn't want a traditional guestbook. John and I came up with the idea to order a few of the Time-Life Books: The Old West Series from amazon.com. (Remember those old commercials?!) Each guest chooses a picture that they think most represents him or herself and signs his or her name to it.
So, for example, if you flipped through these books, you might decide that you identify with one of these cowboys...
...or one of these outlaws...
...or this fine-looking gentleman...
...or maybe a talented musician...
...or maybe this rough and rowdy, sharp-shootin' cowgirl...
...or just maybe a Dodge City lady of the evening named Squirrel Tooth Alice who chose to take this photograph with her trademark - a pet squirrel.
I don't even know what to say.
A print of two cowboys firing at stagecoach robbers. This picture started the whole theme for the room. I found it, and the print of the sheriff and his gal, at imagekind.com. The vintage photographs are of real stagecoaches and their passengers. The top photo is of the old Deadwood Stagecoach. Love.
If you are still reading, thank you so much for sticking with me! This room has been a labor of love for John and me. It has already welcomed such special people, and I look forward to it welcoming many, many more!
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's late - the best time to view the bunk room, with all the lanterns turned on.
I think the next time that I need some quiet Mom Time, I'm going to pop some popcorn, grab an ice-cold bottle of Coca-Cola, and curl up in one of those bunks with a Nancy Drew.
If you should come and stay and happen to find a piece or two of popcorn on your bunk shelf, I have no idea how it got there.
"I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives." -Ann Voskamp
Catching up on long overdue happies. I have been keeping track of them and taking pics, but I have also been so busy with house projects the last couple of months that I let "52 Weeks of Happy" posts slide, however I am determined to finish out my 52 weeks!
Moments of happy...
1. School's out. Any homeschooling mama will tell you that this item needs no further explanation. At all. I could take pics of the piles of school papers to file away and the organized chaos that is my bookcase of school materials, but really, who wants to see that? Yeah, me neither. That's why I haven't touched any of it since the end of May. WHEEEEeeeeeee!!!
2. Dandelions. They started showing up right after the snow melted. And they kept showing up. Everywhere. Oh, this poor yard. I tried digging them up. I was filling a 5-gallon bucket one day only to wake up and see twice as many new ones take their place the next day. And then I thought, "Why fight it?" Emma loves them. The deer (and my puppy, as it turns out) love them. We'll Weed & Feed this autumn before the snow fall for next year, but it's way too late to do anything about them this year. That's okay. We have a young doe and buck stop in every day for lunch. I think it's a good trade-off.
3. Milky Way. A quilt for the queen-sized bed in the bunk room. Pattern by the amazing Joanna Figueroa of Fig Tree Quilts. Finished in two weeks. (I said I would never do that to myself again after making this quilt, but alas...) I looked and looked and looked at quilt patterns, but nothing was jumping out at me. I wanted something that would lend itself to a western theme. Something that would feel vintage. I strongly considered doing a scrappy Swoon, but then I saw Milky Way and that was that. I've never in my life seen a night sky like the one here in Steamboat. The stars. Yes, Milky Way it is. The fabrics of reds and blues and browns, florals and ginghams and tiny dots feel exactly as I hoped they would - western and vintagey.
The backing fabric was purchased online at Connecting Threads. (Do you know about Connecting Threads?! Nice, quality, inexpensive quilting fabric.) I folded the backing over to the front for the binding. I did super simple quilting on my machine, because I was on a major time crunch, but as it turns out, I absolutely love the simplicity of it. It makes it seem more like something I would see on an old feather bed, and it allows the stars to take center stage. I added an extra white border to better fit the size of the bed. And that red and blue border fabric. Made from my very favorite fabric in the entire quilt. Bluebonnets. I had to put a little Texas love on that quilt somewhere.
4. Flowers and a blank slate. Finally flowers! After the snow melted, we got our first good opportunity to see what we had to work with. We weeded and weeded and weeded. We discovered two flower beds full of wild rose bushes that sarvis berry bushes had all but taken over. We found bearded irises which had been nearly swallowed up by all kinds of forest undergrowth. As much as we (meaning "I") wanted to plant beautiful perinnials everywhere, we really needed to focus on the inside of the house this season. Next year I'm hoping to grow lamb's ears, delphiniums, salvia, hollyhocks, and daylilies, at least. For now, the best we could do was try to clean the flower beds up and mulch, so that next spring we can start with a blank slate. Hopefully, we can breathe some life and color into these poor neglected flowerbeds. So, all you gardeners out there...have any of you had wild roses before? Ours look overgrown, and they didn't bloom. Instead they are already producing rose hips. My guess is that they need to be pruned. Any insight? Also, if any of you have suggestions for good flowers to grow in the Rockies, please share!
5. Tall green grass. Molly loves running through it almost as much as she likes bounding through the snow drifts. Almost.
6. Nine years. Where has the time gone? She wanted a Frozen birthday. I'm no cake decorator, but my kids have never seemed to mind. Emma and I found blue sugar crystals and pearls and made a snowflake on top of her cake. She got Anna and Elsa dolls from John and I, and a SpongeBob Square Pants game from her brothers. (Oh, this little girl loves her some SpongeBob. She told me recently, "I'm very much like Sandy. Deep in my heart, I'll always be a Texas Girl, too.") Sweet Girl, Mommy loves you so. You bring such love and joy into my life every single day. Someday I will tell you a story that will tell you just how much.
7. A New Activity. For Austin. Mountain Boarding. I had never heard of it until this summer. Take a large skateboard and put tires on it, and you are ready to ride down the side of a mountain. A cross between skateboarding and mountain biking, if you will. He loves it. He also went a little too fast on the road one day about a week after getting his board and split his knee open. Five stitches and a whole lot of road rash later, and he had to sit his first month of summer out. Major bummer. He's now on the mend and ready to enjoy the rest of his summer outside. He's getting a new set of elbow and knee pads for his birthday this coming week.
8. John & Molly. You have to know my husband to know why this made the list. My Mr. Monk, I call him. He puts up with dog toys on the floor, a wet beard (Airedales!), and various puppy smells. He loves this pup. And she loves him back.
"The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything."
While packing up to move, I discovered 20 unfinished projects in my sewing room. Setting myself a goal of one year, I am working to see how many of these 20 Projects I can complete.
I have this friend. Her name is Stephanie, but sometimes I just call her "Bestie". We've been friends for over 20 years now.
When I met Stephanie, I was single and in my early 20's. She visited my dad's church one day. I'll be completely honest here. My first thought when I saw her? "Great. She's gorgeous." Well, you see, I was interested in a particular guy at our church, and I figured I didn't have a chance with him if she was around. Please don't judge me too harshly! Stephanie and I laugh about it now. But that's what besties do...they laugh together about first impressions and funny memories and inside jokes. They laugh A LOT.
Stephanie and I didn't really know each other very well for quite some time. Autumn would appear on the calendar, and with autumn came Christmas Choir rehearsals. We were both sopranos, and with another dear lady named Laurie, we made up the First Soprano section, which meant we sat together for every rehearsal. We clicked. And talked. And laughed. But very quietly, so that we wouldn't be called down by our music director. Then, after our choir performances were over every December, we didn't see each other as often. But we always had Christmas Choir. Every year.
Eventually, I got a job working as a hostess in the same restaurant where Stephanie and her fiance' were working as waitstaff. So, then we bonded over Mexican food at Pappasito's. (Chips and Queso, Beef and Chicken Fajitas with flour tortillas and Brochette Shrimp with extra Mantequilla on the side, and a Capriotata or a Cajeta for dessert. Oh, Tex-Mex, how I love thee.)
We went on women's retreats together, had roles in each other's weddings, took each other meals after our babies were born. We swapped recipes and decorated cupcakes together. We became two of the original Texas Girlfriends. She sang Paddy McGinty's Goat to me in her best Irish brogue over the phone one day after I moved to Colorado, and we had a good, big laugh.
"Now Paddy McGinty, an Irish man of note,
Fell into a fortune and bought himself a goat.
Said he to himself, "Of milk I'll have me fill!"
But when he got it home, he found the nanny was a bill!"
We got along famously, but it took some certain circumstances arising in my life to discover that this warm, caring, kind, giving girl with a hilarious sense of humor was, above all, the epitome of a True Friend. The kind of friend that is still standing there next to you after the tears have been cried, after the dust has settled, and when the healing begins.
We spent a lot of hours on the phone during those days. We shared our stories, laughed and cried. We have prayed for each other, held each other up, and challenged each other when needed. And one Christmas I decided that Stephanie should have a quilt. After all, she was the one who introduced me to this guy named John that I know. (Remind me to tell you some time.)
I chose the Moda fabric line Glace' from 3 Sisters, because the collection included fabrics in Stephanie's favorite colors. The colors are rich and vibrant, but I had a hard time conveying that in most of my photographs.
The line was almost completely sold out everywhere, but I was able to find two Moda Honey Buns and some yardage on etsy.com, and then found this video tutorial on YouTube by searching for Honey Bun quilt patterns. "Summer in the Park" was my favorite. (You can make it with Jelly Rolls, too!)
I had the quilt top finished just in time for Christmas that year and took it with me to meet Steph at our usual spot: Barnes & Noble where we would browse and browse (mainly cookbook titles) with a drink from Starbucks in hand and then sit in a quiet corner and get caught up with each other on all the latest happenings in life. We exchanged Christmas gifts. She gave me a Duran Duran cd, among other things. (Besties know what Besties like). I showed her the quilt top and then had to take it back to finish it. That was two Christmases ago. That is how this quilt came to be included in my "20 Projects".
With the quilt top finished, all that was needed was the backing, borders, quilting, and binding. For the backing, I designed a large quilt block of sorts to be the focal point: a four-leaf clover made up of appliqued hearts to celebrate our Irish heritage, (something we both proudly share. See Paddy McGinty's Goat above.) bordered by strips of fabric left over from the quilt top. I then added three more hearts to the backing.
I bordered and bound the quilt with two of the fabrics from the Glace' line, which just happened to be fabrics in Stephanie's favorite colors.
I choose to quilt with a simple straight-line quilting to echo the geometric pattern of the quilt top.
I forgot to label. (I always forget to label!) If I could go back and label, I would label it "Quilt for a Bestie".
After bordering and quilting and binding "Project 6" up, I folded it up and mailed it off to Texas, so that a Sweet Friend can unfold it and wrap it around herself in a big hug whenever she needs to know that if certain circumstances ever arise, this Bestie here in Colorado will always be here standing after the tears have been cried, after the dust has settled, and when the healing begins.
UPDATE: February 4, 2015 - Thank you so very much for your interest in this Texas Flag Quilt!
A Texas Flag Quilt PDF pattern is now available for purchase in my shop The Aspen Tree. The pattern includes fabric yardage amounts, cutting and sewing instructions, color diagrams, and star templates for 7 quilt sizes: baby, toddler, lap, twin, full, queen, and king.
A couple of years ago, our Forever Friends, Norm and Carolyn informed us that they were moving to Arizona.
*Insert sound of a bombing dropping and exploding here*
Oh, I knew that the move was imminent, but this was sooner than I had expected.
Carolyn and I met at a baby shower. (Remind me to tell you some time.) We attended the same church and Small Group Bible study. Norm took us on a tour at NASA. Carolyn taught me how to knit and cautioned me against ever shopping on The Yarn Aisle. (Remind me to tell you some time.) We starting hanging out over Paella and pizza from a wood-fired pizza oven. (Remind me to tell you some time.) We helped out together at a community garden which supplied food for a local food pantry. We took countless trips to The Cutest Little Starbucks Ever. Carolyn and I went out again and again with The Texas Girlfriends for Italian food. And pedicures. Norm and Carolyn became my kids' Xtra-Grandparents. In a relatively short time, they became some of our very Nearest and Dearest ever. And now they were moving.
Our church wanted to give Norm and Carolyn a proper big ol' Texas send-off, complete with lots of food, lots of drink, and lots of big hugs. I was asked to come up with an idea for a "Surprise Going Away" gift from the entire church. I was honored. And then I spent days and days trying to think of the perfect gift, but kept coming up empty.
Then one day out of the blue, I had an idea. I know I wasn't supposed to, but I called Carolyn to discuss it.
Me: "Okay. Now hear me out. You told me that you're going to have a Texas-themed guest room in your home in Arizona, right? Right. So imagine this: A quilt for your guest bed. Made to look like the Texas flag. Signed on the back with permanent fabric pens by everyone at church. Something to remember us Texas folk by."
Her: "Yes. And I already have a pattern and all the fabric."
Me: "Wait. What???"
Yes, Carolyn did indeed have a pattern with four different Texas-themed wallhanging designs, as well as a nice, big stack of fat quarters in reds, whites (tans), and blues that she had picked up one year at the International Quilt Festival in Houston.
She had gone with a relative and browsed and walked for HOURS and HOURS. (If you've ever been to the International Quilt Festival, you totally understand.) Nothing had caught her eye the entire day, however, just before they were about to leave to go home, Carolyn saw a wallhanging in a booth that she absolutely loved. She purchased the pattern for the wallhanging, and then she and her relative spent the next two hours scouring the Quilt Festival for western-style fabric fat quarters. Nine years and ten months later, a Forever Friend (Me!) was offering to make her a Texas quilt.
So, we looked at the different wallhanging designs from her pattern together. She showed me what she liked and didn't like about each one. We threw some elements out, kept some elements in, came up with some elements of our own, and the design for the quilt you see above was born. Then came measuring and figuring to make it the right size. Two weeks (and many late nights of Doctor Who episodes and Coca-Cola to keep me awake) later, I handed Carolyn her finished quilt. They left the next day. And now there is a Texas Flag quilt on the guest bed of their guest room, "The Tejas Room", as they lovingly call it.
I have had some inquiries about the quilts' dimensions and pieces, so I have put together some facts and figures, in case you'd like to add some good ol' Texas flare to your own abode.
Note: I apologize for the quality of the pics. The pics in this post were taken on my cellphone. Please be kind. ;)
*The quilt pictured in this post is big. It measures 80 x 108". This makes it long enough to use to fold over pillows or to hang to the ground at the foot of a queen-sized bed, but the real reason for its extra length is to keep it the correct proportions of the Texas flag. Norm and Carolyn have this quilt on a queen-sized bed. The bed pictured in this post is a king-sized bed. The quilt is plenty long for a king-sized bed, but not wide enough for overhang on a king-sized bed.
Because of its large size, I decided to do the math and am adding the facts and figures for a lap-sized quilt and the queen-sized quilt, below.
*The flag portion of the quilt is made entirely of cut 5" squares in various reds, whites (tans), and blues. It is pieced the same way a simple patchwork quilt is pieced.
*The Lone Star is also made up of cut 5" squares sewn together. I sewed together a large square of the white squares, then made a star-shaped template on the computer to get the star you see below.
*The four corner stars were also cut from a template to the approximate width of the corner squares. The four corner stars and the large Lone Star were appliqued onto the finished quilt top.
*I chose a light fabric for the backing and very simple straight-line quilting to accommodate individual personal notes and signatures. I also appliqued ten stars on the backing piece: one for every year that Norm and Carolyn lived in Texas.
5" Cut Patchwork Squares:
Queen: 112 blue squares, 84 red squares, 84 white (tan) squares plus squares for the Lone Star.
Lap: 60 blue squares, 45 red squares, 45 white (tan) squares plus squares for the Lone Star.
Colored Square Count:
Queen: 8 blue squares and 12 red or white squares in each row.
14 blue squares OR 7 red and 7 white squares in each column.
Lap: 6 blue squares and 9 red or white squares in each row.
10 blue squares OR 5 red and 5 white squares in each column.
Width of Border #1 (small white border around the Texas flag):
Queen: 2 inches
Lap: 2 inches
Width of Border #2 (the larger red border):
Queen: 6 inches
Lap: 4 inches
Measure of Corner Squares:
Queen: 6 inches
Lap: 4 inches
Approximate Size of Finished Quilt:
Queen: 80 x 108 inches
Lap: 52 1/2 x 79 1/2 inches
If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the Comments, and I will try my best to answer them. This really is a fun quilt to make!
Special thanks to everyone who inquired about the quilt, especially a new Pinterest friend Irene. Irene, if you are reading this, thank you for bearing with me while I worked all of this out!
Many special thanks to Norm for taking lots and lots of measurements of this quilt, because I didn't make any notes while sewing it together. (Sorry you had to make the guest bed twice after taking those measurements, because you put the quilt on upside-down the first time, Norm.)
And now, I will absolutely have to make myself a lap-sized Texas Flag Quilt. Absolutely. And one day a baby quilt made of fabrics with spurs and horseshoes and lassos and stars and cowboys on them for a Little Buckaroo. And one made of fabrics with bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush and daisies and hearts for a Little Cowgirl Ballerina.
From where did I hear the term "Cowgirl Ballerina"? Remind me to tell you some time.
While packing up to move, I discovered 20 unfinished projects in my sewing room. Setting myself a goal of one year, I am working to see how many of these 20 Projects I can complete.
I really don't think I have the words to tell you how very happy and, yes, relieved I am to be finished with this project! This project sat unfinished for almost four years, longer than any of my 20 unfinished projects.
This quilt got its start over four years ago after I received the August 2009 Pottery Barn Catalog in the mail. I love Pottery Barn catalogs, but I REALLY loved this particular catalog from Pottery Barn. The cover featured piles of gorgeous quilts and pillow shams, and I loved browsing through the pages and pages of quilted eye candy!
I was especially drawn to their rendition of a "Trip Around the World" quilt. Beautiful colors set in a geometric pattern bordered by a thick width of crisp white fabric on all sides, and bound with a scant line of color. Oh, I loved it! But I didn't want to buy it. I had previously decided that I wanted an autumn-colored quilt to snuggle under on the sofa while watching a movie. This would be my autumn quilt.
One problem: I didn't have a pattern, and I'm a very by-the-pattern kind of a girl. So the project sat in my mind for a long time. (2 years?) I started collecting autumn prints when they would go on clearance after Thanksgiving. I started drawing and sketching and working the math. I decided to cut squares instead of rectangles. Then, I held my breath, crossed my fingers, and took off! I finished the quilt top, and there it sat. For almost 2 more years.
Autumn was in full swing here in Colorado when I got ready to pull this project back out. Golds! Yellows! Greens! Bright! Gorgeous everywhere! My quilt top? Reds! Oranges! Browns! Rusts! Little bits of gold! Uh, oh. This doesn't look like autumn to me anymore. "But it did then," I reminded myself. You see, the colors I choose for this quilt reminded me of the breathtakingly beautiful colors I saw on the trees on my honeymoon in New England one October over fourteen years ago. Amazing. This quilt was designed from my beautiful memories, as there were virtually no autumn colors to be seen by this Texas girl near the Gulf Coast. It's funny to me how quickly one can adjust her perspective to her surroundings. I guess I'm going to have to make a Colorado autumn quilt in golds and yellows and greens with little bits of orange one of these years.
I chose a brighter gold fabric for the backing and the binding to help lighten up the darker and heavier colors on the front. I copied the straight line quilting on the white border (love that!) and decided on a simple and geometric cross-hatching for the quilts little squares. I am really very happy with how it all finally came together. I was a little unsure for a bit there.
My goal was to finish it before this Thankgiving. I was in such a hurry to finish that I forgot to label it, but I'll go back with a permanent quilt pen, if nothing else. It's kind of a happy accident to me, however, because I only just decided what to name it. I have mentioned before how quickly autumn disappears here. I was so surprised when I realized we would have a White Thanksgiving every year! (And I found it very ironic that I should be quilting an autumn quilt with white snow stuck on the branches of the trees outside my sewing room windows.) Then a Facebook post from my dad reminded me of the song "Over the River and Through the Woods". I was so puzzled to learn as a child that this was actually a song about Thanksgiving. Snow at Thanksgiving??? Not where I live!
I found the lyrics in a Wikipedia article, and now I finally understand. It was originally a Thanksgiving poem published in 1844, meant to honor the author's childhood memories of visiting grandparents this time of year. The words where changed, set to music, and made into the Christmas song we know today.
When I look at my quilt, I see a Happy Thanksgiving in the hundreds of little squares of color comprised of the ticker tape and confetti of a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the television, a fire in the fireplace, the table set with pumpkins and berries, and plates with favorite holiday foods. I see drifts and piles of snow surrounding a warm and cozy cabin. I see the tracks from a horse-drawn sleigh carving (quilting) lines up and down the sides in the the deep, clean, white paths of snow.
"Over the River and Through the Woods"