Sweet dearie me! What an adventure the past few weeks has been! I feel like I’ve been ’round the world, fruit pickin’, shoppin’ and costume designin’, then dipped in glitter, thrown over a rainbow, and signed up for international superstardom. What a crazy dream–my grandma would be so proud.
Speaking of proud grandmas, the finish I want to show you today is a collaboration of sorts with my grandma. Eight months before I started Walking On Sunshine
for Grandma Sparkles, I was visiting her at home in Oklahoma where I grew up. I was there for five days, and on day one, practically stepping off the airplane, I said, “I want us to make a quilt together.” I knew it was one of those things I had watched her do as I was growing up, and it is a special memory I have of her. I wanted the opportunity to have a shared memory engaging in this activity, and knew this was the perfect time to do so. (Note: Grandma Sparkles is a young 67, so this isn’t some sort of death tribute, y’all!) Anyway, Grandma Sparkles was a bit hesitant to try and attempt a quilt in five days, but I was completely persistent.
The next morning we headed into town to get our fabric shopping mojo on! All I knew is that I wanted the quilt to be blue because I didn’t have any other blue decor in my home and I wanted it to sparkle. With that thought in my head, (remember, this is all pre-exposure to the influence of quilty blog land) and after seeing the wide breadth of blue fabrics available, I decided I wanted to try to make an ombre effect from white to blue to black. I set about picking fabrics all from the same shop and lining them up against the wall, trying to visualise a proper gradation. I mixed and matched, and matched and mixed, no fabrics left unturned. You’ll see in the finished product that I combined both quilting cottons and batiks–again, not realising this was not common practice. (More about that another time). I left the shop with yard cuts of 41 different fabrics, hoping and praying, I could figure out what I needed to do.
Back at home, I decided I wanted to make a Trip Around the World quilt, but that I didn’t want any of the fabric lines to repeat. Easier said than done! Grandma Sparkles is a pattern type of gal, so I needed something to show her to convey what I wanted to happen. When I couldn’t explain how the Trip Around the World Pattern could be altered, to still be constructed with strip piecing (look at me all down with the lingo!), Grandma Sparkles brought over her big gun quilty friends, and again, they couldn’t figure it out either. So I got out the graph paper and went to work. I knew there had to be a way rather than needing to do any single square cuts. I should mention here those are finished 2″ squares, so I wasn’t about to go that cray-cray.
Grandma Sparkles had to go to bed. I stayed up, and my brain ticked over and over, until finally, with some sparkle clarity, the pattern came to me. It could be strip pieced in sections and I knew–somewhat vaguely–how to do it. In the middle of the night I got that graph paper back out and made a plan of attack. When Grandma Sparkles awoke the next morning I explained the pattern to her and then after a few run throughs it was off to the cutting board. I’d never cut fabric before. Can you believe it? All the time growing up in my grandma’s house, I’d never assisted with the construction of a quilt. As a kid, I’d help her place fabric on her design floor (funny, I have one of those now too!), but I never cut, or even sewed for that matter. Grandma Sparkles showed me how to properly cut and iron the fabric, and she sat at the sewing machine, metal to the pedal. Silly to think now, but I was terrified of doing any of the sewing for this quilt. I didn’t want to slow us down, so focused on cutting and ironing, and trust there was plenty of that to do!
At the end of my short trip home, we had the quilt top nearly completed. There were a few sections still yet to be pieced together but I knew Grandma Sparkles could handle it. My design intention had come to fruition, my desire to create a lasting memory shared between us successful, and a beautiful artefact born of both remained. That was October, 2011, and finally, on my recent trip to California, Grandma Sparkles had it delivered to my hotel. I opened the box and gasped! It was the first time I got to see it with the backing and binding she had chosen, and the quilting her and her good friend Judy produced on her long arm. It was everything I had ever imagined it could be, and it radiated the love we had both put into it.
The following pictures were taken outside this week, which is why there are subtle colour variations between those and the shot above. This fits our queen size bed perfectly.
It’s just magical as a whole, and like I expected, it sparkles from the centre, just like Grandma Sparkles.
Really, thank goodness it’s any kind of Friday!
Shout out to Quilt Matters who is hosting TGIFF this week!