group project

My father-in-law approached me about a month ago and asked me if I could make something to mark his brother-in-law’s {my husband’s uncle} retirement from the Boston Fire Department. Whatever I came up with would be gifted at a retirement party dinner he was co-hosting. I asked him what he had in mind and he said “I don’t know.  It could even be a special napkin for Uncle Jim to use at dinner.  Nothing complicated.”  I could have made a special napkin and I’m sure it would have been appreciated, but I got this idea for a quilt in my head and I had to see it through.

I sent out an email to 12 family members and asked them to send me some words about Uncle Jim. I also asked my kids for their words.  My two year old said “cookies” and, you know, that worked just fine for this project. Uncle Jim’s wife, son, daughter-in-law, brothers-in law, sisters-in-law, grandkids, nieces and nephews all sent me their thoughts. Some people wrote in letter form; others sent lists. What flowed into my in-box was a trail of admiration for a person who has served his city courageously, and is well-loved and admired by his family.  It was a lot of fun reading what people had to say.

I asked my sister-in-law, who is a talented graphic designer, to take the words and design fabric with them.  She did this beautifully. We had it professionally printed at Spoonflower, and while I waited the ten days for it to be delivered, I started cutting fabric for a quilt top.

I have always like the look of Denyse Schmidt’s Hop, Skip, and a Jump pattern, but couldn’t imagine using a series of complicated templates to make what looks like an improv quilt. {The pattern, by the way, can be found in her book and also on the web for free. Internet for the win!}   I hand cut the pieces and improvised as I went along. It’s a really fun quilt top to assemble. When I was finished sewing the top of the quilt, my husband squared it off.

The prints on the front are a total mix. I reserved one complete square of one of the repeats of the text fabric {this square contained everyone’s words} for the back of the quilt so that it could be read continuously.  I consider that to be the quilt label. My mother-in-law hand-stitch the binding to the back of the quilt the day before the party. She came over to my house and stitched away while I played with my kids.  It was a really nice day. {Thanks Grammy!} The quilt is throw-sized.  I didn’t measure it but I am guessing it is about 65″x60.

This is the type of group project than I can handle. It was easy to get everyone involved via email and I was lucky to have family members with very relevant skills that could help me with the “making.”  I love the idea that there is now a quilt in the family  that was made by so many people. It was a really enjoyable process and I was so happy with the results. I feel like it is sentimental and personal without crossing over the line to “cheesy.”  Well, I hope it is anyway.  I gave a scrap of the text fabric to Uncle Jim’s grand daughter, who is a budding seamstress, and I kept some for myself.  It will be fun to incorporate this little bit of family history into future projects.  I know my daughter’s twin quilt will house some of it, for example, and I think that’s pretty neat.


22 thoughts on “group project

  1. This is so awesome. I always think it’s hard to make for grown guys, especially quilts, but you nailed it! And it’s so full of love and sentiment!

  2. OK, finally seeing the finished product that the text fabric was created for is amazing! This is the perfect kind of gift for a man, beautiful but not too sentimental or frilly. It’s wonderful.

  3. wow Molly! beautiful. I really love all the things you make. You have a great eye for color and pattern.

    p.s. sorry no ruler, did order it but must be back ordered. Will give a call when I get back (visiting my boy in Santa Barbara this week. yippie!)

  4. that is a handsome quilt! congrats!

    i’m glad that you chose to improv your design. i’ve also been disturbed by DS’s templates and her lack of attribution of the origin of the design.

  5. great idea, perfectly executed.
    I’ve been really itching to go the Spoonflower route, but I haven’t come up with a “Spoonflower worthy” image yet I guess…

    just curious, did you throw in a special napkin too? (that made me laugh!)

  6. finally popping in to see what you made with that fantastic spoonflower fabric. can i just start stringing together all kinds of superlatives about your quilts – delightful, innovative, compelling, beautiful, understated and dramatic at the same time, visually and graphically wonderful!!! i could continue, but i think you get the idea that i love your quilts…

  7. Absolutely perfect! how could that quilt not be loved?! Fantastic that you got so many people involved and that fabric of the words – I just adore it.

  8. oh, gosh, SO much inspiration in these last few posts. i’m especially grateful for this hop, skip, jump pattern link, as i’ve a stack of my husband’s old work shirts, and a hankering to whip them into something. i’m thinking this tipsy design would be just the right counterpoint to all those stripes and plaids. thanks!

  9. What a fantastic idea – so personalized – I LOVE IT. I just sent this on to my mom and sister who work with a small little school and it’s auctions!

  10. You are not even in sight of the “cheesy” line. This is a wonderful project, perfect in every way. Even the colors are sort of “uncle-ish” and also smoky!

    Found you via Cauchy.

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