Once I figured out that the most important thing in the world for me was making quilts, I had to find a way to justify doing it on a regular basis.
Sometimes, I’m conflicted about this need to quilt. I mean, shouldn’t I be working towards fixing our national debt problem or finding ways to stop violence in our schools? I have come to this conclusion. If you are lucky enough in this life to find your passion and actually be good at it, then you are working to make the world a better place–even if it is just one small stitch at a time.
To justify my need, I decided that every baby I knew in Valdez was going to get a quilt. But I didn’t want to make regular baby quilts. I wanted to involve the other moms around me in the process. Almost from the beginning, I knew that these would not be regular quilts constructed in a grid format. I wanted people to give me whatever they made, and then I would make it work. It is the building of such quilts that excites me. They are unpredictable and in the end VERY fun to look at. I believe they are infused with love and that is what makes them so beautiful.
I made so many of these I cannot remember which one belongs to which kid!
I’ve always liked to piece by backs. It uses up left-overs and can look kind of cool.
A lot of the “bits” are left-over from other quilting projects.
I can’t believe my Ozzy was ever this little. He is fourteen now.
This quilts are early examples of my kitchen sink quilting. If its too big, cut it off. If it is too small, add some more fabric. It works! Really it does.
I think this is the last Valdez baby quilt I made. I still have one in a box. I’m just waiting for Christine to show up at my house for a marathon quilting session.
By this time everyone was getting pretty fancy with their work.
I now had a long arm quilting machine which really loosened up my quilting style.
Once all the blocks are donated, I put them on my design wall and start building around the individual blocks. I am very sorry to say I have no photos of me doing this for these early baby quilts. Here is an example from a quilt I made for a auction for St. Mary’s Play School here in Anchorage. Tripp attended St Mary’s Play School for two years. This quilt features the art of Miss Tennie’s four year olds. I photo-transferred the art to fabric to make the quilt. Here are all the blocks before I started piecing them together.
This is the quilt finished with all the “bits” added.
I now know fewer moms who quilt, but plenty of moms who would like their son or daughter to have a community quilt. So, I do things a bit differently now.
I like to host a quilting party. I prep dozens of fat quarters by ironing a fusible adhesive (usually wonder under) to the wrong side of each piece of fabric. I arrange all of these pre-fused fabrics by color and place them in the center of the table where everyone can get to them. I then prep background fabrics for everyone to use as their base fabrics. Friends and family show up for snacks and drinks and make their blocks. To make these blocks all you need to know how to do is cut with scissors. If I know someone who wants to make the quilt, she then takes the blocks and makes it into a quilt top. From there she quilts it, or I do. Here is a photo of all the fabric ready to be used by members of the community. I wish I had more photos of real action, but when I do this, I am working and don’t have time to take pictures!
These quilters spent the afternoon at my house finishing their quilt top.
Here is the finished quilt. This is the only one of these quilts that have a block made by me–I am the owl in the left corner. I love how it turned out.
Here is a quilt top I helped make for my girlfriend Tina’s daughter Eleena. They live in Kansas City. When Tina was pregnant, we had a baby shower for her where we made the quilt blocks. I took them back to Alaska where they sat in a box. Three years later, Tina had started quilting! I brought the blocks back to Kansas City, and we spent one long marathon day putting this amazing quilt together. Tina did most of the design work on this quilt. I was merely the hired stitcher. She did an amazing job.
This is the most recent top I am working on for a fine young fellow named Max. I’m kind of posting it here to see if word gets back to Rebecca that Max’s quilt top is on the web….sort of an experiment in seeing how fast word travels. Max and Rebecca have been waitng patiently. I am almost done!
At one point, I had a dream that maybe I could be the baby quilt maker for the stars. You know, Angela Jolie and Brad would fly me down to LA to make their latest baby’s quilt. I’m still game if there are any celebrities out there interested.
Okay, so that hasn’t happened. But I have made several larger community quilts. Over the next few days, I hope to post some stories about how those quilts came to be.
In the meantime–Happy Stitching to all of you!