January 13, 2013

A quilt for Elle

In case it bears repeating, I come from a crafty family. We all have some unique interests but a lot of overlap as well. One of the projects that my sister Sara frequently partakes in is to make quilts (here's the quilt she made for our niece Freya). And my mother is a big maker of crocheted blankets.

And we're also all very sentimental.

All of this combined last Spring when Sara announced that she was pregnant, and Susanna, Mom and I decided to make the baby a quilt. We had several planning sessions where we plotted out the quilt (size and number of squares), determined our theme, assigned topics for each square, and selected all of our fabric.

We selected fabric by wandering around Fabric Depot until we found a printed fabric that we all liked the colors of. Then we each took a swatch of the chosen fabric and found colors in that palette for our respective squares. We didn't actually use the sample swatch in our quilt, but it ensured that our colors all coordinated as we picked up fabric separately.

Sara and I made a couple of quilts for our nephew Aidan when he was born, but my contribution was just to make some squares and Sara put the quilt together. So when it came time to assemble the quilt we kept it pretty simple. There's no border or binding, but I did use batting in between the layers and a soft coral "minkie" as the back. I attached the front and back with embroidery thread at each square intersection.

Each square of the quilt is part of the story of Sara and Bobby, and now Elle.

The banjo represents Bobby's love of music (and his stellar skills):
"it may twang a little, 
but it don't hurt".

The Love square is a photo transfer of the the Robert Indiana sculpture in Philadelphia. My mom has had a miniature of this sculpture on her shelf for as long as I can remember. And Bobby and Sara both went to grad school in Philly.

The artichoke represents my parent's gardening skills, and is a reoccurring theme in my Mom's artwork.

Oh the football... Bobby and Sara are NY Jets fans. Sara says it's a form of child abuse to make Elle a Jets fan too, but what can you do.

Sara grew up in Washington, which is where Elle will be spending many of her future vacations. This square pretty much speaks for itself.

This square has two stories to tell: The sternwheeler is representative of Marietta, Ohio, where Sara, Bobby and Elle live. But the Sternwheeler patch is another photo transfer of one of Bobby's woodcuts.

St. Johns Bridge is Portland's most iconic bridge. And we happen to live in St. Johns! This square represents us, but also represents Sara and Bobby's 3 years living in Portland.

Mom and Mark have a landmark in their yard: the Eagle Tree. I've seen as many as 11 eagles at once sitting in this tree keeping an eye on the river.

Since Sara was 7-years-old our family has lived in the Skagit Valley in Washington State, and the Skagit Valley is known for their tulips!


Before we moved to the Skagit Valley we lived on a sheep ranch in Arlington where Papa was a shepherd.

We grew up in a family of girls, and as soon as we all moved out Mom got herself some male poodles - Jack and Gibbs!

For at least the last 20 years, if not longer, either one or both of our parents has had a stable of kayaks ready to take out on the ocean or river. I've had some wonderful times out on the water in those things and we hope Elle will enjoy it too.

When Susanna was pregnant with Aidan we called him "Lil Fishie". Susanna has a Pisces tattoo around her bellybutton, which started the nickname, but it was also apropos of his dad and grandad's careers as Alaska fisherman - and now Aidan has started as well!

This square represents Sara and Bobby's house in Ohio. See Elle in the picture too? Their house is actually mint green, but we took some liberties in order to stay within the color palette.

My dad used to be an epic hiker/trekker - hitting the trail for weeks at a time. He couldn't convince any of his daughters to join him for such a long hike, but for many years we joined him to hike Sauk Mountain.
The trail is a series of switchbacks through wildflower meadows, and the top has lots of rocks and boulders for scrambling.

Bobby went to grad school for the Book Arts, Sara has a book published (Soil Mates) and they both love to read - 'nuf said.

Just A Jar - the name of Sara and Bobby's Letter Press & Design business. Get it?

Last, but not least, a bear. A reocurring theme in Bobby's artwork, and something that I really like making (see here and here).
Naturally, he had to be included in the quilt as well.

Making this quilt was actually a lot of fun. It helped greatly that I was only responsible for a third of the squares and that we kept the construction simple. But it was fun to plan with Susanna and Mom, and to think of Elle asking about each square when she's older, and Sara and Bobby telling her stories.

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