Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Quilts of Christmas 2013

Between the end of September and Christmas, I made several Christmas gifts. My blog posts were a little sparse during this time because I could not show any pictures of my projects. My family members sometimes read my blog so I did not want any of them knowing what I was up to.

This past April, my FIL died. He was a wonderful man and we all miss him dearly, especially at family gatherings where he always said grace before the meal. After he passed away, I asked my MIL if I could have his shirts. He did not get rid of his old shirts when he got new ones so there was a very large collection of shirts for me to use for my projects.


I spent much of September washing the shirts, cutting them apart, harvesting all of the usable material and saving all of the buttons. I ironed everything and put it into a bin to take with me to the Beaver Island Quilt Retreat with Gwen Marston at the end of September. At the retreat, I sewed morning, noon and night and completed two quilt tops by the time we had to pack up to go home.


This one is a copy of an antique quilt which was found in a storage locker after my FIL passed away. We think the original quilt may have been made by my FIL's grandmother. I made this for my SIL.  Before you ask, that strange "T" block in the lower left corner was in the original quilt and I copied it to put into this quilt.




This one block took quite a while to put together in the new quilt top. The picture above is the block in the antique quilt.

For my second top, I decided to make a liberated medallion for my husband.  I started out with a 12 1/2 " square cut from the front of one of his Dad's denim shirts and added borders until it felt done.


I used the yoke linings with the tags on them too.

 
I had a lot of fun putting this quilt together. I love just letting the quilt "speak" to me to tell me what to do next. The retreat was the perfect venue for this as I had lots of time to ponder the next step and there was inspiration everywhere around me, not to mention, creative quilters ready, willing and able to give me ideas and options on what to do next.
The finished top.
 
 
When I got home, I realized I still had 4 more quilt tops to make from the shirts as well as 6 quilt backs--all of which needed to be completed in time to get them to the long arm quilters so she could work her magic before I did the binding. Yikes!  My husband knew all along that I was making shirt quilts for him, his sister, his mother and the three grand-daughters but he was not allowed to see anything before the quilts were gifted on Boxing Day. I did all of my sewing when he was out at meetings and at a couple of sewing days. I did banish him to the basement some evenings and afternoons on the weekends so that I could sew. Don't worry, I did bring him food and water once in a while! 
 
The rest of these pictures were taken on Boxing day after everyone had received their quilts. 
 
This quilt is for one of my nieces. It is a disappearing 4 patch pattern that I found on the internet. The outer border is some tool fabric--my FIL had an extensive tool collection which he used to do his woodworking projects and to fix things around their house and ours. 
 


The back of each quilt was pieced with more symbolic fabrics --tools, gardening, shirt backs, farm fabrics, etc. He grew up on a farm that had an outhouse--you may remember the outhouse quilt I made for him last January.



Here is my niece all wrapped up in her quilt:


She can feel her Papa hugging her!



Her twin sister's quilt was made with a Bonnie Hunter pattern called "Rectangle Wrangle".  This one involved lots of sewing and cutting and sewing again! 


Here is the back:


More hugs from Papa!

 
 
My daughter's quilt was the last one that I made so I did not have a lot of big pieces of fabric left.  The denim pocket in the middle of the quilt is from one of Grandpa's shirts and the rest of the denim in her quilt is from one of her dad's discarded shirts that I had hoarded saved. This one is an original design.



Here is a close up of the border fabric and the oak leaf quilting. (The quilting was done by Cathy at Eagles' Wings Quilts--she did a fantastic job but has told me she does not want to do any more oak leaf quilting for a while!)  All of the quilts were quilted with the same pantograph--oak leaves and acorns. At my FIL's funeral, my SIL did the eulogy in which she described her dad as being like an oak tree, standing tall and deeply rooted to the land where he grew up on the farm. 




 
My father in law had a little red truck when my daughter was little and she affectionately called him "Red Truck Grandpa" so when I found this red truck fabric, I knew I had to use it in the border of her quilt.
 
 
Here is the back of my daughter's quilt.   My FIL planted geraniums from seed every winter for everyone in the family. We think of him every time we see geraniums growing. There is a picture in the family photo album of my FIL as a young boy with one of his Mother's chickens on his head so the chicken fabric also made its way onto the back of my daughter's quilt.
 
 
Here is my SIL with her quilt. I did not add any borders as the original antique quilt did not have any borders. 
 
All wrapped up in her Dad's love.
 
Here is the back of my SIL's quilt which includes more tools, farm. and geranium fabrics.
 
 
 
This is my husband's quilt. This is the first quilt I have ever made for him. We have plenty of quilts that we use on our bed but this one is exclusively his. He was reading a book earlier today and I put the quilt on top of him.  
 
Just the right size for keeping warm while reading a book or watching tv.
 
My husband and his dad went to see a Detroit Tigers baseball game every year for Father's day so there is baseball fabric included on the back of his quilt.  This year, my daughter bought two tickets for her and her dad to go to a Tigers game. The tradition continues.   
 
 
 
 
My Mother-in-Law's quilt is another Bonnie Hunter pattern "Bricks and Stepping Stones".  She remembered all the different occasions when my FIL wore the different shirts. She shed a few tears looking at all the quilts.
 
 
The border is more farm fabric.
 
The back includes some ice cream sundae fabric.  On their first date, my FIL took my MIL our for ice cream--they shared a banana split. The fabric includes some banana splits--I was lucky to find that fabric!
 
My MIL loves her quilt and I am quite sure it will be used often! 
 
I also made some other gifts but will do a separate post about them in a few days.
 
 
This is a new ornament that I bought for our tree this year in memory of my FIL.

47 comments:

  1. What an incredibly thoughtful gift for each of your family to remember him by.

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  2. WOW...this story brought tears to my eyes. Wonderful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Wow, it brings tears to my eyes to see how much you loved your family and to see their love for what you accomplished. You did a great job!

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  4. I love ALL of them Gail! Great work - they will be cherished.

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  5. I love memory quilts. They are so meaningful. Kudos for the fabric repurposing and to your FIL for keeping all his shirts! He must have known you would put them to good use,

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  6. What a labor of love - thank you for sharing !! And yes, my eyes watered up, too ...

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  7. WOW! The love that you showed your family and the love of their grandpa, father or husband is a beautiful thing. Thank you for sharing.

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  8. That is so beautiful. I love the idea of including novelty fabric specific for each relationship. What an amazing gift on your first Christmas without him. I'm tucking this idea away for the future.

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  9. Your quilts are absolutely beautiful! I love each and every design. What wonderful treasures for your family. Thank you for sharing!

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  10. Amazing - thank you for sharing your wonderful story.

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  11. I shed tears reading this story. How wonderful God gave you the talent of sewing to be able to make every one a memory quilt. They are each beautifully done.

    Sandy K.

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  12. it was hard for me to read and view your progress through my tears. Your family will always cherish what you created out of the loving shirts their grandfather/father wore. What a wonderful gift you gave them...thanks for sharing. I wish I had thought of this when my father died. My children loved my dad so much and this would have helped their healing and memory bank.

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  13. Wow! Beautiful, creative, thoughtful quilts.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  14. The quilts are just beautiful and you are such a beautiful person to have done this for others.

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  15. The quilts are just beautiful and you are such a beautiful person to have done this for others.

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  16. Every mother should have a thoughtful DIL like you!

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  17. I loved the chance to read all about the wonderful quilts you made. I especially love the way you used fabrics with special meaning for the backs, and the way the backs are pieced. Nice job!

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  18. I was at the Beaver Island Quilt Retreat and saw the first two in person. It was such a treat to watch the quilts come together. What a great accomplishment and a testimony to your FIL. I love all the quilts.

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  19. They are all awesome. Can I move in with you for 6 months and take lessons. Congrats to all and especially to you, the quilter. Happy New Year.

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  20. What wonderful memories and comfort these quilts will provide for years to come! You did a marvelous job making each quilt different and unique. I could sense the love in each quilt.

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  21. There are no words. What beautiful gifts of the heart.

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  22. I loved reading all the story behind the fabric choices! I wished I had saved my dad's shirts to do this! Curious if all the fabrics were cotton only or cotton/poly? Thanks for sharing!

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  23. What more can I say that hasn't been said....wish I could h

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  24. I loved reading all the story behind the fabric choices! I wished I had saved my dad's shirts to do this! Curious if all the fabrics were cotton only or cotton/poly? Thanks for sharing!

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  25. This had to have been the most loved quilt Christmas ever!

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  26. Oh my gosh Gail, I was tearful reading this post. You really did such an amazing job of each quilt, stitched with memories and family connection.
    Each one is a masterpiece! It's amazing how his spirit still fills the family up when his presence cannot. What a memorable Christmas for your family!

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  27. Sew much love. Your family has something from your FIL and you, to treasure forever. Great job on the quilts. This is a great idea, I love the idea of your nieces and your daughter being wrapped in their grandfather's love.

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  28. What a wonderful tribute! You put a lot of love and thought in each quilt. Couldn't stop the tears.

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  29. What a wonderful tribute! You put a lot of love and thought in each quilt. Couldn't stop the tears.

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  30. What a beautiful CHristmas you must have had together with all these quilts. Lovely story and good for you for doing all that work!

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  31. This post should be listed under "Labor of Love" in the dictionary!

    Absolutely stunning quilts! WELL DONE!!!

    Nancy

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  32. what a stunning group of quilts- I especially like your husband's and the rectangle wrangle pattern but all of the stories about the quilts are incredibly touching. I hope that you can feel the tears that are streaming down your readers faces as they read this piece. You have given your family members a terrific gift of love. Thank you for sharing your story...

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  33. What a marvelous heritage you have bestowed on your loved ones. I am making quilts for all my grand children right now but since we have no fabric pieces handed down, they are all from scratch. I have already done the great grandchildren and the children. Just filling in the middle. I think you are much more industrious than I am, though. Love it! Thank you so very much for sharing.

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  34. Awesome quilts made with such love and thoughtfulness, treasures for sure. Thank you for sharing your beautiful quilts and their stories.

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  35. Oh, Gail, you did such a wonderful job on each of these, what a wonderful legacy to pass on to everyone. I so appreciated (as I'm sure the family does, too!) the extra thoughtfulness that it took to put the backing fabric, too: ice cream, tools, geraniums, etc. How precious every one of the finishes are! I think I especially like your husband's medallion quilt, with such creative piecing. Thank you for sharing, (you know how curious I was!) You are so dedicated to accomplish all of them! I think you should print this post out for your MIL, too. What a treasure!
    Hugs, your friend pokey

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  36. These are wonderful! What a fabulous gift for all your family members.

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  37. How wonderful, My FIL passed on the 17th and I have a stack of his shirts to make quilts for my MIL and my Hubby and the youngest son. I aim to start on January 1st.

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  38. Amazing quilts Gail ... you must have worked very hard to get them all done in time. What a special gift for your family!

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  39. Such a wonderful post and so so much love in each of those quilts...I'm sure your family feels twice as loved..once for the fabric from your fil's shirts and once for you the creator of all those beautiful keepsakes.

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  40. You never stop amazing me with your thoughtfulness & creativity.
    I thought I'd stop by you blog for a visit & what a visit it was!
    Your love, through your talent & creativity has been shared with you family & your labour of love, will been enjoyed for generations to come!
    God bless you Gail. The very best in the New Year 2014!

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  41. Goodness, this is amazing! I'm getting a little teary-eyed over here! Thank you for sharing this story and showing pictures of all of these quilts. I'm sure your family members will treasure these beautiful keepsakes! :)

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  42. What a very thoughtful and meaningful series of quilts for your husband's family! When my mother passed away, her best friend wanted some of mom's shirts to make stuffed teddy bears from for us. I picked a shirt she wore often, and even had a stain on it, as it was our joke that when we went out to eat, she always dropped something on her shirt. It still makes me smile when I think about it. Thanks for sharing these beautiful quilts and giving us another idea for keeping someone's memory alive!

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  43. How very lucky they are to have you in their lives! What gorgeous memories you have created for them . Did you get one made for you too?
    All the designs are wonderful.

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