Journal Entry: October 18, 2013.
I think I’ve finally got it! I’ve been noodling over a theme for a quilt project for my grandsons for over a year; I’m really feeling major guilt gnawing at me now. I promised the quilts a while ago so they are long overdue. I’ve struggled with finding the design and have been driven by significance—a theme that will be special to each of them. I’ve been stuck on trying to identify a design that will fit each of their interests. They would be happy with Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies, but I just can’t make myself put in the hours for these keepsakes that could be of no interest a year from now. You too may have had this dilemma in your quilt-making journey.
I like my quilts to tell their own story. Once I have the story it seems the design flows. The boys’ mom suggested a travel theme; to symbolize a value we all want to instill in the kids—taking a journey, adventure, looking outside of the day-to-day to look for opportunities in life. With travel in mind we finally came to an idea to incorporate the summer visit the boys took to England. As I thought of each of the boys individually, I let their personalities, interests, and ages speak to me.
Seven-year-old Ben has shared his interest in planets and constellations several times over the last year. I think his depth of interest is pretty cool in such a young lad, and my husband feels even more so because of his background in aerospace and satellite operations. In August, Ben helped me download an app he discovered, Planets by Q Continuum onto my iPad. Recalling this app and his very detailed explanations about our solar system, it came to me that I’d discovered a design for his quilt. I’m now on the way to a quilt with a starry night background and planets with their surface images modeled from the Planets app, quilted with stitches resembling a sampling of constellations. I’m hoping Ben will take the notion from this quilt that there is no limit to traveling to unknown places and dreaming big.
I couldn’t easily locate the right mottled black fabric from England, so along with painting fabric to get the perfect texture you see on images of planets, I also dyed white fabric black, and just for kicks, added a bright yellow Mariner’s Compass to resemble the sun for guidance. It may be difficult to tell in the photo above but the machine appliqué planets were perfect against the starry night sky. I hand stitched constellations all over the surface of the quilt for the finish quilting.
On to four-year-old Evan’s quilt design. I think the one activity he was most enamored with in London was seeing and riding the double decker buses. His enthusiasm over these buses still makes me smile two months later. He has a special way of emphasizing the word “decker” when he talks about them, and was thrilled to sit in the top level, in the front seat. It’s this memory I turned to when I finally figured out what to do with Evan’s quilt. I’d collected a number of transportation themed fabrics and brought them with me to England. They were perfect for making the scrappy quilt I had in mind. I found a great London-themed bus fabric for the background border and completed the travel-oriented quilt with a Double Decker bus block. This colorful novelty quilt is just right for my little guy to cuddle under.
What’s the moral of this story? Sometimes it takes a lot of time for inspiration to surface for a quilt design, particularly when you want to find that perfect theme for a special person.