Monday, May 21, 2012

Bloggers Quilt Festival Quilt: Smooth Sailing

I'm always excited when I finish a quilt, but I rarely have been as proud of myself as I was with my recent finish of a quilt several years in the making: my Storm-at-Sea quilt for my very dear friends Talia and Aaron.

When Talia and Aaron were getting married (almost 3 years ago now), I gave them a normal wedding present (a beautiful piece of pottery that I bought at Good Dirt in Athens, GA), but I really wanted to give them something extra special...something made by me! They had recently bought a really neat Amish quilt for their bed, and Aaron's mom had made a gorgeous quilt (hand-quilted) that they got married under following the Jewish tradition of a chuppah, or canopy, that is held by 4 people over the couple as they get married. The chuppah symbolizes the home that the couple will build together.

When I mentioned that I wanted to make a quilt for them, we talked about a quilt design and basic color scheme, and they wanted something they could hang, since at that point they had just bought their first house and had lots of empty walls.  I showed them the fabrics I was considering and had them nix a few, and then I began the process of agonizing over the design and placement after making some of the initial blocks.

The quilt spent a lot of time on the design wall, and I played with a lot of different layouts.  I even had Talia come over to give her opinion.  She told me it was beautiful.  When I look at the pictures of it on my design wall, I think it is funny to see how different it looks!  I wonder if she was worried!

Anyway, many months went by while I worked away on it.  I created all of the blocks, and then sewed them into columns.  Then the columns went together, and pretty soon I had a quilt top.  I got stuck again at that point, because I couldn't decide how to quilt it.  I asked my assistant, but all she said was "meow".  I took it over to Anne's house, and she helped me decide on the final quilting...I followed the lines of the "waves" that the pattern makes, since that is what draws me to this pattern so much.

It's a little hard to see the detail of the quilting, but hopefully this close-up shows off the texture a bit.  The problem was that it was difficult to keep the lines perfect.  I ended up going back and ripping out some portions and redoing them, even though I know I'm the only one who would have noticed the imperfections.  After working so hard to have "perfect" points, I didn't want sloppy quilting to mess up the effect.  I used a variegated blue thread, which I thought was interesting...especially as it often seemed to show up at the right color at the right time, so to speak. 

I should add that I used the TrimPlates that were suggested in the book "A New Light on Storm at Sea" from C&T Publishing.  I can't imagine using any other method for making these blocks.  However, I have a hard time wasting fabric, especially when I'm using some fabrics that I bought in my first quilt shop fabric buying extravaganza about a decade ago.  So...I took the extra step of making an extra seam as I added those blocks to the smaller square-in-a-square unit.  And I ended up with lots of very tiny half-square triangles that will be a cute chevron quilt that I'm going to keep for my future child!  I'll show that another day, but let me just say, using leaders and enders is such a good idea, and the extra quilt I'm making out of the scraps from this almost made this quilt easy to give away...almost!  (In reality, it is a testament to my dear friends that they received this...Pilgrim was not the only one having a hard time letting go!)

I had hoped to present this to Talia and Aaron on my wedding day (April 30th) to bring it full circle, and I had actually finished it just in time, and then I walked out the door without it.  I thought about going back, but it's never a good idea to be late to your own wedding, right?  So, instead, since we got married on Aaron's birthday, we took it to Aaron's postponed 30th birthday party (which gave me time to get the hanger attached, though I still didn't get a label on it - a great reason to visit with a needle and thread!  And for those of you who have asked, here's a picture of us on our big day with Talia and Aaron!  I'll have some more later this week...including some hilarious "blooper" photos!  I love being married to Bryan...he really is amazing!

I'm happy to be part of the Bloggers Quilt Festival Spring 2012!  If you are a new visitor from that, please come back...I have a lot of really cool things planned over the summer, though I'll be quiet for the next couple of months between more wedding gatherings and our honeymoon to South America!

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm married!

Thank you, Nordstrom's Wedding Suite!  You ladies rock!
Hello!  I've been enjoying newlywed bliss for the last 2 weeks, and I haven't yet sorted out all of the pictures to give an actual photo recap, but I wanted to let y'all know that the wedding was fantastic!  We couldn't have been happier!  Indeed, Bryan and I are both so glad that we went the route that we did with a simple courthouse wedding with just a few guests, since even that was emotional and exhausting!  We had the ceremony at the Anne Arundel County Courthouse, walked around to take pictures with the photographer that all my dear friends chipped in to hire for us, and then had a lovely little afternoon tea/lunch at Reynolds Tavern before going home and crashing!

And at last, I can reveal my actual dress, though I still like it best on the mannequin!  :)  (Have I mentioned how much I hate seeing pictures of me? It ruins my super-model self-image!)

We'd planned to go to dinner that night at one of our favorite restaurants with my parents and Bryan's mom, but I couldn't be convinced to get out of my pajamas and instead cooked a really good dinner for everyone at home.  It was probably more work, in the end, but it made me (and everyone else) happy!

Bryan, his mom (Margery), my dad (Bob), and my mom (Sue).  I'm so happy Bryan married me - look at his cute smile!

Crawfish quesadillas with homemade guacamole and Bobby Flay's awesome corn with peppers and cotilja cheese.  And a bottle of champagne we'd had kicking around for quite awhile waiting for a special celebration - we decided that this qualified!

My favorite detail from that mom wearing her pearls after borrowing one of Bryan's t-shirts!  It's a great look for her, don't you think?  ;)  You are welcome, Mom!

Here's a link to the photographer's favorite pictures from the day, in case you are curious:

We like a lot of others better, so we'll be going through the proofs this week to decide on our favorite 40, which will be edited and put into an album for us.  My bouquet, in case you are wondering, was from Wegmans!  It was only $50, and it was absolutely perfect!

I have managed to find some time for quilting, though!  I finished the binding and hanging sleeve and was able to finally present this quilt, a Storm at Sea, to my dear friends Talia and Aaron.  I had finished the binding in time to give it to them at the wedding and then walked out the door without it, but I was happy to get the hanging sleeve attached for them and gave it to them at Aaron's make-up birthday party (since we got married on his actual 30th birthday!).  This quilt was a wedding present for them (though they got married 2.5 years ago...but they agreed it was worth the wait!)!  It was very hard to let it go...I might have to make another for Bryan and me someday!

"Don't quilt, Mom.  Pet meeeeeee!"
I also finished the hand-quilting on the second quilt for Aileen (who totally stole the show at the wedding...she is really the cutest baby, as you'll see when I get the photos posted!).  I also started and actually finished piecing and quilting another quilt for my cousin's new baby, despite someone making it rather difficult...but how can I resist that sweet face?

"I'll hold your fabric for you...aren't I a good helper?"