A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to a surprise 45th Wedding Anniversary party for my dear friend Marianne and her husband George.
I was so excited when she opened her gift...a memory quilt celebrating their 45 years together and all the blessings of their children (and their spouses) and of course the GRANDCHILDREN! :)
Aren't they just the cutest couple!!!!
Now for the story behind the gift..... :) :) :)
I asked their daughter Melissa if she could "sneak around" and get her hands on wedding photos and photos of each member of their family without her mom's knowledge. I've never made a "memory quilt", but I knew that if I could figure out how to make it, Marianne was someone who would truly appreciate and cherish the gift.
Sometimes I have these wonderful "spur of the moment ideas" without thinking about exactly what will be involved in actually "doing" the project. :)
First example of how naive I am was the time frame. I received the invitation from Melissa on September 4th....and the surprise party was scheduled for October 6th....basically a month to accomplish my "idea". That wouldn't have been terrible...but I couldn't start the project until the photos arrived. :)
Gathering up the photos was not an easy job to complete. I received e-mails with the first couple of wedding photos attached on September 21....then a couple more family photos arrived by e-mail that same evening....then a few more on September 22....then a few more on September 23....and finally the last couple of photos needed on September 24.
I had 11 full days to make this quilt...from start to finish. YIKES!!!! I truly was worried at this point that I had bit off more than I could chew. Not only did I have less than two weeks to do this....when making a memory quilt...there are NO INSTRUCTIONS!!! :) You basically have to figure it out all by your lonely self!!! LOLOL
First, I printed all the photos on colorfast fabric paper.
Did you notice that each photo is a unique, different size? In the beginning, I thought that it would be best to print all the family photos the same size to make it easier. The only problem with that idea was that when I printed them the first time....by changing the sizes, it resulted in several chopped off heads, arms, etc. So after a few wasted pieces of fabric paper...I realized that I had no choice but print each photo "just like it was" which would mean that in order to sew them into quilt blocks...there would be no "mass production" of fabric cutting...no....each block would be unique, and different from all the other blocks. At this point....I feel my stress level rising!!! LOLOLOL
Next question....what color fabrics do I use? Isn't the computer a wonderful thing? I googled "45th Anniversary" and learned that this was the "sapphire" anniversary. Okay....blue it is! :) :) Since each block was going to have to be cut and constructed individually....why not use a different blue fabric as "frames" for each photo??? As strange as it sounds....as much as I love all colors...."blues" have never been a fabric color that I tend to collect...which means I wouldn't find many (if any) "blues" in my fabric stash. :)
FAT QUARTERS are now my new best friends!!! For those of you unfamiliar with quilting, etc...a "fat quarter" is a piece of fabric you can purchase that is approximately 18" x 22".
The time (days) are slipping by....gotta get this show on the road!!!! Admittedly....I felt lost...where do I begin? Math is not my favorite subject...but I sat down with paper and pencil and starting drawing out placement ideas.....then tried to figure out the math involved to make everything fit and come together in one quilt top!!!
Before starting on the photos, I decided to make one special block using the embroidery functions of my sewing machine....
Next, I forced myself to be brave enough to start cutting into the fabrics and begin framing and constructing the individual quilt blocks....
Marianne has four children, two daughters and two sons....so I thought it only fitting to make the second row of the quilt using the photos of the kids and their spouses....in birth order......
Next comes the grandchildren.....in order of oldest to the youngest....there's a total of 10!!!!
The first four....
The next four....
The last two....TWO?? But I need four to make it even!! :) :) There's not enough time to create new grandchildren so I put my thinking cap on and came up with the idea to make two blocks using 1 1/2" strips of fabric from the assorted blue fabrics used to frame all the photos....
Some of you may not believe this...but I'm truly designing this quilt top "as I go". At this point, I need to decide what color fabric to use as lattice strips separating each block. Honestly, when I started the quilt top, my thoughts were leaning in the direction of pairing yellows/golds with the blues...but once I got this far and started REALLY looking at it, I just wasn't happy with that idea.
After laying out a few possible color choices....the winner is.....RED!
Oh yes....I'm really liking this choice.....
There's not much time left to complete this quilt before the party....I'm not exactly thinking through all the details in advance.....I'm happy with the finished quilt top....but there's not enough of the red fabric to use for the back side....oh boy....what do I do now....I should have thought of this "small" part of the quilt process earlier. :)
After measuring it, I need exactly 3 yards of fabric to back the quilt....I plan to run to the fabric shop tomorrow with the completed quilt top to find something that looks nice. Literally before heading to bed...I go look through my "stash" of fabric one more time. I found something....I LOVE it....it will look great....but do I have enough of it????
I kid you not....when I measured the fabric piece it was EXACTLY 3 yards!!!!!!
The next morning, I measured the fabric one more time to make sure I had not dreamed it....then cut the 3 yards in half, giving me two 1 1/2 yard pieces. I quickly sewed them together and.....continue the race to complete it in time!
The quilt top, batting and quilt back is sandwiched and pinned together....now the fun begins....time to quilt it.
I have one day left....I'm tired....sew much to do....sew little time.....
The quilting is complete....now I need to bind it....oops....here I go not thinking things through again!!! What fabric do I use to bind the quilt? I have enough of the red used in the front of the quilt to cut binding strips...but it doesn't really look right against the red fabric on the back. I bet a blue binding would really make it "pop" and pull the whole look together. The only "blue" fabric left is the scraps from the fat quarters used to frame each photo. There's not enough time to shop for more fabric....a quilter must do whatever a quilter must do to complete a project.
There's no other choice but cut the blue scraps into strips...regardless of the length of the strips....and then sew them together until I have approximately 250 inches of binding....(I crack myself up sometimes!!)
Okay...now that it's finished...I think the binding is adorable!!! I'll do this again on future quilts I'm sure!!! :)
Just a few hours left....one "last minute" idea (yes, I'm full of them! LOLOL)
I took the tiny scraps from the quilt top and stuffed them into a clear Christmas Ornament...took a gold paint pen and wrote "45th Anniversary" on one side and 10-6-2012 on the other side. I forgot to take a photo (was running out of time at this point)....but I DID get a photo of Marianne after she opened the box and found the ornament on top....
Oh...there's something else in the box...
She's smiling....I think she likes it! :)
"HAPPY 45TH ANNIVERSARY MARIANNE AND GEORGE!"
P.S. Marianne....you are a special friend and I treasure our friendship!!!!