All month I worked on the Spring Florals Quilt, the first quilt in the Lana Bates Memorial Quilt Project, piecing applique and stitching the floral and butterfly elements in place. Honestly, I have not worked too much in the quilt as you go (QAYG) style, so it was a fun departure. This article is the monthly update on the quilt’s progress, as well as the personal and historical information from my cousin on the project.
Most of the squares were assembled straight out of the box with a top piece of fabric, batting layer and backing layer all pinned together. Some squares had a letter label pinned too them as well, for what I suppose was the intended layout, but there was no pattern or overall notes included with the blocks. There were a few pieces of hand cut applique shapes in a simple five-petal flower and butterfly.
To get myself organized, I first played with the layout to determine how many additional squares I may need to cut and how many pieces of applique I might need to make. You can read all about the beginning phase of the project in the Spring Florals planning article. I decided to add a pop of a darker green print to the mix as well just to give myself a few additional options when it came to applique and to break up the very repetitious colors.
In addition to the original large applique my aunt had cut, I decided to add some fussy cut florals from another scrap fabric I had in my collection I felt worked well not only in colors but also overall style. Over the course of February, I cut, cut and cut the applique pieces.
Once I had a group of large shapes and small fussy cut florals, I simple went row by row and placed them in a random fashion on the blocks. I tried to mix the prints as well as butterflies and petal flowers, but the limited shapes and pallet made it hard to space out really evenly, so I eventually just tried to get a good mix and not try to be too precious about the process. I see now from the other quilt she finished from the same pattern (below), that she intended to only use a few of the applique pieces in the center to make a medallion focal point as well as a corner detail on the quilt top. I definitely covered my version in applique, making it pretty over the top, but to me that was fun and a bit, well, just more. In addition to using up a great deal of the extra fabric in the box, I also used up a lot of the floral print from my stash, all of which makes me happy.
I typically adhere my applique with a small stripe of Elmer’s School Glue stick in the center with a few pins to secure larger areas in place. I find this holds the applique down well enough so it is not shifting a bunch while being stitched in place, but prevents me from having to stop frequently to remove pins, slowing the process down. I used a zigzag stitch in a neutral thread color around the perimeter of each piece of applique to hold it in place. The stitching here also acts as the quilting, making the whole block come together rather quickly. I found I was able to make a bunch of the blocks in just a few hours. Not only did they come together quickly, but they were fun to make since each was slightly different to compose and stitch.
In fact, as I write this, I have nearly completed the quilt, making me ahead of schedule by about a month! I can’t wait to have it completely together and get it up for donation.
Personal Notes and Quilt Origins by Amy Blascovich
I was touched when Janice told me about her plans for this project and excited when she asked for my contribution. I am inspired by her artistic talent, as well as her words, and am thrilled to work with her. But, admittedly, I have been procrastinating writing this. It all just feels a bit heavy. And doesn’t heavy feel like the theme of the past year? I was afraid I wouldn’t have much information on the projects or anything valuable to add, really. But when she sent the pictures of the first quilt she’s working on, it all came flooding back. And it does feel heavy. But that’s ok. Heavy is good sometimes.
This quilt is one my mom started after she became sick. She called it a “raggy” quilt, because some of the parts stayed unfinished and, with time and washing, became…well…raggy. I’m not sure where she got the pattern or instructions (although it is likely JoAnn Fabrics was involved, haha), but I remember her saying how much easier and less time-consuming it would be, compared to other things she’d made. In fact, the quilt Janice is working on, in shades of blue, is actually the second one like this.
The first was of the same design but compiled of pinks and whites and dainty patterns. It was cheerful and cutesy and the perfect gift for a little girl. I know it was the only project she finished between her diagnosis and her death. I found it in a box, perfectly folded and wrapped in tissue paper, a few months after her passing. It was in that same month that I found out I was pregnant, after years of struggling with infertility. My mom knew I’d have my daughter well before I did. And she had her quilt all ready to go. My daughter still loves and uses the gift from the grandmother she never knew. The peace that comes with that, has been one of my mother’s greatest gifts to me.
See? Heavy. But beautiful. The “raggy” quilts are special to me. I know that the one being finished out of love will bring its own magic and beauty to someone else. My hope is that it will offer them the peace and happiness it has bestowed on me.
Quilts are expressions of love in fiber. Something that takes this long to compose by hand has to be. If I know the intended recipient, I often think of them while I am working on their project and pour all of my hopes and dreams for them into the work. You can’t see it, but it is there in every stitch, little dashes of love holding everything together. I am sure my aunt was thinking about the future grandchildren she was unlikely to ever know and sending them her love and hugs through her work. Her hands may never have held them in life, but her quilts have wrapped them in her love all the same.
The Spring Flroals Quilt will be availabe for purchase when completed in March. All proceeds from the quilt will be donated to a women’s cancer charity in the name of my aunt.
Thank you so much for joining us in this memorial and allowing us to share the story of my aunt and her work. Stay creative friends, Janice
Inspiration and resources are linked where applicable. All written work and photographs are original content and are copyright protected; kindly give due credit by linking back to my website or source website if you use or share.
(©2021, Janice Bailor // laruedefleurs.com)