This lap quilt was a retirement gift for a wonderful friend I was lucky enough to work with in my last job. It’s a bit hard to see in this photo, but it’s covered with well wishes from her friends and colleagues from her 28 years with our company. It’s a fitting tribute for someone who has touched so many lives with her warmth and quick wit.
The idea for a signature quilt came to me months ago, but I couldn’t settle on the perfect pattern. That is, until one of the Philly Modern Quilt Guild members brought this quilt to a meeting. With it’s negative space, ‘Birdbath’ was a perfect fit.
Pattern: ‘Birdbath’ by Elizabeth Hartman
Fabric: Assorted aqua and brown prints
Dimensions: 49″ x 58″
To start, I e-mailed a blank block template with instructions to Pat’s friends and colleagues. They wrote messages on them, scanned the template, and e-mailed it back to me. No muss, no fuss. I thought briefly about sending out fabric squares and markers, but it would have been a logistical nightmare. Then I traced each message onto fabric by hand, the old fashioned way — taped to a window!
There seem to be varying schools of thought among quilters on the ‘net as to what type of marker is best to use for this kind of project. I elected to go with an extra fine point Sharpie.
I was terrified to wash it the first time, but the messages only faded a bit. On a second wash, there was no discernable difference. Whew! As it’s a lap quilt, I don’t anticipate it being washed as often as, say, a bed quilt, so I’m confident that the messages will stand the test of time.
Here’s a closeup shot before washing…
… and another after washing. Still perfectly legible, trust me, even though the artsy lighting is washing it out.
It was really fun to see what everyone had to say. All wished her well, though some were a touch wistful while others were pretty damn funny.
Once again, my homemade design wall came in very handy when laying out the blocks.
For the back, I opted to deviate from the pattern as written. I had three extra messages that I centered in a white strip on the back. For the bottom strip, I cut scraps from the leftover prints and arranged them in a gradient. This is probably one of my favorite backs I’ve done to date.
This was my first foray into straight line quilting. Usually my go-to method is stippling, but it could have made the messages difficult to read. I experimented with a few methods and settled on a suggestion from my husband. I quilted inside each ring using color matched thread. Because I can’t let anything be easy, I also matched the thread color to the back. The first few rows of blocks weren’t too hard, but once I got to the last two, I was changing thread for both the front and the back multiple times within each block. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but I wasn’t thrilled when it came to working in all those thread ends! I’m glad I put in the extra effort, though. The back looks just as finished as the front.
For the majority of the back, I used a wildly appropriate aqua and brown octagon print. Couldn’t have asked for a better match!
Here’s a shot of the recipient when we gave her the quilt. She was so touched!
I spent about a month on this quilt, sewing while I was home between trips. Hardly seemed like work — it was a pleasure to make something I knew would really be appreciated.
Wishing you the best in your retirement, Pat!
And because no quilt post is complete without a hammy hubby cameo…