Emi’s Farewell Quilt

Emi and I met in Arabic classes, and oh what fun we had! She had so many official responsibilities, but we would arrange to meet up for coffee, to have an adventure now and then. Sometimes, we could even get our husbands away from their busy schedules and find a place to hideaway for some great conversation.

When Emi discovered they were leaving, it was the middle of summer, and there was no one in Doha except her and me! She, who had so graciously farewelled so many women, was left with only me to farewell her.

It was so wrong. We had a wonderful dinner together at a local restaurant they had never been to, and we gave her this quilt:

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The quilt is called Sand and Sea, and has the colors of the Qatar desert and the Arabian Gulf. In the very center is a little girl, holding a Japanese flag – what serendipity that I had a piece of fabric from some Olympics or something, with that little girl! And there are Japanese cranes, which mate for life, and a chrysanthemum . . . all things Emi loved.

My First Quilt

I had a dear friend at church who kept insisting I was a quilter.

“No!” I would disagree, thinking quilters were old women who wore glasses and didn’t have a life outside of quilting. And I was busy, taking classes in teaching English as a Foreign Language, and who had the time?

She talked me into taking one class . . .an introduction to hand piecing and hand quilting, six lessons at the local quilt shop.

I was a goner.

I have always loved fabrics, and putting fabrics together. Now, when I teach and people say “but how do you choose your colors?” I tell them the same thing the teacher told me:

“find a piece of fabric – it can be anything, even upholstery fabric – that thrills your soul. Look for photos whose colors you love, look at ads. That which you are drawn to are the colors you will want to use, because you love those colors.”

And that is just what I do. From time to time I make a quilt for someone, and they tell me what I need to use, and I might hate the colors, but I consider it an opportunity to grow a little.

The fabric I loved became the main fabric. I have never again worked with turquoise, pink and yellow, I have never made another pastel quilt, but I still love this quilt, and treasure the hours I spent working – and re-working – the blocks, hand quilting, putting on the binding – which, because I didn’t know anything, is just the back brought forward and folded over the front.

I tried to put it together in Saudi Arabia and discovered that the blocks bled right into the posts and sashes, so I had to run out to find cotton fabric and then had to make a small amount of fabric go a long way, so made this garden path setting . . .somehow, to me, it all worked.

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I started this quilt in 1997. I didn’t finish it until 1999m but there were two moves involved, one to Saudi Arabia and another to Germany, and getting a house ready to rent out and getting a son settled in law school . . . The others came more quickly.

That friend who had told me I was meant to be a quilter was right. She gave me two quilting books, no longer published, which were in the boxes of quilting books that got lost somewhere between Doha and Kuwait. Thousands of dollars worth of books, irreplacable – and my quilt journal, with records of all my projects. Thus, this online record.

My second quilt was a graduation quilt for my son, and his school colors were garnet and gold. I don’t really love working with either red or yellow, but when I put them with another color I never in a milliion years thought I would ever use – black – WOW. The quilt totally worked. I ended up loving it.

Elephant Temple Sari Quilted

Every now and then you take a risk. I was with people buying sari fabric at the LuLu Hypermarche in Doha, which, surprisingly, had a very good sari selecton, from the lower prices to the exquisite. My house guests loved going to the LuLu, and several bought sari fabrics at the LuLu dealer upstairs.

One time the salesman brought out sari fabric I had never seen before and never seen anything like it before – it was a creamy white, hand loomed, with gold metallic embellishments and weaving through it. At the end, where the fanciest part of the sari is, was a temple scene, all in gold and cream except for a row of umbrellas. The unbrellas were over elephant heads.

My Indian friends have told me it is an annual festival, held around February, in India where there are both elephants and unbrellas featured at one particular and very special temple. How totally fabulous is that?

I bought the fabric, I couldn’t resist. I have used all the lengths of creamy hand-woven fabric in countless ways, and the gold/cream trip of the sides was even in the Bride’s Bag, but the end – I sandwiched it and hand quilted it, and I use it as a wall hanging in my guest room. It never fails to give me joy with it’s serene, elegant and joyful colors.

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Dancing Lilacs

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It doesn’t happen all that often – I have such good self discipline, I work away at my works in progress. . . but I saw the border fabric and fell totally in love. You know the feeling, your heart is beating faster and your breath is shallow and comes in short gasps. . . I ordered the fabric the very night I first saw it, and the coordinating fabric, which you see in the center blocks.

I love Irish chain, I love the motion and I love the way it frames a beautiful fabric, and I love purple and green together, so for me, this all worked.

I had never done a triple Irish chain before, but I found an easy description of how to do it – and did it!

And I mitred the corners of that beautiful striped lilac border fabric:

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And then, having just taken a “Master Class” with a lovely woman who tried to teach us so much more than my poor little brain could absorb – but I remembered a couple important things. She said you could do feathers in free motion, it just took a little practice. And she said you had to TRY things, even if you thought you couldn’t do them.

The woman is a total inspiration to me. She is modest, it is just her nature, and sweet, and very funny, too. Her quilts win big prizes every year at the annual quilt show. And she shares, she gives it away, and she encourages people to aspire to do more and to do it better. So . . . with those perfect lilac blocks, I decided to do feather circles.

They aren’t perfect. I used a sandwich plate and a Hera marker (has a sharp edge to mark fabric with a crease, but doesn’t leave any lasting lines) to get perfect circles, and proceeded to make imperfect but passable feather wreaths.
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On the front, of course, you can barely even tell they are there. I did them for me, because I needed to know I could do it, not to be perfect. And to me, they are good enough. Here is one from the back, where you CAN see them:

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And, because I love the fabric so much and wanted to use ALL of it, or as much as I could, in this quilt, I also made a BIG label for the quilt, with a lilac border frame:

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I blocked out my name. Some of you will know me by the quilts, but I am not eager to put my name out on the ‘net. 😉 This is just another attempt at documenting my quilts in a way that doesn’t disappear with every move. Sigh!

Round Robin

We did this as a guild project in Germany, with the Rheinland Pfalz Quilt Guild. Each person created their own center block, then the piece was passed to other participants in the Round Robin, each of whom added a border or embellishments. So the center is mine and the outermost setting blocks are mine, as well as the sandwiching and quilting, but friends did the rest.

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Whirling Tulips

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The Center medallion for Whirling Tulips was designed as the world was whirling, September 11, 2001. Although glued to the TV, I couldn’t bear all the grey and all the despair, and I countered it with a bright fuschia/orange batik and deep green leaves, whiriling around a center left blank for some hand quilting. I used freezer paper to get exactly the curl and bend I wanted the leaves to have, and a very stylized tulip form.

I loved working on it. I use it for a card table tablecloth.

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As I unfolded this to photograph for this blog/journal/record, I reminded myself to fold at angles, and never the same way twice, to avoid those deep folds that are forming from storing too long folded one way.