March 16, 2012

Quilt Mania

Hannah Jane finished her first small quilt back in December as a gift for my mom.  She loved making it for about 10 minutes and then she decided that it was tricky and laborious and she was totally over it.  It sat half made in a pile for month or more.  Then Grandma Kate's birthday rolled around and she felt inspired to finish it because she thought that of all the people in the world, Grandma Kate would be most impressed with a quilt made by an eight year old.

 That's her first one, in all its rumpled glory!  She liked the finished product, but took a vow never to quilt anything again because it was just too much work.  None of the corners matched up, so we strategically places the raindrops to cover the most off edges.  If she's going to work that hard, she wants a perfect finished product. 

Last week I made this little quilt for my friend Steffanie's soon to be born little guy, Arthur, who is named for their most famous ancestor, King Arthur.  With a name sake like that, you need a royal blanket, right?

I ended up painting burgundy A's in a calligraphy style on the shields before I gave it to her, but I forgot to take an updated picture.  The baby quilt got a warm reception, which Hannah Jane observed, and she loves nothing more than positive attention (then again, who doesn't?), so I'm pretty sure that is what has brought on her desire to give quilt piecing one more try.

Tonight Hannah Jane is going to a swim/slumber party at a hotel for her dear friend's 9th birthday.  Don't freak out.  It's girls and a mom only and she's a ridiculously responsible mom.  But our first thought about this party was to say no.  Hannah Jane's summer swim lessons were disastrous (much like my own summer swim lessons as a child, which served me so well that I'm now the only 31 year old I know who can't actually swim) and we're pretty safety minded so the thought of letting her go alone to a pool party when there would be no way for her to save herself if she got bumped into even 5 ft water was a little overwhelming.  But it's her dear, dear friend and she wanted to go so badly that she struck a deal.   She knew how much we wanted her to get over her fears and really learn how to swim and she really wanted to go to this party, so she proposed successfully taking private swim lessons for the month leading up to the party and if she could prove she could swim by then, then we'd have to say yes.  It seemed like a long shot.  Joe said, "There's no way she'll be a swimmer in that time, but she does need to learn and if this gets her to try it again, then it's worth a shot."  I give her teacher big credit!  Anna at the Swim Academy is a miracle worker as far as I'm concerned.  She's doing it!  That girl can drop into the pool and backstroke her way across it to the other side after just 4 lessons.  It ain't pretty yet, but it's functional enough!  I would never have believed it.  So she's worked hard for this party!

So yesterday, she says she wants to make the gift for this glorious occasion.  I've seen her homemade gifts and while as her mom I cherish them, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't rank up there with a My Little Pony in the mind of a 9 year old recipient.  Ya know?  But I wanted to be gentle with her big open heart.  She has worked her little tail of for the privilege of attending this party, and if making a gift instead of buying one will make it perfect, I didn't want to ruin it for her.  Again, we struck a deal.  We'd buy a gift AND make one.  All the more for her friend to receive!  This morning we went to the store and bought a nice leather journal in her friend's favorite color because the girl likes to write plays and this will be a spectacular place to record all the scripts that she writes.

When we got home, it was time to make a pillow.  We looked at simple quilting patterns on the computer and Hannah Jane chose the disappearing nine patch pattern.  Then she pulled out my fabric stash.  Since her friend loves blue, she picked out every blue fabric.  Yeah, that's how she dresses herself too, and I gotta say that sometimes even if it's all shades of the same color, it really doesn't coordinate well.  I suggested maybe 2 blues and a different color so she chose some daisies on pink that were left over from her Haiti Doll project a couple of years back.

I cut, she arranged and stitched.

 She pressed her seams.

 She finished piecing the top and was so giddy!  Then she got nervous.  Nothing she's made has looked this perfect this far into the process, so she started to worry that somehow she's ruin it when she stitched the back on.  That's the easiest part, but she was terrified to do it.  She asked me to do it for her, but I encouraged her to be brave and finish it herself so she could be truthful when she told her friend that she had made it herself. 

She added the back very...very...slowly...and carefully.  It was excruciating to watch.  Like watching grass grow.  

At this point, my camera literally stopped working.  No idea what happened.  I'm at a loss.  Yes, it gets dropped all of the time, but it seems like it would break right after the drop, not in the middle of a gentle photo op.  Anyway.  She stuffed the pillow and I did sew the last seam closed for her because that's just an impossible task that even I flubbed a bit.  She was forgiving.  And then she obsessively rolled it with a lint roller for forever.  

Suddenly it was done and I realized that Joe would never get to see her masterpiece because the party starts before he gets home from work.  And this was an impressive pillow if you are into pillows or know anything about quilting.  It's so hard to line up the seams and all but one of hers are spot on.  I tried to convince her to use a configuration of the disappearing nine patch that doesn't have any seams to line up, but she thought it was ugly and was sure she could get it.  I couldn't believe it.  Anyway, I remembered my phone's camera!  Score!  So, even though Joe will never be able to run his hands across it and see how ridiculously smooth and flat she got everything, how perfectly the corners of the squares line up, he'll at least get to see how adorable it was in a picture.  I suppose that's enough. 

The only issue now is finding a gift bag large enough to fit it in.  It's a giant pillow.  She wants to sew a gift bag for it, but I'm not certain I have any scraps beg enough for that job.  

So pretty soon this little gal will hop off to her first big kid pool party, first sleep over (but it's with her camp buddy, so I'm sure it won't phase her),  with her hand made gift that she is so unbelievably proud of.  It's going to be a night to remember.  It's going to be hard not to lurk around the corner of the hotel pool and spy.  But I will resist and wait to hear all about it tomorrow!

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