the good night quilt (back) January 17, 2013

The Modern Quilt Guild recently organized a special drive to make quilts for the Austin’s Children’s Shelter. They sent many of the MQGs packages of Quiltcon blocks to work with and asked each of us to make one twin-sized quilt to donate. The 2012 and 2013 PMQG boards teamed up to work on this project collaboratively, which was fantastic! Our blocks we got for the front are wonky stars, which Heather offered to piece into a twin-sized top. So Anne and I volunteered to work on the back together – I actually love working on quilt backs, I got to make one for our Graphic quilt last year which was really fun! And I love Anne’s quilts so it was really fun to collaborate with her.

my good night fabrics

Kristin of Sew, Mama, Sew! graciously cut and gave away four bolts of a Kona gray for charity quilting at our November PMQG meeting, and that gift came in very handy for this project. I also pulled some yardage of serene, beautiful Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Aqua, and a Japanese elephant print I bought a FQ of last year seemed like it might find its way in, too.

LOVE block

I adore improvisational piecing and had a lot of fun making a LOVE “bumper sticker” quilt block for Michelle’s Design Camp bee last year. For this project, my idea was to design and stitch a quiet, comforting message for the child who sleeps under it, in an unfamiliar place, so he or she felt a bit more at home… and mix stars of some kind around my words. I chose the simplest little phrase, good night.

tiny log cabin "star" block

Anne offered to piece some stars, big and small, and ended up making 32 of the super easy, slightly wonky log cabin mini-blocks I used for my Starry Night pillow in Modern Log Cabin Quilting for her tiny “twinkling” yellow stars! She emailed me a photo while I was still on the east coast, and I was really excited!

new year, new iron

And then, finally home from our Christmas trip and so ready to get started, cutting lots of strips for improv letter-piecing, and waiting and waiting for my trusty iron to heat up… I noticed something. Surprise! My iron had a gnarly injury on its side and was stone-cold and broken. My friend Mary lent me hers – but I couldn’t get it for a couple of hours. So with precious childcare time ticking, my first two un-pressed letters, “go,” were a wrinkly, puffy mish-mash that should clearly illustrate to anyone why ironing is way, way important in our craft. I can’t believe I’m posting this horrible photo, but there you go. Wow, was I happy to get the borrowed iron later that night and press these guys!

the unironed "go"

So, using simple strips and improv piecing (and a working iron), I stitched up g-o-o-d and n-i-g-h-t and joined them together to form a simple heart of the back to pass along for Anne to work her star magic on. I truly loved this process – meditative and simple and intuitive. No pattern, no tutorial to write. Just good night. On an impulse I fussy-cut a little elephant in the same width as the body of my “i” and dotted it with that. It’s one perfect elephant and one little section of another one floating above it peeking down, reminding me of a mother watching over her child. My children loved the elephants. They both gave the tiny little dot over the i a kiss, and I hope that some of that warmth stays in that quilt when it covers another little one.

My finished "good night" section

The next morning, along with last-second packing for our San Francisco trip, I snapped some quick photos of my little good night block. I loved how the reflection of the blocks’ back – full of seams and stitching – read so clearly in the mirror. Kind of cool!

the back of the back

Then we zipped over to meet Anne for a coffee, handed the blocks and some last bits of fabric to her, and headed out for our trip! Imagine my happiness when she sent me a preview picture of her stars. So awesome!

Anne's stars + my good night blocks!

And here is another snap of the back with extra gray sashing, right before she brought it to Nancy for its beautiful quilting (thank you, Nancy, for your unfailingly generous gifts!!). It’s coming to the PMQG meeting so we can all see it! Then, Petra and Anne will bind it, Michelle will label it, and we’ll ship it to Austin for Quiltcon.

the good night back on its way to Nancy!

I feel deeply drawn to charity craft projects, and as the mother of two young children, I am especially grateful to contribute to families in need. Quilts for Quake Survivors was a huge gift to be part of with Daniela, and donating to our own Bradley-Angle House through QfQ was a beautiful end to our project.

PMQG banner

And I can’t wait to see our collaborative quilt at the PMQG meeting tonight!!! Room 205 at PNCA, 7 pm.

PS – Thank you, THANK YOU for the iron rec comments on my last post! I’m going with a Black & Decker from Fred Meyer for now. Unfortunately they’re currently out of the one I want (this one) but yay, Michelle lent me her back-up iron for this week!

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