Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Than Just a Quilt

In the beginning there was a group of "Summer Mommies" who met on Ravelry when they were expecting babies in the summer of 2009. The mommies found out that not only did they love to knit, several of them had a similiar addiction to sewing as well!

One day one of those Mommies suggested that a fabric swap be done. It was decreed that each Mommy would send the other Mommies a pre-determined amount of 5" Charm Squares. Oh what fun ensued. Swap I, II, III and IV went ahead in a mad flurry of cotton zipping around the globe!

And thus the Summer Mommies Friendship Quilt was born.

Let me tell you, there is a certain thrill in getting envelopes stuffed with gorgeous fabric rather than the usual offerings of the post (bills, bills and more bills!). The stack of squares grew larger and larger. The possibilities of what could be done with the fabric grew equally large!

I had about a million different ideas swirling around in my head. Being new to quilting I was pretty daunted by doing anything too big, but then (BF)G was asking for a quilt for our bed, and here I was with this healthy stash of already cut fabric... so I finally decided on the size of quilt I'd make. Queen. Yep. Queen sized. Me, who has only managed to ever finish two baby sized quilts and one twin sized quilt top (some day I'll get that sucker finished too!) making a queen sized quilt!! What an undertaking. But in for a penny in for a pound I always figure!

So size determined, the next step was to figure out how to go about doing it. I fell in love with pinwheels somewhere along the way and knew that somehow, someway my quilt would have to have them. But I only had so many pairs of squares and a whole lot more of singles, so I knew I couldn't do exclusively pinwheels. After weeks of designing and re-designing in my head I finally decided to do pinwheel blocks of white and pairs alternating with more pinwheels that are probably not called pinwheels at all, (but I like to think of them as such), made up of eight different fabrics.

April 2011 - Quilt blocks are all sewn
April saw the start of the actual sewing. Blocks were finished relatively easily. A few re-dos here and there to fix non-perfect points and I was pretty happy with the results. Then came the peicing them all together. A bit daunted and out of thread, I took a bit of a break, then dove back into it whole heartedly!

Testing the layout - note a wee Baby Boy trying to steal the blocks!
By June I was finished the quilt top. Easy peasy. Right? All that was left to do was choose backing and binding, make my quilt sandwhich and finish it. I selected binding at the fabric store in the city, without problems, but couldn't find a backing I liked. I didn't want to peice together - too expensive, I didn't want an extra wide print - all the store in the city had, so I phoned around to some local country shops figuring surely they would have a good selection of quilt backing fabrics. I hit pay dirt. A jaunt, one sunny fall morning to the next town over to the shop, a store that was actually housed in someone's house. It was a weird little twilight zone-ish kind of experience as sometimes very small towns can be - people noticed as I drove down the street. They actually stopped and stared. It was abundantly clear they wondered who the stranger was in their midst. But in the end the backing was procured. I was all set to finish.

June 2011 - The Quilt top is finished!

What I did not count on was the abject fear I had that I would well and truly somehow ruin my quilt. That trepidation kept my quilt from being finished for months. Then I decided weather was turning cold, (BF)G was asking about the quilt and the quilt itself would call to me from it's spot on the shelf everytime I worked on another project. Deciding it was now or never, late in the fall I started tackling the machine quilting of it. I did a bit each day, hauling my machine upstairs to the kitchen table as soon as the boys went down for a nap. It was hard work. I really felt I didn't have a hot clue what I was doing, but it got done, and the binding was sewn on. Then the handstitching needed to be done. Let me tell you, there is something daunting about the task of hand sewing approximately 370" of fabric. It sat a few weeks while I worked up the motivation.

Then early one December morning, in much need of distraction, I sat down and started stitiching. I didn't get very far that morning, but later that night I curled up in the armchair and started again. It took me several occasions to get all that hand sewing done, but I finally had it finished just after New Year's. A Summer Mama sent me some Shout Colour Catcher sheets - oh how scared I was to put the quilt in the wash. I had visions of disaster. But the colour catcher sheets proved their worth. The quilt came out looking vibrant as ever, the sheet like mud. Thank heavens the quilt did not look like mud. I think that would have been the end of me, or at least my sanity!

The Summer Mommies Friendship Quilt
So my quilt sits on my bed now, pretty, cozy and warm. There are millions of mistakes in it, but really it doesn't matter to me if there is a pucker here or there, or if the seams don't line up perfectly in every single block. The Friendship quilt is so much more than just a quilt to me. It's a representation of the friendship, support, and love that exists in the Summer Mama's group. A group of women who, from across the globe, that have, for the most part, never met in person, that have shared this journey of motherhood together. We've celebrated milestones of our children, and the joy of the births of new babies. We've laughed, joked, and debated with each other. We've moaned about the intricacies of the terrible twos and potty training. And we've cried and been heartbroken together as we mourned the loss of the few babies who never got the chance to live. Always supportive, always caring. As I stitched the binding, curled up under the weight and warmth of the quilt, it was a reminder of that support and it was a comfort to me. Another mama mentioned that it was like a big hug. And indeed it is.


  1. More big hugs, Sarah. It is gorgeous and I'm so glad to be part of the Summer Mamas and so lucky to be able to call you my friend.

  2. It turned out really beautiful! And the post too. :)
    So glad I found the group again last spring.

    (And I'm a little jealous your boys still nap..)

  3. Thanks ladies!

    Nederlass... Don't be too jealous. Napping is a new thing for D. He totally stopped napping just before he turned two and recently returned to it although its been hit or miss lately! (mostly miss. Sigh...)

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