Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Caroline's Mermaid Quilt

The Mermaid Quilt - Day 1
Wait till you see how this
beautiful panel gets center stage.
 A few of weeks ago I had a rare opportunity to spend 2 days quilting at a friend’s house.  Now, my friend Jean doesn’t quilt – although I know she would love it if there was time in her hectic days – but her daughter, Caroline, took to the sewing machine like a fish to water! 

Another rare event was to be joined by our friend Sully who drove 3 hours just to get in some quality quilting time.  I can't thank you all enough for such a fun couple of days!  I rarely get to share my love of quilting with interested parties.  I'm usually boring some poor soul to tears as I babble on about fabrics, patterns, blocks, applique’, borders, and backings . . . . hence the BLOG   ;o)

Years ago, when Caroline was just a baby,  Jean got a new sewing machine.  She asked me if I would come by some weekend and help her with making some baby clothes.  As life would have it our schedules kept us both so busy that our sewing date (and the baby cloths) never happened.  We often talked about it and as Caroline got older we agreed it would be fun to teach her to sew.

Jean's dining room became
the sewing room
 Well, 11 years later, the stars finally aligned.  I showed up at Jean’s with sewing machine in hand.  And let’s not forget all the other paraphernalia like the cutting mat, rotary cutter, fabric, thread and 3 more bags of stuff that were all packed tightly into my car, just in case.  Oh and PJs and a pillow.  After all it was a sleepover!

I don’t know who was more excited to get started Caroline or me.  I had picked out a selection of fabrics from my stash that had pretty spring daisy pallet.  I also had a kit that had the fun mermaid panel.  Once she spotted the mermaid there was no going back.

The block I wanted to teach Caroline is the Disappearing Nine Patch.  I had used it on Betty's quilt and loved the way it turned out.  It's such a simple block but it looks much more complicated when it's all done.

Caroline had never used a sewing machine before and I had never seen Jean's machine.  Using a sewing machine is kind of like driving a car.  If it's your own you're able to jump in and hit the road, if it's a rental you need to take a few minutes to see where all the buttons are and what they do.  I had Caroline use the owners manual to look up anything that wasn't obvious.  In short order we managed to get the stitches set up, the machine threaded and eventually even wind a few bobbins.
Next we tackled cutting.  I showed Caroline how to use the rotary cutter but after a few closely supervised tries I decided she wasn't quite strong enough to use it and my nerves weren't strong enough to watch! 

On to Plan B.  I did the rotary cutting and she did the fussy cutting.  Using a 4 1/2 inch square ruler she traced around the pretty mermaids, then cut them out.

A few quick instructions on how to sew the squares into rows and the rows into block
and she was off.

I was amazed at how quickly she picked up on all the directions I was giving her.  I was trying to keep it simple but as you can tell by my writing "short" is not something I do well. 

Even to me it seemed that I was just talking and talking and talking.  I kept thinking she's going to get sick of hearing my voice!  

But she was very focused and absorbed everything I said.  It wasn't long before she was just cruzin' along.
We worked as a team:  Caroline sewed the 9-patches together; I cut them up to make them "disappear" and she sewed them back together to form the new block. 

Isn't this one beautiful!!!  Once she had the hang of it she managed to get 6 blocks done before we stopped for dinner. 

In the span of just 4 hours she had learned how to use the sewing machine and created 6 beautiful blocks.   I know it must have taken me a lot longer than that for my first blocks!  Along the way there were a couple of opportunties for "reverse sewing" so she did get to use the seam ripper! 

After dinner Sully arrived.  We set up her sewing machine and mine on the table as well.  She had seen my pictures of Betty's quilt and wanted to try the Disappearing Nine Patch block for a quilt for her daughter. Fortunately, Sully is a quilter so she was set up and sewing in no time. She was also able to lend a hand with helping Caroline as well.  The dining room was now fully transformed into quite the classroom. 

Since we were working in the kitchen/dining room we had to improvize.  The kitchen counter became our cutting surface and the dining room table became the sewing table.  The big advantage to not having Mom around was we could use the curtains as a design wall.  Hey, she said do whatever you want right? LOL! 

Jean arrived home late after a long day at work to be greeted by a very excited daughter, two good friends, and a kitchen turned up-side-down!  Caroline caught her mom up on all the activities of the day and did a  show and tell with the blocks she had finished.  She also included a vocabulary lesson on all the new sewing terms she'd learned.  Once again I was amazed at how much she learned!

It took another hour before Caroline finally went off to bed but not before she had finished the last stitch of the block she was working on. 

There is definately more to this story so check back again soon for Day 2 of The Mermaid quilt!

In the mean time I've got a couple of other projects I want post in the next few days.  Both the Baby Quilt for Trevor and the birthday quilt for Betty are back from the long arm quilter and ready for bindings.

1 comment:

Minka's Studio said...

I love the mermaid fabric (and merbabies!) and what you all did with it! I want a lesson! I'm sure you are a very good teacher because your writing is very clear and you have a sense of humor! Sounds like a very fun day! days?