Saturday, October 27, 2012

Lone Star Quilts

I started a project in early 2008. I decided to make every member of our family a Lone Star quilt. But I wanted it to be a secret, until every quilt was finished. Now keeping a secret from people not living in this house is easy - well, sort of easy, if I don't leave any projects lying around for them to see, but hard to keep that big of a secret from Don - though I must say - he is one of the easier members of the family to fool. But since I needed him to occasionally hold up the quilts for photographing - I decided to let him in on the secret.

I had to start the project with deciding colors for the Lone Stars. The main decision was to make each quilt a different color - and only use one color in each one - all blues, all greens, etc.

Then I had to gather fabrics - and plot the quilts. I used color swatch cards, which I carried in my purse at all times. Looking for a pattern was another thing I had to do. Every pattern I found was for small Lone Star quilts - wall hangings - and weren't the size or number of colors that I wanted, so I drafted my own pattern. Then I marked on the pattern where each color would go - marked my color swatch cards with the number of pieces I would need of each fabric - and began cutting.

The first one I made was for our son - Rusty. He loves blue so that was an easy color selection.

After the center star was finished - I had to decide on borders - the hardest part of the quilt for me, as my friends will tell you.

I wanted a checkerboard border for Rusty's quilt - so I made lots and lots and lots more of three inch nine patches - for the border.

To make the borders come out even at the corners was often a problem - I solved that problem on the blue quilt by not having the checkerboards meet in the center - making a frame of them.

I would audition borders. Curved flying geese seemed like a good idea - but didn't seem to fit my idea of how the quilt should look.

I made flying geese with the paper piecing method - it is accurate and simple to do - and I like the look when finished. You can make the flying geese any size you choose.
Straight line flying geese fit better . . .

The flying geese go from light to dark and back again - all around the quilt.

Then the quilts had to go to a long arm quilter, as one or two were finished, I sent them off to Julie in Idaho, along with batting and backing, and she began machine quilting them.

After the tops were quilted, she sent them back,and I had to hide them.   At first it was easy - a few quilts hid away in the back of the closet - no problem - but as the stack grew, it became harder and harder to hide them.

My plan was to give out all the quilts at the same time, when our whole family was together.  Our daughters and their families live just down the hill from us, not 5 minutes away, but our son and daughter-in-law and grandson Donnie live in West Virginia.

They were scheduled to come out for a visit in June of 2012 - and two days before their flight, Donnie came down with the chicken pox - so of course they couldn't travel.  I had been rushing to get the last three quilts done before their arrival date - and I had them done three days early - and then - no visit because of the chicken pox.  

So I made some gift bags for each quilt - out of flannel backed plastic tableclothes - bagged them all up and hid them - some in the back of the closets and some under the guest bed - it took some doing, but all were hidden away - and we waited.

Finally, in early September, they were able to get reservations and vacations coordinated, and they flew to Bellingham from West Virginia.  We had a glorious visit with all of the kids here - and on a Sunday, after we had a family portrait done, I gathered the family in the living room and began to give out the quilts.  It was an emotional time for me - to finally see all the quilts finished and given to the family.

Rusty's Lone Star center - quilted .  .  .

Close up of border .  .  .

Rusty with his quilt - and Jahn-Zyel 

More to come .  .  .


*karendianne. said...

Lovely story, Jo. Your heart is so big and your creative skills keep me in awe!!! I imagine this felt so good for you and your family. To give and receive. You inspire me!

Ann @thequiltingcats said...

WOW! Speechless!!!! Except... It is GORGEOUS!

Pondside said...

Oh my goodness - I've a lump in my throat. What a labour of love this has been for you and what a treasure you've given each and everyone. I can imagine that the atmosphere in the room as everyone realised what was being unwrapped must have been incredible. Well done!

regan said...

What a great story.....and this one is beautiful! I can't wait to see them all!

Mary said...

AWESOME Borders on your Blue Lone Star! I wondered what happened to the. You inspired me to take a class to learn how to make them the easy way. Mine is in the Blogger's Quilt Festival right now.

Browndirtcottage said...

OH! OH! Clapping....clapping!!!!!

How wonderful to finally get everyone together!!! I had wondered how everything went!

This blue Lone Star is just FABULOUS Joann!!! I know they will LOVE and CHERISH them!!!

Can't wait to see more......oh, the suspense!!

Unknown said...

i want this!!! i just took in a quilt top from a customer with lonestars and applique...can't wait to quilt it up for her....Your quilts are wonderful!! What a nice gift! ~karen

susan said...

I just read about your lone star project.... and i have to say it made me cry.... what a wonderful gift and amazing challenge to finish so many... I love your variable borders ...what a treasure for your children to love forever.

A Colorful World said...

Jahn-Zayel (sp right?) is the same age as my grandson. Maybe we will come to Alaska someday and they can meet!

This project was absolutely the most amazing thing I have ever read about, quilt-wise! You are incredible getting all this done for your family! I am SO SLOW!!!!! Your work is beautiful! Love the flying geese on the border of Rusty' is my favorite color, so I love this one! Wow! I am just blown away!