It all started when my husband and I moved to Europe and my husband left on a several month business trip. One of the people who helped me out a TON was my new friend, A. I met A and her daughter, M, at church the first week I was there when A introduced herself and made me feel like I was truly welcome in church (sometimes it can be pretty daunting to show up as a new person, even in church!). A picked me up from dropping one of the cars off for servicing...at 7:30 in the morning. And then she dropped me back off the next morning, also at 7:30, to pick up said car when it was done. She never complained about it. It was my first time that my husband and I had been apart (we'd been married a little over a year at that point) and I was in a new place, trying to figure out life in a totally new country! So someone who is willing to drive you back home so you can make it to work by 9 is golden.
I started to get to know M one Sunday when A unexpectedly invited me to go see "Ramona and Beezus" (an hour's drive away) with M and one of M's friends. On the drive, I realized that M is quite a bit like me when I was her age (8 years old) - imaginative, loving to read, curious about everything. I explained why I couldn't wear pierced earrings to her, and also how non-pierced earrings work. She found out that I sewed, and was enthralled.
A, M, and I still got together (although not as often) once I started working full time. We'd go to board game nights with a few other friends (hooray, Settlers of Catan!) and enjoy each other's company. It seemed like just a few days later when our husbands all finally came back from their business trips and we only saw each other in church. And just a few months after that, A and M were going to be leaving Europe for the States! All of those times we said "we should get together" but never did suddenly seemed like such a shame...I should have made time for A and M. So on the night before they flew, we finally got together for a short time during board game night at my house. I took A and M into my sewing room and M had a blast looking through my fabric scraps. I offered to make her a doll quilt and she requested something with beach colors.
I knew what I wanted to do for the quilt - make one of my typical drawings from my childhood into a quilt for her. When I was her age, I would draw ocean scenes in sidewalk chalk all over the driveway. They consisted of an ocean floor full of wildlife, a desert island with a palm tree, and a sun either in the top corner or setting over the whole scene, with a few M shaped seagulls flying overhead. I decided to try free-piecing with this quilt, and you can see my first free-pieced fish (Nemo's dad Marlin) here. I made the rest of the top fairly quickly, although that palm tree was the absolute bane of my existence. The completed top, basted and just barely started with the quilting is here.
I taught myself free motion quilting (or at least started teaching myself) with this quilt. No practice pads, no making pot holders to try a new quilting design. I started out with stitching the seaweed in the ditch, then outlined the three fish, then made the swirls in the water. From there I put the waves on the strip at the top of the water, made bark and veins on the palm tree, and quilted the sun and seagulls. Then I attacked the big elephant in the room: pebbling. I don't know why I thought pebbling would be so hard. It wasn't. I figured it out on my own. My pebbles are rather messy, but I don't mind. They're perfect for their purpose in life. I pebbled the beach and the ocean bottom and gave the fish scales. I bound it with some leftover binding, and for the first time ever put hanging triangles on the back.
I think that's all the description I have...so let's see some pictures! Yay pictures!
Front overall view of the quilt:
Closeup on the sun's quilting/piecing:
The seagulls...I LOVE them!
The palm tree...it's a little rough, but that thing was a bear and a half to make. I almost gave up on the whole quilt just because of how difficult those fronds were to piece! Luckily, my husband encouraged me...and while it's still not perfect, it's perfect. You know?
Closeup on the desert island...that fabric was won in a giveaway almost a year ago. I won some bags of scraps and this fabric was in it! So perfect!
Ocean waves! Love them!
Dory...she was a little hard to make, but I got her. All of the fish have scales, but they're easiest to see on her dark stripe on her back.
Nemo and his dad, Marlin. Marlin came first, then Nemo. Such a cute little family!
Pebbling on the bottom of the ocean - this fabric was another one that I won in the giveaway. Everything in the giveaway was perfect (a lot of the leaf fabrics I used in my mom's Falling Leaves quilt were from this same set of scraps) for projects I've done or are planning on doing.
Overall view of the back. In hindsight I would have used something other than that purple fabric for the hanging triangles, but they were already cut and didn't require anything but a quick press down the center of their diagonal before using.
One last artsy shot. I love this quilt.
A said that they have received the box, but M's birthday isn't until the 24th and she's not going to open it until then. If you want to know how M liked it, check back next week!
If you haven't already, go check out Amy and the rest of the participants in the Blogger's Quilt Festival!