Rene's quilt
for her grandfather

Date made: December 2002

Rene's quilt for her grandfather

My youngest is Rene, age 14 (just turned 14 last month). She has been pestering me to teach her to sew for several years, but her personality is such that beginning sewing any younger would have been highly inappropriate. Heck, even now, it's touch-and-go. :-) Anyway, about 2 years ago, I agreed to help her with a lap quilt. I chose an American Legacy pattern, as it was fairly simple. In my ignorance at showing rank beginning pre-teens the ins-and-outs of sewing, I failed to realize that it wasn't simple enough. Mea culpa on that one. :-(

The central part of the quilt *was* very simple and she did a bang-up job on it. It consists of a plain block alternating with a strip set block of 3 fabrics. This is surrounded by a narrow accent band. The border of the entire quilt is made up of subcut stip sets, resulting in a border of smaller squares. The problem with the borders (that I didn't think through) is that for it to look good, all those intersections need to meet accurately.

Though Rene showed admirable patience in sewing together the strip sets needed for the central part of the quilt, she got bored and hence was inattentive when it came to making the rest of the strip sets needed for the borders. Bored to the extent that she was RACING thru the seaming ... and let me say that her accuracy at 1/4" seams was less than perfect. [sigh] And she dug in her heels and not only wouldn't rip & resew them .. she refused to resew them even if *I* unstitched them. So, we let it rest. For a long time. A really long time. Even longer. Longer than that.

Finally, last year she got a bee in her bonnet because she wanted to finish up the quilt and give it to my Dad for Christmas. *Very* admirable, but the border still had to be done. Eventually, I abandoned the effort to have the border done correctly so that she wouldn't dissuaded from ever sewing again. I spray basted the sandwich together and quilted it in a meandering design, randomly interspersed with snowflakes, per Rene's request. Then I showed her how to do French double fold binding with mitered corners. Surprisingly, she handled the binding & corners rather well (maybe it was the 2 year hiatus that helped) and the resultant binding was nicely done.

Unfortunately, the border really *wasn't* sewn nicely at all. And this kinda worried me cuz when *I* was growing up, it was my Dad who always checked everything I sewed .. making sure the plaids matched, the buttonholes were proper, the topstitching was perfect, there weren't any puckers in the seams, etc. I was hoping that my Dad would realize that, although imperfect in many ways, the quilt that Rene made for him was done with an enormous amount of love AND it was her very first attempt at sewing.

All my fears were unfounded when my Dad opened Rene's gift .. he was completely overwhelmed and very nearly started to cry. Whether or not he ever actually uses the lap quilt at home doesn't concern me .. I knew he appreciated the quilt and Rene was overjoyed that her grandfather liked it. It was a wonderful ending to a sporadically difficult project.

2012 update: my Dad *has* used that lap quilt extensively! In 2005, he had a particularly bad stroke (his 3rd) that left him confined to a wheelchair. Rene's quilt for him was rediscovered and he has used it constantly since 2005 both for his wheelchair and when he's sitting in his recliner. He has used it SO much that the edges have become frayed and some of the fabric has become faded. What MORE could you ever ask of a recipient than to USE the quilt? :-)