Vern's 80th birthday quilt

Date made: August 2003

Vern's 80th birthday quilt

This past June (2003), my Dad turned 80. We three kids (and appropriate spouses) gave him a dinner at a banquet hall of his request. He gave us the guest list, which included our (extended) family, his lady friend's family, social friends and square dancing associates. I think about 80+ people were in attendance. I made up the invitations & did all the arrangements & organization of events. I'm pleased to say that the dinner went off splendidly ... my Dad loved it ... greatly enjoyed seeing his friends again, some of whom he had not seen in some years. By the tenor of the general hubbub that I listened to as the evening progressed, I assume that a grand time was had by all. :-)

However, being my Dad's favorite daughter (and yes, I am the ONLY daughter, as my younger brother likes to point out), I wanted to do something special for him (besides doing all the organizating, etc ....but that didn't seem too personal to me, ya know?). I decided that I would make him a memory quilt of the event.

I stationed one of my daughters at the entrance to the room with a guest list. As each guest arrived, their name was checked off; they were informed that we would like to take their picture and have them sign their names. My nephew manned the digital camera and took the pictures. Instead of the guests signing a guest register, that NO ONE reads afterwards, I had another daughter catch them after the picture taking so they could sign prepared fabric with a Pigma pen.

Knowing that virtually none of the people attending did any sort of sewing and a "don't sign in the seam allowance" would be a foreign phrase, I made windowed cutouts from freezer paper. I cut strips of fabric about 6" wide by width of fabric. (The photo block was 6" square). I ironed freezer paper to the back of this long strip to stablize it. So that the signatures would be properly spaced and I would have enough room to work with, I cut another piece of freezer paper, to be ironed on the front, with cutouts for the signatures. Essentially this piece of freezer paper looked like a ladder, with the signatures being written between the "rungs" of the ladder. The signatures would later be cut apart and sewn onto the photo blocks.

I'm pleased to say that with the help and cooperation of my daughters & nephew, every guest got their picture taken and signature captured. :-)

Once home, I did some basic red-eye correction, (*really* basic) color corrections and cropped the pictures as appropriate. Using fabric previously prepared with Bubble Jet Set, I printed the pictures on the 6" blocks of fabric, without the signatures at this point. I wanted to be sure the pictures printed properly before the signature of the person was sewn onto the block. I was terrified that if I had the guests write on the 6" block that their picture was to be printed on (at a later date) and the picture didn't print nicely, I wouldn't have a second chance. So .. the alternative for me was to separate the signature from the picture ... make sure the picture on the fabric was as good as I could get it and THEN sew the signature strip onto the photo block. This actually worked out rather well.

I had looked through many, many, many books to find a layout that pleased me, wasn't too terribly complicated to make (because I really wanted to get the quilt completed BEFORE my Dad died, ya know? Not that he is in ill-health, but my level of procrastination is such that I might have been hard-pressed to get the memory quilt finished to be his shroud. [sigh]).

I finally found a perfect layout in Oxmoor House's "Memory Quilts in the Making" (ISBN: 0-8487-1872-0). This is a wonderful resource for all sorts of signature and photo quilts, from layouts to how-to's. The layout I chose, just happened to be titled, "80th Birthday Quilt" .. how prophetic is that? :-)

The photo blocks are 6" snowball blocks, which alternate with 9-patch blocks. There are (machine) appliqued heart blocks in each of the 4 corners. There are 2 inner borders: one plain, the other pieced. It's finished with a wide plain border.

For the quilting, I stablized the quilt by first stitching in the ditch, in both directions (horizontal & vertical) alongside all the blocks. I quilted a heart (the same heart as in the appliqued corners) in each of the 9-patch blocks using variegated thread. The photo blocks were outline quilted. The first plain inner border, I left alone; the second pieced border, I stitched in the ditch. In the wide outer border, I quilted continuous line hearts in a blue metallic thread.

The backing is undecorated but the print coordinates with the front .. it's a soft blue with white hearts and "LOVE" printed on it. It turned out to be a "personal-sized" cozy quilt ... 64" x 69".

When my Dad came to visit, I presented the quilt to him. I'm so happy that he liked it. :-)