Friday, April 3, 2015

bloom where you are planted OR make new friends but keep the old

jill and i have been friends for most of the 8 years she lived in my neighborhood. about four years ago, i talked her into taking a beginners quilting class with me, and over the next three years (instead of the month the class covered) we spent many a friday morning having a little sewing social, working away, ever so slowly, at those two quilts, and a few other things, too. last april, just before jill moved out of state, we completed those market square quilts and had one last friday morning together, eating brunch and photographing our creations. 

"bloom where you are planted" quilt top
 although i eventually found a new friday morning sewing friend, becky, i have missed jill and her family dearly over the last year. she recently emailed me they were coming in town for spring break and i realized i wanted badly to finish the quilt (she didn't know about) i had started for her on my birthday last year. that last friday we were together before she moved, i got the idea to make her a version of the first quilt i self-designed, which she loved so much. i even had somewhat similar fabrics by the same designer that i was pretty sure she liked. (now i'm wishing i would have hunted down a jelly roll online and made her an identical one. too late!) however, i didn't even cut into the fabrics before she moved and even though i completed the top eventually, it was just a flimsy languishing away in a corner. but when jill said they were coming, i decided to get to work on a finish.

"bloom where you are planted" quilt back
 getting the quilt done was no small task that required selective neglect of a few other things i should have been doing or people i should have been spending time with. and i was completely apprehensive about whether or not jill would even like it, when all was said and done. it is, after all, a really, really bright and in-your-face colorful quilt. but i got it finished before she arrived. i'd invited her over for brunch and told her i had a new quilt finish i needed help photographing.

jill and her family came over for sunday brunch, my husband's waffles he's been making almost every single sunday for the last 12 years. we hugged, chatted, ate waffles with fruit and bacon, and caught up. the whole time i was bursting inside to hand over her quilt. finally, the eating was done and i told jill i needed help with that photography.

then i handed her the quilt, all rolled and tied up. it took her a moment to realize i was giving it to her for keeps. when she got it open, she was just in disbelief that it was for her. she started crying and saying it was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for, and that it was so bright and cheerful, over and over. i wasn't expecting this kind of reaction at all. all my apprehension and doubts and regrets melted away and i admit i got a little choked up, too. i've never made anyone cry with anything i've made. (except for the time when we were newlyweds and my husband found a bone in the first bite of fish i'd made and spit it out on his plate. but i was the one who was crying, not him.)

two versions of my "cinched" pattern: the original "out on a limb" (inverted - oops) and the newer "bloom where you are planted"

i think this move from our warm and sunny desert home, where she'd been most of her kids' lives, to a new tiny town far away, coupled with a cold and windy winter, had been wearing on jill. giving this to her before she left would have been really nice, but i think the timing worked out even better the way it happened. it was a tangible statement about how she's been missed when she had been missing us, too. i hope my loud and cheery quilt will brighten up her home and remind her of friends who love her far away. she asked me what i had named it (because of course i didn't actually get a label made). when i told her i called it "bloom where you are planted," a saying that used to reside on a sampler in my mother's kitchen, she started laughing. "that's pretty appropriate," she replied. i hope this quilt helps her continue to bloom in her new place even as she remembers those of us she left behind.

 we went to a wild preserve section of the neighborhood and took a few photos of jill's quilt, as well as the original version, "out on a limb." my 16 yr old, d1, photographed anything requiring me to hold a quilt. i only quickly glanced at the photos for color and lighting. later, i noticed i was holding my quilt upside down. "how did you not notice this?!" i asked her. "i don't know - i don't know how your quilt is supposed to go!" she replied. "but they were the same quilt! couldn't you see that one was upside down?," i pressed. she just laughed her beautiful laugh, smiled loudly, and shrugged her shoulders, letting it roll off like everything else unimportant in her life. it wasn't her fault about the breeze blowing on jill's quilt, either.

jill, i hope every time you look at this quilt you remember our friendship in a happy way, that it encourages you to smile, be brave, and go on making a home and roots in your new place. that's a hard thing to do, but i know the Lord has transplanted you where he needs you and your family to be. just don't forget how loved you are where you were.

"make new friends but keep the old" is another great adage to live by.
that can be the back up name for the quilt.

the detailed steps for this tutorial are spread over 5 posts i wrote as i made the "bloom" quilt and worked on the pattern. find the others here:

cinched part one - fabric requirements and strip preparation
cinched part two - the accent strip and block, modifications from the first quilt, joining blocks for the long strips
cinched part three - joining your strips and sections to assemble your top
the three-strip accent stripe pieced backing - how to make the backing
loops and crinkles - quilting choices for "bloom where you are planted"
cinched full tutorial

linking up with crazy mom quilts's friday finishes.


  1. I had a few tears in my eyes reading this :-) What a kind and generous friend you are, that quilt will be treasured xx

  2. What a lovely story! I had to laugh at the non-quilter's lack of attention to detail when photographing, very cute.

  3. The quilt is lovely, texture is FAB, selvage tie is just perfect, and I am so happy you got to spend time with your friend again & that she gets to go home with such a treasure

  4. You captured the very thing I love most about quilts! Thanks for the loving read today.

  5. How wonderful! Quilts are such a special thing to give to people who you love. Love the happiness in the photos. I love the way crafts bring us together with special friends.


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