Wednesday, January 17, 2018

penny patch 2.0 - school pennies, a finish

if you think the photo quality on this blog has plummeted, i would agree with you! each of the last few times i've needed to take photos of a quilt finish, i have been rushed, the lighting has been impossible, and my camera has malfunctioned. one of the reasons i blog is because i do enjoy quality photos of my quilting life and the items i make. this is such a disappointment to me, but it is what it is, as my husband would say.

the day i put the final stitches into penny patch 2.0 was a broiling hot september afternoon, somewhere in the 110+F region. the sun was merciless and the only acceptable place to photograph anything was a few meager feet of shade on the backside of my sister's house, where my mom was staying. marmee had just jumped out of the shower, so i didn't give her much notice, either. she was only in town briefly, and it had to be done. seize the moment and the less-than-stellar photos while you can, right?

this particular quilt was originally started for myself in late 2014. i came up with the color scheme while working on my first penny patch. it was an unusual palette pick for me - no red but rather magenta, which has long not been my color preference. however, i was in love with the joel dewberry floral i used as the focal fabric and backing pick. so, magenta, teals, turquoise, chartreuse, pink, and a healthy dose of white it was.

the fabrics were a collection of pretty florals, ditsy geometrics, and text prints that all reminded me of back-to-school times. my mother always sewed our dresses when i was a child, and the first day of school outfit was a big deal. the florals reminded me of picking out those dresses. all the alphabets were another nod to school, especially the cursive on school paper print. the pattern name, penny patch, with it's small change, made me think of the quarter mom would give me for milk money so i could get a carton of fresh milk with my home-packed lunch. thus, the name evolved to be "school pennies."

i had a few bumps in the road of constructing this quilt - some literal, like when my kids knocked the design wall over with a kicked soccer ball, and some figurative, like when i sewed all the directional prints the wrong way and had to make the quilt larger to reorient it rather than unpick and resew everything. that drug the construction out pretty long. then the biggest bump of all - my husband fell off a wall. while he survived, my quilting life did not. everything was put away for months and months.

holding it sideways because it's so tall and we're so short
 during that time, my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. she had always wanted one of my quilts, and i did have fabrics long put away for just that, but it didn't feel like there was enough time to start something new. the colors and fabrics were all perfect for my mom, something i hadn't considered before, but immediately recognized. i thought the quickest thing to do was quilt penny patch 2.0 and give it to her. well, i hadn't accurately considered how long a 72" x 84" quilt would take to quilt in 3" citrus peel blossoms. basically, forever.

in the end, it got done after about a year on and off the machine. then the binding gave me a bit of trouble when i was a yard short and had to hunt down more of the out-of-print fabric. honestly, in some ways you could say this quilt was payback for every silly, mean, or nasty thing i did as a child that my mother had to deal with.

marmee does have her quilt and well in time for another winter, when it will keep her cozy. i know she's going to enjoy contemplating and perusing all the fabric picks and combinations, as i do. this quilt is chock full of beautiful fabrics.

the even better news is marmee's cancer journey has gone much better than expected. we're approaching two years since the diagnosis and she's doing very well.

she tells me all the time how much she's enjoying the quilt.
honestly, i was quite attached to this one and choosing to give it to my mom was a painful choice.
of course, i'm glad i did.
it was really meant for her all along, i just didn't know it.


  1. My first thought at the first picture was "what a beautiful smile".
    And while I love amazing quilt pictures as much as the next gal, I'd rather have *good* pictures and the quilt's story any day. so, thanks :-) (but I totally know what you mean - some of these quilts DESERVE a fantastic photo shoot.... it seems like those are often precisely the ones that don't manage to get one, so I do feel your pain)
    I am so thankful your mom is doing well!! And reading this makes my heart hurt again for all that you've been through with your people lately, Here's hoping for a trauma free 2018!!

    p.s. the quilt is *gorgeous*. but I think you already knew I thought that... ;-)

  2. The quilt is beautiful and I love the pictures of you and your mom with it. It's wonderful that she is doing so well and that you're back to sewing after your husband's fall.

  3. I love this quilt and the story that goes along with it. The trials of life can get a bit overwhelming in our journey so it is good to hear both family members are doing well and that you persevered through the trials of making this quilt. It is providing a much needed quilty hug to the receipient.


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