Thursday, April 23, 2009

How the Frogs Plan Friendship Quilts

Last time I wrote about the four friendship quilts that the Quilting Frogs have made. I thought it would be worth sharing what we did in case you have a few friends that might like to do the same thing. It is such a treat to receive the different blocks, and such a challenge to figure out an arrangement. More on that part later.

First, decided who wants to play. For the blue and white wall hanging, there were four of us. We pulled most of the fabric from my stash. The only requirements were to use the fabric shown in the border and to make the block 12 1/2" unfinished. Everyone then made four blocks: three to share and one to keep. Within a couple of months the blocks had all been made, but getting them turned into quilts took longer. Actually, would like to have my memory refreshed as to who really finished their completely. I still was not machine quilting, so I used motifs on my embroidery machine to finish off mine.

Because we had so much fun with the first blocks, we found that we were showing them around school. That lead to creating our second friendship quilt with a Christmas theme, and brought us another staff member to be part of the fun. My daughter also played long distance from Iowa. Christmas came and went without anyone completing their blocks, maybe because the only required piece of fabric was the one with the black background, holly, and ornaments. Whatever the reason, once I had mine I knew I wanted to make it bigger, so I added three more tree blocks. I still was not well versed on machine quilting, but I tried a quilt as you go method to finish mine. It was worth the effort simply because I could now use it and my regular machine to do others this way, but it was a pain to figure out, at first. In the last post I showed the back of the quilt, done MY way. Once again, I know everyone had fun making the blocks but I only know of one other person who finished hers, and that is because I used my longarm to finish it for her.

The third friendship quilt started as a way to give one of the Frogs support during a very stressful time. The rest of us were doing the Spring Fling shop hop in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, but she was home caring for John. In order to keep her involved and maybe even to distract her from her sadness we decided to make a quilt using the colors of her choice. She choice black, pink, and green. You can not begin to imagine the discussions we had about what colors pink and green were. We ended up buy far too much fabric and letting her choose the beginning pieces. Even as we worked on those blocks the sometimes intense color discussions continued, but in the end we all seemed to find something we loved about them. Maybe it was simply that these really were more about the bond of friendship than anything else. I have quilted several of these on my longarm. I used hearts, vines, and loops to represent all the love, as well as, the twists and turns of that time. Quilting is a powerful way to share your feelings.

During the time we were finishing up the third quilt, my husband and I moved to Tennessee so he could accept his new orders. It was very emotional for me to leave my dear friends, especially because of all the time we had spent together quilting, laughing, and enjoying life. I was back to being a lone quilter. However, they started to visit me in Tennessee, and we started our latest friendship quilt. We wanted to keep the friendships going. This time we kept the rules about the same, but used Debbie Mum's "Creative Woman" fabric as our focus. By the time we were really set to begin, I had found another teaching friend who wanted to quilts, so we added her as a "friend." If you look at the last post you will see that we are all very creative with our blocks, but it was also fun to see that some of us chose similar blocks even though they had not seen what others were doing. Originally, there were nine of us working on blocks for this quilt, but one person had to bow out for personal reason. Since many had already made their nine blocks, I just made another block for each of them and took the extras. I added to mine quilt so I ended up making 9 or 10 of the blocks for mine. Now that I do longarm quilting on a regular basis, I decided to quilt it with another new design, but retained the heart theme because of the love and caring that we all put into these friendship quilts.

I do not know what our next friendship project will be, but many of the Quilting Frogs, Friends and a couple of Tadpoles will be getting together this summer for the first annual quilt camp. I will let you know what we decide.

It is said that the first person to sleep under a friendship quilt will experience all the love and caring that was put into the quilt. My question is, does it count if I am putting on the binding and end up taking little cat naps? I know that I feel the love that went into each treasure.

Quilter's Note: When you decide to do an exchange block quilt, you need to know that every quilter is not exactly like you and neither are their blocks. By this I mean that some of the 12 1/2" blocks will come back to you in need of size adjustments. In each quilt that we have made, there have been blocks ranging from 11 3/8" to 13 1/4". The challenge is to find a way to make all of them fit into the same quilt. I have used what I call "framing" to bring some blocks up to 12 1/2", and have carefully trimmed others to bring them down to 12 1/2". (Some blocks need nothing while others may need as much as 3/4" on two to four sides. The idea is to make it look as natural as possible. It also means you should save whatever scraps you have until you have received and measured all of your blocks.) After trimming all blocks to 12 1/2", I have used sashing to help showcase each block. In every single case, I feel like once the blocks were sized, arranged, and quilted, I had another beautiful quilt that will remain in my possession for my entire life. I have labeled them to tell the story so that future generations will know that I consider all of these quilts to be true testaments to friendship.

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