Sunday, December 15, 2013
2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt #1 - YOU CAN KEEP YOUR HAT ON
This is the quilt that started it all. I purchased the fabric in Dallas, Texas while I was there with daughter Becky, who lives there and daughter, Jamie, who was pregnant with my first grandchild. We were all together to help Becky pick out her wedding dress for the May 2011 big event. I had volunteered to make some baby items for Jamie and so we were looking at fabric as well as other scrapbooking stuff. I don't remember if it was before or after Christmas but this adorable Santa fabric caught my eye. The Santas had different hat bands and one of them was leopard animal print. So in December 2012, I start working on this quilt, thinking it is for Wyatt, and somewhere along the way, I decide to made a Christmas quilt for every member of my birth family in the year 2013. A little background. George, my loving spouse, had just received a book contract with Stanford University Press to translate a work of Frederick Nietzsche from German to English and had been granted a sabbatical for school year 2012-13 to work on the project. I reasoned that he would be very busy and I would need a project to keep me out of his hair. Thus the quilt project was born. Originally, I was going to do 12 quilts but somewhere along the line, it blossomed into 15. The three extra were added for Dean, my great nephew, Mark and Pam, my daughters' father and his wife and one for me. My plan for action was to make all of the tops first and then come back to do the pinning, quilting and dedications. This plan worked out beautifully but led to some interesting decisions along the way. For instance, I was almost out of matching fabric for this quilt by the time it was time to quilt so I had to get creative with the back by piecing together all the remaining fabric and adding a solid red to make the back big enough. I think it worked! While making the quilts, sometimes I had an idea who it would be for and other times I had no clue. All along, I thought this quilt would be for Wyatt but as it turns out, Jamie did not remember that I was buying the fabric for my first grandchild's Christmas quilt so it did not resonate with her. Everyone was allowed to pick their own quilt and Jamie and Jeff chose another for Wyatt (more on that later) so home with me came YOU CAN KEEP YOUR HAT ON. Why does it have such a provocative name you may ask? Well, the traditional quilt pattern name is Working Girl. I do not know why but that title combined with the hatbands sparked the song "You Can Keep Your Hat On" by Joe Cocker and it just stuck. I tried to give each of the quilts distinctive names, just like works of art. Does this mean I am finally comfortable with the description of "artist" for myself and what I do? Quite possibly. The plan was that the project would be totally secret until the holiday season 2013. Originally, I was going to ship them all to the recipient (I would have chosen which quilt I thought was best for them) on December 1, 2013 so that they would all have them for the holiday season. Once we knew we would be going to the Chicago suburbs to be with most of the family for Thanksgiving, the plans changed. Taking them then would save me lots of shipping charges and I would be guarenteed they arrived in the right hands. One other big change occurred about September. All year long, two family members were constantly asking me what I was working on, what quilt project was in progress. They were my mother Ramona and my youngest daughter, Becky. It is important to note that Becky made her first quilt during this time (and has since made several more) so we were talking alot. I even visited her in June to help put that quilt together and still kept the secret. My mother and my oldest daughter's family visited in August and the quilts were tucked out of sight. So when Ramona asked, I just changed the subject or told her I could not tell her. It was a bit harder with Becky. Finally in September, while working on a particular tricking part of one quilt, I told her all about it. Earned me a "you are awesome, Mom" and a partner in the enterprise. When I told Becky part of the plan was to use up the huge stash of Christmas material I had, and that I still had a great deal left, she suggested we make matching quilt bags for each quilt. I told her I would be lucky to get the quilts done so she immediately volunteered to make them. What.a.girl! As you can see, each bag says the name of the project on the top line "2013 - The Year of the Christmas Quilt" and the name of the quilt on the second line, in this case, "You Can Keep Your Hat On." Becky came to Pennsylvania one weekend and we created 7 of the 15 bags. She finished the last eight lickedy split at home in Plano, Texas. What a sweetheart. She also became my partner in deciding how we would distribute the quilts. It was determined that each would pick their own in this order: Becky first as she was my partner and accomplice, Jamie and Jeff second, Wyatt third, and then the rest of the Long family in order of oldest to youngest: Mom and Dad Long, Bev and Bob Mitchum, Denise and Marty Hauser, Rob and Laura Mitchum, Angie and Zach Sharp, Dean Mitchum and then last but not least, Mark and Pam Allmendinger. The remaining five quilts would be sent to the four California families and one went home with me. The last requirement of the project was that each family would send me a digital photo of themselves with the quilt. To that end, here we are with "You Can Keep Your Hat On," with, of course, our hats on! And then without.... Last but not least, in keep with my tradition to keep the quilt's story with the quilt, I put dedications on the quilts along with my signature. As the dedications were made before the recipient was known, it read "To my family with love." After the quilt was chosen, Becky, Pam and I sewed on the pre-made ownership tags. Here is the dedication square for "You Can Keep Your Hat On." I have yet to make my own name tag! Maybe it will get done this month, but then again, maybe not. I am currently on Quilt Hiatus! Merry Christmas!