Two years ago, when I (Teri) found out I was going to be a grandmother, the first thing I did was to shop for fabric to make baby quilts. I was to have two grandsons about six weeks apart, one locally and the other in Okinawa, Japan. What could be better than making quilts for my new grandsons? And even better...Dr. Suess quilts with the story of The Cat in the Hat! My fabric for two quilts arrived, and I washed it, folded it, arranged it, fondled it...and put the pile in my sewing room until I could decide how to design the quilt. (BIG mistake!)
At baby shower time, I thought it would be nice to have them ready when the boys were born. But they were born in July and August, and it's so hot they wouldn't need quilts, so maybe Christmas would make more sense. Then they'd be older and appreciate them more. Do I need to tell you that my next thought was of course a first birthday gift?
Why was I putting off this wonderfully delightful quilting experience?! Design woes: I wanted to make it perfect, and I couldn't settle on a design.
The first grandson's birthday came and went, and I'm again thinking Christmas is a better time to give a quilt. (Pathetic, I know.) Then I planned a trip to Alaska (my Air Force son's family having relocated from Okinawa) to spend a week, which happened to coincide with my second grandson's first birthday. Hmmm... When my daughter-in-law said she was having a Cat in the Hat birthday party for him while I was there, what was I to do? I had about a week and a half before my trip and no perfect design.
|The Cat in the Hat, wonky style|
About a week before leaving for Alaska, I decided that there was no way that I could go to Isaac's Cat in the Hat birthday party without taking a Cat in the Hat quilt. My work was cut out for me (pun intended.) Now I should probably mention that just prior to this time, I suffered from a sudden hearing loss, which my doctor was treating with a round of steroids. So I was suddenly feeling a great deal of energy to devote to this quilt, and no task seemed insurmountable. I had a brand new mindset, one quite unusual for me: it's a Dr. Seuss quilt, and Dr. Seuss is a bit wonky—especially the Cat in the Hat—so maybe that's how I should design my quilt. I put up the design wall and started cutting. I just cut and stitched as I went, forging into the unknown land of spontaneous quilt design. I finished the whole quilt top in one day, with a bit of help from a dear friend who wasn't quite sure what to think of my sewing frenzy.
Originally, I had planned to just piece a few fabrics together to make a simple Suess backing, but my friend had mentioned something the day before about including my picture in the label, since Isaac didn't get to see his grandma very often. Before I even thought about it, I had printed several pictures of me with him, his grandpa, and his daddy on photo fabric and incorporated some Air Force fabric, as well as a fabric I had bought in Okinawa where he was born. The quilt actually had another story on the back; pretty cool, but it was going to make for some challenging quilting so I didn't stitch through the photos of our faces. At the end of the second day, I was layering the layers of the quilt preparing to quilt it.
By the next evening, I had finished quilting it and another day completed the binding. (Need I remind you that the steroids were making it difficult to sleep and giving me exuberant energy?!) But there were sections that needed a bit of quilting or something to hold the layers together, since I had to carefully avoid stitching through the photos. So a trip to several stores to purchase ribbon for Cat's and Sally's bows, chenille yarn for the Things' hair, and buttons. And the fun began with a vengeance: embroidering and sewing bows and buttons all over the quilt.
|Example of button pattern activities|
|A bit of kite embellishment|
|Thing 1 and Thing 2|
|Three looped bows are challenging!|
My vision for the quilt had come to include a fun, tactile experience with much to explore and learn. Amazingly, I finished the quilt before I left and was pleased that Isaac enjoyed exploring it as I'd hoped. I have a video of him studying his daddy's picture on the back and laughing. It warms my heart!
Now, I am counting on you all to hold me accountable to make the next quilt...before Jacob turns two. He's getting a double story quilt with the Cat in the Hat and Thomas the Tank Engine on the back. I'd better get busy. I'm pretty sure I can't do another one-week quilt, and I'm not certain I can muster "wonky" in my normal state of mind, with no steroidal assistance. Time to make a plan...of course they can't look alike, even if it is the same story. I've decided the perfect names for these quilts: "Thing 1" and "Thing 2."
Expect a report by July!