When I (Teri) was young—as in the age of bickering with brothers—I always wanted a sister. I remember my mom telling me that women "make their own sisters." I thought that was easy for her to say: she has a sister! But as I've grown older and wiser (like my mom), I have realized the truth of that counsel. In addition to the blessing of my two brothers—with whom I no longer bicker—I have acquired sisters from my school family from my years as a teacher, sisters from my church family, and sisters from my stitching family. But one special sister has gone from being just a sister-in-law to simply being a "sister." To my children, she is their beloved "Aunt Millie." To me, she is my sister.
About ten years ago, when Millie bought her current home, she asked me to make her a table runner for her new dining room set. She told me the colors she wanted, and I set to work, finding a pattern and creating her runner. I chose batiks, which were lovely in the autumn palette she had chosen. Machine quilting is definitely NOT my thing, but I practiced and persevered, figuring this was the perfect size to manage.
|A bit of meandering: not my favorite quilting activity|
She was so thrilled with that one, she asked if I would make her a Christmas runner, so she could decorate for the holiday. This time, I simply chose a block pattern and used that as the basis for the runner design. I ramped up the quilting a bit, and crazily chose to do some of the quilting with metallic thread. What was I thinking?! But we both loved the effect of the metallic touches on the gold-flecked fabric.
That winter, I took a class in Hampton, Virginia, with Virginia Walton, learning to sew curves. We used gradient hand-dyed fabrics to create curved stars set amidst batik squares. I remember spending a bit too much time in class arranging my stack of 48 batik squares, so that the colors were just right. I never have been able to master "random." I have to carefully work to achieve the random look I want—I call it plandom. Anyway, my husband loved the quilt, so it went to his office. And Millie loved the stars, so I designed a table runner for her. Win, win!
|Class quilt on curves: I worked hard to place the warm colors on the diagonal down the middle.|
|Resulting star design for table runner, and yes—more metallic quilting. Stars need sparkle!|
The following summer, I took a class in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on stained-glass quilt designs, with Carol Blevins. The project was a one-block piece, which Millie liked, so I finished it and gave it to her. I then made four more blocks and arranged them to create her "summer runner."
With most of the seasons covered, Millie thought perhaps she should have a wintry design. She chose fabrics that she liked, again batiks, (notice a pattern, here?) and I used Electric Quilt to create the pattern. And now, she had one for each season, and she could change her table runners accordingly. We thought we were finished.
But then I found this line of fabric that screamed at us. We both come from Pennsylvania Dutch (German) roots. The designs in this fabric line tugged on my heart, so I naturally bought yardage, knowing I would find ways to use it. When I showed it to Millie, I knew she would want another runner. And she did, of course!
|We both loved this fabric, so reminiscent of the fraktur and distelfink designs we saw growing up.|
Not long ago, I was at her house for lunch, and as we reminisced and I took pictures of her table, she started pointed out colors she liked, just in case I might want to make her another runner . . .
After all, what are sisters for, anyway? I guess I'd better start designing a new table runner!