Thursday, January 14, 2016

Here's the Story of a Lovely Lady...

No, this post is not about Carol Brady, but of a Baltimore album quilt's path to different lovely lady. This story begins in 2013, in Williamsburg, Virginia, at the tail end of The Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy.  This was my (Kara's) first year working at the Appliqué Academy, so I was the newbie on staff at the time. What an amazing experience it was to work at an event such as this! I marveled (when I wasn't running up and down stairs between classes) at the level of detail and thought that was put into this week-long gathering filled with classes, lectures, and fun. The chief mastermind behind a lot of that thought and detail was the lovely lady I previously referenced. 

Lifelong friends were made, and even though we were exhausted by the end of the week, we still had fun. It was the last night at the Academy, and we were all sitting around the table in our "headquarters," and someone brought out the Samuel Williams Quilt patterns. A suggestion was made that we, the staff, each pick four block patterns at random and complete two of the blocks by November to be made into one quilt. We decided to raffle the completed quilt at the following year's Academy, deciding to choose a charity at a later time. We all liked that idea and proceeded to pick our four block patterns.  This was one of my four:

Let's just say I wasn't thrilled about making all those berries, so this was not one of my first two. Jan Vaine chose the background fabric and three coordinating fabrics for us all to use. The coordinating fabrics had to be in each of the blocks for continuity.  Most of us followed those rules (you know who you are if you didn't.) Around September, Jan and her sister Jo sent an email asking what our thoughts were about making this quilt for Bette Augustine (that "thought and detail mastermind" mentioned in the first paragraph.) All of us thought this was a brilliant idea, as Bette worked tirelessly all year to make the Appliqué Academy such a wonderful event and had been doing so for many years. Bette was making blocks as well, so we kept up the ruse of a raffle quilt for her benefit, and we stretched the truth when we said the longarm quilter hadn't yet finished the quilt and it wouldn't be ready in time for the Academy.

Once all the staff had assembled in Williamsburg, we presented the quilt to Bette. You can see by the look on her face that she was surprised.

Bette's surprise
Bette with her good friend, Elly Sienkiewicz
Taking a closer look at the quilt
Everyone showing Bette the blocks they completed
Exclaiming over the beautiful border chosen by Jan Vaine
So because this quilt was a surprise for Bette, she didn't realize that she was making two blocks for her own quilt. Not only is Bette a splendid event organizer, she is also an accomplished appliqué artist, as seen in this exquisite block:

Bette will be teaching at the Kathy Dunigan Academy of Appliqué in February of this year, and you too can learn how to make the smallest of stems just like these:

This label, made by Jan Vaine, represents the loving hands that created this beautiful quilt, but it doesn't adequately express how much love went into it. This was the perfect sentiment to describe our feelings for Bette:  "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom." 

The making of this quilt and the experiences we shared at the Academy bonded us together more closely than we could have imagined. Stitching sisters are a wonderful gift that we have been so blessed to have been given.

The Stitching Sisters
This is the completed twenty-block quilt, made with love for our "sister," Bette.  Next week, we will show you close-ups of the blocks and share some of the stories that came out of the making of this quilt.  Join us next week!

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