I have had such a rewarding experience working on my Celestial Star QAL projects. Even though my projects were small in scale, The lessons learned from making them, have changed me both personally and creatively. Some lessons were completely unexpected and I am excited to show you what I made and learned in the process.
Let me tell you the story of how these to mini quilts came about. When I first saw the Celestial Star pattern I instantly loved it. Who doesn’t love a super complicated looking paper-pieced star?? I’m a sucker for intricate, detailed numbers like this that require (or at least appear to require) lots of technical skill. Patterns like this get me all googly-eyed with possibilities. They set the gears in motion and I begin planning all the king-sized bed quilts that I will make for every member of my family. This always happens when I find a pattern I love. And then reality sets in.
My reality probably looks a lot like many others out there so here goes. Since December of last year when my daughter was born, I have been a stay at home mom. I have an infant, a 7-year-old, a husband, two pets to take care of, and a home to keep up. I also seem to have a severe case of crafting ADD or what I’ve heard others call Creative Flex. Creative Flex is a severely debilitating crafting condition wherein one gets immersed in a project just long enough for it to give you a fantastic idea for another epic, amazing project so you abandon the original project and dive full-boar into the new one. It’s very serious. If you have piles and piles of WIP’s in your house you may be suffering from it too. You should probably get that checked out. What I mean to say is that ever since I was (self-)diagnosed, I have tried to be a little more cautious about the kinds of projects I can realistically tackle given my current set of circumstances. It would have been completely typical for me to decide to make a huge quilt, go buy a ton of fabric, cut the pieces, get about a third of it pieced, get antsy to start working on something else, and do just that. I know this about myself. I’ve accepted, and made my peace with it. I also knew for certain that I loved this star and wanted to give the challenging pattern a go. It seemed a mini was the ticket for me. Plus the walls of my studio literally have one framed thing hanging there and it has nothing to do with sewing. Neither is it a picture of my kids but I digress…
So I downloaded the pattern and set to work. I settled in on the couch one night with my coloring pages, pencils in hand, Harry Potter on the screen, and my very favorite little boy sitting by my side. I couldn’t imagine a more relaxing evening. As I’m sitting there coloring, he becomes interested in what I’m doing and tells me he wants to color too. Of course this was not a problem because of all the fantastic coloring pages included with the pattern. I handed one over and together, he and I spent the evening coloring and watching one of our favorite movies. Perfect indeed.
It is here where two unexpected things happened, one elated me, one deflated me. Let’s do the negative first. I became frustrated with my colored pencils rather quickly. I didn’t have enough colors and I was impatient with myself because in the time it took me to color one block I would have ideas for three more which I could not begin coloring until I had finished the first. Creative Flex much? I tell you its both a blessing and a curse. It was the lack of color nuance though that was really getting me down because I didn’t want “crayola red”. I wanted hex code #8a2d43. Now, that’s kind of a joke because I don’t actually think in hex codes, but you get the point. There are about a million different nuances of “red” and Crayola provides you with about one or two of those options. I didn’t like what I was creating with them. So there I was, growing more, and more frustrated with my lacking skills all the while completely oblivious to what is transpiring on the coffee table in front of me. My frustration got the best of me and after coloring six or so blocks I decided one of those would have to do. I set the pencils down and turned my attention to the movie.
As I’m watching, I notice my son keeps turning to look at me then turning back around. I inquire as to whether or not everything is ok. He assures me that everything is fine. After 3 or 4 times of him doing this I realize he doesn’t want me to see what he’s coloring and the reason he keeps turning around is to make sure that I’m watching the movie and not him. I was more than intrigued, but I played it cool. When he’s finished He tells me he has a surprise for me. Beaming, he shows me his coloring page and in that moment my prior frustrations melted away and I had a mini quilt design. This was the mini my bare studio walls needed. And, as if that wasn’t enough to melt my heart and make me shine with pride, he had written me a love note on the back of the coloring page. I nearly fell over with joy. As parents I feel like we spend so much time and energy trying to manufacture memorable experiences for our kids. We take trips, go to the zoo, have birthday parties, etc.. Here in this moment a completely unforeseen but memorable event happened between my son and I. Not only did I share a real and special connection, but it launched a project that we could plan and work on together. A moment of divine inspiration.
This was the first time he and I had ever collaborated on a quilt together. His design, his fabric choices, my work. Plus, I had a special plan for that love note that would be a surprise for him when it was all bound and finished. He was so excited that I wanted to make his design that we immediately went to my stash and started pulling fabrics. The next day I couldn’t wait for the baby to nap so I could get started.
I am so happy with the way this mini quilt turned out. I named it the Love Note Quilt for obvious reasons. The front is my son Delbert’s Celestial Star design and the back features his note to me hand-embroidered exactly as he did it, in his handwriting, with all the grammatical and spelling errors that are telltale of his tender age. I am proud to say that I now have two items hanging in my studio. The aforementioned, and this beauty of an heirloom with a place of honor over the mantle. I am pleased to report that he loved it and was so surprised by the note on the back. It reads:
“My mom loves me 1st. My mom loves me 2nd. My mom loves me forever. I love my mom more than Floppy Dog.”
Funny side note. Floppy Dog is a Beanie toy that he has loved since he was very little. He has had other loved toys that cycle in and out depending on what he’s interested at the particular moment, but Floppy Dog is different. Floppy Dog is a mainstay. He sleeps with him almost every night. He told me after I showed him the quilt that he was glad the note was on the back because if it were on the front Floppy Dog might see it and get his feelings hurt. Kids are so sweet and innocent.
Now you’re probably wondering where the other mini comes into play. For that story I must backtrack a bit. After the night of coloring and movie watching I had given up on my coloring skills and decided that Delbert’s design was the one. The next morning my sister is at my house and I tell her the story of what had happened the night before and my frustration with the colored pencils. She looks at me with the most nonchalant face and says, “Why don’t you just color them in Photoshop?” She then shows me exactly how that is done. A process which I documented and blogged here. This was the about the same day that Diane had blogged about using the value test to choose your colors. I had never chosen colors this way and decided that it was necessary skill builder exercise for me. I decided that if I wasn’t going to make a whole quilt, I certainly could make two minis. One to preserve a precious memory and one to help me build technical skill. One to keep and one to give away. Guess which one I’m keeping. Hint, not the one in the photo below. 😉
I followed Diane’s instructions for the value test and decided I would use solids to make the ‘average’ value of the grey be easier to see. My plan was to first choose one of my greyscale designs that I liked. From there, I went to Design-Seeds to find a fresh color palette. I made a new coloring page in Photoshop using the color palette that I chosen. After doing so, I realized that my color page didn’t exactly “line up” with the grayscale page when I applied the value test to the two coloring pages. My solution to this was to pull several similarly colored fabrics for each color in the palette I was using and then choose the one that best matched the greyscale version.
After narrowing down all the solid options I settled on these colors and went to work on them.
I am so happy with the way this mini turned out. I love the color palette. and I especially love the way the quilting makes the center star come to the foreground. I chose an adorable print from the Crafty Chloe line for the back and finished her off with some Liberty love.
I truly loved these projects. Both for different reasons. I relished the new method for choosing colors. The value test was completely new for me and I think it really added dimension to the finished quilt. The Love Note quilt, however, will be cherished. For now it hangs above the mantle and I suspect it will remain there for a very long time. Regarding the other mini, I have a happy bit of news for all you readers out there. How would you like to hang it up on your studio wall? All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter below and this pretty little mini could be yours. Stay tuned for a follow-up post on how to turn your child’s words or a drawing into an heirloom of your own.