Over President's Day weekend, my sister-in-law Keri and I embarked on a 10 hour road trip to visit our friend Kara. We had a blast driving through the night just cracking jokes and singing along to music, drinking more coffee than two people should probably ever consume in 10 hours and just chatting. This trip was very exciting and special to us. We hadn't seen our friend in several months, as she lives in North Carolina and we are both in New York, but more than that, this trip was special as it was a way to physically show our support for Kara. Kara was diagnosed with breast cancer in early November 2013 and is currently undergoing chemo. You can read about her journey on her blog, Brave Like a Tree, where she gives a very honest approach to her diagnosis and treatment in hopes that others who may be going through something similar can find comfort and guidance. Her writing is really wonderful! It would mean so much if you could take the time to check out her blog :)
|Keri, Kara and me|
Since Kara is in the process of getting chemo treatments, I wanted to make her something that she could bring with her to keep her warm, remind her of just how loved she is and to remind her that even though I can't physically be there with her, I am with her every step of the way. So, the Brave Like a Tree quilt was born. I have always wanted to make a quilt and thought what better reason to try one than to give as a gift of comfort and hope and love. I spent a lot of time considering what fabrics to use and what pattern to follow. I definitely needed to follow a pattern for this since I had no idea what I was doing when it came to quilts! I found the pattern that I wanted to use by browsing Maureen Cracknell Handmade. Maureen just makes the most beautiful quilts. It's a free pattern that she created for Cloud9 Fabrics called the Soaring High Quilt. I just loved the flying geese and thought it would look nice with the awesome fabric that I had picked out. I went with Pat Bravo's Indie collection in the Midnight Temple colorway. I looove this collection and Art Gallery Fabrics are so lovely.
This quilt took me a good week to complete. I would work on it for a couple hours a day. Sewing a quilt is so different than sewing a garment. There was no way I could procrastinate until the eleventh hour and still manage a decent looking item. I took my time and enjoyed the process. I did have to improvise in a couple of places due to the two embroidered squares that I added to the quilt and some how I managed to have 9 1/2" x 10" squares when I was done trimming instead of the 10"x10" that I should have had, so my blocks could only have geese flying up or down instead of to the side. I just love how the embroidered squares came out. My friend Angela of Little Miss A Designs did the embroidery work for me. I found the tree of life design on etsy and ordered it and then chose from the different fonts Angela had for the "Brave Like a Tree" block. There is one other block that is different than the rest as well. I miscalculated on the number of flying geese blocks I would need and was short a block so I just created one without the geese. You can see it in the picture above.
I created a little block for the back of the quilt as well. I just did straight line quilting down either side of a row of blocks. It was very hard to get the quilt to move through the machine and it shifted in a couple of places which made binding the quilt tricky. I followed this tutorial on how to machine bind which was great but it is something that I think I need to get the hang of before it comes out the way it should. My stitches are noticiable in the front where they should be hidden, partly due to the fact that I had to move the binding over the back side of the quilt more than I should since the back shifted during quilting. Oh well, quilt and learn.
I love how the quilt came out but I do realize I have a lot to learn still and will need a whole lot more practice before I am any good at quilting. What matters the most is Kara loved it. It was such a great weekend. We had so much fun!! We went shopping, alligator hunting (Keri loves alligators. Sadly, it was too cold to find one), ate a ridiculous amount of salty fried food (or "fried salt" as we started to call it), tried on Kara's wigs and convinced half of her Facebook friends that Keri cut and colored her hair and just laughed and enjoyed being around each other. This trip was good for the soul.