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Great-Grandma’s Comfort Gifts

My friend Georgia recently asked me to help her out with a project. Two of her great-grandchildren, ages 6 and 8 years old, I believe, are going on a cross-country RV trip with their grandmother. Georgia has been busy putting together on-the-road activity bags and also wanted to make them special pillowcases. Since she’s blind, that’s where I came in.

I suggested we make them out of something soft and cuddly. Georgia wasn’t familiar with Minky, but was fascinated when I brought her a housecoat I have that is made of it. She liked the idea so off we went to JoAnn’s and picked some up. Just to be safe, we bought a little extra. Turns out, that was a good thing. After I got home, Georgia called me and said there is third child, a 3 year old boy, that will be remaining home with mother. Could I make him a pillowcase as well?

The attached photo is of the final products. The pillowcases are of Minky, of course and are the same color since Georgia says the kids are quite competitive. To designate which belongs to whom, I trimmed the boy’s pillowcase with a psychedelic sea creature fabric and the little girl’s with horses. Those are the animals she told me they are in to.

The little guy was a problem. I didn’t have quite enough fabric to do a full size pillowcase. But I started thinking about a little one, left behind while the elders went on an adventure and how he might be feeling left out, lonely………… and I came up with the idea of a mini-body pillow he can snuggle with and lounge on while he’s “home alone”. To dress it up a little, I appliqued a friendly Teddy Bear on it.

The kids will be at her place to pick up their going away gifts this weekend and I’m really looking forward to hearing what they think of this joint project!

Wildlife for My Husband

The image you see in the blog header is the latest quilt I made for my husband. I found this really cool set of panels while wandering through a quilting shop in Marysville, WA one day and knew immediately I had to make it for him. He loves wildlife. Loves hunting. Loves Northwest First Nations art. What was not for him to like!

I don’t remember where I found the pattern I used. I use the word loosely. I can’t seem to stick to a commercial pattern to save my soul. I always have to take off on a tangent and make them my own.

As is my preference, I backed this in hemp. Terry says he feels like the quilt is hugging him. Whatever. Main thing is, he likes it!

What Is A Kamon and Why Do I Care?

If you are of European descent, you are probably familiar with family crests. It is an old time form of a badge of sorts, identifying what family a person, or piece of property, belongs to. It’s kind of interesting. If you want to know more, check out this post on Wikipedia.

So what does that have to do with “kamon” and the image at the top of this page? Well, the Kamon or Mon is sort of the Japanese cultural equivalent of the European heraldic crest. The background makes for fascinating reading! Again, Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive article¬†for light reading. If you find that drawing your interest and want to know more, John Dower’s “The Elements of Japanese Design” is a great resource.

According to Dower, the first record of the use of Kamon dates to 701 AD. All Kamon symbols are registered and there are over 5000! Initially only the Emperors and Imperial Court nobles were allowed to use them. In modern times, people in the trades are also allowed to have them.

Anyway, I got going on the subject when I was reading Kamiko Sudo’s “Circles of the East“. I did a little research and found the Sakai family crest. My daughter is a Sakai and I have been wanting to do something special for her for a long time. Bingo!

Suzanne is very particular about “stuff” so I thought it best to clear fabric choices with her first. I offered a few and she settled on the one I used above. It is a silk brocade I bought from Hong Kong. God Bless the Internet! The background is a simple black silk.

This thing was a total challenge for me. I had to get an image enlarged to 24″ X 24″. Then create the individual pattern pieces. Then figure out the construction logistics. This was my first time trying appliqueing with silk. Trust me, I won’t be doing it again very soon… if ever. It unravels with the slightest handling. At times I felt like it unraveled if I even breathed on it! I finally beat the problem by backing it with the lightest fusible stabilizer I could find.

The batting is 100% cotton and the backing is again in the black silk. There are two 3″ hanging rod pockets, top and bottom. I wasn’t sure how straight it would hang, so I added the bottom rod pocket so she could insert a shorter rod just to weigh the bottom.

It took me several months to get it made and shipped off to her. First because I was taking my time, thinking every step through. I didn’t want to waste any of the fabric and I wanted it to be perfect. Then I made two different versions of it in miniature, testing and refining the design. Then I did my usual routine when I’m attacking something new and scary… procrastination! I wanted so very badly for this to be something she would approve of and hopefully love.

In short, I freaked myself out. The things we do to ourselves when we consider something to be very, very important. Sigh.

BTW… she said she likes it. From my Suzi, that’s pretty high praise. I’m satisfied.