June 16, 2011

A quilt for Ruth Jon

IMG Ruth is my mom's cousin, so I'm told that makes us first cousins, once removed (thanks, Debi - I always get that confused!)  I always thought of her as my aunt.   She came to live with us after she graduated from high school and was with us for about a year.   She helped my mom out with 3 kids and did many fun things with us.   One memory I'll never forget is her taking me to have my very blonde hair dyed pink (a pink rinse).   I think I was 3 or 4, about the age I was in this picture.  Isn't it just like a favorite aunt to let you do something your mom would never let you do?

My family spent a lot of time with her and her husband Ron when I was growing up.   She hosted my bridal shower, which seems like a million years ago.

And by the time I had my last baby, she and Ron were ready to retire.   They moved to Arizona and love the lifestyle (and the weather) there.   My mom goes to see her once a year or so.   This January when mom went, Ruth asked my mom if she thought I might be willing to make a quilted wallhanging for her kitchen.   She sent mom home with a swatch of her valance fabric, and mom handed it off to me when she visited us in February.

Of course, I am happy to make a quilt for someone as special as Ruth.  I drew a blank at first - her soft pastel southwest palette was not something I'd worked with before.   But my sis-in-law suggested using batiks and *bam* a pattern came to mind immediately.

I have wanted to make this Mexican Stars quilt by Southwind Designs for ages after one year at retreat when several gals were making it.

The next time I worked at the quilt shop, I picked up some fabulous batiks in just the right colors.  Julie has some great ones.

It seemed like a straightforward pattern - the centers of the stars are all 9 patches, right?   So I just make nine 9-patch blocks and go from there?  I looked at the cutting instructions and the center square was cut 1-1/2" - now wait just a darn minute - you mean I have to cut the squares and sew them together?   No strip piecing?   Well, no - can't have that and I spent an entire Sunday afternoon making 9 perfect, strip-pieced 9-patch blocks.

After taking a look at how the quilt is assembled with overlapping stars, I realized I made a dumb "I thought I knew better" mistake and I had cut everything out all wrong.   I went back to following the pattern and within a week I had the top done.  The right way.

This photo shows the "before" picture (and the colors are more true in this version).  The technique uses folded fabric in the corners and after completing the top, you fold the corner back and top stitch it down, giving a nice rounded curve to the piecing, which you can see in the second photo.

Now, off to the machine quilter and hopefully I can present it in person this summer when Ruthie comes back to the Pacific Northwest for a visit.   Love you, Cousin!


  1. If ruth is your mom's first cousin (their parents were siblings) then she is your 1st cousin, once removed.

  2. Man I am so emotional reading this post. WTH? lol I absolutely love this quilt and love how the curved pieces came out. I don't really get it but it looks beautiful. I can see the kids in you from that photo. Incredible!!

  3. It really is beautiful in person! Nice job, Lisa! I wish I had pink hair. LOL J

  4. Amazing, Lisa -- you do great work! Is that okay for a "mom" to say?

  5. Ruth will be totally thrilled with the quilt, Lisa! It sounds like you to had so much fun together - and pink hair - now what little girl wouldn't have loved that! I hate to admit it, but I had white-rimmed glasses just like hers!

  6. Beautiful quilt! Great story to go with it. A gal here did that Mexican Stars pattern in teal batiks and I thought it was stunning, but I think I like your neutrals even better.