Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Rainbow and Dove

Olive is daughter number 4 for Emily's friends Ken and Melanie, joining AveryElizaand Ivy!

As with the other three girls, I was delighted to make a quilt for Olive. And Melanie had a definite idea of what she wanted.  

If you looked at those links above, you might have noticed that Ivy was born at the end of 2013; Olive in November, 2021, so there was quite a time span between the two.  I knew the reason why, but asked Melanie to tell the story in her own words:

For sweet Olive, she’s our rainbow baby. When you have a baby after loss, they’re called your rainbow after the storm. We lost two babies early on in my pregnancies and didn’t think we would have any more kids. We trusted God’s plan was greater than ours. When Olive showed up, it took a while to believe she was going to join us earth side because of the fear of another miscarriage. But day by day, she grew and when she was born, she indeed was (and is) a rainbow. 

To add to this imagery of beauty after pain, or through pain, Olive stands for peace. When God sent a dove to Noah after the flood with an olive branch to symbolize peace, and that the earth would not flood again, Olive is peace to our family. That fear and pain don’t identify me, that change and hope can endure. That good and beautiful things can happen again. I was very anxious during her pregnancy, and when she was born, a calm came over me of contentment, completion, and peace. Her soul brought God’s promise to us. 

The back fabric, black with hand drawn magnolias is designed by a local female artist, @walkingmanstudios and printed by @elliegaytor, another female owned local business. During the pandemic, I sewed many masks with this fabric as well. Magnolias are special to me because on one branch of a magnolia tree, there are blooms and buds, and blossoming at different times. It makes me thinks of my daughters and how they too grow and blossom in their own time, but tethered together on one branch, or one family. 

Here is the result of our collaboration:

Close up of the dove, including the very special "olive" branch!

The process:
I first looked for a pattern for a dove. There are a number out there, but many are done via applique (not my preferred method).  I eventually found one by Amy Friend, and it was a paper-piecing pattern. Also, it was 10" x 10", so a nice size to build around without having to scale it up! There are 47 pieces in this pattern (including the blue background).  I chose an off-white fabric that had sweet little hearts.  Of course, I added on the Olive branch! 

The whole quilt background is sky blue, with fuzzy clouds, and itty-bitty stars. Perfect, because rainbows and doves are found in the sky! 

For the rainbow, I modified a pattern from Counted Quilts.  The original had this rainbow (sort of) with a big yellow half sun in the upper part of the pattern. I redesigned it to swap in the dove for the sun, and tweaked the rainbow pattern itself.  

I did random sorta-clouds freeform quilting in blue thread on the background. Then I just did a ditch around each rainbow strata, and the heart, in a matching color. 

As noted above, Melanie picked the back fabric. Often I will use the back fab as a border on the front; this time that just was not going to work.  I considered using the clouds fab, but eventually nixed that as well.

For the same reasons, it did not make sense to do a regular binding. So I decided to use the facing binding technique.  This is where the binding is actually folded onto the back, so that none of it shows on the front of the quilt.  However, in all the times I've used this technique, I've never done it with a hanging sleeve. So, back to the internet for some guidance. I actually found one hit on how to do this, from Lyric Kinard. It took a few tries using a scrap fabric model to figure out exactly how to make this work (and I made a few mods to her pattern while doing so). But it actually did the trick! And careful cutting of the magnolia binding strips ensured that all of the blossoms were facing the correct way when the bindings were flipped over. Whew! The bottom and two sides were hand-stitched using black thread. Because the sleeve has to hold the weight of the quilt, I wanted to do something stronger there. I had cut it big enough so that it just overlapped one of the horizontal piecing seams on the front. Thus, I was able to machine sew it in place using clear monofilament thread right in that ditch. So you don't actually see it on the front, but it is there and doing the job.

So there you go, Olive. Hope you like it.  And may you bring many years of love to your family.

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