Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mini Quilts and Teddy Bears

Other than quilts and an occasional curtain or pillow, I don't sew much.  I don't make clothing, I don't cut out intricate pieces of fabric and follow patterns.  I rarely even make quilts from patterns.  Perhaps I'm just too independent to take direction well!  (I think I've had a boss or two tell me that.)  But the quilt guild I belong to (Cabin Fever Quilters Guild) recently presented us with a challenge that required a couple new skills.  Since that's one of the reasons I belong to a guild, I jumped right in.

The challenge is to make a teddy bear and a tiny quilt to go with him.  The pairs will be displayed at our bi-annual quilt show next January, then after the show they will be given away.  We can designate where the quilt will go - a friend in need or an organization that will distribute them - but we can't keep them.  The other requirements are that the bear can't be larger than 24" and the quilt must have a heart on it somewhere.  The whole thing is such a great idea that I couldn't pass it up.  While not everyone wants, needs or appreciates a full quilt, who wouldn't be comforted and pleased with a bear/quilt pair?  They are small enough to sit on a shelf, if not on a bedside, even in a nursing home room.  As Teddy Roosevelt himself would have said, "Bully!"

I've never made a mini quilt and wasn't sure quite where to start so that was a learning experience too.  These hands, with a touch of arthritis, don't love working with tiny pieces of fabric but I think I'm going to have to get used to it.  Minis are fun!  I discovered there aren't many rules about mini-quilts, just that they should look like a regular sized quilt, with everything in proportion, including the quilting.  There was a temptation to do really tiny quilting patterns but I wanted the finished quilt to be as soft and flexible as a regular quilt, not like a wallhanging, so I stayed with a little bit bigger pattern.

So, here it is.  My first quilt/bear pair.  (I haven't added eyes yet; still looking for the perfect buttons for that.)

The inspiration for the little quilt came from the Fresh Lemons website; their quilt is called Stepping Stones.  It was a way to use lots of little batik pieces.  Now I want to make a regular sized quilt like this!  The bear's fabric is an old Hilo Hattie Hawaiian shirt that hasn't been worn in years.  We've put that shirt in the Goodwill stack several times but always pulled it out at the last minute because it represented too many good memories of a trip to Maui in the early 1990's.  This seemed like a good use for it, but it may not have been my best choice...  more on that in a minute.

Because of the tropical look of this pair, I'm calling this quilt "Meet Me At Lorelei's".  There is a perfect little marina cabana bar in Islamorada FL, down in the Keys, called Lorelei's.  Heading down to Key West, watch for the giant mermaid on the right hand side of A1A.  Don't pass by.  Stop.  Have a blackened fish sandwich and some conch fritters. You'll be glad you did.  There's always time for a stop at Lorelei's.

I included the required heart and free motion quilted with a pretty variegated thread in a loopy, spikey sunshine kind of design.

So, back to why using the Hawaiian shirt may not have been a good idea:  the biggest requirement of this project is that we give away the pair after the quilt show.  But once my DH Jim saw the bear he claimed it.  It wasn't "This is nice; I hope we get to keep it."  It was "This one is mine."  OK.  How can I say no?  I used his shirt!  Like I said, everyone needs a little comfort from time to time.  This one won't be submitted for the show and subsequent donation, but I've got lots of time to make another, similar pair and I will.  

I've already made another bear and have the fabric that I'll use for the quilt back.  The fabric on this bear is a faux leather in a zebra pattern.  I love it and am glad I bought enough to do a couple bears.  The quilt fabric echoes the zebra pattern.

Both bears are from Simplicity #5461.  They are about 22" tall.  The pattern includes an 18" bear too, along with instructions for vests and a great little hat.  Because each of my bears will get a quilt, I'm going to skip the vest, but I'll definitely be making a hat or two!

If you sew, think about making something for someone who could use a little comfort.  If you don't personally know anyone dealing with a life challenge, there's bound to be an organization in your area that knows where an item would be appreciated.  As Teddy would have said "It's a bully idea!"

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