Friday, 11 February 2011

A Quilt for Nan

A week or so ago, my lovely Nan went to spend the rest of her days in a care home. She is now 88 and has led a varied life, having five children and many grand and even great grand children along the way. Last August, she and my grandad celebrated seventy years of married life. Quite some achievement, hey? I have lovely memories of my nan from when I was younger. She was always a great crocheter and I have many of her blankets in our homes but in latter times, she sadly has been unable to crochet anymore.

She was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and has also fallen prey to the dreaded Alzheimer's Disease which has robbed us of the chatty and capable woman she once was. She is happy enough though and the state of her illness has given the family no choice but to find the best home we could for her and indeed, signs look good that she is happy there in her own way.






She is at least settled rather than being shuttled between hospitals and has her own room with her own treasures in it. In times of need, I increasingly seem to be turning to quilts! Birthday? quilt. Christmas: quilt. Indeed, in terms of bringing some sense of security, I think they are really up there. So now that Nan is settled, it seemed natural for me to make a quilt for her. I hope it will brighten her room, keep her warm and bring her some comfort.






I always associate my nan with the colour lilac, or maybe mauve? Call it what you will, and so off I went, digging out anything purple-y from my stash. I love this fabric above which recently arrived from America, a 1930's reproduction print.


I decided to make a smallish quilt by my standards, big enough for her lap or the bottom of a single bed (40" x 48"), easy for her to manage. I went for a simple "rail fence" design. This is easy to execute. You simply sew strip after strip of fabric together (I went for groups of 5 strips), then cross cut them into square blocks. I seamed together 2.5" strips to give me 10" blocks. I made two varying sets of blocks and then set them end on end.






But wait! I must tell you that having broken my walking foot by sewing over a pin which got stuck (grrrrr) and therefore having to wait on the arrival of a new one, I decided it was finally time to have a go at free motion quilting instead, using the new Pfaff Grand Quilter which came with the special foot for free motioning, still looking very pristine and unused!


Aaaaarrggghhh, this type of stitching has a fearsome reputation (rightly so)! Many of you will probably know all about it; if not, you basically lower or cover the feed dogs on your machine such that the machine does not feed the fabric through as normal. You are in charge of moving the fabric where you want the stitches to go! This is usually in a "stippled" or "meandering" fashion although really clever quilters can make all sorts of beautiful flowers, hearts, feathers and patterns. The trick is getting the speed of the pedal as against the speed you move the fabric correct. This is the key to getting an even stitch length and smooth flowing curves. At least that's the theory!






Goodness me, I have heard it said that you must practise, practise, practise when it comes to free motioning and that it takes about 30 hours to be proficient. I can well believe it! Having done about four or five hours, I decided to get on with it. Impatient? Moi? Of course, practising on little mini quilt sandwiches is all very well but manoeuvring a full quilt is quite a different matter! But you know, I did my best, the result is not half bad for a free motion novice though there is much room for improvement. But it's a start, hey?


I backed the quilt with a pretty lilac rosebud cotton flannelette sheet which I bought new from eBay and there is ultra pouffey batting inside (because I happened to have the correctly sized piece to hand). This is probably not the easiest quilting combination but I do like the result and think it will be cosy for nan as it's very warm but lightweight, and easy to wash and dry.







So now I will love you and leave you my dear readers, wish you a happy weekend and pop to the post office with Muriel's Mauve - a Quilt for My Nan.




41 comments:

  1. What a lovely thing for your Nan. I worked in a care home many years back, it was a very happy place and I have fond memories of the residents.

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  2. Hi Hen, That quilt is gorgeous, all her 'new' friends will want one too - I want one!! Sorry to hear about her Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease both awful awful things to have.
    Julie xxxxxxxx

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  3. What a lovely quilt. Always sad to have to place a loved one in care, hopefully she'll be happy in her new home.

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  4. I'm sure your nan will love her quilt - she will be warm and cosy snuggled beneath it. I love free machining but I have never free machine quilted it must be tricky manoevering a large quilt around. Did you see Kirsty Allsop when she free machined on her recent TV programme - she loved it - really loved it. Have a good weekend. Debs X

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  5. beautiful hen......and its so good to hear that your nan seems happy in her new home.i'm sure the quilt will give her such pleasure...(well done on the machining, looks fantastic)

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  6. awwwww i had a real lump in my thoat reading your lovely post, i lost my nan a year ago christmas just gone. She sounds like a beautiful lady and what an even more beautiful gift you have created for her, i love the colours and your fabric and design choice and i am sure it will bring her much comfort. Have a lovely weekend, dee x

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  7. Its beautiful - thats the loveliest thing you could do for your Nan. Pracitcal but pretty too! G

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  8. What a stunner! The quilt and your Nan! She will adore this :)

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  9. That's a lovely thing to do for your nan. Very pretty. I lost my nan 9 months ago, and still have all the little things I made for her.

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  10. Hen, you've written a loving and lovely tribute to your Nan.

    The quilt that you've created for her will surely bring her pleasure, beauty and warmth.

    Best wishes!

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  11. It is beautiful, your Nan will love it.

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  12. What a lovely quilt for your Nan to snuggle into. That rail fence design makes good use of all those colourful patterns. Another beautiful Hen quilt!

    P.S. My sewing machine broke down on me this afternoon just as I made a start on the third row of my patchwork curtain. If Husband can't fix it tomorrow then I'm off to John Lewis to spend my Christmas money on a new one!

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  13. So sorry to hear about your Nan, Parkinsons and Alzheimers are awful, I came into contact with a lot of patients suffering from those during my nursing career, it also has a pretty devastating effect on the family. The quilt is gorgeous and such a lovely useful thing to make for her. The machine quilting sounds very tricky...don't know whether I would have the courage or patience to have a go.
    Jo xx

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  14. Such a lovely quilt. I'm sure she will adore it and it will be the talk of the nursing home.

    I had a great aunt called Muriel and I too always associated her with lilac/mauve. Funny that. x

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  15. A lovely quilt for your Nan - sorry to hear about her Parkinsons and Alzheimers - she'll love it. So thoughtful of you to do a smaller one.

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  16. That is such a pretty quilt and a lovely post. It sounds as if Muriel has had a very long and happy life amongst her growing family. I am sure it will bring her comfort....and if and when the times comes for you to have the quilt back with you, it will come with such memories of her. xx

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  17. Thats a beautiful quilt made with love I`am sure your Nan will be thrilled with it-how very thoughtful and caring of you.

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  18. It's beautiful Hen, I'm sure your nan will love it :) x

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  19. Stunning! I have no doubt that she will love it. What a beautiful picture of her she looks alot like you Hen x

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  20. The quilt is beautiful, what a lovely thing to make for your Nan.
    Have never tried that sort of quilting but it always looks complicated but impressive - well done!

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  21. The quilt is beautiful! I love the colors. I hope your Nan is comfortable in her new home. I know how difficult that is for a family, but she loved. My middle name is Nan, named for an aunt I did not know. I never hear of anyone with that name. It is a good name!

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  22. Lovely quilt- simple designs really do work hard, they let the fabrics show up.That lilac and white flowery repro fabric is delightful.
    Lucky Nan, she will enjoy the colours and patterns: sad she has had to move into a home but lovely that she has something so personal and new to treasure.

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  23. Oh no, sorry to hear about your nan. Your family have definitely done the right thing though - it's too difficult to look after Alzheimer's patients at home. They really need specialist care. Just found out last week that my grandmother may well have dementia as she's getting VERY forgetful and of course Tim's granddad (the reason I chose to support Alzheimer's Society) has good and bad days now.

    That is so thoughtful of you to make that quilt and so beautifully done as usual - I'm sure she will love it!!

    Sian x

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  24. Bless your heart and bless Nan's heart. I understand the pain and the loss.

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  25. Amazing that your nan is called Muriel!!
    That's also my mum's name !

    Your nan will be so chuffed with that lovely quilt!
    I hope she is very happy in her new surroundings,Hen.
    xxx

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  26. Hi Hen,

    Alzheimer's is such a cruel disease. Have a lovely weekend too.

    Nina x

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  27. As a carer in a care home in West Bay, Bridport(you know it well!!) it is so lovely for us to see things like quilts made for the people we care for by the people who love them.. You free motion quilting looks great, well done. If you are interested, there is a book called Contented Dementia it is such a good book and helps friends and families understand it a bit more and how to cope. It would also help if the care home knew a bit about what your Nan used to do, her likes, things about when you were little and growing up that you remember as they will be the things that can help bring someone with Dementia out of their shells. Take care hen.

    Colette

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  28. I have nominated you for a Stylish Blog Award! Pop over to my blog to claim your award!

    http://fairlygirly.blogspot.com/

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  29. Very, very pretty Hen and I am sure that she will love it. Dev x

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  30. Such a sweet granddaughter you are! I love the repro. (I don't have that one!) I enjoy free motion, but I'm certainly no good at it! I enjoy clamshells...the stippling challenges me (where to go next without cornering myself in!?).

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  31. What a lovely gift you have made for your Nan Hen. You are a wonderful granddaughter and I am sure she will get so much pleasure from it.

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  32. I always get great pleasure from clicking on your pictures and zooming in on the perfectly gorgeous beauty that is one of your quilts. This lovely quilt is no exception! It's really very pretty and the colours are caming and relaxing. I'm sure it will be a great comfort to your Nan in many ways. I see a elderly lady with alzheimers several times a week and it is definitely the familiar which makes her happy. She is unable to go out very much at all now, and then only if taken as she is rather frail but she still enjoys life. Her dog is her major comfort in life and she still has the same sweet tooth she always had. She has her own small heater close by too - I think feeling warm and cosy helps her to feel more secure. A lovely quilt such as the one you have made, will give her much pleasure I am sure - both it's prettiness and its warmth .
    Siobhan

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  33. You are officially lovely Hen! Such a thoughtful and loving gift. Divine fabric and after all your efforts I know she will feel happy every time she looks at it,

    Sarah x

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  34. What a loving, caring, beautiful gift for such a precious lady.
    Carol xx

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  35. What lovely photos of your nan, the quilt you have made for her is like a big hug sewn with love and is absolutely lovely x

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  36. Such a pretty quilt! I really must make one for my Mum who is still at home but housebound. She has a feline lodger at the moment, very affectionate but a little careless with his claws so I've promised a well padded lap quilt as protection!
    Penny x

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  37. I always think making a quilt for someone is like wrapping your arms around them. Your quilt is lovely and such a nice gift for your Nan.

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  38. Hen, I've been reading your blog for a loooong time, but have never left a comment. First, I want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. Second, I want to tell you that I started free motioning last June. I didn't do the practice pads either. Fabric is expensive and I didn't want to waste it! I started on a 95" x 95" quilt to go on my own personal bed, so if I messed it up, I would be the only one to know! LOL. It actually turned out pretty well! It does get easier and you do get more proficient with time. It's like learning to ride a bicycle. Best of luck to you.

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  39. What a sweet post and so very moving. And I'm drooling over that pretty quilt! It just exudes the love for your Nan you've put into it. Bess

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  40. its beautiful your nan will love it such pretty colours
    I have seen that kind of quilting done on youtube the lady wore a rubber gardening glove to grip the fabric it looked hard and she did it so fast you have done a fantastic job
    xx fee

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  41. What a loving thing to do for your nan. The quilt you have made is gorgeous. I found you over on etsy recently as I was perusing quilts and now daydream away about which one of yours I will pick when I've saved up my pennies! Em x

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