Monday, December 2, 2013

"Focus on Beauty" Iron Quilter 2 Challenge Quilt

“Focus on Beauty”  

I decided to enter the Iron Quilter 2 Challenge from Missouri Star Quilt Company (*see rules below) when the contest was first announced on September 23rd as an intentional effort to focus on beauty while working through and grieving the effects of a life threatening challenge to one of my children.  While the fabrics would not have been my first choice in designing a quilt, because I trend towards different colors, I knew that for that very reason, the challenge would provide a much needed focus to prevent my thoughts and imagination from running wild for the immediate future.  Knowing I didn't have the time or the energy to create "a winning quilt", I just started cutting all the charm squares into half square triangles and prayed for inspiration enough to get finished in time to submit.

Story continued below...

It's a good thing we can't see too far into the future because, what I thought would simplify the quilting process, (using one shape only) became an additional challenge to my "right sided brain" and quilting the top, with the extra fullness created in areas due to so many of the seams being sewn on the bias. 

Through relating the piecing of this quilt to my need to focus on getting through one day at a time, building one color border at a time and then stepping back far enough to be able to see how each day’s experience added to the beauty of the whole, I was able to appreciate lessons learned in hindsight, the need to just get moving and sometimes take a step into the dark when the way isn't clear, and most of all the tender mercies of God. 

Since I had not had a pattern in mind to begin with I had not purchased fabrics other than the maximum possible of the 5" square charm packs required for the challenge.  As I got near the completion of the inner border triangles (middle black backgrounds), I started searching far and wide for fabrics to complete the quilt.  After searching online for several days and calling every local quilt shop within an hour's drive I was finally able to pull together enough fabrics from the line to design and complete the top and binding.  With just a few days to spare I realized that none of my backing fabrics would do so I called Quilts Etc in Salt Lake City and begged them to sell me enough yardage to back the quilt. (They were in the middle of cutting block of the month kits from these fabrics and were initially reluctant to part with them). Wouldn't you know, once they agreed, I found myself without a car for a few days.  Because of the tight deadline I was on and my need to focus on beauty, I tentatively posted on facebook on Monday evening, November 11,  asking if any of my friends might possibly be in the SLC area and willing to pick it up for me.  I am truly humbled by the friends and family who were willing to go out of their way to do me this favor.  I was so grateful when my friend Juanita Nield called me that night and said she was making a trip to Quilts Etc the very next morning and could pick it up and have it to me within hours.  She can't imagine how much that meant to me. I was feeling such a need to continue my work on this quilt  Truly a tender mercy. The next afternoon having received the fabric and completed the backing, I checked my email just prior to going out to my studio to load the quilt on the longarm.  There was an email message request for prayers in behalf of our dear friend Todd Christensen who was at that moment in surgery for receipt of a liver transplant for which he had been waiting for a very long time.

 Words cannot express the jubilation I and everyone else who knew and loved him felt that day, the gratitude to the donor's family, or the grief and despair the next morning upon learning of his death prior to the completion of the surgery late into the night.. At times the heaviness of my heart was unbearable as I sought solace in prayer and time and again tried to focus on finishing this quilt.  Many, many tears were shed as my longarm stitched away.

The next week as I completed the many hours it took to quilt I received another tender mercy in the form of a still small witness to my heart, that just as in the middle of stitching quilt pieces together, (experiences, trials and relationships) we may not see the big picture, until we look back over the finished project (our lives and posterity) and recognize the value and beauty created through loving relationships.  

While the fabrics may not have been my favorites to start with, through the process of searching for and gathering the fabrics and using every single piece of the charm pack (even the uglies) in the design and creation has made the finished quilt one that I will cherish forever. 

Along with a photo I was asked to include a description of the secret ingredient to the designing and construction of my quilt. I guess I would have to say the secret ingredient I used was faith. Faith that God has a plan and though I may not fully understand all the challenges I or any of us face, I do know that He does, and that all this experience shall be for our good. I know He loves each one of us individually and knows how to succor us in our need if we will but turn to and trust in him. 

Rules for Iron Quilter 2 Challenge:

Each Iron Quilter may purchase up to 4 "Lovely" charm packs by Debbie Beaves of RJR Fabrics.  At least one full charm pack must be used in your project.  Each 5" charm pack contains 42 squares.  Any other fabrics may be used for completion of the quilt.

Photo submission must be uploaded by Midnight, November 30, 2013.

Iron Quilter 2 Project Submission & Voting Instructions
The first image you upload will be used for voting. You will receive a confirmation e-mail to let you know that we have received your project.

 Your project must be submitted by midnight (CST) on November 30th, 2013. Make sure you're picture is pretty big - we need to be able to see it.

On December 2nd, all of the projects submitted will be added to an Iron Quilter Facebook Album. We will then commence one week of Facebook voting. The way to vote on a project will be to click on an individual photo from the album and then "like"" it. Each "like" will count as a vote. Feel free to comment on and share any of the projects, although doing this will not count as an extra vote - only likes are counted. You may vote on ("like") as many or few projects as you'd like!

 The 25 projects with the most votes will go on to the final round of voting. Jenny also possesses three "saves", which she may or may not use. This means that she has the option to choose three deserving projects that didn't make the top 25 to be included in the final round of voting. 

At a later date, we will provide a site to vote on the 25 (or possibly 28) finalists.


  1. Your work is lovely! I found this blog by way of the AnS forum, specifically looking at your pear quilt. Beautiful. I wonder if you'd be kind enough to answer a question. Specifically, did you use a ruler guide or the PS to quilt the crosshatch in the sashing and other places in this quilt? I struggle when using my PS to keep them lined up upon advancing. Lately i"ve used the move/stitch function, which is better than my efforts at a ruler guide! Information would be greatly appreciated!

    1. 'Scuse me, but I misspoke. I meant "digitized design" rather that PS (prostitcher). I think I assumed we were using the same kind of machine - a silly assumption indeed!. Basically, did you do it by hand, or your computerized machine?

    2. Sorry I didn't see this until just now.I used Sharon Perry's crosshatching designs for the purple border and did the others my using the move function. I liked the digital design much better. So purpls by computer and the rest by hand. If you look close you will see the difference.