Tuesday, 24 September 2013

memory quilt for a zero-ending number birthday

Family history photo quilt
In October it is happy 'zero-ending number' birthday to Bad Hair Day Lady and after 18 months of bubbling over with the secret of this surprise birthday quilt, all has been revealed!

BHDL was probably the last in the family to find out, a little because I can't hold my whist but also because I had to gather together family pics from relatives, near and distant. In the process, I have inadvertently been drawn into the dangerously addictive and time-consuming world of genealogy, have been in touch with relatives I didn't know so well, have had some lovely trips to see Grandma, sifting through boxes of old pictures and letters, hearing stories about the olden days, having a good old chin-wag and finding a picture of my great great grandparents (mentioned here) in the bottom of an old cardboard box which we almost chucked out (a very exciting moment), finding aforementioned great great gran's book of needlework samples...
Great great grandparents (Arthur McKay (a tailor) and Helene Hallisey (a dressmaker)

Great great grandma's needlework 1871

I have also been given copies of pictures of great great grandparents through (would you believe) long lost relatives from Australia, have learned how to do rudimentary free-motion machine embroidery (taking inspiration from Leah Day who has a fantastic website/blog with loads of ideas & advice), have watched a lot of Poirot, have acquired a gorgeous selection of liberty fabrics from a place not too far away and have generally enjoyed myself...
Free motion embroidery with Poirot
The idea was a photo/genealogy/memory quilt which will be washable and endure and look pretty. There are various custom-made examples on the internet but many are too symmetrical and not 'quilty' enough for my liking. I decided on a more random layout, mainly because I don't like measuring/planning things much. I wanted as many generations as possible to be represented so sent out an SOS to the family and was well rewarded. The wonderful thing about the technological era is that it is so easy to share photos.

The next step was to get the photos printed onto cotton fabric - luckily my good friend at Temporary Measure is very clever at such things and most accommodating and I know for a fact these photos are washable because we have washed one of her photo bags on a hottish wash and it bore up well.

Then it was mostly straight lines:
Great grandma Mary McKay
Grandad and grandma *grandma hand-knitted her sweater

Margaret, Maureen and grandma
This was my first foray into machine quilting and I was surprised how easy it is on an ordinary machine. I didn't even put the feed dogs down for the straight line borders, only for the free motion bits. Because it was a haphazard arrangement of pictures, there were a few spacing panels where I experimented a bit with free motion embroidery, using mainly 'tree' or 'root' themed designs.

To aid identification the names around the outside are edged in the same fabric as the inner frame around the respective picture and for the border I used up scraps.
scrap border
Thanks to everyone who helped in donating and identifying photos, telling interesting family stories, printing the photos so nicely, keeping it a secret....

...but thanks most of all to Bad Hair Day Lady for being such a lovely sister and for the spontaneous happy-crying when I presented it :-)

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