The Gentle Art of Quilting Book Review + Till We Meet Quilt Top

Have you ever bought a book because you loved the cover?  That’s why I bought The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making.  Something about the striking image of a dramatic quilt paired with white flower vases and the words “the gentle art of quilt-making” grabbed me and I didn’t resist.  Is quilt making a gentle art?  And why was it that such a simple quilt riveted my attention?  I purchased the book.

The Gentlel Art of Quilt-Making by Jane Brocket

Fast forward two weeks.  There I stood in the airport, busy travelers coming and going but I simply stood, tears on my cheeks, my view of her shrinking as she made her way through the snaking line at the security gate.  How?  How do you do it?  How do you send your child to another country for 18 months?  How was I going to live without her stories, her laughter, her calls & texts, her presence for so long?

Our oldest daughter is off on one of the greatest adventures she will ever have, serving for 18 months as a missionary for the LDS Church in Paraguay.

I know heartbreak harder than this, and her leaving was a good thing!  But this goodbye undid me deep inside.  I stood there reminding myself that mothers have done this for thousands of years, that she will be fine, that the months will fly by.  But for a few minutes it didn’t matter that I stood at the end of a long line of generations to know this kind of bittersweet; it was just me holding my breath with all the raw, fresh pain of it, experiencing something new.

beginning of Till We Meet quilt top

So we watched until we couldn’t see her anymore, and my heart lurched at the idea of driving away while she was still somewhere in the airport. We made our way to the exit where that sixth sense of a parent told me that someone was missing.  Without thinking, I looked around to see who wasn’t with us and it hit me – it was her.  Fresh tears pricked at my eyes and I said to my husband, “I guess it’s time to learn to count to seven instead of eight.”  He cleared his throat and turned away to blink hard.

The nine of us drove home in the rain, with tears and sniffles coming here and there in the van.  I watched the water run down the window and pondered what it will be like to have a piece of my heart living on another continent.  The kids and I spent the day quietly at home, just being together.

quilt top on ladder

Then I noticed Jane Brocket’s book again, and thought, “I really need something gentle right now.”  I flipped to the pattern for the cover quilt (she calls it Russian shawl) and decided to begin.  I started with a lovely floral that caught my eye, and added a couple of solids.  And raindrop/teardrop fabric.  That was a must!  I began as the pattern suggested, with an 18.5″ square for my center, and began adding borders, alternating narrow solids with wider prints.  I didn’t follow the pattern exactly, but that’s the fun thing about the book.  The patterns aren’t really so exact, because they’re meant to encourage you to find inspiration in your world and create your own quilt.  This book would be a great way to coax yourself out of always following someone’s pattern and into designing simple quilts that capture your own inspiration.  My quilt top progressed largely as expected until I got to that second narrow green border.

Till We Meet quilt top - Hopeful Homemaker

I’d been sewing in sadness until that point, but suddenly my eyes rested on the green ombre fabric and everything inside of me went very still.  It reminded me of being at the beach, of standing at the water’s edge and looking out to sea.  It reminded me of all the times I’ve stood in that place and let the sight of the ocean wash away my worries and sadness, and bring comfort and peace with the tide.  I looked at that fabric and remembered that Emmeline was never mine; she was sent to us on loan, and now she’s off on a journey that will bring her back more HER than she’s ever been.  It’s  a journey I took too, many years ago, although I didn’t go so far.  But it’s a journey I want her to take, a journey that will change us all for the better.  I looked at that fabric and felt all of those feelings, and suddenly my sadness was gone.

till we meet quilt top by hopeful homemaker

So I sewed that ombre fabric to the quilt, not worried that the colors weren’t a perfect match.  I added it because it was part of the gentle art of healing my heart through quilt-making.  It was part of the story.  I had planned to call the quilt a farewell quilt, but suddenly the name changed.  “Till we meet” was the story.  The strips on the right side of the quilt came together as I listened to tributes to a great man and humble leader, Thomas S. Monson, who had recently passed away.  And then the quilt was done and all the sadness drained and only peace was left.

blue quilt top

Of the quilts in her book, Jane writes, “My quilts are most definitely not heirloom quilts, but are instead practical quilts that I have enjoyed making and truly like, quilts that are warm, useful, visually pleasing and packed with thoughts and associations.  This is private, personal quilt-making as an absorbing creative pastime with lovely results, rather than quilt-making for show or competition. . . . . You may find… that every quilt tells a story, that you can do it, that basic patterns can be supremely clever (which is why they have been around for so long), that making lovely quilts is not difficult, and that the results will be something of which you can be justifiably proud.”

Till We Meet - simple quilt top by Hopeful Homemaker

My quilt top doesn’t look much like the Russian Shawl quilt it was patterned after, but it tells the story of that day and reminded me that there is, indeed, a gentle art of quilt-making that i want to experience more often.  I am grateful to have felt it with this project and feel eager to return to this book for more creative exploration.

And that sad January day?  It was quickly swept away by all the blessings, all the good days, great emails, and tremendous growth for our daughter.  She’s thriving in Paraguay and we couldn’t be happier!

Lucky Lone Star Quilt – A Finished Quilt and a New Pattern

It was a good morning.  My hard work the evening before had set me ahead of schedule on the day’s tasks, and I felt satisfied with life.  A text message came and the day got even better:  my Lucky Lone Star Quilt was done!  I raced to pick it up, bring it home, spread it out in my living room… and then I danced a happy dance.

First of all, that blue!  It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made with color in a quilt.  But the purpose of these photos is to show off Melissa’s gorgeous quilting.  The question I asked when planning and making the quilt top decided the quilting as well; I looked at it and saw traditional orange peel quilting in the star and modern straight lines in the blue background. (Edited to add: blue solid is a Moda Bella solid, number 9900 167, Amelia Blue)

I was lucky enough to have the perfect amount of plaid fabric left to make a binding.  Soon I’d finished the quilt (followed, I must admit, by another little happy dance).  Really, quilting is such a personal and creative experience; so much of us goes into them!  It’s wonderful when a quilt makes my soul bubble over with joy, and this one does that every time I look at it.

I make a lot of quilts.  I hope this is one that my children keep when I’m gone.

This lucky lone star quilt is a sister quilt to my Mod Lone Star quilt.  Lucky has smaller, and more diamonds in it and the quilt itself is just a little bit smaller.  Both quilts use the same technique with beautiful results.  (pattern information below!!)

I told Melissa what I wanted in the star and in the background, but the borders were hers to decide. She added a beautiful feather design in the top and bottom borders of the quilt.  I love her choice and her quilting adds to my feeling that this is, indeed, my lucky lone star quilt.

More good news:  the pattern is also finished and available now in my Etsy shop!  This is a fun project, and videos to aid in making one are currently in production.  You can download the pattern here, which also includes a coloring page for planning, then choose fabrics and get started!

I hope you will sew along, but even more than that, I wish for you some lucky moment that makes you dance a happy dance.


Favorite Drawing and Lettering Books

I love books, and I love giving books as gifts.  Every year I find myself looking for some good books that encourage my children in some form of art or drawing, especially for those days when we have a little down time.  With all we know about the relaxing effects of coloring and drawing, I like to provide books and pens to encourage my children to explore this hobby.  Some of my favorite Sunday afternoons include sitting around the table together, lettering and sketching and encouraging one another as we create.  Today I’m sharing a few of the books I’ve gifted to my children recently.   All of them have been used enthusiastically in many after-school art sessions, and have improved both their skills and confidence.  So, here are my  favorite drawing and lettering books:

Hand Lettering 101 is a lovely book that focuses on calligraphy-style lettering.  The spiral binding is sturdy and allows the book to lay flat for easy use.  I can’t get over how pretty it is!  My 15 year old daughter loves her copy and often practices her lettering with this book.  Hand Lettering, Creative Alphabets for Any Ocassion is a fun book that encourages creativity in creating different kinds of letters and fonts.  There are a lot of ideas to explore in this book.  It reminds me of the many hours I spent as a girl trying to find new ways/styles for alphabet letters.  I would have loved to have this book!  We are having a lot of fun with it.

How to Draw Modern Florals is another gorgeous book.  The beauty of the line drawings are equal to the beauty of the book.  My thirteen year old daughter has been practicing often using this book as a prompt, and you can see her drawings to the right of the book.  I have loved watching her practice and grow in confidence and skill.  I am so glad we added this to our library!

20 Ways to Draw Everything is a drawing book I purchased on a whim, but which has been the most fun of them all.  There are 135 different themes or objects in the book, and each one is drawn in different ways by the team of authors.  I have been delighted to watch my children explore different ways of sketching based on the drawings in the book.  When they see twenty different sketches of a hedgehog, suddenly there isn’t only one right way to do it, and suddenly their version can be as good as one of the drawings they’re looking at.  This book gives permission to try, and my kids have done exactly that.  This book has kept my youngest daughter busy for hours, and when she gets it out everyone soon wants to draw with her.  (I love her little hedgehogs!)  This is a book that will get my boys sketching with us.

Imagine a Forest has been my personal favorite.  I am enjoying practicing some folk art, something I’ve never done before.  Dinara Mirtalipova’s illustrations are lovely and I try to practice for just a few minutes every morning.  I would love to someday draw florals like this!  It’s a beautiful book.

I strongly believe in encouraging my children to sketch and draw and try to write beautifully.  I want their practice to be a fun experience for them, so I also invested in a box of Tombow dual brush markers, and what a difference it made!  Using a good instrument makes all the difference when drawing or writing.  The black markers have been instant favorites, and Tombow also makes sets of colors.  These markers, together with a selection of beautiful how-to books, expose my children to a variety of styles and invite them to get drawing and discover/develop their own unique style!

Speaking of unique style, I must also include a favorite chapter book series in this blog post.  These aren’t how-to or art books, but they are the all-time favorite chapter books in my house.  We now own several copies of this series because so many of my children want them in their personal libraries.  One of my daughters has literally read the hardback covers off of her books, they have nourished her soul and been read that much!  My youngest two daughters are currently reading the series and it couldn’t make me happier.  The Penderwicks are a family of girls whose personalities and adventures are endearing and unforgettable.  We fell in love with this family when the first book, The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy was published in 2005, and we’ve eagerly watched for every subsequent book to be released.  I can’t count the number of times I have recommended these books, and I’m so thrilled to share that a final installment of this classic series, The Penderwicks at Last,  will be released in May and is now available for pre-order!  Lots of celebrating happened in my kitchen the day I shared that news.  🙂

So there you have it, our current list of favorite drawing and lettering books to encourage this creative hobby in our home.  We use these on quiet afternoons, cozy winter days, summer afternoons, or any day when life slows down.  There are a lot of them out there; do you have any favorites?



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