Tag Archives: quilting

Quilty Magazine COVER!!!


I shared this on Instagram early in March, but haven’t yet shared it here.  I had the opportunity last year to design a quilt and send it off to Quilty Magazine.  Imagine my total shock when I opened a nondescript manila envelope with my name on it and saw my quilt on the cover.  On the cover!

When I first saw it, I was speechless as I processed what I was looking at.  And then I held it up in the air and started jumping up and down and sort of screamed to my family what it was.  We were in the middle of finishing the dishes after our Sunday dinner and they all turned and stared at me, trying to figure out what on earth I was screaming for.  Then I started laughing and crying and my husband started filming and they all started laughing at me.  Trust me, not one of them had ever seen me behave like that before.  In fact, I don’t think I ever remember behaving like that before.  It was terribly funny.

But the fact is, even after looking at it for three weeks, I kind of can’t believe it.  My quilt.  Published.  It’s all so strange and yet such a happy gift.  They did a beautiful job of photographing it and the quilt arrived home this week.  I’m excited to take some pictures of my own and share more.


The quilt pattern is available here (called Prosper, my original name for it).  It’s a big block that’s dramatic and fun to make.  I still can’t believe my work ended up on the cover.  Shocked and honored and giddy and all sorts of emotions.  Crazy!


Life Story Medallion Quilt


Perhaps you remember this quilt.  I started it back in February of 2013 and added to it over the next six months or so. I finished the quilt top in August and shared photos of it here.  For a while I didn’t share it simply because I hadn’t taken proper photos of it.  This fall I finally enlisted the help of my husband and son and we took some awesome photos but they were all lost on my old hard drive.  I’ve struggled with how much I wanted to write about this quilt, but today, as I review the year and prepare for 2015, I suddenly needed to tell it now.  I got it out, spread it over the guest bed for some indoor photos and here we go!

This quilt was a totally new quilting experience for me.  As it developed, border by border, it changed and became different – but better – than I’d pictured.  It challenged me, fed me, and was generally a beautiful experience.

But something happened half-way through it, something that made me love it even more but struggle to talk about it.  It happened on border #5.

Border 5 is the mosaic styled one, with all the strips sewn into squares sewn into nine-patch units.  It’s beautiful, but it’s also chaos.  I had just attached that border and was holding it up to show to my children.  My oldest daughter immediately noticed a mistake on a previous border and I was amazed that I hadn’t caught it sooner.  I concluded that if I hadn’t caught it, or anyone I’d shown it to before that point (including all my friends at UCMQG) then I could probably just leave it and no one would ever really notice.  Since that day no one has pointed it out.

But it got me thinking, and looking at what I’d made so far.


Suddenly I realized that I’d quilted my life!  I couldn’t have created something that more closely mirrored my life story if I’d intentionally set out to tell it.  It was quite a moment for me, to look at the center of that quilt and every subsequent border and see my life represented so perfectly by them.  From the near-perfectly pieced 8 pointed star in the center to the paper pieced arrows, so much of my life was based on the idea that if I was careful and good and did my best, things would always work out.  I don’t mean the working out that comes from living through things, but the innocent idea that things would work out the way I wanted them to.  Pretty.  Neat.  Orderly.  Perfect family, adorable children, etc.  I thought that if I sent my arrows in the right direction they would all fly straight and true and hit my mark.  I really did.  I get that it’s funny, but it was 100% me.  And then I entered motherhood.  It worked for a while, right up until I had six kids.  That was when I started noticing things not completely coming together all the time.  I forgot things, messed them up. missed them entirely.  Not that I hadn’t made mistakes along the way.  But perfectionism worked pretty well for me until I had six kids.  Then came my unraveling, little by little.  Babies 7 and 8 finished the job and I’ve been trying to find my way ever since.

What a revelation, to see it all playing out there in my quilt.

By that time, I’d already made border #6 and I sewed it on, still pondering the whole thing.


Those two borders, numbers five and six (six is the flying geese border pointing to the outer edges of the quilt), are where I live.  It’s my current stage.  Beautiful and busy and full of good things, but totally crazy.  I’m forever trying to push my way out of it to some sort of calm – any sort of calm.  I guess I’d really like the calm where I feel like I get to resume the “once upon a time” narration of my life, the idea that I have a story to tell and I’m in charge of how it turns out.  Wouldn’t we all like that?  Believe me, with 8 children in our family and all the surprises that daily land in my lap, sometimes I’m crazy for the feeling that I can see even ONE THING through to completion without it being changed beyond recognition.  Some days I think I’m getting there, like our family is getting to a calmer, more manageable stage, and then life rises up like a tidal wave and sends me crashing back into the middle of border 5.

Making this quilt taught me that where I live, crazy as it is, is beautiful, and necessary, and OK.


Every border I added after that point, in addition to being aesthetically pleasing to me, also became a statement of faith.  A promise to myself that I will finish the job, stay the course, and that things will work out for the best.  Not the way I pictured, but far better than I pictured.  Each border represents something specific that I won’t go into here, but they represent a great deal to me.  Those borders are my statement that “the best is yet to come,” that motherhood is awesome, and that I’m excited to see it all unfold.


The quilt measures nearly 85 inches square, a huge project to quilt myself, but I felt compelled to do it.  I tried a different style of free motion quilting on every border, some with more success than others, but I did it.  Somewhere in the middle the whole project had become a spiritual experience for me and I wanted to say that I’d stitched every stitch myself.  If this quilt is like my life story, I couldn’t ask someone else to bring it to life through the quilting.


And actually, with all the mistakes, I’m crazy proud of it.  It’s heavily quilted.  I wanted to quit so many times but kept going.  I learned a lot and got better at what I was doing.  It was an awesome experience and I LOVE how it looks.


In fact, I think this is the first quilt I’ve made that I would call an heirloom.  It’s the first quilt I’ve set out so I can look at it every day.  I usually roll up my quilts and add them to the bucket in the family room for snuggling.  I’m ok with them getting spilled on and being loved.  They become part of the fabric of our family life which is, as I stated, messy.  Not this one.  It hangs on a ladder in my room and I see it every day and smile.  It reminds me that I’m in.  No matter how hard it feels, I’m in, and we’re going to make it.  I love this quilt.  There will never be another just like it and it’s totally, completely, ME.


I pieced one more arrow block and embroidered it for use as a quilt label.  It says:

Life Story Medallion Quilt – Jennifer S. Harrison
begun January 2013, finished February 2014   www.hopefulhomemaker.com
inspired by modern medallion challenge of Utah County Modern Quilt Group

I usually finish my bindings by machine to avoid aggravating an old elbow injury, but this one I finished by hand.  And of course, it had to be a black and white binding!



It’s done.  Someday I hope to take better pictures of it, but for tonight my heart is happy to have these photos and to share it here.  It’s a great way to sum up the year and say good-bye to 2014.

Life is great, isn’t it?!

Previous posts about this quilt:
Lone Star Block Tutorial
Border 4
Medallion Border 5
Modern Medallion Progress
Medallion: Pluses and Arrows
Medallion:  Arrows and Orange
Medallion Quilt Top

Nine-Patch Mini Quilt


In November my friend Pamela hosted a mini quilt exchange.  I was so excited to be invited to participate, but nervous as could be about it.  I’d never done an exchange before and was afraid my offering wouldn’t be good enough.  I had an idea I’d thought about for weeks but had to skip because of time constraints.  Finally I got out some of the leftover scraps from Scarlet’s quilt and started playing with them.  I settled on this layout and got started.


The inspiration for this mini quilt was three-fold.  I’ve never made the granny square quilt I pinned forever ago.  I also bought Camille Roskelley’s Niner pattern, but have never even opened it up.  Finally, I’d been looking at some photos of stained glass windows, admiring the beauty of the light and color between the leaded glass.


I sewed a dozen little nine patches and then started sashing them with a thin strip of black with gray polka dots.  I used the last of my dark gray solid (I love this color and can’t believe I never wrote down the manufacturer, color, or even where I got it!) for the center block and setting triangles.  Soon it was all put together and actually looked good!  Relief!


Next came stress about quilting it.  I wanted to do something to make the center block awesome but didn’t want to highlight my poor fmq skills.  At last I chose straight line quilting and went to work with the hera marker.  Above is what it looked like with all my quilting lines marked.  It looked awesome so I knew I was on the right track but I did wish for a minute that the lines would magically become quilting.  I was so afraid to mess it up!


Here it is, quilted in a medium gray thread.  Not too bad!  Actually, I was ridiculously happy/relieved that it worked.


Even the back looks cool!


I learned some good things through this experience.  While I am likely my own worst critic, I am also accepting of my own work.  I know the story behind the decisions, the time constraints, the intention and the vision.  So I roll with the imperfections pretty well because at the end of a project I’m reminded what a gift it was to squeeze it in at all.  It terrifies me to sew for money because I feel like getting paid would require total perfection.  Sewing for a swap felt a little like this.  I didn’t want the person who opened mine to be disappointed!  I was crazy nervous at the party and realized I may have a few lessons to learn about confidence when surrounded by quilters I admire.


When my package was finally opened, no one looked my way.  It took a few minutes for them to figure out who made it.  I knew the design was outside what might be called “my style” and yet I really love it.  It was harder to give away than I thought it would be, a reminder that when we create things, we put pieces of our hearts in them and letting them go can be bittersweet.


It would be fun to make a second one to hang in my laundry room with the three other mini quilts there.  We’ll see if I ever take the time to do it.  I’m so glad I got to participate in the swap despite my (out of character) nervousness.  It was a good experience in creativity and self-expression!


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