Lately, nearly all of my crafty time has been focused on completing an end-of-year gift for my son's preschool teacher. As it was a surprise, I had to stay quiet about the project here until it was presented to her at preschool graduation. As graduation was yesterday, I'm excited that I can finally share this project here. And I'm just in time for Spring 2012 Bloggers' Quilt Festival! Woo!
A couple months ago, the families of the "graduating" preschoolers (those who are moving on to Kindergarten next year) started discussing various options for an end-of-year gift for our fabulous teacher. Someone suggested a quilt. I ran with that idea and came up with a simple design using Electric Quilt and volunteered to make it.
After sharing the design, everyone agreed that it would be the perfect gift.
We started by having each graduating kiddo made a block that included his/her handprint and name. Since there were only 17 graduates, I used the remaining three blocks to feature the school's name, the class info, and the school mascot (a cute little turtle which I hand appliqued and embroidered).
Then I put together kits with instructions and asked for volunteers to help me sew the borders on the blocks. Once I got those back, I stitched the top together. As our school mascot is a turtle, the turtle print (from Anne Kelle's Urban Zoologie collection for Robert Kaufman) seemed perfect for the sashing and borders. Once the top and back were complete, I hosted a basting party. I invited everyone to come on over and baste (assuring them that no sewing experience was required). It was a Monday night, so there wasn't a huge response (or maybe they found out that it involved crawling around on the floor with safety pins?), but even with just four of us, we made quick work of the basting. And I discovered that basting is a LOT more fun with friends!
Next came the quilting. I just did an all-over stipple over it with some outline stitching around the handprints and applique. You can see the quilting really well (maybe too well!) from the back as the off-white thread shows up very strongly against the dark green print (so maybe that wasn't the best plan there-- but I was trying to use what I had).
Finally, I stitched the binding and added the label. It finished at about 54" x 68"-- a nice lap-sized quilt that she can snuggle with on the couch (but I added a hanging sleeve too, on the off chance she'd rather have it on the wall).
I found the poem online (author unknown?) and tweaked it a tiny bit to make it work.
Yesterday, after the graduation ceremony, we presented the quilt to Teacher Dorothy. There were tears involved (hers and quite a few others, I think). She loved it. Yay!
This was such a fun and meaningful project for me. I loved making something so personal for a woman who has been such an important part of my son's life in our four years of preschool. I am also so glad I took the time to try and involve the other families in the process. It was tricky and there was some stress involved as there was not a lot of time to work with (from start to finish, we had about a month to get it done). But it was worth it. I really enjoyed working with the other moms (and grandmas!) and having the opportunity to get to know them better as we worked on this project. And I know some of them really appreciated being able to contribute to the process. It just made the project that much more special.