I am a planner. My family knows that and at times is quite annoyed by this wonderful trait of mine. But I know that I am much more comfortable when I don't feel rushed or have to fly by the seat of my pants. This trait served me well when our daughters graduated from high school and I planned to make quilts for each of them.
Since I wanted to make bed-size quilts that were quilted by hand, I knew I needed to start early. Now you might think that this was REALLY planning ahead, but when they were in their freshmen year of high school I had them pick out a pattern from the many magazines that I had collected over the years. I also had them go with me to the fabric shop to pick out material -- not usually a place that they choose to go, but since the quilt was for them they had a little more incentive.
Sara, being the oldest daughter in the family, was the first. She chose a pattern called Cheery Choretime from the August 1999 edition of Quick and Easy Quilting, the first magazine that I subscribed to when I first started quilting. Although I was able to use several fabrics that I had in my stash, Sara was able to pick out the other fabrics needed. I completed it in time for her graduation from Freeman High School in May 2004.
Melissa, our middle daughter, was next. She chose a pattern called Classic Bookbinders from the February 2004 edition of Quilter's World. This was a pattern that used 140 paper-pieced blocks. Good thing I like to paper piece!! It is a fun technique that I have used in many other quilts since. The hardest part is taking out all of the paper once the quilt is put together. I also remember taking this quilt off of the frame and thinking that it just looked horrible. All it needed was a bit more quilting and then it looked much better. Melissa graduated from Freeman in 2007.
Lindsay is nine and six years younger than her sisters, so I had a few years before I needed to think about her graduation quilt. When the time came, she chose a pattern called Spring Fling from the April 2006 edition of Quilter's World. My mom helped out with this quilt by completing the binding. Lindsay graduated from Freeman in 2013.
I hand quilted all three quilts on my Grace EZ3 quilting frame using a variety of stencil designs as well as parallel lines and stitch-in-the-ditch. To mark the stencil designs I used Quilt Pounce powder and kept a spray bottle and small towel handy so that I could wipe off the powder when I was finished. I enjoy hand quilting as it is very relaxing, but it is also very time consuming. I went through a lot of Grey's Anatomy DVDs when I was making those quilts!
I also made throw-size quilts for two of my nieces when they graduated from high school. Morgan received a quilt called Checkerboard Twist, a pattern found in the Winter 2008 edition of Fons and Porter's Easy Quilts. I loved the bright colors on a neutral patchwork background. I quilted it on my Bernina with a variegated thread in bright colors in a stipple design. Morgan graduated from Omaha Marian High School in May 2013.
Blaine received a quilt called Kid in a Candy Store from the April 2006 edition of American Patchwork and Quilting. I chose to use a grey background with bright colors instead of the white that was shown in the pattern. I quilted this on my long arm quilting machine using an overall swirl pattern. Blaine graduated from Omaha Marian in May 2016.
All three of our daughters used their quilts throughout their four years of college and it was always a special day for this mom when I got to make their bed topped with their quilt on move-in day. It is not too early to plan a quilt for that special graduate in your life. While the Spring days of May seem a long way off when the temperatures are below freezing like today, it will be here before you know it. A little planning now will make the process enjoyable for you and will make a memorable gift for your graduate!