200 Quilts · Creating · Quilts · Something to Think About

Christine’s Philadelphia

At the last post, we were in the bakery section of Bottega Louie and I had a big surprise for my sister Christine.

ChrPhilly all wrapped up

 It was  Christine’s Philadelphia, a quilt celebrating her life and her newly adopted city.  She moved to a Philadelphia row house this past year, after ten years in transition.  First, she raised all her children, then began a new section of her life as an artist, returning to school.  Settling in to this life was not for long, as her husband died of cancer in a quick and wild two years.  She went on a mission for our church to New York City, and resumed a friendship with Doug, who had also lost his wife.  They married after her mission and she moved from the West Coast, where she’d spent most of her adult life, to the East Coast (Delaware), then finally to a lovely home in Philadelphia, within walking distance of art museums.  She resumed her art, but one more mishap: while biking to her studio one evening, she was hit by a car, but has now mostly recovered from that accident.  She is taking on new challenges all the time.  So you can see why I wanted to make her a quilt.  I had lots to cram into one tiny creation of mine.

She was surprised.  And I think, delighted.

ChristineESE Row Quilt

I’d been planning it and working on it for a few weeks, and when she came out for her son’s graduation, I knew I could give it to her then and see her face, and then mail it back later (which I’m doing).

Christine's QuiltSketch labeled

This was the sketch I made in QuiltPro.  I knew that I wanted to alternate bold solids (for the roofs) with other patterns (for the houses).

Christine's Row Quilt labeled

This was the quilt, all sewn and smoothed up on the pin wall.  I think I was able to execute the vision I had fairly successfully.  I also wanted to emphasize the chevron effect, but didn’t want a steep 45-degree angle on the roofs, instead I went with something more sloping (drawing my own pattern to get this done). I often thought about making this just in solids, like the sketch, but I’m all about richness and texture in my quilts.

Pulling fabrics

This was the first pulling of fabrics.  I was worried about mixing the moderns (used mostly for the houses and the row above, as well as the sky) with the densely colored, floral Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

ChrPhilly on pinwall 1

I sent a photo of this around to some friends and asked them what they thought.  Cindy of LiveAColorfulLife said, “Oh, go for it.”  So I did.   (Like all my junk on the sides of my pinwall?  Sometimes I treat it like a giant cork board.)

ChrPhilly on pinwall 2

Swapping out roofs on the right side to see if I like the orange down on top of the yellows any better.  I don’t.

ChrPhilly on pinwall 3

But I tried the whole row and added in the doors and windows.  You’ll notice there’s a bold blue sky piece which disappeared in the final version.  I keep trying to refine my design as I go, snapping a digital picture, evaluating, moving things around, and repeating the process.

First glimpse on wall

I am not a fan of when people say “Oh, I am working on this but I can’t show you.”  Then just don’t show me.  I hate keeping quilt secrets, but I had to keep it secret from my sister as it was a surprise, so I tried this sideways artsy shot on Instagram one day, hoping it would disguise the basic design.  I didn’t want to put it anywhere on my blog since she’s a faithful reader.

stitching on windows

I formed the windows and doors over a piece of stiff paper (like what is in a calendar) so they would be all the same size, then topstitched them down.

lined up for piecing

I sewed the narrow roof/house sections row by row; here’s one row lined up for stitching.

ChrPhilly piecing 2

Then I would add the house, then the sky. The “row” on the right is all done.  I’ll do another post on sewing those Y-seams, but later.

ChrPhilly pressing

I like this shot.  It reminded me of the AMH feather block I’d done for my Mid-Century Modern Bee.

ChrPhilly piecing 1

I pressed the seams open — a rarity for me.

ChrPhilly top

I took it outside to photograph the top, and just by draping it over the fence, I could see how valuable that deep plum-colored roof was to the whole composition.  This partly influenced what color I chose for the binding.

Christines Philadelphia Quilt Front

Christine’s Philadelphia, front

Christines Philadelphia Quilt Back

I rigged up a clothesline on my back fence to take photos, as my husband wasn’t home and I wanted to get it ready to go with us to the graduation.  I used a Jane Sassaman for the backing (above), and my quilter was lickety-split on the quilting (thanks, Cathy!).

ChrPhilly detail 1

ChrPhilly detail 2

Christines Philadelphia Quilt Label

I didn’t want the quilt label to stand out too much on that background, so printed it on yellow.

Giving Christine the quilt

Here we are again, in an uncropped photo.  You can see all the bakery goodies in the background.

ChrPhilly on sofa 1

When you sew on a quilt that is destined for someone, you spend a lot of time thinking about that person, in essence sending good vibes out into the universe for them, I think.  I remembered the time she had mononucleosis when she was going to Stanford, and moved home (my dad was a professor there so we lived in the area). I was in high school at the time, and we shared a room while she convalesced.  She hates it when I say this, but she has served as a great example for me and my other sisters, as all four of us are close together in age.  All of my sisters are amazing.  I am beyond lucky to be able to say this, and I know it.  I made a quilt with Cynthia, made one for Susan, and now, with this one, they all have one of my quilts.

And with each quilt, I send them my love.


This is Quilt #115 of 200 quilts, and I’m publishing this post on my mother’s 85th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!!

(Don’t worry.  A long time ago, I made her a quilt too.)