Thursday, April 2, 2015

Teacher Gift Quilt - "Gateway to Imagination" - original post date 6/14/13

 Ta-da!! Here it is - the coolest teacher gift I have ever pulled off! When I saw this Moda Bakeshop Tutorial I knew I wanted to make this quilt.  The recipe calls for a jelly roll but I thought it was a great way to use my 2.5 inch scraps instead. And since my youngest son Rory (the only one in public school full-time this year) had an amazing teacher, it was easy to decide who to make the quilt for. I enlisted the help of my friend and fellow quilter Lisa whose daughter Astrid has the same teacher.  So after a giant joint fabric pull and a division of blocks, we created this in a relatively short amount of time.
 Lisa also does beautiful cross-stitch so she created this for our label. I left the naming up to her and she came up with "Gateway to Imagination." I love it. The backing fabric you see there is Turkish fabric. I love it for quilt backs because it comes double wide - no seam backs are awesome! We used a few solid Turkish fabrics on the fronts but as they tend to curl weird when pressed I tend to avoid them in piecing when I can.

We split the blocks up. I think we each did 8 blocks. Lisa sewed them into rows. I did the applique word strips and sewed it all together into a quilt top. Then Lisa enlisted a friend of ours to machine embroider the titles of Rory and Astrid's favorite books on several of the book spines. (By several I mean like 35 or so).
 These pics were taken before we washed it so some of the marking lines are still visible.
 Knuffle Bunny trilogy, Mo Willem's Pigeon books, The Stinky Cheese Man - this is some great literature here!

 She also stitched Rory and Astrid's names into the top left hand block.

I was in charge of the machine quilting.  I loosely followed Melissa's quilting ideas in the original tutorial with a few additions.  My castle is a bit shorter and has a yellow brick road and a bridge.

 I stitched an ocean with a little boat along the bottom border.
And the right border was a magical bean stalk ending in the clouds.

I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to pull off all this fancy FMQing. But the quilting gods smiled on me. I didn't have any trouble with timing and only the green thread broke on me a few times. Speaking of thread - I am generally a white or black thread quilter. Lucky for us, Lisa had an amazing collection of variegated Sulky threads in lots of colors. Lisa also attached the binding, using this great fancy scallop stitch, and she made a hanging sleeve for it so Ms. Harvey can hang it in her classroom next year.

We were even done a day early - how amazing is that? Rory and Astrid did a great job keeping the secret from their teacher. All she knew is that we were taking her to lunch on the last day of school (which was a half-day).

Here we are presenting it to her. The kids are so excited. And so are the adults!
They had a great time showing her where all their favorite book titles were. (Incidentally, Astrid is the friend I made the frilly skirt for in this post.)
Here is one last shot of Ms. Harvey with her students and her new quilt. If you are only here for quilt eye candy, you can stop reading now. If you want to know why Lisa and I went to so much effort for a teacher appreciation gift, hang in there for one more paragraph.

Ms. Harvey is one of those teachers you pray for.  She had infinite patience, creative ways to manage the chaos of a room full of little people, and a particular love for squirrely little boys. She was fabulous.  And talking to her at lunch just increased my admiration for this woman. She has been teaching for DoDs schools for 36 years. She started in Berlin when it was still a divided city and her phone lines were bugged. She then taught in Italy for a number of years. She has lived and taught here in Turkey for over ten years.  Have you been reading the news about the protesting and rioting in Turkey recently? Here on base we are pretty isolated from it. But Ms. Harvey lives downtown. Her 9th apartment floor apartment balcony overlooks the park where the protestors are camping out. She told us stories of watching the police fire water cannons and rubber bullets. Of listening to the Turkish people bang on their tea kettles and flick their lights on and off to show support to the protestors as they marched down her street. She could see them calling to the young people, telling them which way to run to avoid the police. One night the tear gas was so bad that even nine floors up it hurt her eyes.  She has a front row seat to the history that being made right now.  Makes for a fascinating lunch conversation.  And one awesome teacher! Now I'm just praying that the principal decides that she needs to teach 2nd grade next year!

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