There are only a few days left in the school year, which means it's almost the end of my son's first year in elementary school. It's hard to imagine any grade being more fun than kindergarten. If you ask him, his favorite part of the day is recess and everyone in the class is his best friend. We had a phenomenal first year at the school together (I volunteered once a week) marked by field trips, special family events and lots of incredible new relationships. But no school year would ever be the same without the individuals who pour their heart and soul into teaching and caring for our children every day. Our teacher this year earned extra points because she did it all while pregnant! While I feel lucky that we have an incredible long-term sub who the kids have already gotten to know to finish out the last few weeks of school, we will all most certainly miss our teacher.
Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week at the school and, as a first time kindergarten parent, I had no idea this was even a thing. At our school, a couple of volunteers decorated the classroom doors to start the week. Then each day, we did something special to let our teachers know how much we value them. On the final day of the week, I took in the quilt I had been working on and gave it to her in front of the class so they all could see it. I hope they feel like they will be thought of by their teacher when she is at home bonding with her newest little baby.
The idea for this quilt started many months ago when I first heard the news of Heather Ross's new fabric collection called "Kinder" (available here). I immediately fell in love with the alphabet print and the larger scale scenes with the kids in the classroom. I already had plenty of other Heather Ross fabrics in my stash, so I was able to pull a rainbow selection from some of her past collections.
Around the holidays I also spotted the pattern called Patchwork Sky written by Thimble Blossoms. Camille's patterns are always so well written and they make some of my favorite quilts. I love the traditional look of the alternating stars combined with the happy scrappiness of my more "modern" fabric prints. I saw a few different versions of the pattern online, and knew it would be the perfect match to my Kinder fabrics.
Because I wanted the blocks to have a bit of a rainbow look, the piecing of this quilt took a bit more time and precision than the pattern was written. I did originally have a random, less rainbow colored look, but after making about 10 blocks, I wasn't happy with the look and started over!
Another funny (not so funny) thing that happened while making this quilt was that I was sewing like a madwoman working on this quilt while simultaneously trying to get another baby gift quilt done. They were both about a week apart, so I put in many late nights in order to beat my deadlines. Then, with just a few days to go, I was informed that I was actually a full month off from when our teacher would be taking her maternity leave! I was so relieved/annoyed at myself that I took about two weeks off of sewing to recover. Please tell me I'm not the only one that goes through this.
After my reboot, I was able to finally put together the top. Another shock - this quilt is huge! I should have known from reading the pattern, but all along as I was sewing this "baby quilt" I had no idea what the finished size would actually be. I guess that's what happens when you chain piece late at night and don't have a design wall to track your progress.
As I usually do, I did my own free motion quilting. I sew with a Juki TL-2010 and it is the most reliable, durable machine I've ever owned. The throat size is large enough to handle even a king size quilt. I added an extra light strip to the underside of the throat which has helped when sewing in low light. This was also the first large quilt I've quilted since getting my "new" table from Alli (Woodberry Way). Alli was getting rid of her custom cut out sewing table which just so happened to also be made for a Juki, so I was happy to take it off her hands.
While I hesitated to make this an "official" class gift to the teacher (I was afraid of making the commitment if it didn't come together as planned) I did want to make it something for our teacher that included something from the kids.
To pull this off, one day while I was in the classroom during a rainy day recess I sneakily had each kid write their name on an index card. I took those cards homes and traced them on to a piece of fabric. This was a quick way to get the names without her knowledge and it also allowed me to take my time at home to get them onto fabric in a nice and evenly spaced layout.
For the binding, I used a solid green purchased at my local quilt shop. Green just may happen to be my son's favorite color and I did want him to like it since it was going to his teacher after all.
And while this photo may look like it was perfectly snapped to show off a little peak at the backing, it was actually quite a battle. I'm usually snapping photos of quilts all on my own. I recently purchased a photo backdrop stand to hold up my quilts, but for some reason, the wind always picks up like crazy just as I step outside and blows things all over the place.
Thank you so much for reading along about this quilt's journey. I know it was a rather ambitious quilt for a teacher gift and hopefully I haven't set the bar too high for future years. And in case you were wondering, yes, the teachers do know that I sew and yes, I was tasked with sewing new animal costumes for the school play ;) I make a mean rhinoceros and elephant!!!
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