Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Grandparents' Day Quilt

I'm happy to report that I have finished all I can do on the lovely Grandparents' Day quilt. As with the breakfast club aprons, I never had enough time to work on this quilt while at work over the past few months, so I took advantage of my post-op downtime to finish up this project, as well. My dear husband helped me out taking a photograph last night (below) after I had basted the edging so, while this is not the completely finished project, it gives you an idea of what the quilt looks like. Now all that is left is for my residents to add the finishing touches (tying the joining blocks with yarn) and then we will be hanging it on the wall in the dining room for all to see. The dining room is the largest common space at our building, where almost all of our activities take place - as well as where all meals are served.  

Let me back up a bit, though. To celebrate Grandparents' Day in September, we had a family luncheon and set up several craft stations for where residents and their visiting family members could get creative together. One of the stations had quilt squares, paint, and permanent markers, and we encouraged them to make a handprint square to become part of a wallhanging quilt we would make to commemorate the day. Some of my favorite features: 

One resident's granddaughter encouraged her to write "love" and "grandchild" in Japanese on their block. This resident is originally from Japan, but has been in the US for approximately half a century. It is always lovely to experience someone's personal heritage and culture, but becomes even more meaningful when they are reaching the end of life transition.

A resident's grandson painted a red heart and then placed his handprints over it, writing below it, "Your heart is in good hands."

One resident's daughter put one thumb over the other and squeezed her fingers together so the resulting handprint looks like a butterfly. She drew a face and antennae on it, writing "butterfly kisses" below the print. 

One of our wonderful nonagenarian resident wrote below her handprints, "This is what my girls used to do in school."

A resident's son kept it simple, writing simply, "I love you, mom" - what mom wouldn't love that??

Next up, I sat down with the completed handprint squares (which, technically, were rectangles) and did some arranging and math, figuring out what size rectangles and squares we would need to connect all these wonderful memories in a visually please manner. Then I made cardboard templates so the residents could easily trace them onto cotton from our scrap bags (and those scrap bags are very full - we get a LOT of donations!). They worked on it during crafts for several weeks, picking the fabric, tracing the connecting pieces, cutting them (leaving a 1/2" seam allowance around them), and deciding where they should go in the quilt. I functioned as "the little sewing monkey" and zipped it all together on my beloved machine for them. 

It was midway into this process that one of our most active residents passed away unexpectedly one evening. When her family came to collect her belongings the next day, her daughter asked me for the quilt square they had made together - it had her and her mother's handprints overlapping on it and she wanted to frame it at her house. Completely understandable, right? Still a bit of challenge to gently snip it out of the pieced quilt top without damaging the square or the quilt, though, but I did it and she was grateful. So how do you replace a square made with love by someone now deceased? I settled on printing a photo of a sunset with the phrase, "till we meet again," superimposed on it. Seemed appropriate. I transferred the photo to a new quilt square using the simple wax paper/inkjet printer/spoon method and then used shimmering puffy paint to outline the words. I'm pleased with how it turned out; a fitting tribute for a lovely lady, but not so ostentatious that it overpowers the rest of the quilt.

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