May 6, 2010

Chooks and Quilts

This is Cat. Isn't she pretty? Cat lives in Australia and designs lovely Twilight themed paper piecing patterns and gardens and has chickens. In Australia they call chickens 'chooks.' Cat's husband calls her the Chicken Whisperer because her chickens all have names and listen to her and do what she tells them. Cat is expecting her first baby and since Cat is such a special member of our group, we decided that we needed to make a quilt for the little nudger. With chickens. And Minkee on the back. And lots of love.

Angie, Elizabeth, Iris, Joyce, Jerri Lynn, Mel and Wanda worked on this project secretly. We're virtual friends (most of us have never met in person), so we discussed plans in private messages (and a few e-mails) over at TwilightMOMS. Even though Cat could never walk up on us at Guild Meeting talking in a huddle about her baby quilt, we still had a really hard time keeping it a secret. And it was a LONG secret to keep. We started making plans and organizing in January. Blocks were due to Wanda in late February. When she finished with assembly, she shipped the quilt top and minkee backing to Angie, who quilted it, bound it and sent it back to Wanda. Wanda added a label and, at last, it was shipped it all. the. way. to Australia. We're excited that Cat has finally received the quilt and the doors are blown off this secret so now we can share it with you too!

We wanted to share a bit about our little chook blocks and the fun we had putting this surprise together for Cat. We'll start in the top left corner and work from there. Click on any of the pictures for a closer look.

Hen with Chick by Elizabeth
I did this block using Cat's own design, Hen with Chick. I thought it was fitting to use Cat's patterns in a baby quilt for her. I used a bit of Fairy Frost (a perennial favorite) in the hen's beak and for the fluffy yellow chick. I also used another of my favorite fabrics for the hen's body, Moda Essential Dots. The eyes are 'painted' on here. I hadn't decided how I wanted to do them at this point; buttons seemed too big and French knots seemed too small. In the end I did a satin stitch on them.

Chick by Iris

Rooster by Elizabeth
When I started my blocks for this quilt, I had a something else in mind for my second block. But after putting together the Hen with Chick, I thought it might be cute to put together a little 'family' of chickens, using the same fabric (a Nancy Halverson print with hearts and a 'feathery' look to it) on the upper part of the rooster (another of Cat's designs) as I did the hen. I conferred with my co-conspirators and they all agreed that the family of chickens was fun. It was so neat to make a sneaky project for someone who inspires me so much! Good luck with the new little one, Cat!

Hippie Chicken by Angie
'The man', as I so affectionaly refer to my husband, couldn't decide between Broody and Flappin' over at Fat Cat Patterns but in the end Flappin' was just too silly not to use. Then of course I had to have crazy colors and batiks are kind of my thing so I tried to make them as crazy as possible. So Flappin' ended up being named the 'Hippie Chicken' with all her tye die fabrics.

Three Eggs by Jerri Lynn
Three Eggs pattern by Jennifer Ofensten at SewHooked.

Mother Hen by Joyce
I found this pattern at Fat Cat Patterns. It was designed by Syndi Rodenmayer. She is just too cute! I had to make her. This block could also be called 'Fun with Batiks' because I used so many. There are 10 different fabrics in this block. I selected the fabrics and in which section they would be used. I used Steam a Seam Lite 2, which made piecing things together and fusing easy. Once everything was ready, it was just a matter of putting the picture together one layer at a time. For the finishing touches, I added some white to the eyes and some eyelashes.

Cat's Rooster Right by Joyce
I learned later that this pattern was designed for Cat by Jennifer Ofenstein at SewHooked. Very cool! For fabrics, I was just looking for something fun and baby-appropriate. I liked the bold orange-red for the comb and the orange for the beak. The dots on the pale yellow fabric reminded me of feathers, and the batik in the middle had those shades in more vibrant tones.

Baby Volvo by Wanda
This is my first block for Cat's baby quilt. I had a pattern for rabbits in a car by Bunny Hill Designs.  Rabbits Prefer Chocolate  is the name of the quilt pattern. Anyway, my rabbit quilt is in progress, but I remembered that the quilt had one block with chicks coming out of eggs. So I searched the dark recesses of a closet and pulled out the pattern and decided that I wanted to make a baby chick driving a car. Of course the silver car represents a baby version of a shiny silver Volvo ;) ! So I used the chick and the car and put them together to make my block. It is fused with Steam-A-Seam Lite and then appliquéd with a blanket stitch. I wanted to write "baby Volvo" on the car, but just couldn't figure out where to put it so in the end I just left it as is, knowing that I could tell this and Cat would know it's a little piece of Twilight in her baby's quilt.

Struttin' Chick by Mel
This project was so much fun to make. As soon as I heard the idea, I was in! I knew Cat would be tickled pink to have a chicken quilt for her baby, being the owner of a small chicken family herself. So I went searching on Google and found this great Struttin' Chick pattern at Patch Pieces! I love it because the chick is so chubby!!! We agreed on pastels, but when I saw the beans fabric, I couldn't resist! It just looked too cute. I thought it would look like the chick was in a garden. The chick is made with a canary yellow fabric, with orange-y vines in it. The beak was made using leftover red-and-gold Christmas fabric; orange didn't work, as the chick was too close to orange already. The legs were embroidered using a zigzag stitch with my machine, and the eye is a star button. I have to say, I am glad Cat received the gift, because this was a HARD secret to keep!!! I'm so glad with the way it all came together. Kudos to Wanda and Angie for finishing it all up. Amazing work!!!

Eggbert by Angie
I got my patterns from Fat Cat Patterns ...and there were just too many cute ones to pick from. My first choice was Eggbert. He is so round and fat and cute. He was just screaming "I need to be on Cat's baby quilt!" I used Steam a Seam 2 under the fabric and then blanket stitched over the edges with coordinating threads. I know it is unconventional to use stripes for this type of thing.

Heart Chicken by Wanda
This is my second block for Cat's quilt. I resized a heart chicken from a pattern called Three Chicks by Lady Bug Lace. I just thought the chicken heart was in keeping with the love that surrounds motherhood and baby. It is also put together with Steam-A-Seam Lite and then hand appliquéd with a blanket stitch.

Chick by Jerri Lynn

Angie is our go-to girl for long-arm quilting. She said, "This project was so much fun! Yes, we all have a (some would say unhealthy) obsession with Twilight but we are also avid quilters. And I have yet to meet a quilter who doesn't love making things for other people. And the opportunity of making something for one of our sisters was a chance we just could not pass up! Cat, I hope you love it as much as we loved making it!" Here's a close-up of the super theme-coordinated quilting she did in the borders.

Iris made the label for the quilt back and Wanda organized and assembled this little fabric miracle. She said, "I have to say I had the honor to assemble the quilt and I had the most fun doing it! I showed it in different stages to various friends and all were in love with it and want a chicken quilt. In fact I think all participants want a chicken quilt and we have even talked about having a chicken block exchange this summer! When I was looking for border fabric (originally bought chicken wire but it didn't look good for the border) I took the blocks to a store with me. As the clerk was cutting the fabric, she asked what I was making and I was so excited to show her the coven chicken blocks and brag about us. She picked up the stack of blocks and admired the work and told me how she just loved 'this one' which was Joyce's block. She also commented on the wonderful quality of workmanship in the blocks. And she wasn't the only one. The shop owner of my favorite shop also said the same thing. After Angie quilted it, I got to take it to a quilt club meeting and they all admired it as well. Who wouldn't love chickens? Especially ones made for a sweet baby. The hardest part of this quilt was keeping the secret!"

After Cat received the quilt, she sent us a little message.
I would just love to say a big THANK YOU!!! to you lovely ladies for the chicken quilt. It is just beautiful. It brought a few tears to my eye! And a thanks you for the other little goodies that were added as well. It was a very thoughtful gift and i really appreciate all the thought and effort that went into it.

You ladies are just so AMAZING! I'm so glad to be part of such a wonderful and caring group.

Thank you again!


coley said...

oh wow guys! that is so cute!!!

Elizabeth said...

Cat, we love you and hope that you an your little guy love using this quilt!