2014 finished on a sad note. My cousin Arline passed away. She and I were born 3 days apart in the same year, so we were very close. She was an amazing person, and even when she was diagnosed with a severe lung illness 20 plus years ago, she persevered. On steroids and many other medications, she took care of her two children, Michael and Nicole, and her husband Steve. Michael was my godson, and he left us a couple years ago. Arline was heartbroken. So was I. And then the day after Christmas I was heartbroken again when she passed away.
She also left behind two sisters, Connie and Cassandra. The two of them lived in other areas but as is often the case, tragic circumstances brought them together for Arline’s funeral. It was great seeing them together and catching up with them in person. Seeing posts on Facebook and Instagram just isn’t the same as a good face to face talk session.
I returned home and decided that I needed to make Connie a quilt. Connie has said she loves elephants, so I went online and googled elephant quilt patterns. I found a fantastic pattern by Jennifer Sampou. I had just recently purchased some of her Black and White line for Robert Kaufman, so I was interested to see what the pattern was like. I was smitten. Colorful. Check. Paper piecing – an added bonus! I sent off for the pattern and it arrived in no time (well, USPS and a cross country trip!).
And so I went to work on the pattern. I knew exactly what I wanted to use for the elephant. I wanted to use the new Alison Glass Sunprints, especially the Grove pieces. While I had done some small mini quilts using the fabrics, this would allow for greater use and show off the gorgeous colors of the prints. I think he came out wonderfully.
The pattern comes with figures and I made one and placed it next to the elephant. The elephant and I. Now I could start on the background. Maybe. I didn’t like the figure’s hair! So I made another one. And I placed that down and there were two. And then I was suddenly inspired to make and third and suddenly the elephant and I became the elephant and we. As I wrote on Instragram, this quilt had become a story for my cousin Connie.
Once there were three sisters whose strength, love and patience kept them together even when apart. And though one is gone from this world, her strength remains as they walk together along life’s path.
I could think of no better way to honor Arline and give Connie something I hoped would be both beautiful and meaningful.
I chose a variety of neutral pieces from my fabric collection (hoard some would say). I even had some fabric from Jennifer’s shimmer line hiding in my stash (who knew!). Here’s the piece at my long armer’s as she worked her magic. The elephant and we!
I’ve been collaborating with Sue Kappes of Kappes Kreations for many years now. We first met at the local quilt shop and she has done many pieces for me. I asked her to make this magical. My only guidance – I wanted the bottom section under the figures treated horizontally like ground and paths, while the area above should be rays radiating from the figures. She added so many fantastic touches throughout with some wonderful modern quilting designs. I will tell you that I was very excited when I saw it. Here she is telling me about some of her fancy stuff (sshhhh, she doesn’t know I took this picture!).
Here are some great shots of the phenomenal quilting:
And today with snow blowing around outside I did a binding and I put a tail on the elephant, so my tale of strength and sisterhood comes to a close and I will send this off to Connie.