It is finally done. After months and months of making thousads of tiny stitches, the Bean Quilt is complete! This is probably the most beautiful quilt I have ever made, and I am so proud to be giving it to my little niece.
As soon as I found out that my sister was expecting her first child, I knew I wanted to make a tree quilt. I don't really remember what started it all, but that was the plan from the start. The tree itself was inspired by an oak tree that grew across the street from the Starbucks that Randy and I frequented in Austin, TX. I took a picture of it with my cell phone on the afternoon that Randy passed his defense and became Dr. Randy, Ph.D. I sketched the tree trunk and branches on swedish tracing paper and then used that as a template for the brown fabric.
I made templates for three different sized leaves out of scrap cardboard and used it to trace and cut out leaf shapes on three different green fabrics and then some random pretty fabrics from my stash (the colors used were picked from a comforter that my sister had in her home. My mom sent me paint chips that matched the colors in the bed spread). I tried to keep the ratio at 50:50 green fabrics to colored fabrics because I didn't want it to become too overwhelming or cartoony. I wanted it to be colorful but still look like a tree!
And then I appliqued it all down using the pin turning method. The tree trunk was first. Then I layed out all of the leaves and pinned them down once I liked the look of it, and then appliqued them one by one as well. When all of that was done (it took a few months . . . really . . .) I cut away the backing fabric beneath the appliques so I ended up with one single layer of fabric.
I added on the green patchwork border and then made my samwich and started quilting. I stitched around the outside and inside of all of the leaves, and then stitched rib lines within the leaves so they have a little dimension. For the tree trunk I stitched around the inside and outside and then added a wood grain pattern, free style. For the rest of the blue background I stitched some freehand curvy lines and just blended them into the leafy area. The whole thing was finished off with brown binding.
The back of the quilt is really nice because you can see the outline of the tree and leaves. The back almost looks as pretty as the front. The only thing that is missing is the tag I am making with my niece's name and date of birth. I'm stitching it onto a piece of linen and I'll stitch it down in a back corner as soon as I am done. The quilt is also unwashed. I'm going to let my sister wash it in her special baby detergent.
And in case you are wondering, that little patch on the back is a gnome sitting on a toadstool. I had to add him because I found a little tear in the backing fabric. I didn't mind at all. This quilt is meant to be loved and used and patched and frayed and fixed. It will only add to its beauty and uniqueness. Homemade quilts get even better with age. I can't wait until The Bean is old enough to see all the fabrics, and point out the animals and flowers, and tell me which ones she likes best. In the meantime, though, I'm SO glad to be done with it!