I've been avoiding writing this blogpost for awhile now because although this quilt turned out beautiful and I love it, my inspiration for it came at a cost. I designed this quilt pattern on the flight to my Grandma's funeral.
My Grandma - Ann Marie - a two time cancer survivor was diagnosed with cancer for the third time last summer. She was 84 when she passed away on December 9, 2017. I don't think I realized it until a little later in life but my Grandma was the strongest woman I knew. Her influence on my life was substantial and I only wish now I was able to adequately tell her what she taught me and meant to me while she was alive.
My Grandma taught me many lessons through my childhood, teen years, early adult years and my newest years of motherhood. She always had a new candy dish 4 feet from the last one. Going to her house was like walking into a candy store where you could definitely sneak candy without getting in trouble. “Eat Meggie, that is what it’s there for.” I don’t really remember getting reprimanded by her but maybe I’ve blacked those times out. Mostly, I think it is a testament to her constant love and grace even when she knew and I knew that I was doing something wrong.
I remember from very early on that she wanted to be a nun but couldn't go through the process due to an illness. Her favorite movies were Sister Act and Sister Act 2. Every time I went to visit or she visited me, we watched those movies. I loved her cackle and her joyful crying at Whoopie Goldberg and how she led the first prayer at her new convent where she was pretending to be a nun. “Bless us oh Lord for these thy gifts which we are about to receive and …yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of no food I will fear no hunger…we want you to give us this day our daily bread and to the republic for which it stands…and by the power vested in me I now pronounce us ready to eat… AMEN!”
My Grandma taught me that life and faith are more than what we can see and what we can understand. Growing up, I always had this impression that since she was such a devout Catholic that she had very strict guidelines of right and wrong; that she was very black and white in her thoughts and feelings. But after many talks with her in my teen and adults years, I realized that her compassion, her faith, her love and her grace made her one of the most accepting and loving people out there. She believed that we, as humans, put too many limits on God and His love. It is humans that made the Earthly church and it is humans that constrict what God is about and what his number one lesson in life is. To love Him and to love others above yourself. How do we know what graces God will or won’t provide to all humans? Why is it easier to believe He has strict rules about every aspect in life instead of accept we can't know the depths of His grace and love for His people? My Grandma was a living example of compassion, grace and love.
She never lost her joy even though she was dealt some very difficult cards in life. She lost her first child, a son, the day after he was born. She went on to have five more children. She lost my Grandpa 15+ years ago, a grandson 12+ years ago and a son almost 3 years ago. Regardless of the sorrows she has felt and seen and experienced, she was steadfast in her gratefulness and joy that she still had life left to live. She had friends, family and loved ones all around her in the best of times and at the hardest times.
This past Thanksgiving would have been my uncles 50th birthday and I remember talking to her on the phone and she told me she'd had enough sadness in her life and she was ready to move on. After my Grandma passed away and my aunt was organizing her papers/house/estate, my aunt found the birth and death certificate of her first son. My grandma just couldn't live through another death anniversary in this life. My Grandma and her first son share the same day of death. December 9th. I don't think I'll ever get over that fact, it sends chills to my core.
As sad as this post is, I really wanted to share more about my Grandma and how I got around to the idea of this quilt. Christmas was always always her favorite time of year and so it was bittersweet to lose her during the holiday season. And as our plane was taking off to make our way to her funeral, the most amazing sunrise and sun flare happened. I think it was my Grandma reminding me that life is still beautiful even in the darkest times.
Those two photos I took are the inspiration for not only my design but for my color palette. Once we were at cruising altitude, I got out my laptop to pass the time the only way I know how .... playing in Adobe Illustrator. I decided I wanted a block design that emulated a sun burst and a brightness, also paying homage to the kind of light my Grandma brought to my life. It needed to have a center focal point and then bursts that go out in all directions. Hence - the Sun Flare Quilt was born.
When I got home from celebrating my Grandma's life, I got to work on the color palette. I was really so so excited about how bright and soothing these colors were at the same time. It was very therapeutic working on this quilt.
The colors are all Kona Cotton and are as follows: White, Lingerie, Peach, Foxglove, Primrose, Thistle, Orchid, Lupine, Amethyst, Cloud and Grapemist. You can actually buy this quilt top as a kit from Fabric Bubb here.
The quilt is a large throw size finishing at 71" x 84". But, because it is block based, it shouldn't be too difficult to size up or down as you'd need. But I always prefer larger throws to smaller ones anyway, I love to snuggle up and pull it all the way to my chin.
I really feel like my Grandma would be so proud of me and honored I designed a pattern after her. When I brought this quilt to the studio to take photos with Amy, I realized I hadn't actually seen it hanging up in it's full glory. Once I tapped it to the wall and stepped back, I had a moment. It felt right.
I sent this quilt off to Kaitlyn of Knot and Thread Designs and I had her quilt the Retro Tile design on it. I thought it was another special nod to my Grandma. Classic and a little old fashioned. ;)
The texture is what dreams are made of. I still love running my hand over the quilt.
My Grandma was full of life and jokes and crude humor at times. Her and I are very similar in that sense. I had to have a little fun while shooting these photos.
Also let's take a gander at the amazing quilts my girls Leah and Evie made for me to test Sun Flare.
Evie used a beautiful Chambray for the background and all Carolyn Friedlander prints. And her sun flare with her whole quilt? Meant to be I'd say. She is currently hand quilting this beauty, I can't wait to see it all done!
Leah (@dixie.stitches) actually made two different Sun Flare quilts. She made a baby version for a coworker - she did all the math too - easy to size down! And she also made a bright and happy yellow throw size - an ode to the Sun Flare title. I love both so much.
Thank you all so much for all your constant love and support. And if you made it to the bottom of this blogpost - congrats! haha
Be sure to head over and read about the Stripe Crossing quilt here.
If I am to be anyone or anything in this life time, I am happy I am my Grandma's granddaughter.