One time, I saw a fancy light fixture, and asked Andy if he could make one just like it. The result was this:
But what it took to get to that point was about two weeks of Andy locked in a room with only a marker and a whiteboard, running his hands through his Einstein hair and writing elaborate mathematical equations all over the walls to figure out what angles he was supposed to cut the wood to make that thing all come together.
I’d had no idea what I was asking for.
I thought it’d be like, “saw, cut, drill something, whip whip whoosh!” and out would pop a gorgeous dodecahedron light. Andy has a solid amount of nerd-blood coursing his veins, so he was up for the challenge (and probably enjoyed it a little, but he’d have to deny that if you asked him) — but still.
Welp, I accidentally did that again. Asked for something without understanding the work involved.
I showed you our inspiration piece for the bedroom my friend Erin and I are making over for a local Safe House that houses victims of sex trafficking:
That barn quilt! Isn’t it so happy?
We wanted the room design to center around a quilt: something that means LOVE, that means HOME. Something bright, cheerful and colorful.
Which, of course, would mean that we’d need the quilts. To be made.
Not long ago I wrote a post about how it rocked my world to be able to sew a single straight hem on some curtains, so I could tell you right off the bat one person in particular who was not qualified for the task: this girl. There’s a very talented lady in my church who quilts, so Erin and I asked her if she’d be up for whipping up a couple quilts for us?
You know: cut a few pieces of fabric, toss ’em at the sewing machine, whip whip WHOOSH! And out would pop two gorgeous quilts, about 30 minutes later! RIGHT?!!
I know. NOW I know.
(Also: I realize it sounds like it’s a dangerous thing to know me in real life: you might get elaborate requests to whip something together for me! I can’t deny this allegation.)
To her credit, my friend Cathy was so generous with her time, so quick to say “yes!” to using her talents for these ladies! She DID know what was involved in making these quilts, but she said yes readily – eagerly – anyway!
The first thing she did was use a quilting program to try to guess at the colors and get a very preliminary design:
This was a MAJOR process: turning that square barn quilt into rectangular design that felt balanced on all sides. You can see a photo of our still-in-progress design below. Then she went to work collecting all the right colors of fabrics in fat quarters:
Okay, how much happiness is happening there with all those colors together? Don’t you love how they’re playing together?
Once she had acquired all the fabric, she washed and ironed them. ALL OF THEM.
She laid them out and numbered each of the colors, and worked on the preliminary design of which color code went where:
Cathy has this mystical, stuff-of-dreams quilting room. She covered one wall in the same material that’s used to upholster car interior roofs — and the quilt material sticks right to it, like felt! So she laid everything out on her wall – vertically! – and starting finalizing the design, starting with the squares that she copied from the barn inspiration photo:
Then came the surprisingly tough work of trying to turn this square design into a balanced rectangular design the right proportions for a twin-sized quilt:
Erin and I came over one afternoon and the three of us moved quilt squares around, stepped back and eyed it a lot, squinted and cocked our heads to the side, moved something else, repeated.
And then everything changed. We got to this point and I started getting an uneasy feeling.
How much work was going into these quilts! How much thought, how much of Cathy’s time and attention. They were SO high-impact and so stunning — what a waste it would be to lay them on the beds where you’d only see a small portion of the design!
Suddenly, I think all three of us realized — we had to hang these guys up, on the wall, where you can see them, where they’ll be the stars of the room! They’ll hang at the head of each bed, almost like a headboard.
Aaaand that’s when the whole room plan changed. But we all felt really good about the plan! We made the quilts a little shorter, to make Cathy’s work a little easier since part of the quilt would be falling behind the beds. And this is where we ended up with our design. (Sorry for the blurry phone pics!)
All this just to be able to START sewing! I can’t believe Cathy still talks to me.
Next she sewed all the squares together to make the top of the quilts.
And we had a decision to make about quilt binding. We knew we didn’t want a thick border, so Cathy showed us these options:
To keep everything feeling modern and graphic, we went for no binding: which, it turns out, meant that Cathy taught herself how to make invisible binding for the first time! (Isn’t she amazing? I mean.)
Finally, she had us choose the quilting pattern: the pattern of the thread that sews the front of the quilt to the backing. Here are a few sample quilting patterns:
Erin and I ended up opting for simplicity, and Cathy did a quilting design in which she just sewed along the triangle patterns already in the quilt.
Ready to see how it all turned out?
Gorgeous. They are both so well-made, so stunning, so colorful!
You can see they’re starting to pucker, like quilts should! I might wash them again so they really finish puckering up. I can’t decide if I like them better this way though?
WWhat really gets me is the precision. I could never do this in four hundred years.
Cathy even sewed a pocket along the back so we can hang them:
And check this out! She embroidered a verse on the back too! (I’m going to mention this in the book we’re leaving for the girls – a little treasure hunt for them to find these and a few other things in the room!)
These quilts are a work of art. I’m so excited for the whole room to be designed around these! When you choose a lead piece that has tons of color, it makes the rest of the room fall into place so much more easily.
I’ll show the rest of the plan soon! We’re scrambling to finalize and buy everything we’ll need so we can finish the room by the end of the month.
By the way — if you haven’t sent in your letter for the ladies at the safe house, you can still drop it in the mail! I’ll be able to grab them all a couple days later than I expected, so it’s not too late if you write it now and mail it off! Address is in this post.
I just have to say how incredible cool it has been – such a blessing to me! – to see people like Cathy using her talents and her time to do something for other people. You don’t have to be an incredible speaker, or have gobs of money to donate – or whatever – to make your impact. It’s all about just finding a way to use your skills in ways that benefit other people, and it’s really making me get gushy to think about all the ways people are coming together to make this project happen – Cathy, with her quilting; you, with the letters you’re sending and your prayers; and lots more behind the scenes I haven’t even told you about yet!
I feel seriously blown away and honored to be a part of this with you guys!