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Asking too much + modern quilts

One time, I saw a fancy light fixture, and asked Andy if he could make one just like it. The result was this:
DIY Ralph lauren dustin pendant, Dodecahedron hanging pendant light chandelier
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:
barn quilt
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:
Modern quilt layout
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:
unnamed (7)
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:
quilts with invisible binding
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:
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!
Modern colorful quilt
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.
Close-up of triangle quilt
Cathy even sewed a pocket along the back so we can hang them:
Rod pocket on quilt
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!)
Bible verses embroidered on quilt
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!

Let's connect


  1. Wow, so stunning! I love the colors and design! Now I want one


  3. Wow, Cathy is a rock star! I just finished my first quilt this year (I’m almost 30) and it took me almost a year to do in my free time. If I was going to make a quilt to sell, I would have to charge them like 900 dollars for it because it is so much work. The fact that Cathy just did it and donated it is so awesome.

  4. cathy is a saint. I am a quilter and know how much time it takes. And she does wonderful works. Would Cathy share her pattern, or can I purchase it from her? Love it. And your gift to the community is awesome. What a great way to serve the Lord, right?

  5. Stephanie Peterson says:

    This is just SO amazing. Thank you! Thank Cathy! Wow!!!!! What a huge impact our gifts can make.

  6. WOW. Your friend has a ridiculous setup for quilting. AND she’s talented. AND shes’ generous. I think you should most definitely keep her.

  7. Oh my–that’s AMAZING! I really wish I knew how to quilt. Or, I guess, more precisely, I really wish I knew how to magic quilts into existence with my MIND. These look SO GOOD!

  8. Oh, do I understand the simple thought of a quilt. My hubby’s mom is a quilter and when we got married 3 years ago, I had the “bright” idea of asking her to make us a quilt as our guest book (thanks Pinterest). Well. the simple idea of just cutting out squares and having people write their names and messages went right out the window. We spent all day in a fabric shop looking for the fabrics and I don’t know how many magazines I had to look through to find the pattern. I’m sad to say that the quilt’s home is in a bottom drawer of a dresser but we just don’t have a guest bed to host it right now. Oh, and for Christmas last year, she made us pillow cases with the left over fabric.

  9. This is so amazing! I love that she did all that work for those girls, what a special lady.

  10. Great job! The quilts are beautiful, bright, and modern. The Bible verses embroidered on the quilts are very touching and meaningful. I’m glad you decided to hang them on the wall which will certainly make the room NOT institutional and NOT hotel-ish. Now, I wouldn’t hang anything on the other walls as it could detract from the quilts and could make the room look a little cluttered.

  11. I am tearing up over here! What an amazing woman. This project is so powerful. Praying for you!!

  12. Love, love, love the Scripture verses. God’s Word will not return void, and His words can be and are so healing. What a great thing!
    And kudos to Cathy–what an incredibly generous gift to you and the ones who will enjoy her work.
    Thanks for giving us an opportunity to be involved.
    These girls are on my prayer list…for every day…

  13. Such beautiful quilts and such a wonderful cause! Can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

  14. Cathy, Super(Quilter)Woman! This is serious work; it’s humbling to see how time consuming this is–and so perfectly executed. While I think everyone involved deserves a pat on the back, this week Cathy also earns a back massage.

  15. Wow! Just WOW! Cathy is incredibly talented. My goodness, I knew a lot went in to quilting, but oh-my-goodness! Yep, no way I could do that in a 100 years either. lol Beautiful and heartfelt quilts.

  16. Love, love, love the colors in that quilt! Your friend who made it is fantastically talented 🙂

  17. They are the prettiest things I’ve ever seen, and I’m totally speechless! I can’t sew to save my life so when I see this it’s wonderous! To think that someone can actually put this together using material is mind-boggling to me! The quilts alone will make whoever walks into that room smile instantly! Beautiful! Can’t wait to see more of what you do.

  18. So beautiful and full of life – absolute perfect for its purpose. God bless you, Cathy!

  19. Thank you so much for posting this. So many people have no idea what goes into the making of a quilt. From a quilter’s viewpoint, what your friend did is pretty standard procedure. Next time you see a quilt, especially one made of small pieces, stop to ponder the number of hours of work that went into the quilt.

    And then, think about the quilts that were made by pioneer women who had to use (probably) a hunting knife to cut the fabric, who sewed by lamp or candlelight, and whose needle was probably as dull as dishwater.

  20. I think it’d be a great idea to maybe add a little night light thingy. Not the one for children but maybe a softer, dimmer light next to the beds. Some girls might be in the dark all the time and it would give them comfort knowing they can turn on the light in an instant or even sleep with a light on if they want.for tthe rest i don’t know. You might want to consider seeing a specialist or a psycologist to ask what would be good/inapropriate/too bright/too contemporary/helpful to the ladies to have nearby. Lots of luck, Eva

  21. They look amazing!! Way to go Cathy!!

  22. I never had a desire to learn how to quilt, partly due to my own issues with cutting straight lines (seriously even if I have an actual drawn line I can go off course), but after seeing what Saint Cathy did, I know quilting is way out of my league.

    Great idea to do the quilts as wall art!

  23. WOAH! I’m stunned! Those are BEAUTIFUL! I thought I was talented because I could crochet, but this takes it to a whole new level! I wish I had that level of patience and expertise!

  24. Wow! I’ve attempted sewing before and know how insane it is just to cut fabric out precisely. She must have been doing this for days and days! They’re beautiful. So excited to see it all coming together 🙂

  25. Those quilts are the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life! (Too much hyperbole?) But seriously – I can’t get over the amazing mix of colors and that pattern! I think hanging them is such a good call – they really are works of art!

  26. Jennifer Graves says:

    My reinterest in quilting has arrived. I too would love the pattern if there is one and Cathy is sharing or some help with color combinations or how many colors to have to shuffle around. They are simply beautiful.

  27. I really like the idea of hanging the quilts on the wall behind the beds, it’s going to look amazing!

  28. These quilts are AMAZING!! As are the hands that made them! Great work, Ladies!!

  29. These quilts are stunning! Can you tell me the size of the finished quilt square? I’m thinking it’s about 6″. Thank you

  30. Non-quilters have no idea. I remember offering to make a baby quilt for a treasured friend with any pattern from a book. She picked the hardest one. When we sized it up to her specifications (she refused to use larger pieces so we added blocks) the quilt contained 527 bias triangles. When I told her it had 527 triangles, she said that there was no way such a small quilt can contain 527 pieces. Count em. They are all there.

    I would not do this for any but a handful of people in the world. All others can pay me my day consulting rate of ~ the same as a licensed plumber and electrician. That would make the baby quilt $4000.

    So think before you ask favors from your quilting friends.

  31. Meg Wolfe says:

    Newbie diyer here. Love your site and wanted to comment that quilts are a symbol of freedom as well. Quilts were used to indicate safe houses for slaves traveling in the US. I, of course, am no smarties pants just a wannabe quilter who read a fictional quilting book series–can’t actually remember the name. I haven’t read for recreation since having these four kids. Keep it up the good work! I am looking for a local safe house to help out in our area of Texas. Thanks for all you do! Now to make some curtains before my mom comes to visit…

  32. I like there are many colors, carefully chosen by laptop on the beds and walls.


  1. […] post Asking too much + modern quilts appeared first on * View Along the Way […]

  2. […] 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 […]The post Asking too much + modern quilts appeared first on * View Along the Way *.  […]

  3. […] we talked, we had decided to hang the quilts on the wall instead of laying them on the beds. Their awesomeness needed to be displayed like a […]

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