The story of the Butterfly quilt top

MISSED YOU Quilting World!:
WOAH! It's been way too long, and I have missed you all so much! We are back in Guatemala after our maternity leave, and I am eager to post some quilts!

A photo AND a thousand words (1600+ actually):
I was just going to post a quick photo of the quilt on a frame, but realized I want to tell its story (so far). So sorry it is lacking on the photos. I hope to have more on this one soon. Maybe you will like this story. 

The Inspiring quilt:

Creating a block pattern was fun, while I was designing a quilt for my daughter. She likes butterflies and I do too, so I looked up so many patterns online for butterflies. I created what I felt was the most simplified pattern for this Quilting Novice. The Butterflies were made from scrappy material dominant on purple while the background around them was yellow. The blocks are all done, but I don't know what to do for the 'filler' blocks, to make like a checker pattern or random one so the quilt can be at least twin size. In the mean time my friend Patsy showed me how to hand embroider the antennae which I did while I was pregnant with #3.

Focused on MY goal:
My sister gave me a lot of fabric she purchased, probably on sale, knowing I am getting to this "quilting" hobby! Now, as any younger sister does, I must not have listened to her well or did not hear what she said. But she gave me the fabric to do whatever I wanted with it. Well, I wanted to make her daughter a quilt so much that when she gave me this fabric, I thought it was for her daughter's quilt.  It was set in my head that it is what it was for and that was that! So I thought it would be great to use the butterfly pattern I made and make her a quilt the same as my daughter. Cousins with similar quilts; one is scrappy and the other more uniform.

Community Effort:

Before the butterfly block was designed, I had joined APQ. Their community area was a great encouragement to me! I had the help of my APQ friends back then to figure out how to make this work. So much experience was shared through the comments I received. After many tries, the layout was final, and I made the top! It was quite a learning experience. It was all new to me from block design, to piecing it, hand embroidery, and then the quilt layout. I just made it all up as I went along and had so much fun along the way.

Saying bye to the top:
The top was done, and I surprised her in 2009 with it. I felt sad handing it off (must be like what it's like when our kids grow up and leave), but that didn't last long when the joy of giving the gift was more felt, than any sadness! I figured she could (have fun and) choose the back material and batting type/thickness and maybe afford to have it professionally quilted. I was sure she'd have many options in the Atlanta area.

The Quilts Journey:
The material came from Atlanta area and traveled with me to Guatemala. The top was cut and pieced in Guatemala. The finished top came back to the Atlanta area. My sister sent the quilt along with a friend who had a friend who quilted in Indiana. Well after a year or so, the quilt top was sent back to my sister. The friend of a friend really didn't have the time to do it, so it sat.

A Life Lesson Learned, Giving gifts:
During all this time, I felt so small, very small. The extreme joy of finishing the largest quilt top by myself was crushed by the thoughts of giving an unfinished gift to someone, especially my sister. This lesson was learned when a friend of mine gave me TWO (not one) complete, finished, custom, scraps albums (you know the fancy scrapbooking kind people drool over). One was for my daughter and one for my son. All I had to do was pick the photo from their 1st yr of life, get it printed and cut it the right shape/size for the areas designated for photos. A LOT of TIME and MONEY went into this. My friend assured me this and aggressively asked me to make sure I finished it (and store the books vertically!). I admit, I tried a few times and even got some photos in, but this was far from my 'hobby' or 'talent'. I LOVED the books and know the LOVE put in them, but felt like an assignment was imposed on me. Sure I want my kids to have these books but this wasn't my project.

Nothing convicted me more than thinking of God's Gift to us... Jesus and eternal life through Him, with Him. He didn't give us an unfinished Gift! Jesus is so complete and given uncondiditonally. My life is now devoted to sharing this with others, and it can be shared even in this application too. Complete Unconditional Gifts to others. nothing else! How awesome is that! You really Feel the LOVE then!

Now to make it, right... 

So it was a phone conversation with my sister just a month or so before we were to see her with our new baby #4, that I asked her about her quilt top. She said it was unfinished (where I learned the Indiana trip of the top). I told her first, I felt bad imposing on her a gift that she was to finish. That was a no-no and for her to give it to me to finish when I came through to show off our nee baby.

I'm listening now...
We had a great visit with my sister (March 2011, 2 yrs after the top was finished). Our last night there, I made sure she gave me the quilt top, so I wouldn't forget the next day when we hustle out road tripping with four kids. During this exchange she finally told me as she had my full attention that this was the material I was to do anything I wanted with it. I told her no this was the material she gave me when I told her I was going to make her daughter a quilt. It was not a heated discussion but rather an exchange of revelation for us both! Yes I wanted to make my niece a quilt and yes my sister gave me material but the two had nothing to do with each other. My sister assured me she would have given me her daughter's favorite colors and such. With this known, I immediately said then, "you give me material to make your daughter a quilt, I'll take this one back to finish and keep!" We were both apologetic and in relief but disbelief of what happened. I think too we were mostly relieved of the whole situation.

Greatly accepted Imposition...
After the exchange and revelation of the butterfly quilt's need and purpose, my sister had a need in front of her. She had a quilt top given to her after our paternal grandmother's passing. She showed me the hand pieced Jacob's Ladder quilt done on-point, which desperately needed to be finished (batting/binding). I admit at first, I was thinking I couldn't touch it, she should just have it framed (queen size mind you). But knowing our grandmother... use it, don't let it collect dust. She didn't make it to be put in a closet or to be forgotten. I told her give it to me with the other top and I will finish both with the time I have left in the states.

Twice the fun, and with coupons!
After our road trip, I got to Joann’s with coupons in hand to buy batting, backing, binding, thread, needles, and seam ripper! For both quilt tops! The butterfly quilt was easy since it was going to stay with me, I could decide on the batting, backing, and thread. The other quilt was trickier needing my sister's input. I shopped for backing and found out my niece likes pink and this grandmother's top may got to her some day. The quilt had a small pink flower print I was trying to match somehow. I took a photo of a stripe with my phone and sent to my sister who said, maybe. There was a dark strip that looked like black. I told her no it was a dark chocolate color and went well with the quilt. I didn't want it to look too modern on the back.

Sewing with friends: 

A missionary friend (Melissa) I quilted with in Guatemala had recently moved about 5 minutes away from me stateside! (we live two places on the Earth and each are 5 min away!) She had a sewing machine set up, and I asked her to use it. She surprised me in telling me her machine quilting frame was at her house (brought back from GUA just a month earlier). So this inspired her to set the frame up, to re-learn how to do it (she was a year new to machine quilting on a frame like this and had not quilted in 6 months or so, while it was all new to me). This was the guinea pig quit for her getting her frame set back up and for me to learn! Well we agreed to stipple in the colored areas and make loops in the butterfly blocks. The center 9-patch block she did a flower while I did a butterfly. We learned how the batting shrinks more than first expected and warned by the Joann Lady. I was glad to have the squares in the sashing to help transition between the blocks and not stop/start the quilting. 

Goal Achieved:
I quilt to relax, have fun, and learn. I did that with this quilt for sure! It has now returned to Guatemala with us. I need to snip all the threads, tie them and figure out where does this quilt go? I know God knows! So far it's been a growing, learning, maturing, and sharing time for me. I'll take that!

If you made it this far, congrats! I hope you liked the story/journey for both the quilt and me. I will post more photos of this quilt as well as post the photos/story of the other quilt!
Until then, sew, smile, and eat chocolate! :)



  1. I'm so glad you are back to blogging! I was wondering when it would happen. Great story! It was wonderful that you got to quilt the butterfly quilt on the frame!!! We are in Oregon now visiting our oldest son & family. We'll be leaving here in about a week and I plan to go to the Sisters quilt show with my SIL (we're going to visit my BIL/SIL next)!

  2. Good story Jackie. Hope you find a way to sew again in Guatemala.


  3. Hi Jackie,

    Welcome back to quilting! The butterfly quilt was such a pleasure to revisit.



Oh, I would love to hear from you! Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my post! How Exciting! Thanks and Bless you! *hugs* - Jackie