Monday, April 18, 2011

Music Notes for Mom

I hope you're all enjoying my Diary Quilt Blocks; I enjoy writing up their little stories and sharing them with you.

This block was a hard one. First it was hard to choose what to do -- I was stuck on one particular symbol that I just could not represent in fabric. My mom started a bell collection for me as a child, and I carried those bells to every bedroom I lived in from childhood to college, and then they came with me to all the homes The Chemist and I lived in as a married couple, all the way until the last place we lived before moving to Brazil.

That bell collection symbolized, to me, the gift-giving spirit of my mom, and I so badly wanted to put it into fabric, into a six inch square, but couldn't. Thus defeated, I faced a mental block I just could not get past.

Finally I took a closer look at this block, which I'd seen from day one. Every time I saw it I thought, "That is so Mom." And every time, I flipped right past it, because I don't do embroidery.

my very puckered attempt at an embroidery block
fabric is a soft rose color, though it doesn't show up well
music notes and treble clef are chocolate brown
This weekend, I saw it again and gave in to the inevitable. Music is as much my mother's soul as the ocean waves are mine. There is nothing better to sum her up than a music staff and notes, and no better way to do so than with the embroidery that she used to do and love. Well, maybe *better* embroidery, but she'll have to settle for my best, which is good enough but not anywhere near great.

I did not inherit any of her musical talent, at all. I once drove a friend crazy because I can't even clap on beat. She, this friend, mentioned something about my talent for clapping on the down beat instead of the up beat, but I have no idea what she was talking about.

Another friend once told me I was flat, and I embarrassed myself by not realizing she was talking about my singing voice. Okay, maybe that's flat too. Again, I had no idea. Like I said, I inherited zero talent for music, though I do love to listen.

Luckily, I did inherit some of my grandma's artistic ability, and I can at least draw music notes, even if I can't sing them. So that's what I did, I drew a treble clef and a couple notes onto this pink fabric (I did look at a sample block, but I drew freehand, not tracing), and then I spent a grueling five hours stitching an outline stitch over every inch of chalk, until I had these beautifully outlined notes and music staff to show for my hard work.

Because I've never done embroidery, even though I grew up watching my mom do cross-stitch, I forgot all about using an embroidery hoop. It wasn't until I was about three-quarters done that I realized the reason for the puckering fabric was the missing hoop. Oops. At that point, I didn't care. Now that I've ironed the block, though, the puckering and wrinkles look worse than they did before. I can only hope that when I wash the quilt, eventually, the rest of the fabric will pucker some and match. -sigh-

I do think it's a fitting block, though. I have a deep and great appreciation for music, if no talent to match it.  Music is not quite as much a part of my soul as it is my mom's, but it's definitely an ingrained component. The iPod is on all day long, and many songs arrest me and stop me in my tracks. Music is a shared love between my mom and I, and I credit my appreciation for it to her influence.

This was a hard block to make, but I'm mostly pleased with the overall result. I'm very pleased with the finally chosen symbol of my mom -- music is in her DNA as the ocean is in mine, and is one passion she and I share.

Is there some shared interest you have with your mom? Tell me about it. 


  1. I'm amazed you just drew that! I love the treble clef.

    My mom thinks she has no creativity but it SHINES brightly in her organ & piano playing.

    I think this block will be fine with some quilting to hold it all down. :)

  2. Puckered or not, bravo for the attempt! My mom is the one who taught me how to sew. Out of all my sisters (and I have 6) I'm the only one who inherited the knack with fabric. I've gotten a lot of joy out of it over the years and I have to mom to thank. :-)

  3. Jules, I did look at a sample/pattern and then draw it. I didn't trace, did draw freehand, but I had a sample to copy from, similar to using a grid for enlarging (freehand) a quilt block. I edited the post to reflect that :)

    Glad you weighed in on the puckering!!

  4. Looks good and I bet Jules is right on the quilting :)