Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"I Love Kenya"

My husband and I used to live in Austin, TX and we were both teachers at Brentwood Christian School, where we met, became friends, eventually dated, became engaged and got hitched.  This school will always have a special place in our hearts along with the wonderful friends that we made while being there.  One of those dear friends is Michelle.  Michelle and I worked side by side for most of our time there and we became close friends.  We taught together, coached together, went to church together, hung out together, traveled to Russia together and even competed against one another in "friendly" games of basketball.  Then in a whirlwind of a semester she got engaged, married and moved far far away to a land known as Virginia.  I was heartbroken losing such a good friend in proximity, but our friendship has outlasted the vast distance between us.  It has been surprisingly convenient that she lives fairly close to my husband's family in Maryland, so with a slight detour we get to visit with her and her family every time we head up north.

When Michelle called me and told me they were expecting their second child, I knew a quilting project was in my near future.  Michelle was having a little girl and anything girly was out of the question.  I wanted the quilt to reflect Michelle in some way.  One image that will probably always stick with me about Michelle was the car she use to drive.  There was nothing too special about the old green sedan, except for the "I Love Kenya" bumper sticker that graced the back bumper.  You always knew she had arrived when you saw that signature trademark.  You see, Michelle grew up as a missionary-kid in Kenya until her teenage years.  Her life in Kenya will always be apart of her and she cherishes those memories.  With that in mind, I went in search of fabric.  I searched and searched and finally found something that sparked some inspiration...Karavan Marrakech by Valori Wells.

It was colorful and appropriate for a little girl, but it didn't scream baby, or pink.  I spent a lot of time finding coordinating fabrics and had a blast piecing everything together.  I wanted to create something bright, cheerful, fun and engaging.  Here is what I came up with.

I spent several weeks hand-quilting this quilt.  I didn't have any sashing to follow, so I designed out a way to fill in each space of the quilt.  Each elephant is painstakingly hand-appliqued on.  I learned a lot about appliqueing a challenging shape...thank goodness for Fray Check

The binding, again, is just the backing folded over.  At this point, I still didn't know how to make my own binding and buying bias tape just seemed like cheating.  

Even though that old green sedan is no more, Michelle now has a new "I Love Kenya" bumper sticker that lives on her new car and a baby quilt the old sticker inspired.


  1. What a blessing, both the quilt and your continued friendship!

  2. This is my first time visiting your blog and I love love love that elephant quilt! Since you mentioned you don't know how to make binding I recommend this tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman.

    This is the tutorial I used to learn how. I know it can seem really intimidating to make your own binding but she does a great job explaining how!



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