A Warm Hug from Heaven

Note to my readers:  This was the most difficult entry I have made on my blog, but I am writing this to recognize my dear friend, Joan Wipper. 

The past several months, I have had the pleasure of sharing every Thursday with a good friend of mine, Joan Wipper.  Joan and I first met when we worked together for several years at HP.  She was always there with a bright smile and fun sense of humor and was a great addition to our Market Research team.  I really enjoyed working with her and we became good friends.  When she left HP and moved away from Boise, we sort of lost touch, except for our annual Christmas greetings.  But, one of the nice things about our friendship, is that when we did see each other, we could pick up where we left off the last time and run with it.

Joan in November, 2012, modeling an apron I made for her friend

Joan in November, 2012, modeling an apron I made for her friend

A couple years ago, Joan moved back to Boise and I was pleased to be able to meet her periodically for lunch to get caught up.  Our lives were going in new and different   directions, so it was nice to check in with each other now and then.

In July of 2011, Joanie noticed a pressure and pain in her sternum.  Her daughter, Sara, pointed out that women often present abnormal symptoms prior to a heart attack and suggested she go to the Emergency Room and get checked out.  While she was being examined and tested, a chest x-ray revealed a grape-sized lump in her lung.  Joan was given some devastating news…  she was diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer.

The crazy thing is that Joan was the picture of good health.  She enjoyed working out and was in great shape and she had never smoked a cigarette in her life.  In spite of all that, she had an advanced stage of lung cancer and she was literally in a fight for her life.

She began cancer treatments and although I know she had some very rough and scary times, she was always upbeat and positive when I saw her.  She bought a wig to prepare for her inevitable hair loss, but was thrilled that during the various cancer treatments, she was able to maintain a healthy head of hair.  Joan was determined to live life as normally as she could and continued to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  She once told me that a goal of hers was not to look like she had cancer, and I think she has been very successful.

Joan enjoys a great relationship with her children, Sara and Danny, who are now young adults.  Joan’s daughter, Sara, got engaged in 2011 and one of Joan’s main goals was to attend Sara’s wedding in September, 2012.  Joan was thrilled to attend Sara’s beautiful wedding in Hawaii.

In July, 2012, during one of our visits, I mentioned to Joan, if she were interested, I would be pleased to help her make a quilt for Sara and Danny.   I told her that quilts can be warm and snugly and might be a nice gift.  I told her to think about it, realizing she was very busy with all the wedding preparations at the time.

A few months later, in January, 2013, Joan called me.  After we talked for a while, she asked if she could take me up on my quilting offer and I was delighted.  We coordinated our calendars and determined that Thursday would be our sewing/quilting day.

The first step was to determine what type of quilt she wanted to make.  Joan did not have much sewing experience, so we also spent some time teaching her how to sew.   During this time we talked about different styles of quilts and I pulled out several of my quilting books to show her the different types.

Joan chose the cover quilt of the Modern Quilts book for the pattern for Sara and Danny's quilts

Joan chose the cover quilt of the City Quilts book for the pattern for Sara and Danny’s quilts

She wanted more of a contemporary look and really liked the quilt called City Lights in the book, City Quilts.   Next step was to choose the colors she wanted in the quilts.  After a trip to a few quilt stores, she had her palette of colors.

Finding just the right lavender...

Finding just the right lavender…

Once the fabrics were pre-washed, the next step was to cut out the pieces and then to begin to lay them out on the design board.  I set up a design wall near the cutting mat to make it easy to audition the placements for the various colored pieces.

Cutting out the pieces for sashing and binding fabric

Cutting out the pieces for sashing and binding fabric

Working on laying out pieces (in background)

Working on laying out pieces (in background)

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the final color placement was agreed upon, Joan started to sew the quilts together.

Joanie at the sewing machine, strip piecing away!

Joanie at the sewing machine, strip piecing away!

It was exciting to see the rows slowly build and piece by piece and row by row, watch the quilt come together.

Pinning rows together

Pinning rows together

Looking A - Okay!
Looking A – Okay!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Placing completed rows back on design wall

Placing completed rows back on design wall

The first quilt top is coming together!
The first quilt top is coming together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan wanted to make the quilts identical, so it was easy for her to determine the placement for the second quilts colors.

1 down, 1 to go!

1 down, 1 to go!

I really looked forward to our Thursday sew sessions.  It was a time for us to not only sew and visit, but we managed to also solve a few of the world’s problems along the way.  We met approximately 14 weeks over the course of five months because we both had some vacation time in between. In general though, Thursday was my quilting day with Joanie and we were on a mission!  Once in a while we would take a break towards the end of the day and do something a little different and fun.

Me (aka Nana), Belén, Eloise and Joan at Goodies in Hyde Park enjoying some ice cream.

Me (aka Nana), Eloise, Belén, and Joan at Goodies in Hyde Park enjoying some ice cream.

Joan pieced the second quilt together much faster than the first and was becoming quite a proficient seamstress.

Second quilt pieced!

Second quilt pieced!

Once the second top was completed, we prepared the quilt tops for the long-arm quilter.  Since we decided to put a wonderful cozy Minkee fabric on the back, we thought it would be better to use a long arm machine for the quilting process.

Clipping threads and removing any lint and loose thread from quilt top.

Clipping threads and removing any lint and loose thread from quilt top.

Adding some scrap fabric to back of quilt so it will fit the quilting machine.

Adding some scrap fabric to back of quilt so it will fit the quilting machine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We began to prepare the quilts for quilting and discussed the weight for the batting and how she wanted to bind the quilt.   I made an appointment at Quilt Expressions and Joan chose the quilt design she wanted to use, a design called Hypnotic.  It was exciting to deliver the finished quilt tops, batting and backing to the ladies at Quilt Expressions and know they were in very good hands.

Reviewing various quilting patterns at Quilt Expressions

Reviewing various quilting patterns at Quilt Expressions

Hypnotic is the quilt design...

Hypnotic is the quilt design…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, I also reviewed some label designs  with Joanie and told her to start thinking about what she would like to have on the label on the back of the quilt.  The next week she arrived and told me she knew what she wanted to say…  ” A warm hug from heaven…  Love, Mom”…

Stitching out the quilt label for Danny's quilt.

Stitching out the quilt label for Danny’s quilt.

When the quilting was finished, we were both very excited to see how beautiful the quilts turned out.  They were even better than what we had envisioned.  I was so pleased to see Joan so excited about them.  The final steps were to attach the labels and then the outside binding.

Stitching the binding and labels on.

Stitching the binding and labels on.

And, abracadabra, the quilts were finished!!!

Finished quilt with Joan and myself - this was a very exciting day!!!

Finished quilt with Joan and myself – this was a very exciting day!!!

But we also had to get pictures of both quilts together.  You will notice one is a bit longer than the other, due to the different widths of the sashing that Joan sewed in the second quilt.  We loved they way they turned out!!!

Both quilts are finished!

Both quilts are finished!

Ta Da!!!  One excited Joanie!

Ta Da!!! One excited Joanie!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan  planned a date when she could have both Danny and Sara over for dinner to give them their quilts.  Marv and I were flattered that she asked us to join them for dinner as well.   Throughout the building of the quilts, I took pictures of Joan sewing the quilts, step by step.  I told Joan that it would be a great way to document the process for her kids, because a lot of people do not realize what is entailed in making a quilt.  We built a small picture book in Snapfish that she packaged with each quilt.  Many of the pictures from this blog were in that book.

The stage was set, Joan made a wonderful vegan meal and it was so much fun to spend some time with Danny and Sara, Joanie’s amazing kids.  When everyone was seated in the living room, Joan brought out two large gift bags and gave them their quilts.  I think these next few pictures tell the story better than I can…

Joan explaining the quilts to Sara and Danny as they opened up their quilts

Joan explaining the quilts to Sara and Danny as they opened up their quilts

Sara reading her quilt label.

Sara reading her quilt label.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Danny, Joan and Sara and their quilts

Danny, Joan and Sara and their quilts

 

Both Danny and Sara were very pleased with their quilts and touched by all the effort Joan put into making their quilts.  She told them she wanted them to have them to snuggle with when she is gone and to think of it as a “Warm hug from heaven” from her.

Thank you Joan, I am so thankful for the many hours we shared in the creation of your beautiful, loving gifts for your children.  You are a kindred spirit who I think the world of and I so treasure your incredible gift of friendship.  Now that you have this sewing/quilting process down, I hope to have many more hours together as we create who knows what!  I love you, Joan, and am so very proud of you…      Jane

 

 

 

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3 Responses to A Warm Hug from Heaven

  1. Laura R. says:

    Awesome—-the quilts are perfect! What a wonderful way to spend Thursdays. Love you both.

  2. Margie J says:

    Very special! You’re a great friend to all!

  3. Alecia says:

    What a wonderful experience for both of you. What a special gift! Beautiful work ladies!

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