Merel van Looi is a quilter and fabric shop owner from the Netherlands I have gotten to know online. Unfortunately we did not connect at the last Quiltcon but the picture above on the right shows her working as a volunteer. Tragically earlier this month, she suffered some bleeding around her spinal cord and for the moment has limited movement of her legs. When I heard of her recent health crisis I was so saddened and reached out to her asking if she would be open to me organizing a community quilt project for her and she said YES!
I have often said that those are discouraged about the state of the world need to start sewing and become involved in their local and online sewing communities. Sewists and quilters are some of the most generous and creative people I know. This fact was made even more evident as I was plotting and planning this group project. Krista Hennebury (Poppyprint) if you don’t already know is a master quilter and teacher, an all around wonderful person and friend. Merel said online that Krista’s amazing “Blackbird Fly” quilt (an award winner at Quiltcon 2015) meant a lot to her as she hoped to “fly” again someday even if it was in a wheelchair. I mentioned that I was going to plan a quilt for Merel and Krista brought up the work of Kajsa Wikman (home – Syko Design). Kajsa’s style, raw edge appliqué with black thread at this point is fairly iconic and has been much copied and repeated. She published the book Scandinavian Stitches which I quickly ordered online. Krista contacted her friend and Kajsa not only gave me permission to use her sweet wonky birds as inspiration (Merel in dutch means blackbird and her IG handle is @merel_birdblocks) but hopes to contribute a block too (she also knows Merel- I love how small this quilting community is and did I mention how generous quilters are?) These sweet birds are so cheerful and I hope will encourage Merel in her recovery.
Knowing I would need additional help I reached out to my friend Rachael Dorr (www.quiltingamemory.org) who agreed to long arm quilt this quilt I have planned. Her work is AMAZING and this quilt will be extra special because of it.
HOW CAN YOU HELPT?
I am looking for as many people who are interested to make 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch appliquéd blocks inspired by Kajsa’s birds and get them to me by May 23rd (that gives 8 weeks for blocks to be made and delivered to my doorstep). My hope is to assemble them and get them then to Rachael to quilt by June 1st.
DETAILS and HINTS:
-8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch blocks (be sure to leave a quarter inch appliqué free around all sides to allow for seam allowance) The blocks will be 8 x 8 inches finished.
-White fabric background (Kona white if possible)
-Cheery prints to be used for the appliquéd birds (this is a perfect project for scraps). I would love to have birds that are simple and FLYING like Kajsa’s but I am also happy for you to make them your own, and even add encouraging stitched words for Merel if you like. An example of Kajsa’s birds is below and they also can be found at her flickr page (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sykossa/4567924620/in/album-72157601967630500/)
-Use black thread for your appliqué and shorten your stitch length
-Use fusible webbing like steam a seam to initially attach your appliqué bits before stitching
-if you feel compelled to use stabilizer on the back, please use tear away or cut away so that it is only around the appliqué
-so as to prevent stray black threads from appearing in the back, please tie off and bury loose ends in the appliqué (see pic)
-I have a suspicion that there may be more then enough blocks for one quilt and I will not turn anyone down who is interested. If that is the case I may be looking for someone to help me quilt up a second quilt (longarmers keep this project in mind)
If you are interested in contributing, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you my address and add you to the list. Tag your pieces with the hashtag #flymerelfly on IG so everyone can see what you are up to
If you feel like you want to do more for this sweet girl, I am sure she would love cards or small gifts of encouragement. The address at the rehab hospital she is at is:
Reade locatie Overtoom / Merel van Looi /113-B1 / Postbus 58271 /1040HG Amsterdam
Thank you so much everyone!!
“Fly Merel Fly”