Saturday, February 10, 2018

Project Quilting 9 -- the Bold and Brave Challenge

Once again, I found myself creating a piece for this week's Project Quilting 9 challenge that I didn't mean to start! I woke up Friday morning with an inspiration from a friend's story about his ancestors. Once I got started, I could not stop and last evening, I finished the binding -- I made the entire piece in just one day without leaving the studio!!
So first the story, then the quilt.

Two of my long time birding friends and I often exchange genealogy stories as we all three spend time seeking ancestors.  I recently discovered that quite a few of my husband's ancestors came to New England in the mid-1600's when it was still a wild place.  I find myself pondering what it would have been like to leave everything one knows, get into a cramped wooded ship, and sail for weeks to a wilderness with nothing familiar in the anticipation of having a "better life", trusting that someone knows what they are doing!  
Hard for any of us to imagine on any level.  
Such brave people!! 

Last week, my friend shared his latest discovery with me.  He is French Canadian and several of his 7th and 8th great grandmothers came to New France (Canada) to marry colonists and soldiers who were already settled in the region.  From 1635 to 1662, 262 young ladies, the "Filles a Marrier" (marriageable girls) came to Canada having set up contracts in France with eligible bachelors in Quebec and hoping for the best.  In 1663, King Louis XIV began to send "Filles du Roi" (The King's Daughters) along with a dowry to marry men who were sent over a year or so earlier to subdue the Iroquois Indians.  About 740 women arrived in Canada over the next 10 years.  When Paul told me about this, he had found 41 of his ancestors on these lists.  Yesterday, when we talked, he was up to 53 from the King's Daughters and 27 from the marriageable girls lists.  Isn't that amazing?  10% of his 7th and 8th great-grandmothers came to Quebec between 1635 and 1663 as young unmarried women under circumstances that we would find totally unacceptable in this day and age. 
Now if that's not BRAVE, I don't know what is!?!

When he first told me the story, he had found 41 of his grandmothers on the list.  
I'm calling this piece "Les Filles Courageuses" -- The Brave Girls. 
 It features a wreath of 41 hexagons surrounding a central hexie that represents my friend.
It's another one of my "creative mergers" -- stories or images merge with my skills and stash and result in a unique piece that comes together quickly.  I wasn't consciously trying to merge any of these elements, but here they were calling out to unite in a creative burst of energy

This floral charm pack of cotton lawns has been sitting on my cutting table with the hexagon template for a couple months waiting for me to try piecing with cotton lawns.  
And I can't count the number of times I've saved and pinned quilts made using Nicole Daksiewicz Modern Hexagons pattern -- check it out HERE.
And here was a story inspiration -- 41 grandmothers!
It just took a few minutes to "sketch" a hexagon motif in Electric Quilt that used 42 hexagons.
I used the template to roughly trim the squares down a bit and then made two heat-resistant plastic templates for prepping the patches.
I used spray starch to press under the seam allowances and find the quickest way is to spray a little puddle of it onto the template, then smear it out into the seam allowances. 
I've found it's easier to work using my small travel iron for this job.
It's always takes a few minutes to find my rhythm, but once I do, it's not a bad job -- a good book on tape helps alleviate the boredom, too! 
The cotton lawn was easier to set the seam allowances with the starch than standard quilt cottons -- the pack didn't have 42 florals so I had to do some scrap basket diving to round out the number.
I pulled potential backgrounds out of my stash and started tossing the prepared hexies onto them to get a feel for which would work best.
In the end, I chose two prints and made a large pieced hexagon background.  The center print is a dreary looking landscape print to represent the wilderness that the "filles courageuses" were entering in New France and the outer one is a lovely soft monochromatic floral representing the familiar landscape of France. 
I sorted the prepped hexies into three groups by value and color before beginning the layout process -- mostly pinks, mostly greens and mixed darks.
I laid out three rings to organize the spacing and then lifted off the center ring to use as the outer spokes.
Once the placement was organized, I glued each hexie in position.
My layout needed 42 hexagons, but I only used 41 to stay true to the story.
I layered the piece up, marked stitching lines and worked with my walking foot to attach the hexagons permanently and quilt the piece at the same time. 
Here's Paul, my birding friend, surrounded by his "filles courageuses" -- women who bravely left France to come alongside unknown men and give birth to children who would grow and prosper into the future. 
It measures 23" by 27" and will make a charming table centerpiece mat.
I've used that little charm pack!!
I used up some more stash!
I satisfied the itch to make "modern hexagons" and I didn't create a UFO!!

Linking up with the other Project Quilting 9.3 creators HERE!!
Thanks to Kim and Trish for another fun challenge I didn't think I could meet!!

I'll close with an interesting fact -- we all have 256 seventh great-grandmothers and 512 eighth great- grandmothers.  Isn't that comforting -- to have so many grandmothers!!
  How did their bravery give you a future?

Mary Huey


  1. Such a great story and an awesome project to commemorate it! Thinking of each hexie as a grandmother is almost mind-boggling! Those women certainly were among the bold and the brave. Fabulous work, Mary!

  2. Charming - a wonderful story behind it.

  3. Because I am currently heavily into genealogy, this post was especially interesting, having just received photos of my 3rd G Grandmother. What a lovely idea to make the table topper to commemorate those brave women. Perhaps my next hexagon quilt will be to commemorate my 512 8th G grandmothers. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. What an interesting story! And definitely brave for those women! Great way to interpret the theme. I love all your flower hexagons. Beautiful!

  5. What an interesting family story and great interpretation!! Pretty spectacular!!

  6. such a lovely and meaningful piece. Fabulous!

  7. I feel inspired to check to see if any of my family tree goes back as far as a 7th great-grandmother. Oh, one side of the family does! That is the branch that owned a distillery in Ireland and were diplomats. :)