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Friday, March 31, 2017

Lynette's DOD Americana All Finished! :D

**I'm copy/pasting the post I made for this from my personal blog.**  

This is a huge finish for us, so advance warning for lots of pics and discussion!


My husband, Scott, was an active duty Air Force physician for 26 years. He was in ROTC for college until being commissioned an officer in May of 1990, and retired from that status on July 1, 2016. (So actually, he's been in the Air Force for 29 years.) He finished at the rank of Lt. Colonel after studiously avoiding being designated full-bird colonel for several years (as a doctor, that shunts you into a primarily administrative role and detrimentally impacts your skill set and eligibility for the kind of work he wanted to be able to do when he eventually entered the civilian work force). 



We've been married for one year more than that on each side of the time, so we've been through the whole Air Force journey together. Being in the Air Force completely defined our lives as individuals and a family, and profoundly affected each one of our personalities (we have three daughters). You can't deal with multiple separations, some quite lengthy and in highly dangerous situations, family moves, shifting pools of friends, and an inability to rely on stable future dates for planning vacations, reunions, large financial decisions, etc., without it shaping the person you are and your basic response mechanisms and coping strategies. I mean, you can't even go out of town for a normal weekend when you're not scheduled to work without getting leave approved and charging it from your vacation time. Being in the military is hard on your kids, who grow up learning to adapt, but also dealing with more anxiety issues than civilian kids, as they frequently deal with a missing parent that they worry about and a stressed single-parent at home for periods ranging from two weeks to over a year at a time. It also affects everyone's ability to relate to other people, and them to you. I actually had a person say to me across the conference table in a meeting of about 15 people, "Oh, you're military. I don't want to be friends with you, because you're just going to move." Mine wasn't the only jaw that dropped, but that is not the only time I've experienced such idiocy. The ironic thing is that we lived in that house, around the corner from that person, for an unusually long period of time - 14 years. On the other hand, we've had complete opposite reactions from people, such as the young-20s professional (surely struggling financially), who surprise-paid our very large sushi bill when we went out one day as a family with our German foreign-exchange student while Scott was in uniform.

1990, a new Lieutenant and his wife living in the D.C. area.


2015, a Lieutenant Colonel and his wife
facing the final months of his active duty career.

All that to say: Being in the military is HARD, so this quilt is a big deal to all of us.



As Scott's retirement approached, I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do for a quilt to celebrate that. Then, Deana posted her DOD Americana Block of the Month for the second half of 2015. 


Deana's DOD Americana
I loved the way she made the center panels connote the flag, and how the star panel felt rather Air-Forcy, like the Thunderbirds shooting off into one of their spectacular formations.

My star field on Scott's quilt

I also saw that I could personalize some of the panels to fit the occasion.


The design changes I made include a complete surround of the spinner stars for the outer borders, our own pictorial panel instead of the cute Betsy Ross flag stitchers row, dropping off the last row, and using the more acute star panel that was on Deana's original quilt instead of the more user-friendly version she made for the BOM group (the old, harder, one looked more jettish to me). 




I wanted to use fabrics from Scott's old uniforms in some places. Starting at the top, the background for the hearts and flags came from the woodland BDUs (Battle Dress Uniforms) that were used in his earlier days. 




The thickness of the material drove me to rework the construction of the hearts into a piecing/applique approach with an added heart border, as the BDU layers were unmanageable for Deana's easier way.



The first flag stripe panel is just as Deana designed.




I did personalize the embroidered lyrics, changing out "America the Beautiful" for Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA."  In 2001, we lived near Eglin Air Force Base, and that year the USO planned a really neat Veteran's Day Carnival for the area military folks (drawing from 3 different regional bases and all the retirees in the area). 




They had contracted with Lee Greenwood to perform as the star months ahead of time, and then disaster hit our country on 9-11. You can imagine how emotional this song was for such an audience in those early weeks after that attack on the U.S. Scott was away on a deployment at the time, so he didn't get to experience that amazing performance. But this song is special even without that experience, as it assures active duty people they are not fighting alone - people they will never meet support them emotionally, and it's as powerful to hear it as the random "Thank you for your service" that you get from strangers every once in a while. I still can't hear this song without bawling like a baby.



The Betsy Ross row became a row of pictures that I worked up to represent Scott's longest major deployments.




There were many, many shorter deployments and TDYs that are not represented here. His avatar in each area is wearing fabric from the uniform of that particular time. It's fun to see the changes in fabrics and boot colors across the decades (although there was a very short period of time when they wore bluish digitized ABU-type uniforms that isn't represented on this quilt.)



Croatia was Scott's first major deployment, in 1998, and it 
was a UN assignment. He enjoyed the times he got to train with other nationalities, such as the Germans who had fun exchanging weapons with each other to try out the different feel, and the rappelling they did there. Woodland BDUs for this one.




The next one on this panel is for a year long unaccompanied tour in South Korea, 2001. He did not like that one. No offense is meant to South Korea, which he never got to enjoy. They couldn't leave base hardly ever at all, and had to work in full chemical protective gear almost as often as in normal uniforms because of continuous threats of attack from North Korea (the chem gear is awful, awful, AWFUL to endure). Again, woodland BDUs.




The uniforms changed between those deployments and his first major Afghanistan arena deployment was in Oman, 2003, so he wore the DCUs for that one (Desert Camoflage Uniforms). Chem gear came into play again, but not as often as in Korea.They lived and worked in sand-colored air-conditioned modular tents, and the M.A.S.H.-looking medical tents were set up inside a gigantic warehouse. They did regular humanitarian work trips and allowed civilians to be treated in their facilities at times, like when they helped a local woman delivery her baby in a tricky situation.



Uniforms had changed again for his second major deployment in that arena in 2009, to an Army base somewhat near Kabul in Afghanistan. (It was named Camp Alamo - now tell me who thought THAT was a good, comforting, name to give to a base in a conflict area??) At this point in time, they wore the digitized ABUs (Airman Battle Uniforms) with tan boots. My favorite picture of all his deployments comes from this time frame, and I tried to represent the rock formation he was climbing. 


I also put in an AMRAM for him to remember, as he was tickled that his design was approved and he got to paint it on the ambulance. He was more tickled when he got to drive it, and gets all excited when he talks about the weapons they fired there. They didn't get to go off base much, as any excursion - be it a humanitarian mission, a recreational outing, or an administrative issue in Kabul like getting your license renewed - required advanced planning by Intel and an escort by a sniper/special ops unit. I'm sure I'm a much happier person not knowing the majority of what they experienced there. 



The center image with the larger avatar represents Scott's normal state of work at his home base offices. That Scott is dressed in the ABUs (Airman Battle Uniforms) with green boots that were in use at the time of his retirement, except that the doctor coat wasn't usually worn. In Scott's field, it was extremely rare for him to work in the Air Force blues (you know, the dark blue polyester pants and light blue shirts), and he probably wore them no more than two hundred times over the 26 years. He didn't like them. We didn't save any of them, and they're not on the quilt. :)  The flight uniform he wore during his time with the special ops unit is not represented on the quilt, either, but I have a patch that I may put on the back when I give this a label, or if we can find all the other patches, we might make another quilt for those in the future. (I printed tiny-size copies of typical medical posters onto quilting fabric sheets for this area.)




Letting our German exchange student see what an Air Force hospital
is like. Can't be too serious all the time!  :)

The pastoral panel below the deployments panel is largely just like Deana's design. I did trade out a cemetery at the church for a hillside with horses, since one of the highlights of our time near Eglin was having some horses for a few years on someone's property that we managed in exchange for reduced fees. 




The bottom panel is just as Deana designed, with fussy-cut pieces from the Air Force fabric that I used as the backing. Each star focuses on a different Air Force plane. Scott loves the different aircraft that have been used, and has all kinds of information about them tucked in his head. He once tongue-in-cheek nominated the "Peashooter" as the mascot for his team at one clinic. Your imagination can fill in the connection, I'm sure. ;D


Image result for air force peashooter


For the quilting, I treated the whole central flag portion as one unit.




All the fused applique images got outline quilting, and pieced images got stitch-in-ditch work with attention to details like windows, etc. For fill work, though, I made wavy lines that traversed all the rows and panels as if it were a flag on a pole in a breeze, breaking and starting again at every point where the line encountered an image or color change at row edges. I used light-weight cotton threads everywhere for both of these stages, so there was a LOT of color change involved that took several days of tail tying and tucking. Many movies got me through that task!


I'm at a loss as to why these pictures are blurry and have poor contrast -
on the phone screen and on this screen in Lightroom, they are marvelous.
I can only assume it's a compressing effect from the blog upload platform.
The hearts and flags were easy to quilt, with meandering on the BDU background, and the starbursts in the fireworks row got fun metallic silver thread - just a simple SID treatment with rays reaching out between the points to tame the background.



I made stencils for stars and feather units to use on the red and blue outer borders. I had a hard time deciding whether to use contrasting thread to let those pop, or matching thread for them since there's so much going on in this quilt. I still flip-flop between being glad I chose matching thread and wishing I'd used something that shows more obviously. 1/4" parallel lines in the spinning star backgrounds.




I was at a loss for what to use to fill in the last bit of gap between the stencils and the central area, and the background between the hearts and the flag area. I didn't want more meandering or feathers, or McTavishing. I ending up picking rope work, which is far more Navy and Marines than Air Force, but, well, there you have it. It looks good, anyway, and let me resolve the different widths of those areas.



Last of all, the binding was done with the faux-piped approach, using more of the fabric harvested from his woodland BDUs as the flange portion. LOVE how that turned out!



This is a lot of journaling for a finish, but as you can see it's not a normal quilt. We had a nice time taking it for a photo op at the Air Force Academy (his last duty station, and the area we've settled in). 




You can't beat the distinctive architecture of the Cadet Chapel for a backdrop, and the nearby plaza full of aircraft sculptures is ideal. After several stand-up shots, I asked if we'd get in trouble if we draped the quilt on one of them, and now that he's full-on retired instead of active duty, Scott impishly retorted, "What are they going to do if we're not?" and immediately took it to the P-38 sculpture. 



Looks good there, doesn't it?  Nobody complained.  :)  



Shows off the back equally well:



This is a big quilt, something like 90 x 97 after quilting and washing.


The wind and sun were a bit difficult to work with that day,


but it made the stained glass inserts look amazing on the Cadet Chapel,

 

and the shadow play of the new Polaris building was spectacular in its watery quality:


I think that's all my pictures for now. I'll add one of the label when I finish it. (Waiting for a second label need to print before using an expensive fabric printing sheet.) Incidentally, this is my 3rd accomplishment for the 17 in 2017 goal list.

Thank you to all the people who have stood by us through the years as friends, who have extended thanks and random acts of kindness such as buying Scott's meals at airport while en route for TDYs and deployments, who have understood when it was impossible for us to facilitate plan-making for desired events and vacations. I'm grateful for the blessings that our time as an active duty family brought us, but also breathing a lot easier now that our service is over and we can learn to be able to live a little differently. Scott sure enjoys wearing civilian clothes to work for the first time in his life, and was happy I didn't want him to get into uniform for his quilt's photo op. heh!

Enjoy your security and think about the tremendous impact on their lives and personal development that military families deal with in order for most families to live peacefully the way they want to. They have to cope with situations and feelings and child difficulties that civilians cannot begin to imagine, let alone understand. They have fears that only law enforcement and firefighter families comprehend. And for heaven's sake, if you get a military family member in a group you're a part of - be friends with her or him, even though they'll likely move soonish! Military folks are great sources of support and ideas for adapting to challenges, and especially with modern technology, friendship doesn't painfully end when they have to move. You won't regret your investment in that relationship.

Love you all!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Quilter's Garden Top finally finished

I've finally finished my Quilter's Garden wallhanging.   Several yrs between making the blocks and getting them together in a top.  Still like them tho.   Thanks Deanna for the great patterns!  My top finished up at 44" long and 40" wide.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Americana Complete:)

Yes! It's all done. It's my first row by row quilt and I love it. Lots of detail took lots of time, but so worth it. I had to change some of it up. I'm donating it to an organization that gives quilts to families of the fallen. So I had to revise the church and cemetery and I made a farm and fields instead.
83x100
Now onto the Spring row by row:)



Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lynette's Americana Quilt Top

Hi, everyone!

I finally finished my Americana top last week!!  It's 90 x 100 inches. 


Scott is really tickled at how this turned out. Thank you so much, Deana, for this fun mystery that was perfect to adapt for his Air Force Retirement quilt. I embroidered some of the lyrics from the Lee Greenwood song, "God Bless the U.S.A." on the bird panel, and the places/units/dates on the major deployments panel, and then I embroidered the bases/cities of our permanent duty stations on the stars panel. I didn't do the mountain panel so I could keep the length where I wanted it, but I'd considered making a multi-scenario panel for Washington, D.C., the Florida panhandle coastline, and the Air Force Academy mountains to represent our major living areas. In the end, the deciding factor was running out of time. I'll have to work that panel up as a mini quilt for his new civilian office!


I'm almost finished with the pin-basting and can start the quilting work today. I don't know if I can finish it all by month's end since I only work on a domestic machine - but that sure would be nice!

Here's the back I put together for it - some fun Air Force fabric with different jets on it. Scott's in the medical field, but he still has that boyish love of military jet knowledge, so he thinks this is awesome sauce on his quilt!  An Air Force seal panel and some leftover border fabrics made a perfect supplement that eliminated the need to match the print on the main fabric panels.  woowoo!!  :D


Thursday, May 26, 2016

2 flimsies are done

I was lucky enough to go on a 4 day retreat with 32 ladies...
I worked on these 2 row SALs.....
I have changed the sizes of the quilts to suit me sending them off to our own AUSSIE HEROES who are currently on deployment......
They are only to measure 42" x 72".   So I didn't add the borders even though I love the Americana one the best. Maybe next quilt I can make it fit....
I changed the Americana to an Australiana quilt. The Spring quilt is similar.....
Anyway here they are now waiting to be quilted..



Thanks Deana for the patterns...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My Americana Quilt top done!!

I finally managed to finish my version of the Americana Quilt!

Size: 72'' x 56''

The center is made of single blocks from the QAL.
The Snail Trail border is made of blocks I received in a Block Swap.
I really like how it turned out, thanks for the fun QAL!!!

Alida

Monday, February 29, 2016

Two DOD tops finished





I was fortunate enough to finish two quilt tops in the last week that were designed by Deana.

The first is Americana and the second one is Quilter's Garden.

Thank you Deana. I have loved working on both of these.

Now on to finish Spring :)
 

Dorine's Spring Row Quilt Assembled

Okay, here it is!
It's really busy, but I  like it!  I had so much fun putting this together.  Thanks Deana for the darling pattern!!  Just have to quilt it now.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Susan: Americana Ready for Borders

Sorry the left edge is slightly snipped off. This was the best picture I could take without a ladder. LOL
 

  I'm thinking about adding a blue border at the top, too, before I add the last borders.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Finished!

I am finally finished with my borders. I had a few days off to complete my last rows and I really like the finished product.  It was quite a bit bigger than I thought it would be.  I made the pinwheel's and decided it was too busy so I switched to flying geese.  Thanks for a great design!! Vivian






Americana QAL Complete

This morning I got the final borders on and all seams pressed. I really like how it turned out. It is larger than I had planned, It will fit a double bed instead of being a throw, but it will still work as a throw, and cover well.

The colors aren't very good, as my i-pad and camera both have dead batteries and I used my phone camera. The other side is red and white strips the full length, as shown on the pattern.
I will be using the left over fabric from the blue and the white stars, as well as the same pattern in red. I also have some of the border stars that I will add somewhere too, with the "celebrate" fabric to tie it in.
This has been a very fun project and am glad I joined in. My stash of fat quarters for the project is partially used up, and I probably could do a small wall hanging or something with what I have left over. I will have to think about that one for the future.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I love it!

Americana Quilt sewn together.  I do not have room to add the mountains.   
All it needs is a border.