Quilt ADD in therapy

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Colorado, United States
Other than my family, the passion of my life is quilting. An eclectic, I love a wide variety of styles and techniques encompassing both machine and hand work. I am a longarm quilter who can work for you. I enjoy any style, from pantographs to all-over to full custom, ranging from traditional to modern. I love bringing vintage tops to life and am willing to work with a challenging quilt top. Instagram: lyncc_quilts

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival: "Semper Fi - Combass"

My favorite quilt finish this year is the one I designed and made for my son-in-law to celebrate his U.S. Marine Corps boot camp graduation:

"Semper Fi - Combass" 
designed and made by Lynette Caulkins
70 x 70 inches
cotton fabrics, black Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 cotton/poly batting
free-motion quilted on a domestic Husqvarna Sapphire 875Q

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Fall 2015

That up there is my favorite photo of this quilt, even though I still had approximately 6 feet of the binding to stitch down at the time. It was taken outside the hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska, when we were visiting my mother-in-law. The sculpture is slightly larger than life: "Second Thoughts" by Vergyl Goodnight.

I designed this quilt myself on my EQ6. It needed to fit what I could find in my stash that worked around a Marine Corps yardage and panel that I bought on ebay when he reported to Basic Training in March. (He lived with us as a de-facto foster son for six months before that, and I needed a project to occupy my Mama Bear heart during the three months he was there." I also wanted great quilting, but needed it to stay somewhat pliant for personal use and fit in a masculine military scheme.

Basic Training for the Corps is the single hardest and longest of such training in the world. It is physically and mentally grueling beyond what most people (and their bodies) can endure. And during that time, there is extremely limited communication with your loved one by snail mail. Which is usually greatly delayed. It is not fun on either end. I often pinned the growing top up during construction on the quilt-of-the-month in our family room as a comfort factor for me and my daughter, engaged to him at the time.

Now he's a full-grown U.S. Marine, finishing his specialty training.

And don't Marines make the most handsome grooms??

I had fun with this quilt's design. You definitely have to have RED for a Marine Corps quilt. Black is another good color, as is gold. It's all very distinctive from the colors of the other U.S. military forces. But the Marines do work a lot with the classic camouflage in both forest and desert colorways. I had a few greens in my stash to work with that could pull that idea into the scheme as well. 

The central focal point is a fabric printing of the Marine Corps Seal. I gave this medallion some trapunto work before I layered everything for quilting work. The dimension turned out so terrific! I used a layer of quality poly batt for the trapunto. The black ring has the least quilting, so it puffs the most. The rope ring and the eagle-anchor-globe have much denser quilting than that, so they lie a little lower, but still raised from the main level. I did need something dense in the closest background area, so I filled that yellow with a small meander. The denseness counteracted the immediate-surrounding rippling from the trapunto center so that the rest of the quilt lies flat, even before washing and blocking.

I was super happy with the detail quilting here on the central picture, following those very thin lines with black thread that would have jumped out terribly if I'd wobbled off-line. A year ago I would not have had such great success! On the thin gold circle just inside the rope, I used a metallic gold thread to flank it on either side that makes a really fantastic accent, though you can't really see it much here. I did decide NOT to detail quilt the words in the black ring, because that would have broken its dimensionality. Much better this way.

I used the gold thread to quilt our Marine's name in the red band above the seal, and "Semper Fi" below it. It glistens beautifully in this field! I needed a quilting filler between those words, so I put in a chevron for him since he graduated with an early promotion to Private First Class.

The star band features two kinds of stars in two different forest-family greens with fussy cuts from the Marines yardage for the centers. 

I needed cool but not-super-dense quilting on those. The side stars (above) were stitched in the ditch, and then the background just got straight lines that vaguely connote all the barbed wire he had to crawl through and drag dead weight under during training. The corner stars (below) got a little tighter quilting. They have SID, curved echos inside the arms, and medium meandering in the background to add a little more nuance of camouflage fabric to the dark leafy print.

Further out, there's the gold bar band with a woven camouflage element. I had two cool fat quarters for the greens here, and piecing it template-style with a gazillion Y-seams let that be just barely enough. It took forever! But I sure am happy with the result. It's nice that the design pieces aren't broken up into 2 or 3 pieces each for faster construction. This band's joining to the quilt-in-progress ended up providing a serendipitous change to my initial design work. I cut the red band between it and the stars the tiniest bit too narrow. I didn't have enough fabric to recut that, so the problem-solve was to add a black 1/4 inch strip on either side of the band work. You can see in the photo below that this is perfect! The points undoubtedly look much nicer framed completely in black rather than kissing the red like they would have done. Sometimes mistakes are actually blessings in disguise, so I've learned to take them in stride and embrace the problem-solve necessity as an opportunity for improvement or artistic expression.

Oh! Here's a detail shot of the gold bar that shows almost completely how nicely that gold thread glistens. 

I'd wanted to use a particular decorative stitch on my machine to do the edge work on the bar's quilting. It would have helped create an effect of roundness for it. But the stitch was too complicated for a metallic thread, no matter how carefully and slowly I worked it. So I resorted to the blanket stitch. Still not thrilled with how that looks like it was appliqued on, but. . . oh, well for that. Doesn't take away from the quilt's overall awesomeness!

I had a really difficult time deciding what to do for the quilting in the red bands. I found the perfect free stars and feathers motif, but I had to resize it twice for the bands, and then make templates that I could center and trace. I can't do a motif like this on my domestic machine without marking and keep it evenly spaced/sized with the tiny visual field you have to work in. 

I was amazed at how nicely the corners worked on these bands. I really only needed to draw in a couple extra feathers as the stars took care of themselves, laying down in perfect spacing all on their own. However, it took me a couple painstaking drawing hours to work out nice upper and lower curls for the central band, where the name and motto break the border design apart. Some things definitely do NOT come easily for me!

The backing was made with the Marine Corps yardage. I didn't have enough to match the pictures down the center seam, so I just inserted some of the green from the front. 

This is the label I made for it:

I fount it highly appropriate that the only place to lay it out to block it after washing was in the exercise corner! I'm telling you, those Marines have the best hard bodies from all their PT!! 

Thanks for letting me share this special quilt with you. It's one of my top-three favorites of all time, and I really wish it lived out my house!


  1. It's an amazing quilt! Congratulations to the new hubby and marine (and your daughter too). I love the green/yellow inner border - very interesting and unique.

  2. Super impact, but all the details make this truly extraordinary!

  3. I loved reading your story about this quilt. The level of thoughtful detail that went into this quilt is amazing. Gorgeous!

  4. What a wonderful post. Thanks so much for sharing. The quilt is incredible and deserves a big win!

  5. This is one fantastic quilt! Congratulations to your young Marine and his beautiful bride.

  6. What a wonderful quilt. Gorgeous isn't a good word for it, it's majestic.

  7. What a wonderful way to honor and celebrate. The details and setting are great. He is sure to treasure the quilt for forever.


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