Sewist’s Name: Patty Dunn
Type of Project: Memory Blanket
Pattern: Original Designs
Featured Date: 10-18-23
Hi, I’m Patty. Recently, I was asked to be part of a very interesting and heart-felt project. Many have heard of the tragedy at Wimberly, Texas in 2015, where eight people lost their lives in a flood that swept a house down the river with 9 people in it. One person, Jonathan McComb, survived along with his beautiful dog, Maggie. Jonathan lost his wife and 2 children in the tragedy. He happens to be a neighbor of mine, and his mother and I are good friends. His mother suggested he contact me about a project he wanted to have made. He came to me with his wife’s dress (which she is wearing in the above photo, taken earlier that year). A very good friend of theirs asked permission to name her baby girl after Laura (his wife). Jonathan wanted a blanket made from the dress. I was so happy to be part of this precious project which Jonathan had thoughtfully plan through. We visited several times to decide the right words, font and his desired plan. I was so touched by his loving heart to share his treasure.
With Jonathan’s blessing, I am passing this story and process including pictures on to you. I hope it will touch and inspire you to bless someone with your talents.
Starting with the dress, which had a A-line skirt, I knew I was going to have to be very careful about my plan. There was a seam and zipper in the back, so the only large piece to work with was the front skirt. Jonathan wanted the blanket to be the whole cloth and not pieced with other fabric. To start with, I carefully measured to find the widest part of the skirt which would be square or rectangle. Of course, that was the center front.
After taking the next widest and longest area from the back I realized how wide the blanket could be. I added 2 panels to extend the length knowing the grain direction would be different. Because of the skirt slant I needed to add 4 corners to make the top and bottom as wide as the center panels combined. I placed the corners so the grain-lines were going in the same direction as the bottom and top panels. Notice, the side panels are the same length as the center piece to build the sides out. Corners are same width as bottom and top to match the width. The finished rectangle without the border was 26” wide by 22” long.
After the font was determined, the name was centered and embroidered on the bottom panel between the seam and raw edge (considering the seam allowance at the bottom).
The backing fabric was very soft brushed satin and the dress fabric was soft, but thick. I interfaced the backing with a soft fusible interfacing to add body. No batting was added. The backing was cut 40” X 36” and was wrapped to the front to add a 3” boarder which made the finished blanket 26” X 32”.
Before the backing was attached I embroidered a message from Jonathan.
Stay Strong and Dream On”
With a yellow heart on the side of the lettering.
Now, I needed to decide how to hold the 2 fabrics together. I cut out 3 different size butterflies from freezer paper and randomly ironed them onto the fabric (the slick side of freezer paper will stick against fabric when ironed). I hooped the fabrics to stabilize it and keep the fabrics from shifting (for machine embroidery, you hoop the fabric opposite of hand embroidery). I set up my machine for free motion and followed the edge of the paper butterflies, outlining them with a straight stitch. I made 3 hearts doing the same procedure as the butterflies. Freezer paper peels away easily when finished.
The blanket was received with smiles and tears.
His wife’s name sake, baby Laura, was born May 1, 2018.
I kept thinking: “what about Jonathan.” I felt he was giving up something that was very dear to him — a connection that he had kept for 3 years as he grieved the loss of his family. The whole bodice was still unused; so I made a bear from a Carol’s Zoo pattern which has only 2 pieces for front and back. The smallest bear fit perfectly on the bodice front and back.
I thought I was finished but there staring at me was the inside bodice lining — the outline of her shoulders and neck. I couldn’t let it go. I used a piece left from the backing fabric of the blanket to make it a square then placed batting below and stippled the lining. With the few scraps I had left, I cut out 3 butterflies in different sizes and appliquéd them to the bodice lining.
With no more of the backing fabric left, I added black satin for the pillow back, cut and appliquéd the last bit of the dress fabric into the shape of a dress.
My carefully thought out efforts were well—received. While I was the one who stitch these loving gifts, I must say it was all God—led from the minute I walked into the store looking for a backing fabric to the last stitch of the pillow. I wish Jonathan peace and comfort. He is a very special person and I was honored to be included in this special project!
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