Saturday, July 9, 2022

Accuquilt Christmas in July - A Pillow for Kip

The Island Batik July challenge is sponsored by Accuquilt who have recently launched the GO! Tree of Life Block on Board Die! Our challenge was to make an inspiring piece where the GO! Tree of Life pieces are the focus

Further, "AccuQuilt’s mission is to bring joy to everyone – especially when they need it. That is why, this month, we are encouraging you to make Christmas come early for someone who could use a little joy."

Also, "when you finish, AccuQuilt would like you to give the project you have made to someone you know who needs a little joy or donate it to a charity of your choosing." 

And remember, "when gifting the completed project, be sure to take photos, so this moment of kindness and love can be shared on social media!"

Block on Board

Paul: What's the matter babe?
Me: Not only I have to come up with an idea using the Tree of Life block, I also must donate it to a worthy cause AND take pictures. Oh and it should be Christmassy!!!
Paul: You could give it to Nikhil and Urjita, since they will be moving into a new home. 
Me: It says Christmas, not Diwali. 

Mari suggested that I send it to "A Doll Like Me", a charity that we have both supported in the past. I could. But I could not insist that they send me pictures.

No matter how I approached the challenge, I felt I could meet no more than three out of four requirements. Feeling frustrated by too many constraints, I set the thoughts aside.

Few days later, I received a text message from Mary Helen. (I had first met Mary Helen in 2006 at a Toastmasters meeting in Fort Lauderdale.) Here is what it said - "Hi Preeti, Kip is dying of pancreatic cancer. We are having a special meeting on Thursday morning. Hope you can join via Zoom." 

In 2006, I found myself in a new place with a new job and not knowing a soul in town. When a co-worker invited me to a Toastmasters Club meeting, I happily agreed. I had so much fun that I returned the following week and the next. After three weeks, Kip walked up to me, smile on his face, and handed me an application form. "This is just a formality", he had laughed, "since you are attending like a regular member." I was indeed ready to join. For as long as I lived in Fort Lauderdale, I was a regular member of the Early Bird Toastmasters, meeting at 7:00AM every Thursday. Within the year, I completed my first two manuals to become a Competent Communicator and a Competent Leader. Kip was instrumental in my journey as a toastmaster. He was always there and I valued his support and feedback. When I signed up to attend the District Conference, Kip was supportive - "it will be a great experience for you." But just before the conference, I lost my job. Kip made sure that the Club paid my fees to attend the conference. My new job took me to Maryland (and Virginia) but we stayed in touch via social media. Since then, I have attended many toastmasters meetings in many places. But I never found a club like Early Bird Toastmasters or a mentor like Kip!

I attended the meeting on June 23, via Zoom. There were several speakers and they shared many pictures going back over 30 years. Kip was there too but was too worn out to stay through the end.

When it was my turn to speak, I narrated my story of meeting Kip, how he led by example and was always a source of inspiration. By the time my speech was done, my cheeks were wet. I turned off the video so that I could sob. As I wiped my tears, my thoughts firmly on Kip - so energetic, so passionate and so full of life. Life? Tree of Life!!!

I was ready to make the Tree of Life quilt block. Not only because I had to do something to process my feelings but also because Kip could use some joy. 

Scrappy Bits of Blue

Since Kip's favorite color is blue and the mission was to bring joy to the recipient, I chose blue fabrics. The original Tree of Life has a droopy look like the Weeping Willow and I wanted to stay away from all thoughts of sadness.  I modified the block to its more traditional solid form. 


I decided it would be best to send it to Mary Helen, who could deliver it to Kip in person. I don't think Kip would make it to Christmas. Maybe Christmas could come to him.   

Chain Piecing

Using the BOB die is really simple. All shapes cut at once. I chose a white background and a coffee colored (BE32-F3) batik from the Island Batik Foundations.

The flimsy was done and I really liked it. But it wasn't Christmassy. 

Tree of Life

It was a Tree but not a Christmas Tree. What makes a tree Christmassy, I wondered. 

Ornaments? Too tacky. 

Star on the top? Possibly. I could applique that. 

And then it came to me. I remembered that the Winter Sky collection had an angel print fabric. In Blue!!! Perfect!!! I rough cut the angel shape and ironed it to the sticky side of a stabilizer. Cut it carefully using a pair of sharp scissors, removed the paper, placed it on top of the tree and ironed it in place.  Stitched around the edges to secure it.

Added Angel = Christmas Tree

I used Aurifil thread for piecing (50 wt) and quilting (40 wt) and Schmetz Needles - Microtex 80/12 for piecing and 90/14 for quilting.  I used Hobbs 80/20 Cotton-Polyester batting to make this quilted pillow cover. I used an 18" square pillow form. Making a pillow cover was quick. I used Light Gray solid from Island Batik Foundations. I could have just turned it but a bright blue binding provides a perfect frame and also gives a fine finish. Finally, I was happy with it. But the most important part remained.

Completed Quilted Pillow

Angel on the tree

Quilting Detail

Trimmed to Fit the Pillow Form

I received the GO! Tree of Life Block on Board Die! (along with the Island Batik Box of fabrics, rulers, batting and other supplies) on June 29th. I completed the quilted pillow over the long weekend and on July 5th, sent it via priority mail. There was no time to waste. I called Mary-Helen to give her the heads-up.

Me: Mary-Helen, you should be getting the package before the end of the week.
Mary-Helen: He will love it.
Me: Thank you so much for doing this.
Mary-Helen: Thank you for making it.
Me: I have a selfish request.
Mary-Helen: What hon?
Me: Will you please take a picture of Kip with the pillow?
Mary-Helen: I am sure someone can take a picture.
Me: I'd so appreciate that.
Mary-Helen: What if we cannot get it to him on time?
Me: I understand. We cannot control that.

The package reached Mary-Helen on July 7th and she took it to Kip the same day.  Time is of the essence. We all know that. She was kind enough to send me a picture.

Smiling Kip = Mission Accomplished!

Looks like I managed to achieve all four requirements of the challenge. But seeing Kip smile is the best reward. I will be sharing with all my favorite linky parties. See full list on the sidebar. As always, I'd love to hear from you.

Disclosure: The Tree of Life Block on Board die was provided free of charge by Accuquilt. The fabrics, batting, thread and needles were generously supplied by the following companies: Island Batik, Aurifil Thread,  Hobbs Batting & Schmetz Needles.


  1. I'm so pleased to read that the gift arrived on time. beautiful; as always, Preeti, you have made something with a lot of thought and so much love.

  2. What a nice way to fulfill your goal with the block. So sorry your friend has this awful disease. You have brought a bit of joy to him.

  3. I am so sorry about your friend but so glad the pillow got there in time for him to see you are thinking of him and made him a pillow with love - his family will enjoy it too. I had not ordered that die - I think of it but have some I have not used yet so will wait a little bit before I do

  4. The pillow is a wonderful gift to show your love for this man. It's so difficult to lose a friend and mentor, but it was very special for you both to be able to give him the pillow and have a photo to remember the moment. We often get so hung up on the "red and green" for Christmas, so using the blue and adding that angel was brilliant.

  5. Hi Preeti! I was almost afraid to read to the end of your message. What a beautiful finish from a beautiful heart. The angel on the top is perfect, and she holds a big piece to you to comfort Kip. It's like Helen delivered a big 'ole hug directly from you. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. Perhaps you will be a wonderful mentor to someone just as Kip was for you. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne

  6. Oh Preeti, what a lovely cushion for your friend, and I'm so happy he did it on time. So sorry about his illness.
    I love the little angel too.
    Thank you so much for sharing this piece of joy.

  7. Your quilts and posts always come with the best stories, Preeti, and I love this one! The Tree of Life with an angel on top is beautiful, and so perfect for your friend, Kip, and meaningful, too. That was a wonderful way to meet the challenge for the month!

  8. You put so much thought and effort into these projects and you send so much compassion out into the world. Thank you for being you and for doing what you do.

  9. What a beautiful gift for your dear mentor and friend. Your changes made it as unique as your friendship.

  10. What a beautiful gift and a beautiful story! --TerryK

  11. What a beautiful project and gift, truly from your heart.

  12. Pretti, your tree of life gift pillow is the kind of project I love - one that starts with a pattern, but grows and adapts to your specific needs. The angel on top was my favorite part that made the gift from your heart to your friend's heart. Great job!

  13. Sigh. Sniff. Great job on your part. Lovely use of the die. Not so happy such a great man isn't going to be around very long. Double sigh.

  14. This is such a beautiful story and how wonderful that Kip was able to receive your beautiful gift.

  15. Hi Preeti, I was really nervous about delivering the pillow to Kip. He is so sick and his wife is very protective of his strength. The best part for me was not just helping you complete your project, but the opportunity to see my friend of so many years. So in a sense, we helped one another.

    1. Thank you so much, Mary Helen. You really did help me complete the project. Honestly, I wasn't sure if Kip would want his picture taken. I will take joy in the fact that you got to see him! Lots of Love & Hugs.

  16. The photo of your friend Kip with your lovely Tree of Life cushion is touching. You impart much joy and love to others' days, Pretti.

  17. The Tree of Life cushion you made for Kip is beautiful and meaningful. I’m sure he appreciates it and you very much, and that his wife will treasure it in the years to come. Your story is very touching, and I know from experience what a loving and giving soul you are!

  18. Your pillow is beautiful and I can see how pleased Kip is knowing you were thinking of him. It was very thoughtful of you and I'm sure he was honored to mentor you and proud of what you've achieved. Peace to Kip and peace to you, Preeti.

  19. Your angel pillow is awesome, Preeti!

  20. Beautiful gift! I'm sorry about your friend and mentor ...

  21. Lovely touch, adding the angel. So very sorry to hear about Kip, but take comfort in the joy you gave him. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

  22. If asked to name a thoughtful quilter, you would be right at the top. Your kindness and generosity through your quilts is heartwarming. I am so glad you were able to gift the pillow to Kip. My eyes were leaking a bit while reading your post.