There is no way that I could have maintained the shred of sanity to which I have clung through graduate school if it wasn’t for my Girls. I’ve been meeting 5 female classmates for dinner, every other week, for the last 6 years. I cannot even begin to put words to how much support, and love, and advice, and compassion, and help, and advice, and friendship they have given me. Epic amounts. Incomprehensible amounts. As my Girls are graduating one by one, I wanted to give each of them a special thank-you for the role they have played in this phase of my life. So, I asked each to give me favorite data and I used that to design and make a quilt for each Girl.
My science inspired thank-you quilt series begins with Erica’s Ninja Cells. Erica took this image of two cells under a microscope years ago and saved it because it makes her think of two ninjas fighting. She could image the cells using a fluorescent microscope because they express GFP or Green Fluorescent Protein, a protein that shines green when exposed to the right range of fluorescent light and whose discovery earned its discoverers Nobel Prizes. The darker circle in the middle of each cell is where the nucleus is (the compartment in the cell where DNA is stored) and the GFP is excluded from the nucleus. For those of you that do speak science, Erica told me that the cells were primary human fibroblasts that had been immortalized by exogenous expression of telomerase and had the AAVS1 locus tagged with GFP by using a zinc finger nuclease.
I made this quilt 48″ x 48″, a lap quilt size, so that my Girl can snuggle up on the couch, enveloped by love and science. The individual blocks are 8″ x 8″ finished size and each square is individually pieced. I chose a range range of tone-on-tone blues for the cell bodies and off-whites for the background (major thanks to my mom for letting me raid her stash for this project!). The combination of colors and textures seemed perfect for Erica’s style and I love the almost shabby-chic aesthetic juxtaposed with giant ninja cells!
Of course the piecing of this quilt was a bit of a nightmare, especially for a not-advanced quilter like myself. But I eventually decided that I was okay with things not aligning perfectly and that it added to the shabby-chic charm. I did learn from the process so if I decide to tackle a project with so many curved pieces again someday, I have a few ideas about how to make my templates a little easier to use.
Since my mom is away from her longarm for several months, I got to quilt this on my own, on my home sewing machine. This obviously severely limited the type of quilting I could do, especially as I don’t have a set-up for freemotion quilting on my home machine. So, straight lines it was! I stitched echoes around the cell bodies, stitch-in-the-ditch between each quilt block in the background, and a cross through each background quilt block. I love the way it looks from the back since you can clearly see the cell shapes on the back of the quilt too!
I’m delighted to report that Erica adores her quilt (as does her husband who is also a scientist and a self-professed member of the “SeamstressErin fan club” :)!