Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fuck Cancer [Quilt]


I hope y'all aren't offended by the word fuck.  If you are, then I suggest you stop reading the text now and only skim the photos...or just go read someone else's blog today.  I'm not going to tiptoe around it or offer any apologies.

But I'm betting that nearly everyone has been affected by cancer in some way.  This is my F.C quilt that I've been designing for many, many months, and finally putting together over the last month.  It was my way of dealing with the pain I've gone through of losing a best friend to cancer in November of 2012.  And then my husband's uncle in July 2013.


You might be thinking, "Why would you put that much time and effort into something with such an ugly word?"  Because fuck cancer, that's why.  Same answer for any other questions you have.



My friend that died was named Jessica--we'd know each since we were kids, and had been pretty close friends since the age of 15.  Just before my husband and I got married she started dating my husband's good friend, so we often went on double dates.  We'd go months without seeing each other and then hang out and nothing had changed.  When I went through a very dark time after my son's birth (you can see the resulting quilt here), she was one of the very few people that genuinely listened, cared how I felt emotionally and validated my feelings and experience.  We didn't always agree on things, and we often did things completely differently--but there was never judgement.  She was one of those friends.   

As I was taking photos of the quilt, the wind suddenly died down and I watched a snowflake land on the quilt.

When I told my husband, he said maybe it was Jessica telling me she liked the quilt.

She was diagnosed with stage IV Ewing's sarcoma (a pediatric bone cancer--at age 26) in December, and died in November.  The last several months were incredibly painful for her, and extremely difficult to observe.   I'm still sad and angry about it.  Fuck cancer.

These threads are glorious.  I figured if I was going to top stitch down the binding I might as well use the big thread.

I used entirely Aurifil thread--the lighter color is  Light Jade (1148) in 28wt and the dark is Jade (4093) in 12wt.  I bought a large spool of each and did not hold back!  And wow do I have a lot left for another project (yay!).  I used a 50wt in light grey on the back, simply because I have a cone of it.  Also I love to see quilting on the back:

The fabric was given to me by my dad's then-girlfriend, who also died of cancer in 2012.

I chose the froggy fabric because a couple of the frogs from the fabric were in her Prayer Quilt that I made, and I consider frogs to be her totem animal--they always remind me of her.

The small tag is from TagsToGo on Etsy.

I used this pattern for to make the carpenter's star, changing the color blocking to get the effect I wanted.  The font is Freebooter from dafont.com.  I specifically chose a fancy font that might be hard to read for some people (especially my 4 year old son, haha...not ready to explain how the word fuck applies to something that I want to die).  I used water soluble stabilizer to transfer it to the quilt.

It measures 22" square.

I used two layers of batting--one of warm and natural and one of some high loft poly I'd found at a thrift store.  I spray basted the whole thing together and had a lot of issues (due to the double batting, spray basting and larger threads) with the threads breaking and skipping stitches.  Finally I switched needles--from a universal 80/12 to a topstitch 90/14--and things went significantly smoother!


I used Kona Ash and Kona Charcoal, and a bunch of my favorite fabric scraps.  

I didn't quilt on the scrappy pieces so they would really puff out.

I was really hoping to have this finished by her birthday on the 19th, but...well...here it is.  But this is how our gifts always went--days, weeks...months late.  It didn't matter though--it really was the thought that count.

Fuck cancer.

56 comments:

  1. Wow. This is incredible. Your quilting is gorgeous. I love the fabric colors you chose for the blocks. I just can't say enough about the quilt itself. And the story behind it is heartbreaking. My dad is a cancer survivor, but cancer has taken family members and some friends. Happy belated birthday to your dear friend. And I agree, Fuck Cancer. <3

    Thank you for commenting on my blog post - it brought me to yours!

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  2. I teared up a bit reading this. I love how you pour your feelings into your work. It sounds like Jessica and your husband's uncle were wonderful, wonderful people. Beautiful work (especially the quilting!).

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  3. Beautiful. In all ways.

    Praying for you and your friend. Totally agree with your sentiments.

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  4. Beautiful quilt and a very loving tribute to your friend. I've lost friends and family to cancer... So I agree... Fuck cancer.

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  5. Gorgeous quilt and my thoughts as well. I'm a cancer survivor, but it was nothing as devastating as your friend went through. I'm so sorry you lost your friend.

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  6. The quilting is beautiful, and I love the colors that you put together. And, capturing that snowflake. Wow!

    I had a friend who had been married for less than a year when she lost her husband to bone cancer that came back right before their wedding. Stupid, stupid cancer...

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  7. I couldn't even finish reading your post, as I had tears in my eyes! I am a cancer survivor and so appreciate your bravery in this post....it represents the spirit of every person coping with cancer. THANK YOU! I will return tomorrow to read the entire post...LOL!!! God Bless...thank you for being brave! Val:) myplvl.blogspot.com

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  8. This is absolutely gorgeous Renee. I know I say that about all your quilts, and it's always true, but this one really is something special. Your post made me cry, and not just crazy hormonal pregnant lady cry. Love the quilt, love all the thought and emotion behind it.

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  9. Cancer is a Bitch, so I agree with your sentiments totally. Beautiful work. crystalbluern at onlineok dot com

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  10. Fuck Cancer!! i hear ya, just lost my mom and father in law in Dec. to that stupid disease. i am in the process of designing a quilt to help me sort through the emotions, so therapeutic. you did a very good job of expressing your sentiment through fibers. i hope one day to be as good a quilter as you are, it really is beautiful.

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  11. Fuck cancer indeed.

    It's a lovely piece. Sometimes art and emotion needs strong words to be fully effective. Your message is clear and heartfelt. You're right, many of us have first hand experience with the cancer bitch and would like to see her die too.

    I'm so sorry for your losses. Thank you for your honesty and bravery.

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  12. I was crying while reading this. I love how beautiful your quilt is. The words aren't in-your-face and angry, and, therefore, hard to absorb, they are made deep and meaningful and shocking by their juxstapostion with the quilts beauty.

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  13. I hear you loud and clear and I hope cancer does too!

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  14. Art is a great way to help process feelings. I have a few pieces that I have made that helped me express my emotions.

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  15. I just clicked on the link to your birth quilt. I saw that quilt A year or so ago and was in awe at the emotion it expressed. It was raw and beautiful at the same time. Apparently I have been a fan of yours for a long time.
    I lost both parents and my brother to cancer. Fuck it indeed!

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  16. What a beautiful quilt, what stunning quilting,what a sad story. I think you should be very proud of what you have made, what it represents and of the friendship you had.

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  17. Very sorry for your losses. Your quilt is beautiful and capturing that snowflake is so awesome!

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  18. That's right,Girl, f cancer. I am do very sorry for your losses. Your friends live on in your thoughts and actions. You are doing them proud:)

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  19. I agree. Fuck Cancer. My brother has it and is undergoing his third round of chemo right now. He and his wife often post the same sentiment on FB. Your quilt is beautiful, a lovely tribute to your dear friend. The snowflake is awesome. I believe your husband was right.

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  20. I don't know what to say. You are so right. Few people would argue with the choice of words.

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  21. I'm not sure what i could possible add that hasn't already been said.
    Your quilting is astounding as always, and the colours are fabulous.
    But the message, wow, it doesn't get any more true than that!
    You've done a wonderful job Renee and i'm sure your friend would be very proud of you.

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  22. So beautiful and having lost my mom and many friends to cancer, I believe the F word is perfect!

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  23. Couldn't agree more. There isn't a family untouched by it. Beautiful quilt!

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  24. I've decidd not to follow your blog any more. Regardless of your feelings about cancer, I think it's vulgar for anyone, let alone a mother of 2 young boys, to use F*** on the internet.

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    1. Apparently you weren't following me very much anyway--I have a son and a daughter. Also, if you had been one of my followers you'd know I don't cuss much on my blog and this is probably a very important exception to that. I'm sorry you're so easily offended by a word! But I'm not sorry for saying it or using it in this way.

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    2. Hugs to you Renee! Apparently she lets her offenses over ride hercompassion..... To me there really is no other way to express the depth of our anger and pain towards such an evil disease..... So I stand with you, FUCK Cancer.......
      Tisha

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    3. Sherry, apparently you have not been tragically touched by this disease! I would suppose that to be good for you, and rather sad for those of us it has. Gorgeous quilt, and beautiful quilting! WTG, Renee. Your quilt speaks volumes. No worries on the language... Your passion and grief speaks loudly .... And eloquently. Keep creating and speaking in your own voice.

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  25. Exactly. When are they going to kick cancer already? Sorry for your loss. It's is a beautiful quilt and I appreciate the sentiment. *Hugs*

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  26. I am usually offended by bad language but in this case it is appropriate. Your quilt is stupendous and the sentiment is so wonderful. FUCK cancer! Lost my Dad to Lymphoma, my Mom to brain cancer, I have a brother who is dying from a combination of melanoma and cirrhosis. FUCK cancer and all the other nasties that take our loved ones!

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  27. The quilt is beautiful. It would be better if you did not have that reason to make it. The F word is really appropriate.

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  28. In our day and age the word is used so loosely that it means virtually NOTHING. But in the context of your quilt, as much as I am not a fan of the word, I don't believe there is another word...in any language...that can express the depth of your hatred, and the HATE many of us feel for the horrible disease that has taken so many, way too soon.

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  29. I lost my best friend to cancer as well. I agree Fuck cancer. Your quilt is beautiful.

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  30. So sorry about your friend, my heart goes out to you and her family. I agree with the sentiments exactly, but have never seen it quilted so elegantly!! Wonderful quilt, touches my heart.

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  31. I remember your quilt about your son's birth, I shared your post with some of my family. It was very powerful, just like this quilt. I could go on about the beautiful workmanship, but the message is just too powerful. Beautiful quilt!

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  32. Amen, and I'm not one to swear much. But if anything deserves this, it's cancer. Sorry you are getting some negativity. If you've lost a follower, you've also gained one. Because you are absolutely right. Fuck cancer.

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  33. So sad to read about the loss of your friend. Your quilting is amazingly beautiful and as for the use of fuck, you need a strong word to express strong emotions. To be honest I was more shocked by the blogger's negative comment above.

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  34. I have been waiting to see this! It is absolutely stunning and I love it.

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  35. Amazing quilting...and the snowflake! Wow! A work of art and healing I hope. Sorry for your loss.

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  36. Being a survivor, I remember times when I was wanting to say words. Your quilting is awesome. Be at peace - your friends is now looking after you.

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  37. This is gorgeous, both in thought and deed!

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  38. Yeah! Fuck Cancer and the horse it rode in on!!!!

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  39. I love everything about this project. Your work is spectacular. The sentiment behind it is beautiful as well. Thanks for sharing both your quilt and your story. Fuck cancer indeed! Hugs and best wishes. Peace!

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  40. A truly beautiful quilt, and made with so much love, thank you for sharing, and inspiring. Best wishes.

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  41. Love the quilt, share the message. Feel for you and your loss. Very inspiring, thanks for sharing.

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  42. Totally agree! F-cancer. My brother is battling testicular cancer right now so I feel where you are coming from. Now that his first surgery is over; he's going to start chemo and chemo sucks. Maybe I need to make him a F-cancer hat. I'm sure he would share the sentiment!

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  43. I LOVE the honesty here - fuck cancer - fuck YEAH!!! BEAUTIFUL work - great blog - count me as a new Follower. Happy Tuesday - keep up the wonderful work!

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  44. This is just beautifully quilted! And you commented on my photography musings... not sure what you need to improve - your pictures of the snowflakes on the quilt are amazing! Your details are just lovely. What a wonderful remembrance.

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  45. Love this quilt. Not the event that inspired it, but that you were able to create a piece of beauty from such a tragic event. And your quilting is truly inspiring

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  46. Fuck Cancer. I get that. I support that. So many people around me are or have suffered from this horrible disease. And you made something beautiful out of how we all feel. I am so sorry that you lost your friend. But I agree with your husband. She must have been expressing that she loved the quilt with the God made beauty around you. I can't believe you caught that snowflake on camera. Gorgeous! Your quilting is stunning. I kinda want to make this now.

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  47. I saw your post on BAQS's FB wall. Bravo! I have an F cancer quilt too, it was made for me by the gals in my bee when I was in chemo 2 years ago. http://quiltocalypse.blogspot.com/2012/09/a-controversial-quilt.html

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  48. Renee, I so wish I had made a quilt like this for my aunt, who died last week from lung cancer. She would have loved it.

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  49. You go, girl! My family has had more than our share of cancer: mother - leukemia, older sister - breast and colon, sister-in-law - breast, second sister - ovarian, brother - prostrate, son - testicular and thyroid. I've asked my doctor for a new gene pool....

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  50. I am so *with* you. I'm not a fan of the word, but in this case it's totally appropriate. Three grandparents, mother and aunt lost to it, father, one sister and myself survivors so far. Your beautiful quilt is both a moving tribute and a cry of rage...
    I was directed here by a link on Granny Maud's Girl's blog, by the way.

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