Welcome to Fuller by Design, where we explore what it means to lead a creative life. Because the truth is this - life is what you make of it. So let's make, every day. For life.

What Do Chilly Pool Water and Quilt Design Have to Do With Each Other? I'll Tell You.

Morning really isn’t my favorite time of day. Though to clarify, I don’t mind mornings when I get to wake up on my own schedule, those mornings are great. Terrific even, who doesn’t like that slow slide into consciousness and opening your eyes only once you’re ready? It’s the mornings I have to get up and out of the house early that I’m not so fond of.

I’ve been teaching water fitness classes for a loooong time and for the last 4+ years my classes have been at 8:30am. On most days, that 8:30am thing feels too early to me as I’m sliding into the chilly pool water and truthfully, it’s full-out distraction that keeps me from snapping (I’m so not a morning person on those days).

I study the bathing suits of the ladies around me. And if I’m really lucky, a quilt will pop into my head as I’m pondering those bathing suits.

It’s happened several times before, the first time was when a friend was diagnosed with cancer. She was on my mind and I was wondering how I might support her (she lives across the country from me) as I started teaching my class that morning. One of the ladies who was positioned near me was wearing a rosy-pinky-peachy colored bathing suit and it hit me – I could make my friend a quilt in tones of pink to take with her to chemotherapy.

Jennifer's Quilt

Another woman in my class wore a bathing suit I’d always admired and one day out of the blue, it hit me.  I had a piece of fabric in my stash that I’d always liked but never quite knew what to do with and it totally echoed the colors in her suit.  One of my favorite quilts was borne of that moment, the quilt still on the foot of my bed years later.  In my head the quilt is named “Christina’s Quilt” after the lovely lady who wore the inspirational bathing suit.

Purple Posies

Other bathing suit quilt inspirations have popped up and come into fruition since then, and they’re always a special kind of accomplishment, since in my mind the quilt is always tied to the person who wore the bathing suit.  The most recent one popped into my head but took me a couple of months to get around to making but I was fortunate to finish it just days before its inspiration, Debbie, moved away to New York City. I was able to show her the quilt just they day before she left. Phew, close call!

Guitars Quilt

Claire, a lovely lady in my class with such a warm and positive spirit and a love of Labradors (so she’s already high on my list right there) showed up in this really cute bathing suit and I knew at once there was a quilt to me made.


I loved the fading ombre effect and the white flowers scattered on top. For at least a year I’d look at her bathing suit in class and smile inside and it would get the creative juices flowing, but I had no actual plan to turn it into a quilt.

And finally last week the vision came to me.  The quilt literally appeared in my mind’s eye and I knew exactly how this one would come to life (I might have squealed in the water when it happened, oh who am I kidding, of course I squealed). I told Claire that day and the project was in motion.

Flower Quilt

It’s coming along!  The construction came along fairly quickly, though it took a lot of finicky tracing and cutting.

Cut Flowers

Now I’m ready to add the quilting, which will be time consuming given all those little flowers to sew down and all the background stitching while dodging the flowers. But it will be worth it.  It reminds me of dogwood flowers drifting to the ground in the spring.

And better yet, it’s inspired a second quilt, the same design but in reverse (light background with pink to purple flowers coming down), evoking falling cherry blossoms.  I’m so excited to make that companion quilt.  Such great inspiration!

Maybe those chilly early mornings in the pool aren’t so bad after all.

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