I wrote this post as the opening for this blog last year, in May, so it’s a bit of a time-travel piece. Why I never published it, I’m no longer sure. All my time referents should be understood as dating from that time.
I’ve just finished a project and am about to embark on some new ones, so it’s a perfect time to start a blog. Hello! My name is Nicole, and I am a fabric addict.
Fortunately I am also a quilter, so some of the fabric gets put to good use. Of course, I’m always undertaking more projects than I could possibly finish. A couple years ago I decided to make a list so I could keep track of them, and was flabbergasted to discover that I had no less than eighteen things going at that particular time. Last week I started talking about designing a new quilt for one of our nephews, with the very modest aim of giving it to him for Christmas (seven months from now), and my husband asked me, “How many quilts are you in debt right now?” (In other words, how many quilts am I definitely planning to do and have bought stuff for, that are unfinished or not started?) I counted them up in my head, and replied, “Nine.”
So you can understand how excited I am to have actually finished something.
This particular quilt, as you might have gathered, is entitled “The Garden of Light Green Meditations,” which is in honor of two things: the sashing (which was only selected as the perfect fabric after much anxiety and suffering and several phone calls); and its predecessor and progenitor quilt, “The Garden of Orderly Pathways.”
You can get a better idea of the colors from this picture:
I designed and made “The Garden of Orderly Pathways” for my brother-in-law (intending to give it to him for Christmas 2014 and actually giving it to him for Christmas 2015, by which time he had forgotten about it and was very surprised to finally receive it). The motifs are batiked, rather than appliquéd; I free-motion quilted around all the squiggles in complementary colors (mostly variegated) so that the motifs would show through on the backing, which is black. It came out really well and my brother-in-law absolutely loved it.
When we showed “Orderly Pathways” to one of my husband’s aunts, she liked it so much that she offered me money to make one for her too.
Which makes this the first quilt that I have ever made for sale! At that time (December 2015) I hadn’t yet decided to start my Etsy store (The Velvet Pincushion), so this was a brave new world for me.
I’m also excited to have it finished because this has been the project that wouldn’t end. I started it in February. I knew I would be free-motion quilting each motif (as I did with the first quilt), and it had been so hard wrestling the first quilt through my domestic machine to quilt around all the tiny squiggles, that I decided to do this one quilt-as-you-go: quilt each square first and THEN sew them all together.
I read tutorials, I watched videos, I was confident I understood the method. I finished the quilting in pretty good time (considering all the tiny squiggles), and thought I was practically done.
Attaching all the blocks to each other couldn’t take as much time as the quilting had, could it?
Sure it could.
The thing about quilt-as-you-go is, that when you assemble pre-quilted blocks together, you have to cover the join both on the front and on the back. This means each joining has to be sewn three times: once to attach the front and back sashing to the edge of the first block; once to attach the other edge of the front sashing to the second block; and once to attach the other side of the back sashing to the second block. Multiplied by forty-one blocks and twenty setting triangles.
First you arrange the blocks into rows. Then you join the blocks together to make the rows, and since everything is on the diagonal, there are two rows that have only one block, two that have three, two that have five, two that have seven, and one that has nine. That one almost seemed to stretch across the room. (Did I mention that this quilt is made with wool batting, so the long rows also got really bulky and heavy?)
Then you sew the rows together.
And the quilt GROWS…
I’m sure you will understand that there were times when I carefully avoided wrestling long heavy strips of quilt through the sewing machine, with the result that a week or two went by when I got nothing done on it.
But the other thing that happened, was that the more the quilt grew, the more beautiful it became.
I finally put the binding on last Saturday, and sewed the label on on Sunday.
Yesterday I took it to my local English Conversation group (more about that another time), and everybody oohed and aahed over it, and some of the people who were holding it up just stood and stared at it for a while, and there’s no higher compliment for a quilt than that. Tonight I took it to my quilt guild for show and tell, and got many more compliments and quite a few questions. It’s great to have a venue where I can talk about my process.
Later update: The quilt’s recipients have been very pleased with it. They commissioned this to go on their bed, but my aunt-in-law told me a few months ago that they were getting hardware to hang it on the wall instead, because it’s too nice for the bed. On one level, I find that really flattering. But another part of me is yelling, “No! Quilts are for sleeping under!” But the really important thing is that they like it.
Stay tuned! New stuff next time!