Did I mention I’m not good at this blogging thing?
My goal for 2007 was to finish twelve unfinished projects (UFO’s) that I had started over the years. So far I have finished two; a quilt for a dear friend, Lori, and one for my middle sister, Judy. I’ve been working on two others, my nephew’s wedding quilt (Happy 8th anniversary, Jeff!) and a Kaleidoscope quilt I started in a class by Ricky Tims. Jeff’s quilt is the one slowing me down, but it’s so important to get it completed.
Here’s the story…
Way back in the long ago, my family lived in an itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny, village with the grand slogan “biggest little town in the country.” In this little village of West Terre Haute, we learned family-, neighborhood-, and friendly-values. Everyone in town was a neighbor, and everyone in town was basically a friend. And as friends and neighbors do, we took care of each other.
An elderly neighbor near my sister was not doing so well, so each night as my sister prepared a meal for her husband and two kids (and sometimes me), she’d also prepare a covered plate for Mrs. Collins. Her son, Jeff, would walk the plate across the street and see if Mrs. Collins needed anything. Jeff is a friendly guy and he would comment on the quilt blocks she was working on; how beautiful it was. He knew good work because his mother is an excellent quilter who has made many traditional , hand-made quilts.
This went on for a while, until Mrs. Collins passed on to meet her maker, the master quilter. As the family was settling her affairs, they found a box with the beautiful diamond shaped Grandmother’s Flower Garden blocks labeled, “For Jeff.”
Mrs. Collins’ family gave the box to my sister. She was overwhelmed by the gift and took on the challenge of completing the quilt top in the hopes of giving it to Jeff when he graduated from college. Unfortunately, as bad things are when they happen to good people, my sister’s rheumatoid arthritis overtook her hands and made it too painful to stitch the small hexagons to join the blocks together. She placed the blocks, the newly cut dark blue hexagons, and the remaining fabric back in the box to be stored away for another time.
Over the next few years Jeff graduated from college and Judy’s arthritis doctors were able to control the damage done by her painful disease. Several years later, Jeff announced he was getting married which sparked Judy’s memory of the blocks she had stored away so long ago. It had been a long time; almost ten years between college and the wedding. The wedding was planned for February 1998.
This is where I came in. Several years earlier Judy and I had worked together on a wedding quilt for her daughter, Laura. That quilt was only the second quilt I had ever worked on, the first being a beginner’s sampler taught at a local quilt shop. I have always thought the best way to learn something new was to start a project that tested your talents rather than start simple. Laura and Brian’s quilt was definitely a challenge!
Judy and I got together with the blocks and contemplated the best way to get the quilt completed in time for the wedding. I came up with several designs for the quilt top including one in an eight-pointed star design, but we decided to quilt the blocks in the quilt-as-you-go style and sew into rows to simplify construction. We purchased two new feed sack reproduction fabrics, divided the blocks between us, and went home to start hand quilting each individual block.
Several months later we got together again to join the blocks into the quilt top, that’s when the problems started. The blocks although pretty and fairly well constructed were not the same sizes. Also, quilt-as-you-go is not the easiest method for non-square blocks, remember, these blocks are large diamonds-shaped blocks (11½ x 23″). We stitched the blocks together as best we could and then turned it over to whip-stitch the the back seams. Oh, my! In some places the seams had several inches of fabric to play with, but others had gaps that left the batting uncovered.
We pinned the quilt together and covered the gaps with extra fabric, then decided it was too small and would need a border or two. The wedding was just a few weeks away. We decided to present the quilt to them in it’s incomplete state, pins and basting stiches intact, and finish it afterwards. That was eight years ago.