To those of you visiting my blog for the first time - Welcome!
(For those of you who have been reading for years, my apologies for the repeat stories!)
When I realized it was time again for the Blogger's Quilt Festival, I was excited to see the quilts. I haven't joined in in a while, and wasn't sure if I would participate this round either. But I decided to pull out my favoritest of quilts and tell the story again.
(To see all the other entries, see Amy's post here.)
First, let me tell you a little bit about me! I've been quilting for 24 years. Wait. 24 years? No, that can't be...I'm only 27! Child prodigy, I guess!
But seriously, my journey started when I was a sophomore in college and one of my best friends from high school called me and told me she was pregnant. She was in a sticky situation and had many folks looking down their noses at her. I wanted to do something to tell her I cared and supported her, no matter what. My mom had been quilting for a few years by this time and I'd been helping, but would not have considered myself a quilter. I didn't have the patience. Yet. So I asked for her help and we designed and made a Snail's Trail quilt. In like 300 different colors. Because nothing like easy for your first go, right? I didn't take a photo of that quilt, but it started me on a journey, perhaps obsession at this point, of quilting.
My mom has been a mentor and helpful for problems, but I'm not exactly sure she was a teacher. I just watched what she did and learned. But she's an amazing quilter (you can see photos from a trunk show she did for my quilt guild a few years back here) and continues to inspire me with her work, even if she chooses colors and prints that I would never give a second glance!
And my friend got two more (unphotographed) baby quilts for the other two children she and her hubby had. Finally, about a year and a half ago, she got her own quilt!
The quilt I want to share with you took a long journey to being finished. In August of 2013, I purchased a kit for a quilt at the AQS show in Grand Rapids. I saw the quilt on display in the Cherrywood booth and kept going back, cringing at the cost. Finally, before I left, I purchased the kit (with them promising to send me the needed grey fabrics via mail because they'd run out!)...
...and the journey started.
This quilt, called Feng Shui by Janine Burke, was to be made in purple and grey. My favorite color is purple and this started my problem with grey. (It's become worse in recent years...)
In July of 2014, I finally cut into the fabrics. I was terrified. I was so afraid of making a mistake, but I was at a guild retreat, so the fun atmosphere helped keep me calm!
Over time, I managed to finish sewing the blocks and decided to use every last scrap to make the quilt fit my bed (originally, I planned to make it a throw quilt, but why stop there?!)... I remember laying it out on my living room floor (I am not lucky enough to have a design wall) and thinking I needed a bigger living room to make it all fit!
The colors aren't great here, but you get the idea of the block and layout. The block is very simple, but getting those colors alternated properly and making sure no too-matchy colors were next to each other was difficult. I'm sure I had help from my many cats, but apparently I managed to get a photo without one of them in the middle of this.
At this point, I knew (math!) it needed borders to fit my bed, so I took a deep breath and ordered some very dark grey Cherrywood fabric. Another pricey purchase, but it had to be done.
It stalled out again as a borderless top, but one day I just did it. Borders are those dreaded long seams that are the inevitable part of quiltmaking (my least favorite part), but you can't finish a quilt without them, so you just have to do it sometimes.
And then it stalled out as a top needing a back. But one day, just wandering the aisles of a local fabric store, I found the PERFECT back. It's a purple and black houndstooth flannel, found in the garment section. It's 100% cotton, so good for a quilt back, and very snuggly soft! I drove to two different stores to get enough - that's how perfect it was! (No photo of just the back...not yet!)
It stalled out again because HOW was I going to quilt this? Again, worry of ruining it, or not doing it justice. It's a simple pattern, but that doesn't mean it should be quilted simply.
I have a longarm (I got it in 2010), but don't quilt for anyone but myself, so I don't have nearly the experience as those who do. I'm a little afraid of it, still, if we're being honest. But a few summers ago, my aunt paid for a longarm class with Angela Walters. We were in Kansas City for a family reunion, so very close, and she and my other aunt are all quilters, so we went. It was a BLAST! And what I took away from that class was worth every penny. I learned that it doesn't have to be perfect and I shouldn't be afraid to try. (Also, I learned to turn off my stitch regulator and haven't looked back - no, you DON'T need it!!!!)
I was ready to quilt this. One day it all came together, motif and guts, and I put it on the machine.
I took a deep breath (or 12) and started quilting. The first pass went well and I was off and running!
I quilted for 4 hours. 5 bobbins. Longarm bobbins.
I went to bed.
I quilted for 1.5 hours. 2 bobbins. Longarm bobbins.
I went to do family stuff.
I quilted 2 hours. 3 bobbins. Longarm bobbins.
I rewound 3 bobbins and saw I was getting low on thread. A 3,280 yard spool of thread. New 10 bobbins ago. I should be okay, right? I've never used anywhere near that much thread, so I'll be fine.
I quilted 1 more hour. 1.5 bobbins. Longarm bobbins.
One more pass!!!! 6 more block/motifs.
My machine threw a fit.
I looked up and over the quilt, trying to discern the reason.
Well that's not good.
I'm out of thread!
And I don't have another spool!
So I put tinfoil all over the quilt, hoping the cats wouldn't bother it (you know this is the world's most expensive cat hammock, right?!) in the time it took the thread to get here.
And finally, about a week later, the last portion was done!!!
I breathed a huge sigh of relief at this point. It was quilted. Binding, though it would take a while and wrestling the quilt to get the machine-sewn part sewn down would be difficult, I was in the home stretch.
Now it's time for a few photos!
Most of the quilt on my clothesline. (It's all there, just the line isn't tall enough!)
And a closeup of the quilting motif I used. This was super fun and has Angela written all over it!
The border was basically the same, just done in a linear fashion.
And a photo of the back that shows the quilting nicely, plus the dimension that thicker flannel gives. And, well, if you can see it, the actual pattern of the back fabric.
I wrestled the quilt and got the binding sewn on by machine on the first part and then had the long chore of sewing it down by hand on the second side. I do not recommend dark bindings, as you can't see well what you're doing, but I got it on. In July of 2016. Well, okay, the hand-sewing of binding may have taken a few months longer...
Only 3 years old, right?
Well, it didn't go right on my bed. Not only was it hot and there was no need, but I was afraid my cat Emma (also known as Emma-No) would revisit a meal while lounging on my beautiful quilt. I mean, I knew it was going to have to be washed eventually, but on my terms, not hers!
It did hang in my guild's show the following March, still not having seen my bed. My excuse at that point was that I didn't want to submit a cat-fur-covered quilt. Yeah. Okay.
But last year, over Memorial Day weekend, I buckled down and repainted my bedroom. Grey. Because this quilt was destined for the bed in there. And once the paint was dry and furniture returned to its proper location, I put the quilt on the bed. Cat hair (and other things) be darned. I was going to USE this quilt! That's what they're for.
The photo makes the grey walls look more blue, but that probably has to do with lighting and the quilt. And the pink bunny flannel sheets. They definitely add a flair you won't see in any home decorating magazines!
This quilt still lives on my bed, year-round. In hotter months, it gets slept on, in cooler months it gets slept under. And it's washed beautifully! I do very little to wash my quilts differently than any other laundry (gentle cycle and cold water is all) and it's held up without any complaint.
So the particulars:
Pattern: Feng Shui by Janine Burke
Fabric: Cherrywood in grey and purples
Weight: 8 pounds
I LOOOOOOOOVE it!
I hope you've enjoyed my quilt's journey and be sure to visit Amy to see all the others!