Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Quilt Reveal!

So, I'm a thief.  First time I can remember stealing anything.  And let me tell you, I was soooo soooo nervous.  And then to try and fit it into my luggage to go on the plane... that was no small feat.

Let me back-up.

I like to quilt.  Probably not as much as my mother-in-law does though.  She has an awesome machine quilting set-up in her attic that she let me use to finish up this baby so long ago.  And I've pretty much been working on this next one ever since.

Wait, I need to back-up some more...

So, Jay's mom was showing me her stack of quilts and talking about the techniques behind them and all that interesting stuff and then she came to the last one that still had safety pins in it because the quilting hadn't been finished.  She said it was the only quilt that survived the fire when their house burned down about 10 years ago because it had been sitting in the bottom of a trunk, for some odd years waiting to be finished.  The quilt had to be professionally cleaned to get all the smoke smell out of it, which removed all the pencil markings she had made she she would know where to quilt, and so she never got back to marking it again.  Now, she's more of a machine quilter, and she said her eyes just aren't good enough to see to do hand quilting anymore.

I Immediately thought, I should finish it for her for Christmas!

I had no idea what that thought really entailed...

So, the day we left, I snuck into the pile of quilts, frantically ran it up to my luggage (because I knew if anyone caught me in the act I would never be able to pull off lying about it) and used every muscle in my body to cram it into an already brimming suitcase (with my other quilt in there as well...) until the zipper finally closed.  (Meanwhile, wondering how the inspection people would ever get it back in if they were to search my bag.  which they always do...)

We got home and I first thing went to JoAnn's to pick up a lap loom, kinda like this, and set to work.

I first started on the few flowers whose markings were still visible.  After finishing those three squares, I thought to lay out my work when I noticed how all I had just done looked like the work of a Kindergartener compared to the beautiful quilting Pam had started...

Feeling a bit dejected, I carried on.  and on and on and on.....  I can see how a quilter becomes quickly proficient - even the smallest of quilts naturally lends itself to much practicing.

Most of the squares had only a couple of subtle lines or loops left from the cleaning, and so I would scour the flowers that had already been quilted in other squares (thank goodness there were repeats!) and I would figure out which one it was most likely to be, and then try to draw it on, freehanded.

I worked on it almost every night for a couple of hours until I felt a bit burnt out in October (and feeling like I should be thinking about Halloween costumes...) and took a little break.  Then November started, which is when I start panicking about Christmas presents, and I quickly jumped back on the band-wagon.  Finally I had done everything I could see, but there were very intricate borders that had no markings to go on and there was no way I could free-hand those.  I tried a few techniques, all failures, and decided to wrap it up and get the opinion of a master quilter - hoping I could finish the rest during their week long stay.

Pam was very surprised, it was awesome!!  She says she didn't even notice it was gone! score!!  

There are benefits to living far away... knowing me, I'm sure I would have inadvertently blown the whole thing in casual conversation.  

"you don't feel like something from your house might be missing do you?  just checkin'.  no reason..."

Upon further inspection, Pam realized that I hadn't gone around the handles of all the baskets in the outer 9 squares, and I knew then that there was no way for me to finish while they were in town.  We went to my favorite quilt shop's end of the year sale and picked out a binding fabric (and some more fabric for my next quilt. hehe).

Well, 3 months later, I finally finished the quilting and man, am I relieved!  Here it is!!

I wish it were easier to portray the quilting in the photos, but it's really just not the same as in person.  This quilt definitely has much MUCH more quilting, and much more intricate quilting than anything I've ever done.  I really love the look of hand-quilting. It just feels so much more authentic and true to the art form.  (though don't get me wrong, I now officially understand just how much longer it takes to do it by hand.  I machine quilted my sampler quilt in only a few hours!!)
All the white squares have a flower with about 20 petals on it, and a 1/4" border
Each basket has one of 7 different flower patterns between the handle and the body.
The baskets themselves also have quilting in them.

the back side
And a little something to record a bit of its history.  (This was done on my embroidery machine, very quickly, by comparison!)
Jay had to fly to Boston at the beginning of March, and so he took it with him to hand deliver for me :)  These photos are kind of bad because I finished that tag the night before he left, and I remembered, lying in bed, that I didn't get to take any photos of it yet, so these are not taken with natural lighting, as I prefer to do...

So now you know what else I've been doing, instead of blogging!  There's probably one other major thing taking up my time, that I will hopefully be able to blog about soon.  The time is not quite right yet. :)


McCall said...

Nice job, Libs! It looks amazing! (and such a thoughtful gift idea)

Keegan said...

Wow! This is incredible! I realize it's probably even more incredible in person, but, Libby, that is just fantastic. I'm not a quilter and I think sewing anything is dreadfully hard, so hand-quilting -- WOW! I'm impressed and I think it's beautiful!