A Pretty, Big Quilt

Finishing a quilt brings deep joy to this novice quilter’s heart; I hope I never lose this feeling of accomplishment, thrill, and wonder.  And this particular quilt will be on my mind for a long while; it’s the largest quilt to date, and shall probably hold that title for a good time to come.

Once it was done, I hung it on the line, but three rows are on the other side, it was so darn big!

Once it was done, I hung it on the line, but three rows are on the other side, it was so darn big!

Although, having said that, I love the size, and am already thinking of a not-quite-this-big-but-not-that-much-smaller blanket for winter.  Mostly likely backed with flannel.  But that’s counting chickens well before their time.

The idea for this e-nor-mo comforter was in part due to a recent spate of hot weather, and several fabrics I bought, at the time for no apparent purpose.  I received a gift card for Joanns Fabrics, after giving my younger sis an editing hand with her textbook.  There’s more than one writer in my family, and Sis needed to update her curriculum.  I didn’t expect to be compensated, but Sis surprised me generously, and I went to town one morning while Joanns had fat quarters for a buck each.

All but the two on the right are fat quarters. The far left fabric I ended up not using in the quilt.

Now, let’s be honest here; there’s a big difference when it comes to fabrics, and what I chose at Joanns were somewhat thin, certainly not what a quilt store would sell.  But not every quilt needs high-dollar cottons.  Some quilts are harbingers to earlier days, say like the 1970s.  My eldest daughter and I went shopping not long after I bought the initial quarters, and when I showed her what I had waiting at home, she looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said, “Mom, these scream the 1970s.”

All but the furthest left were fat quarters; the green was a regular quarter yard, while the swirly on white I discarded.

I nodded, for she was correct.  Some could have been right out of The Little House on the Prairie TV show.  But I like those prints.  I like all kinds of fabrics, and these had come together in such a way that I knew there was a reason.

A few weeks later, when the temps got into the mid-80s Fahrenheit, I had a brainstorm!  I’d make my husband and me a summer comforter, backed with a queen-sized flat sheet that has always been on the cool side (my hubby is one of those warm-blooded types).  Now, that’s not a small quilt, so I picked up more fabric, a quarter yard here, a half-yard there, until I had nearly eight yards in total.  I was thinking big blocks, which ended up 8″ square.  And of course, I would tie it.

No way in the world would I attempt to machine-quilt a blanket that big (it ended up at 89″ X 96″).

Now, one way I write like I quilt (a post about that is forthcoming, one of these days) is that I have a few projects going at the same time.  While I haven’t yet broken down to piecing multiple quilt tops and letting them gather, I did need to cut all those fabrics, so on days when I wasn’t quite ready to sew on the Mijos quilt, I carefully cut blocks for the summer duvet.  In most cases, I was able to get five squares from a regular quarter yard, four from a fat quarter.  Once the Mijos quilt was finished, I arranged the first three rows, on my bed, the only place other than the floor where it would fit.  Sewing the rows went pretty quickly; it took longer to sort the quilt, which came together again on our bed.

I’ve also realized another truth of quilting, for me personally.  I already knew I like a lot of fabrics within a quilt, but in mapping out this project, I learned I need plenty of extra, just in case.  Now, that’s not to justify a stash, per se, only to make sure there is variety within the quilt.  Hence, for future projects, I will be aware that while I think I have all the fabric I need, there’s always room for another run to whatever fabric store makes me happy.

Sewing the finished rows together was fairly straightforward, for the first half-dozen rows.  After that, it became completely apparent just how big this sucker was gonna be.  But knowing I wasn’t going to quilt it on the Magnolia was a life-saver.  All I had to do, when ready to tie it, was find a place in my house big enough to lay it out.

And that wasn’t going to be our king-sized bed.

The living room wasn't big enough for me to get the whole quilt into the shot.

The living room wasn’t big enough for me to get the whole quilt into the shot, but it was fine to baste in.

Invariably, there was always the living room floor, once the sofa and chair and coffee table had been removed.  Basting it was probably the biggest pain in the keister, as my back isn’t as young as it used to be.  But I got it done, then my son helped me move it to the grotto, where my big table was adequate for the tying.  I used DMC floss in three different shades, then lowered the table, to sew around the perimeter with my machine.

A pre-binding quilt just doesn't have the same umph that the finished product does.  But I know that sheet isn't going anywhere...

A pre-binding quilt just doesn’t have the same umph that the finished product does. But I know that sheet isn’t going anywhere…

I stayed there to attached the binding to the front.  The back was hand-sewn over the last few nights while watching my beloved San Francisco Giants actually string together some wins.  Currently they are in the latter stages of the last game in Atlanta, and if they sweep, it will be the first time since 1988 the Giants have taken an entire series from the Braves in Georgia. (They did win, 4-1, hoot hoot!)

Sewing over the piping on the sheet was slow, but my Janome handled it well.

Sewing over the piping on the sheet was slow, but my Janome handled it well.

Today I washed the quilt, trimmed the ties, then basked in the joy of a large but manageable project finished.  However, last night, once the binding was done and baseball was over, I indulged in some quilt-love, saying my nightly prayers.  Then, once my devotions were completed, I stared at the quilt, considering its path.  Fabrics were whimsically chosen, then laid aside, until the proper usage hit me over the head.  I found myself admiring two blues, from those initial sale-priced fat quarters, preferring them most of all.

My fave blues are the top left corner, and the middle dark blue; just adore those hues and the prints too.

My fave blues are the top left corner and the middle dark blue; just adore those hues and the prints too. (Note the hummingbird right above the darker blue; I still have a fondness for those tiny creatures.)

I have a nice array of scraps from this project, and when the time comes to employ them, I just might bulk them up with a couple of fat quarters of those lovely, simple blues.  Yes they’re thin, and who knows how long they’ll last, but I love them, as I adore this quilt.

The finished product; I can't tell you how pleased I am with this quilt!

The finished product; I can’t tell you how pleased I am with this quilt!

We’ll see how long it gets used, although in California, summers can be endless.  Good thing; I wanna love the proverbial stuffing outta this blanket!

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About Anna Scott Graham

I'm an independent poet and novelist in addition to sharing my life with a wonderful man, various kids, several hummingbirds, and a plethora of plants inside and out. View all posts by Anna Scott Graham

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