Yippee! Because of The Big Move last year and settling in, I have not completed a quilt in two years…Not good, but life can get in the way of things. Completing this quilt is a big deal for me as it is a completely hand sewn Grandmother’s Flower Garden. For a very long time it is my “baggie project” that I tuck into my suitcase when I travel. It goes everywhere until I start to piece the flowers together and then I pull it out now and then at home. Although I don’t care when I finish it, I think from now on that I should make note of when I begin a hand sewing project; people always ask. In looking through past blog posts, I see that I finished the top in 2012, just before we started the house re-do and move, so it’s been waiting. And waiting.
In late Summer, I dug out the top and started preparing it. I have my friend Beth do the machine quilting and actually getting the top ready for her takes some time and patience. I press it 4 or 5 times and use spray starch at least twice. Machine quilters need the tops to be flat and hand sewing is naturally textured – not to mention that the top gets bundled up in a closet when I am not sewing it. Then there is sewing the backing, which is s something I do not enjoy doing and measure many times to make sure that I am sending the proper size! I have been saving this darling Santa fabric from Nancy Wolff for a long time for a Christmas backing and added the big dot as a filler. (The skating cat is a design of her as well.) After I sent the quilt to Beth, she sent me some recommendations for the quilting pattern and thread color. Kelly green thread disappears into the background fabric but shows up nicely in the pattern hexes. And I don’t recall the name of the pattern, but you can see it’s bells and holly leaves and swirly vines. Very sweet!
Last week, I decided I’d better get to finishing it up before Christmas was over! I decided to use a great striped fabric for the binding and that it would be fun to make it look like a candy cane, so I cleared away the Santa making detritus and moved the turkey pattern. Making bias binding takes room on the cutting board and care to make sure that the stripes go the way you want and not look higgledy piggledy. I haven’t made bias binding in ages, but with careful cutting, it went smoothly. (Check out the photo above to see a detail of the binding).
I really look forward to washing these handmade quilts because of all the spray starch I use to make them behave. The quilt is stiff now, and I’m waiting for a sunny day to wash it. We use these quilts and I want them to feel good. Washing will make the quilting threads will sink in and the bias binding will relax. And I need to get the label on as well, but for now, the cats are loving it and we are too!