This quilt took forever. Okay, not forever. Twenty-one years. But that’s still a very long time for a single quilt. I started it for my bestie Serena while we were still in college. I had completed one quilt at that point. I was very ambitious in deciding to make a queen size quilt for anyone, let alone someone else. It’s been the source of many jokes over the years when referencing some never-gonna-happen event in the distant future. “Yeah, that’ll happen right after I finish your quilt.” It’s moved from being a college graduation gift to a law school graduation gift to a wedding gift to a first child gift to, well, just a gift.
So here’s how it went . . .
We went to the store together, picked out the pattern and she selected the fabrics. My plan was to make it a college graduation gift. Well, college was busy so I didn’t really have a chance to get to it. So it came with me to my summer internship after college where I remember cutting strips in my apartment because, yes, of course I brought my sewing machine with me for a 3 month internship.
At some point in grad school I did get it pieced together. I think during this time it lived at my parents’ place because I started doing the quilting on my mom’s old machine. That machine had issues. There was something going on with the foot pedal where it either went crazy fast or numbingly slow. She took it in for service, but they could never really fix that. She tried getting a new foot pedal. No luck. This was what I was quilting on. Also, I was a super baby quilter so I was using monofilament thread because I didn’t know how to match the thread to the colors and I wasn’t using a walking foot. I don’t know that I even knew what a walking foot was at that time.
Side note: I have since given my mom the machine I bought for myself in grad school which sews beautifully. She loves it and I love having a nice machine to use when I’m home visiting.
Fast forward a couple years (still in grad school though), and the quilt eventually moved out to California with me because I was going to work on it during my copious amounts of free time. You don’t actually have a lot of free time in grad school. At least I didn’t because I also had 10 other activities I was involved in as well. So very little got done on it.
Then at some point in the last 10 years, I started quilting for real. I revisited this quilt thinking I was finally gonna make it happen and was devastated by the state of the quilting. The stitches were uneven. The tension was terrible. It looked awful. At least it was monofilament so it was kinda hard to see. But the pattern was meh (it just followed the lines of the patchwork). I was also using the thinnest muslin as a backing (I didn’t know any better when I bought it) and this awful polyester batting.
As an upside, I was (and still am) really quite impressed with my patchwork which was pretty precise even in my early days. So I had that going for me.
Here are some embarrassing photos of that quilting from the back:
I got into longarm quilting because of this quilt. I thought that would be an easier way to actually get this thing quilted. I decided I was going to remove the existing stitches and then do the fanciest quilting you ever did see on the longarm. I got stencils. I had ideas. (Side note: I was correct that doing this on a longarm machine would be way easier, but I was again overly ambitious about my longarm quilting skills or how long it would take.)
Removing the stitches took ages. Well, years. It was very slow going work. I would pick it up every and now then and do a bit. Mostly it stayed hidden in a closet where I didn’t have to be reminded of the quilting mess that it was.
And then the pandemic hit. So now I had time. Well, sorta. I still have a ton of other hobbies. But I said this is when it’s gonna get done. And then it didn’t for all the reasons many things didn’t get done during the pandemic.
The final push was when I realized that when I had to move in a couple months, I would have to take this with me and I decided that wasn’t happening. I had packed and moved this thing so many times that I couldn’t bear the thought of doing it again. Also, Serena had threatened to just take it and get it quilted if I didn’t finish which really was fair.
So that’s what I did. I spent many nights ripping out the stitches. Some of them I couldn’t even rip out and had to just cut away. Yes, the backing was sacrificed and will be used for making garment muslins instead. But it happened. It was a bit touch and go at the end, but it was one of those projects that I could see the end and I just needed to make it there so I gave it some extra push.
I begged Lucky Penny Quilting to do a rush job because I was going to see Serena at the Disney Princess Half Marathon and I wanted to hand deliver this thing because so many years of work had gone into it that I wasn’t trusting the postal system to deliver it. I could just see it getting lost in transit. I didn’t even trust it to the baggage carriers and brought it in my carry-on baggage.
Lucky Penny came through, doing a beautiful floral design I selected. I was able to bind it and make and attach the biggest, most detailed quilt label I’ve ever made the day before I left with barely enough time to take some photos. And in true fashion to this quilt, I got the dates wrong as I was informed when I gave it to her (apparently it was 2001, not 1998). But she loved it! And fortunately still likes the color purple all these years later.
And while we can no longer joke about things in quilt timelines, at least I won’t have to move it again and it will now get used and loved rather than sitting in a closet.