Tuesday 12 June 2018

Making a Patchwork Quilt: My Longest-Running Work-in-Progress!

After finishing my patchwork mini squares blanket (which was a work-in-progress for six and a half years) and the Christmas quilt I made for my sister (which was a WIP for almost four years), I feel full of enthusiasm for Finally Finishing Things!

So, I've decided to tackle my biggest and oldest UFO (UnFinished Object): the patchwork quilt I started when I was a teenager. 

I started this project around 2001 or 2002, I think. It's so long ago that I can't remember whether I started it in my final year of sixth form or my first term of University - either way, it was a while ago!

In fact, I'd almost completely forgotten that this quilt existed until January 2012 when I found the half-finished quilt top stashed in a suitcase under my bed.

Back in my teens I'd used whatever cheap fabric I could get my hands on to make the squares, then sewn them together pretty haphazardly. I'm sure the fabric is a mix of loads of different fibre blends, some pre-washed and some not (i.e. probably a disaster waiting to happen when it gets washed for the first time).

It wasn't the most well-made, well-thought-out project, and upon rediscovering it I honestly thought it looked rather hideous.... but the idea of just throwing it away made me shudder.

I wasn't sure what to do about it (maybe put it back in the suitcase under the bed for another decade???) until my mum said that actually she really liked it and could I make it into a proper quilt for her. Problem solved, challenge accepted, et cetera.

At that point, the quilt top was part-stitched...

... with a few already-stitched rows ready to add...

... and lots of unstitched squares left, too.

I worked on the quilt on and off that year, gradually adding the remaining rows and squares...

... until December 2012, when it looked like this:

The squares in one corner of the quilt top didn't really match up with the rest of the quilt, so I took it out. I obviously hadn't cared about the mismatched section in my teens but on rediscovering the quilt it really bugged me so it had to go. (This section hung around it my stash for years then eventually found a new home and got turned into a fabulous monster bag!)

I decided to use the remaining squares to fill in the gap left by the mismatched piece, then added as many extra rows as I could before my stash of squares ran out.

I stitched a few squares together in 2013...

... added five more rows to the bottom of the quilt in February 2014...


...and filled in the "missing" corner in March 2014.

By April 2014 the quilt top was finished and I excitedly wrote that it was "finally ready to be turned into an actual quilt!"... before then packing it up and not looking at it for another four years (oops). 


This spring I am finally making a start on turning the quilt top into an actual quilt. I ordered some wadding and white backing fabric to complete the quilt, spreading it out on the floor of my bedroom just before we started work in there as part of my flat renovation project.

Even with most of the room emptied out, I only just had enough space!

I thought about trying to keep it a secret from my mum that I'd started the quilting, so I could just rock up one day with a finished quilt and say "ta-da!". I soon realised this was going to be impossible - it's so big and bulky now the wadding has been added that it would be very hard to hide even if I wasn't in the middle of a big DIY project with boxes everywhere and no spare space for anything.

So, I'm currently keeping the in-progress quilt and the quilting hoop in my parents' spare bedroom and working on it when I go round to visit them (and when I remember!).

I'm keeping the quilting simple, sewing a line of stitching down either side of each seam using white thread to match the backing fabric. I've got a total of 90 lines to sew, more than double the number I had to sew for my sister's Christmas quilt, which was smaller than this quilt and made up of larger squares. It took me at least 70 hours to hand quilt the Christmas quilt, so this one is going to take me... a while.

Wish me luck!!


Kay said...

All progress is progress!! You are very brave hand quilting something this big. I always machine quilt all of my straight lines and only hand quilt if it is something with appliqué. I am just about to start doing hand quilting on a orange peel quilt which will be a present for a friend, luckily her birthday is in January as I know it will be slow going. x

bairozan said...

What an undertaking! Wish you luck, indeed! The quilt looks beautiful :)

WinnibriggsHouse said...

I am so impressed that you've carried on and you've inspired me to complete my 'Grandmothers Garden' quilt which I started about 10 years ago. We have a WI craft group and I never know what to take that won't need too much concentration (we natter more than craft), so it will be the perfect project. X

Katrin said...

O.k....good luck. You'll make it, I'm shure!

Anonymous said...

Oh, it looks so cozy!! I love it. I have a similar quilt made by my great grandma that is special to me, so I definitely say thumbs up to yours. I'm so glad your mum encouraged you to keep/finish it. Good luck!

Marta said...

Molto brava e quanta pazienza. Ciao

Bugs and Fishes said...

Kay - "All progress is progress!!" Yessssss, this is so worth remembering. Best of luck with the orange peel quilt! :)

bairozan - thank you! Lots of stitching still to go, but it will hopefully be worth it!!

WinnibriggsHouse - ooh, yes, a bit of hand quilting is perfect for stitching while chatting! I've been doing mine while half-watching half-listening-to some TV, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and chatting to my mum (not all at once though, haha).

Katrin - thanks! :)

Anon - thank you! Quilts are such wonderfully cosy things, aren't they? I expect my parents' cat will try to claim this one as his own when it's finished ;)

Marta - it DOES take a lot of patience to work on a big project like this, hopefully I'll have enough to actually get it finished :)