When I'm not writing, not momming (that's a word, I swear), not homeschooling, and not doing all the things we parents do on a regular basis, I'm quilting. I might also be watching The Great British Baking Show, but for the purpose of this post, let's just assume I'm quilting.
I can't recall exactly how long it's been since I've started, but I'm thinking it's around 6 months.
My good friend Jenny over at Come Quilt was a part of a local quilt show, and I went to see the show just to support her. I remember saying (and this is probably verbatim), "I do not know how these ladies have the patience to do this stuff!" It was an emphatic, "quilters are crazy".
But, seeing those quilts in that show, especially the ones made by the 16 and under set, inspired me. Look what they've done. Look at the beauty they've created. They've made a thing that is uniquely theirs, and no matter how hard anyone tries, there will never be another exactly like it in all the world.
So, I asked Jenny to help me make a quilt. In return, I promised to buy her lunch. This was so not a fair trade, sorry Jenny.
She sat down with me, patient as a saint, and went through my quilt pattern. She explained the cutting, piecing, nesting, how not to chop off my fingers on the circular blade, etc. Then we pieced, watched TV, and hung out. It was awesome, our own mini "bee", and I was feeling the love.
I made that first quilt top, and then I handed it off to Jenny to quilt. This is where I learned that piecing the top was actually the easy part. Jenny had to put the top, batting, and backing together, load it all up on her long arm machine and make it look like the lovely quilts you put on your bed or snuggle up with on the couch.
A quilt top isn't that, at all.
I made another top, this one for my mom, and again Jenny quilted it for me. Then I made two more, one for each son, and while Jenny offered to quilt them (and did end up doing one), it was at this point that I realized just how much I was asking of her in exchange for a couple of lunches.
So I decided to learn to quilt on my domestic machine. It's a Bernina 930 and was manufactured in 1970 something, but it's a little work horse.
My lovely niece wanted a quilt, I had her pick a pattern, and I made the top. Then I sat down and googled "how to quilt on a domestic machine". Unsurprisingly, people do this all the time. It didn't look fun, but it looked doable, and that's all I needed. I rolled out 98" square of backing, batting, and top on my living room floor then got to work, on hands and knees. I used a basting gun to tack the pieces together, folded it up, and eyed it in apprehension for a few days before taking the plunge.
Pushing that huge quilt through my standard size machine wasn't fun, and there are some stitches on it that I don't love, but I got it done, and my niece loved it. I'm pretty sure there is a picture of it here in the "Quilt" section of the site.
Once I finished her quilt, I moved on to the next person who had asked me to make them one. It was my husband's uncle, I knew that his wife was a huge Arkansas Razorback fan (and alumni), so I found a pattern, dismissed the cloth suggestions, and hunted on Etsy to find Razorback material.
It was a big job, 108" square! Piecing it took a long time as there were tiny "9 patch" squares to put together, but I got it done, though it took months to complete. I showed the finished top to only a few people because I really wanted to keep it under wraps so it would be a surprise for the recipient, and then I got to work sandwiching and basting. The idea that I was going to quilt 108" on my domestic machine was daunting, and there were times where I was wrestling it through that I didn't really love it, but I got it done.
Last night, I also got it bound. That was the last step.
I tossed it in the washer and dryer, pulled it out this morning, took a picture of it, and sent it with my husband to work.
I just texted him to make sure he got ahold of his uncle so he could deliver it.
I love this quilt, and honestly it's like giving away a pet (you know what I mean here, don't get crazy). It took months, and probably a hundred hours (or more) of work, but if she loves the quilt, it'll all be worth it.