I'm sure I mentioned this in the past but I am primarily self-taught. I had made many quilts before I moved to a place where I discovered quilt shops, quilt guilds and places where you could take classes. Up until that point I improvised and today I thought I would share with you one of my very early quilts. This one is more than 28 years old as you can likely tell based on the small calicoes that I used. When you see some of the pictures I'm about to share I'm sure you will be asking yourself "what was she thinking that she put the quilt together in that way?" She/me was thinking outside the box. Because I was self-taught I was figuring things out and solving problems in ways that would work for me.
I made the quilt in question for my brother and recently asked him if he still had it. About two years ago I gave him another quilt for his bed and he swapped out the original for the new quilt. He knew he had folded up the old quilt and put it away but couldn't remember where. He eventually did find it (packed away with a missing transducer for his fish finder). From a distance it looks pretty good but it is in a state.
The colours aren't quite right in this picture but you can see the design. The inspiration was a picture of an antique quilt in an old magazine. I still have that picture!
The wagon wheels are entirely English paper pieced because I couldn't figure out how else to to construct them. There isn't a machine stitch in the quilt.
I also couldn't figure out how set the wheels in the background fabric, sew the blocks together, add the sashing or bind the quilt. I pretty much didn't know the "proper" (i.e. efficient) way to sew the quilt top together. So, I turned under the edges of the wheels, cut out a circle from the green fabric and turned under the edges and then I whip stitched the wheel into the centre of the background block. Okay, maybe that part makes some kind of sense. But I did the same thing to sew the blocks together as you can see in the following picture!
Why I didn't just sew them on my sewing machine is not too much of a mystery. I didn't know that there was such a thing as a 1/4" patchwork foot (this was more than 28 years ago so maybe there was no such thing). Also I strongly disliked marking sewing lines (and still do to this day) so turning under the edges and whip stitching the quilt together just seemed (or is that seamed) like a reasonable approach.
Not only did I sew the blocks together in this manner but I also added the sashings in the same way!
I had no idea how to bind the quilt so once it was quilted I turned the backing to the front, turned under the raw edge and stitched it to the quilt. Needless to say the edge of the quilt is well worn and frayed (notice the lower left corner). I'm going to have to search for some matching olive cotton so that I can add a double fold binding.
Not only did the binding fray but the off white quilting thread is breaking down. I am pretty sure that I used white Mettler cotton quilting thread. I recall when I was quilting with it that the end of the thread would get fluffy and separate but didn't give it much thought. However, the thread is breaking down terribly and what I am seeing is the same effect I saw at the end of the thread as I was quilting. I am going to have to requilt all of the wheels. The green thread I used in the background is perfectly intact (it wasn't Mettler). This time around I am going to use YLI hand quilting thread. In this picture you can see there is missing quilting thread. In some blocks it is entirely gone.
I've already requilted the Dresden plate portion of this block. The quilting in the outer ring of triangles is also breaking down but I will requilt all of the Dresden plates first to stabilize the quilt. Then I can go back and quilt the triangles at my leisure.
There are also a few worn spots on the back ..... toe holes my brother calls them! Clearly this quilt was well-used but honestly, if a quilt is developing "toe holes" it is time to tell the quilt maker that there is a problem and give her a chance to fix.
Although this quilt would not win any ribbons and likely wouldn't fetch much in an auction, it is one of my favourites and I am proud of it. It is full of memories. I recall spending many hours at my father's bedside in the hospital. I sat and sewed while he slept. He eventually recovered but all of those moments spend with him are stitched into the quilt.
I'm not upset about the condition of the quilt. I made it and gave it as a gift. I let it go. All of the wear and tear speaks to the fact that my brother had many years of enjoyment out of this quilt. So once it is mended, requilted and freshly bound will he get it back? Not a chance! This one will be given a gentle laundering and it will be retired from use!
Hope you enjoyed this post. I've got plenty of sewing to do so until I post again, happy sewing!