Sunday, January 21, 2018

New Quilts, and Finishing UFO's in 2018

At the Vermont Quilt Festival last summer, I met a quilter who shared with me how she works on quilts. It was affirming and reassuring to know that I am not the only person who likes to work on multiple projects at a time. She is always thinking of new creations and brings them to fruition by working on many in different stages of completion.  This way she is always planning something fresh and new, cutting it out, sewing patchwork or appliquing their tops and then quilting them, after sandwiching the top and backing with batting in the middle.

It is certainly a boredom buster, and way to avoid the tediousness of pushing ahead on one project at a time. She also related that some quilts are NOT to be finished as with some, she has learned all that she wants to learn, and spending time finishing them will not be worthy of her time! I am only into the third week of the new year and I see my quilt blocks growing. I have contracted with myself to do two blocks each week  on my Civil War quilts, and two more appliqued heart blocks and a pair of strips for the nine patch quilt which usually works out to create about ten blocks when each pair of strips is cut and re-sewn together.
The first blocks to two Civil War Quilt tops using Barbara
Brackman's Civil War Sampler book. Samplers are fun as
the same block made from different materials creates
totally different appearing blocks. 
Pairs of strips sewn together to create nine patch blocks.
Nine patch blocks, with fussy-cut poinsettia blocks as well
as unbleached muslin blocks to create a nine patch/nine
patch Christmas quilt. I may create some lap-sized
ones as well as a bed-sized quilt. I do love reds and greens
and likely they will all be a bit different, but share some
similar patched blocks.
These appliqued double-heart quilt blocks will go together
to create a lovely simple scrap quilt. While plain, these blocks
will lend themselves to show off the quilting that will be used
to finish them.
This simple basic patchwork will make a lovely puffy
comforter for my niece. It will be hand-tied and is a
short-term project squeezed in between
the longer-term projects.
I have pulled out my mother's beautiful hand-made candle-wicking quilt that she left for me to complete. I have not unpacked it all yet, but look forward to studying her process and access what is completed and what is left to do before proceeding. I am under no illusion that completing this quilt will be quick. It is all hand-stitched and hand-quilted and will take a lot of time to complete it using these same techniques. I learned a long time ago that the hardest step in any project is to "start it" and I am about to do just that. Once I have studied it, it will simply be a case of taking each step in a methodical step-by-step approach and with persistence and perseverance, I can and will complete it!
A Pandora's box filled with the most
beautiful of my mother's quilts.
Her own Hearts and Flowers Candle-
wicking Quilt, to be completed by,

It is all hand-embroidered using off-white candle-wicking
thread on unbleached muslin and trimmed in two contrasting
pink calico borders with lace. (See in picture below.) My
mother has then hand-quilted each block and border. It is
exquisite! She quilted it using a quilt-as-you-go technique.
It is one of the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen!
This is actually how she has done the sashings in between each
of  the embroidered blocks. She has one remaining row of
blocks and strips to be assembled and finished. I will then try
to figure out how it is to be finished off. It is to be a
king-sized quilt. I am trying to convince myself that I am up
to this challenge! I do hope my dear mother will prompt me
through this from her heavenly throne! It is indeed a heavenly
piece of art and will take much help from her to finish this!
I have practiced various methods of quilt-as-you-go techniques and feel as prepared as I am going to be to form a plan as to how to tackle it. My mother's work is so beautiful that I have been afraid to touch it. I will step right into the middle of her process. I feel sad that she is no longer here to consult. I clearly should have taken notes years ago when I first committed to finishing it for her. I will pray that she will support me from the other side and help guide me through finishing her most beautiful quilt. I figured that this is the most important work I have to complete. She might well be onry enough that she might lock heaven's gates and not let me in until it is finished, for that is the promise I made to her when she was struggling to finish it.

I am inspired to complete all my UFO (unfinished objects) quilts I have started, though not all this year. Don't ask how many! I feel more confident than I did a few years ago after practicing and finishing three quilts in the past couple of years. My last was a nine patch/nine patch reversible memory quilt for a friend that was inspired by receiving a box of fabrics, vintage hand-embroidered quilt blocks and hand-made infant clothing that had belonged to my friend's mother. My friend lost both her sister and her mother in a very short period of time, along with her two little lap dogs, so all were remembered in this quilt's dedication on the backside.
A simple nine patch/nine patch memory quilt for my friend
made out of the materials she sent to me that had belonged
to her mother. It is both machine quilted and hand tied.
There were enough 9 patch blocks to create a second quilt that I put together with mauve colored fabric making it's appearance look totally different. I quilted them using different styles of machine quilting. The memory quilt is both tied as well as machine quilted leaving me less seams on the back-side of the quilt, which became my clear checkered blue sky "canvas" for the appliqued memorial to her mother and sister. It arrived in time for Christmas and before the end of 2017 (in the nick of time, to not have to redo the date on the quilt).
The backing was tied on so as to give me a clear blue-checked
sky "canvas"  for this hand-appliqued clothes-line scene.
The items on the clothes-line were made by my friend's
mother. They were infant clothing items for her and her sister
and nursery rhyme quilt blocks that I stitched together to
make a small crib quilt). The border on the bottom is to be
green grass and on the top, middle and bottom, I have
appliqued a few song birds and butterflies to add
to its sweetness.
This dedication mini-quilt hangs on the bottom clothes-line.
It includes the dedication heart, all hand-embroidered,
surrounded by pictures of her mother, sister and little
lap dogs all printed on fabric and then bordered on the
top and bottom with symbols of her mother's
hospitality and the sweetness of the little neighborhood
 where we were raised. Her mother and sister were
sewers and quilters and the sweetest of women and so I
couldn't make this quilt appear too sweet!
I loved this vintage hand-embroidered quilt block
sewn by my friend's mother.

I have seen many vintage nursery rhyme embroidered
blocks but never as sweet as these!
When my husband photo'd these quilts, he assured me that the clutter on our dressers would be easily photo-shopped out of the pictures, but cropping them was not so easy, and so, as with everything else in my life, it is a case of learn the hard way what-to-do and not-to-do when photographing my quilts. So the pictures of my friend's memory quilt front and backside, and its sister quilt are complete with our home-made clutter on our dressers. It should comfort those of you that are like me who have to focus on either quilting or cleaning and never at the same time!
This is the sister quilt made from the rest of the nine patch
blocks. It is fitting that it is on our bed. Such good memories
of by gone years with my silly friend, Linda Pollard!
I take my life one day at a time and each is filled with quilting, which is my version of a perfect retirement. My quilts are lessons of love and patience. I will complete and start many more in my, God-willing, many remaining years!