Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Best Christmas Project Ever

Many years ago I decided I wanted to make quilts like my Great Grandma Rhoda. When we lived in Oakley I remember coming into her sparsely furnished living room and seeing a beautiful quilt in a frame taking up almost the entire room. Something about that image spoke to me. In 2006 I went on a little search to find some of Great Grandma's quilts - she made a lot of them, but she also had a lot of children and a lot of grandchildren to give them to. None of her quilts have made it down to me. I wanted to see what quilt patterns she used. Here are a few examples of what I found:
Look at that Lone Star! Amazing. (My Dad's cousin Holly and her daughter and his Aunt Jane are modeling that second quilt.) I have to admit I was more discouraged than encouraged after seeing some of Great Grandma's quilts. I didn't even know anyone who could teach me how to do it.

Then! Last Spring I was at Broadbents (of course I was at Broadbents) and a talkative lady, Carmen, was doing a presentation on a new quilting method called Quiltsmart. I listened to her speech because she had a stack of handmade quilts in the patterns I wanted to make and she was offering a class. Done and done! Every second Thursday for the next six months I went to class. In August we learned how to do the Double Wedding Ring pattern and I decided I was going to make a queen size Double Wedding Ring quilt for my mother-in-law and father-in-law for Christmas.

That meant cutting out 1008 squares (wider at the top than the bottom):
Sewing six of them together to make 168 arcs:
(A side note, making the arcs "random" was totally messing with my mind after a while.)

Sewing the Quiltsmart interfacing to the arc:

Turning the arcs inside out:

Ironing, then sewing four arcs each onto 36 12x12-inch squares, then one arc onto 24 6x6-inch squares:
Cutting out 196 2.5x2.5-inch squares to make "diamonds" and sewing them onto each corner:

Sewing all the finished squares into rows, adding two "sashing" fabrics and taking it to my good friend Pam, who has a long arm quilter at her house:
Brian and I figured out that it was about 90 hours of work. I used up several spools of thread in the process. There were many times that I didn't think I could finish it ever, let alone by Christmas. But! Doing this quilt was like meditation for me. I keenly felt the approval of my Great Grandma Rhoda, even though I was cheating by using interfacing and sending it off to a long arm quilter instead of doing the quilting myself. I will be able to finish a lot more of these, though, and I bet Great Grandma would have loved to do more than she did. The point is that this kind of quilt is becoming a lost art. I wanted to do it to pay tribute to my ancestors who had to do it the hard way and I wanted to do something spectacular to honor my in-laws who have always been so good to us.

Here is the finished quilt (finished by only a few hours since Pam got it back to me on Christmas Eve and I still had to do a binding) on Christmas morning before I wrapped it up:
I'm totally crying right now. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever made. It made me so happy to give this away yesterday. I can't wait to start on some new projects for next year! This time Pam will be getting my quilts long before December.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

P.S. I'm linking to Amy's Sew-and-Tell Friday. I plan to be a regular this year - with stuff that isn't secret, of course. :)

31 comments:

melissa said...

That is AMAZING! I hope they appreciate what a treasure it is. I imagine the hardest part was giving it away. You are good and true.

amylouwho said...

that is an amazingly beautiful quilt! The quilting is amazing, I love the fabrics, and I love that you were happy to give it to them. That's my weakness right there. That and the whole finishing thing.

Please post this on the 8th for sew n tell!!

Jill said...

You are my hero! My mom is a quilter. I grew up watching her make masterpieces just like yours. I know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into such things. Your in-laws are very lucky people. Not just to receive a quilt like this one, but to have a daughter-in-law that loves them that much!

I think I mentioned to you before that I got a sewing machine for Christmas. My goal is to one day be like you.

Beautiful!!!

Ashley said...

That is incredible! I'm am in complete awe. That beauty is a work of art. I love the colors, I love the white with the dark borders. Ah...gorgeous!

Bump and Erin said...

You are absolutely amazing, Nicole!! My little sister, Tera, married into a big quilting family and has slowly been learning the art. It makes my brain hurt to even think about doing something so beautiful as the quilt you just made. What a treasure for the recipient. My goal is to someday make just one. That is huge for me since I can count on both hands the amount of sewing projects I have done in my whole life!

I envy your talent! Keep it up!
-Erin

Anonymous said...

I opened Nicoles blog after getting home from church this afternoon and it was like having Christmas all over again. I knew she was into quilting but never thought for a moment that we would be getting something so beautiful. my Mother was a quilter so I have a pretty good idea of what goes into a quilt, all the hours of work, especially working that out for the first time and the beautiful colors you used. We are so happy Brian brought you into our family, (I thought that even before I saw the quilt)we couldn't ask for a better daughter-in-law. I could go on and on but suffice it to say thank you so much for a gift we will treasure forever. Love ya,
The in-laws.

Angelyn said...

Nicole! That quilt turned out absolutely beautiful! You have an amazing talent!!! Good work girl!

K.Q. said...

You got the title of this post 100% correct. WOW! And I thought I was proud of the 9 bedwarmers I made as gifts. HaHa!

Jess said...

That quilt is beautiful! I am impressed and am considering taking a quilting class now. :) I am visiting UT right now, so if you check your Google Analytics and see Kaysville, don't be alarmed. :)

Rae said...

I felt like crying too! This quilt is amazing - good for you! I can't imagine doing an awesome quilt like this. What an inspiration, Nicole - simply wonderful!!

Mr and Mrs C said...

What a marvelous piece of artwork! When I grow up, I wanna be like you...until then, can I put an order in??? Love you and Happy New Year!

Kristi said...

AAAAH! It's absolutely to die for. I am so pleased for you that you finally got to blog about this. Hooray! And what a sweet comment from your in-laws. They are lucky to have you. :)

allyn said...

i was totally crying and then i read denise's comment and started crying again. it is fantastic. what a champion. i can't even believe you want to do that again. it really makes that video you got from me look super lame. i will blow you away with a gift of love one of these days.

Katy said...

Are you kidding me?! This is amazing! I am crying over your story and over the amazing final finished product. What a great eye for color you have. When did you start this? And what cute table-toppers you made also!

koryn said...

Remarkable. I kept repeating this to myself as I read the many steps, many cuts, many stitches, and many ironing of seams. I don't feel that I can add anything more than, remarkable.

Loved seeing you over the holidays. So glad the guys could keep each other company during the desperate hours. I do not know what you said to my Dad exactly but by watching his body language and his eyes I could see it meant a great deal. Love you for that.

Hope to see you around the parts before too long! I'll make the pork :)

LyndaG said...

What an elegant quilt - and such a labor of love. I don't know if I could have given it away.

Sew It UP! said...

Simply Beautiful! I hope they treasure it forever.

beth said...

what a wonderful quilt! I love giving them away too...it's the best thing about quilting!

SueWis said...

This is just amazingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing the process you went through to make it. What a wonderful gift.

Leslie said...

this quilt is stunning!!! i am so inspired. i am sure that your grandmother is proud.

Suzanne said...

Very, Very beautiful! So much work put into it and it came out so nice. I don't know if I'd have the patience...

Lesly said...

Now that is spectacular. Your great grandmother would have been so proud of you! You've created something that will last for generations! So, so beautiful!

Karen said...

Your quilt is truely beautiful! What a fantastic job you have done. The lovely quilting just adds so much to the quilt. I hope the recipients treasure it.

Leslie - she sews and scraps said...

BEAUTIFUL! STUNNING! GORGEOUS! WOW!
you do beautiful work! just amazing!

Sara said...

My mouth is hanging open - it is Stunning! Thank you for sharing!!!

amylouwho said...

Thanks for linking up! I'm still in awe. And wish I could see it in person....

Heather said...

Oh my gosh. Between your post, your gorgeous quilt pictures and seeing the comment from your in-laws... now I'M totally crying! lol

So beautiful -- and beyond heartwarming. ;o)

Rene' said...

WOW!!! WOW!!! I don't know what else to saw. It's amazing! You must be so proud and I'm sure your mother-in-law and father-in-law absolutely love it. Thank you for sharing these gorgeous pictures!

Jeanne said...

This is so absolutely gorgeous! I was just talking to a quilter friend last week about the double wedding ring quilt and thought, "Oh, I'll never make one of those...it takes too long!"

Now, I'm thinking...maybe I will!

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful quilt with us and also your heartwarming story.

why not sew? said...

Your quilt is gorgeous. I tried to make one for my MIL also but I got fed up with the template tracing. I have seen this method with the interfacing before and would love to give it a try. I bet your in-laws loved it! So beautiful.

Jessica said...

Beautiful! I am so impressed.