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. :)