I also feel like I've been working on it forever because it has been such a challenging, intricate piece of work. I know there are plenty much more complex quilt patterns out there, with more difficult sewing required, but I find medallions pretty challenging and this had a LOT of tiny piecing. Those little star cornerstones were the worst bit - there was a lot of heavy sighing as I cut them and no small amount of swearing as I pieced them.
And all (ALL) the HSTs and the trimming.
That's why it took so long. I had to build myself up to each of the detailed borders. (Or I'm just lazy. I'm a sucker for a quick 'n' easy quilt pattern.)
Plus, the fabric choices weighed heavily in my mind the whole time I was making it. This was a kind of "suck it and see" quilt. I made it up as I went along. I kind of had jewel tones in my head as the theme and I worked along those lines.
Part of me wishes I had chosen a low volume grey print for that big "quiet" border in the middle instead of the dotty cream print, to cool the tones a little. Also my pink and orange hst border merged into itself more than I intended, but I had gone too far with it before I realised. And no way could I face cutting all those HSTs again. But I still think it works ok. Possibly slightly differently than I originally intended, but lovely all the same.
I do absolutely adore that huge 2nd last border with the HST-turned-into-flying-geese. I think the fabrics work so perfectly right there and the mix of low volume prints as background was exactly what I wanted. When I saw that, that was what made me wish that I had used the low volume instead of the cream border. But hey ho, that's how it goes.
Some insane part of my brain insisted that this quilt should be hand quilted. I've done lots of hand quilting in my time, a lot of mini quilts and one lap quilt, but this is the first time I've entirely hand quilted a proper size quilt without doing some machine stitching in the ditch to secure it.
I was nervous about it, but it worked really well. Very honestly, I found the weight of the quilt and its size very hard to manoeuvre when working on it, particularly at the start when I was quilting the centre and I had a lot of trouble with my neck ending up with an irritated nerve which caused constant pins and needles down both arms into my little fingers for weeks on end. That also delayed the finish by weeks as the doctor insisted I put down all my crafty stuff for 2-3 weeks to let it heal enough to treat. So I'm not sure I would tackle a project this size again by hand - weeks of physio to resolve it was not on my list of anticipated outcomes. But having said that, I do absolutely adore the process of hand quilting and I think the issues I had were solely due to the size and weight of the quilt - possibly my technique is not the best from a health perspective. And there is no getting away from the fact that I really enjoyed sitting on the sofa hand quilting it in the evenings. It's much more sociable than sitting at my machine, away from my hubby in another room. So I won't be abandoning the hand quilting. Just maybe keeping it to slightly smaller projects :-)
Hand quilting looks so great too, and this pattern really lends itself to the hand quilted big stitch look. I used perle cotton #8 in a variety of colours and shades and quilted mostly 1/4" inside or outside the seam lines except in that big cream border where I quilted triangles to add to the interest. I think my very favourite part of the hand quilting is the central star.
The hand quilting looks really great on the back too. The backing is the ever-used IKEA Nummer fabric. It was a particularly good choice for this quilt, as the black and white complements the front, and the quilting shows up so well on it.
I found a fab dotty grey and white print on a black background in The Crafty Fox in Drogheda the last time I visited my mum, and I knew as soon as I laid eyes on it that it was perfect for the binding for this. I don't know what the print name is, all I know is that its a Northcott fabric. I love how it frames the quilt. I took the lazy way out and machine stitched my binding. By the time I got to that stage, I was hand-stitched out and the pins and needles in my hands and arms were returning and I needed to get it done in time to wash and dry it before delivering it to my mum and dad on Sunday. So I speedily stitched the binding down and it was done. Must do more machine binding - it was so quick! Although I do love hand stitching down the binding normally.
I know I moaned about the cornerstones earlier. But truly, they were totally worth the effort. They look fab all done and lined up, don't they?
So, now this quilt is off to my mum and dad to celebrate 40 happy years of marriage, a milestone they hit a couple of weeks ago. (Yes, I am late. But I don't think they will mind!)
Some stats - this quilt measures 80" x 80" so perfect for a double bed, or would even work fine on a king size without draping down the sides. It's made from Sarah Fielke's Made to Measure pattern in her book Hand Quilted with Love. Fabrics are a wide and varied mix mostly from my stash. My Irish friends contributed lots of the oranges for the pink and orange HST border in an impromptu scrap swap when I asked for some help :-) Batting is Simply Cotton. It is machine pieced, and 100% hand quilted with perle cotton #8.
It is, without doubt, my favourite quilt I've ever made. And certainly, my biggest quilting achievement to date. If I have learned one thing in 15 months of making it, it is that it is most certainly worth taking the time and putting in the effort to make something detailed and lovely. Quick and easy (my go-to) is not the be-all and end-all. Hope my parents love it as much as I do. (Ok, well, I know my mum loves it as she has seen the quilt top at various stages of development and raved each time, so I'm pretty confident!) To paraphrase Mr Bennett in his conversation with Elizabeth at the end of Pride and Prejudice, I couldn't part with it to anyone less worthy.
Linking up to Katy as one of my (sad, short little list of) Q2 finishes.