I have to admit that there were points in the last year when I never thought I would be writing this post. But here I am. Today I can share with you my finished #365 quilt top.
This is big: 98" x 98" (I guess - I forgot to measure it but I know each of the 96" strips I cut for that final border had to be extended by a couple of inches....). To get the photograph I lay it on our front lawn and hung out of the bedroom window! And that's really why it got finished last Sunday - I noted that not only was it sunny, but there was no wind at all, and therefore and outdoor shoot was possible. This is unheard of on the north-east coast.
There's so much I want to say about this quilt top, so bear with me... I had come across the project in November 2015 and dismissed it. I looked at it again in December and dismissed it again. The reason was the fabric requirements. I was totally put off by the requirement of a dark-dark, dark-medium, dark, medium-dark etc. I couldn't wrap my head round it. I don't know when I had the lightbulb moment, that actually all I needed were light blocks and dark blocks and the rest was up to me. And that rainbows are always good. And with that revelation, I started piecing it on 3rd January 2016. I stayed on track until the end of March. Before Jessica arrived I had a completed centre and first dark border. The dark block in this border are all 3".
And then, inevitably, I fell behind. That's what happens when you have a new-born. But Jessica was pretty good - she napped and slept in the evenings. Mia was still going to the child-minder so I actually had some sewing time after the first few months. When I got back to the project I was 84 blocks behind. I gradually chipped away at it. Unfortunately the blocks from mid April to early July were 6" blocks instead of the 3" we had been working on. And wow, were they a challenge. No churn dashes here. I would prepare a few blocks at once, then sew a few blocks and by September I was back up to date with the sew-along.
One of the things that kept me going during that time was the amazing ladies (and gent) on the UK based Facebook group that was set up for this. The encouragement and support I found there was amazing. Every success was cheered, every failure shared and halved. And on the days when the block was truly monstrous, we all consoled each other, then tackled it and shared tips. In short, we sewed together, we moaned together and we achieved together!
If you're thinking of joining in, I would definitely encourage it. If you start now, you're about 40 blocks behind. But those first few blocks are very straightforward. Kathy, who has put this project together, has done so really well, to introduce you to basic piecing step at a time - a new technique and then a week to really get your head around it before introducing the next new piecing technique. It's done entirely with rotary cutting - no foundation piecing, no templates and no hand-sewing (unless you really want to). Even if you are an experienced quilter, it's a great learning experience - and you appreciate those easier blocks in hindsight! Do it. Jump in and create a beautiful quilt.
Obviously this isn't a finished quilt yet. I have ordered some Tula Pink Free Fall in navy for the backing. I've been itching for a reason to use this. I had to order it from the States as I couldn't find it in stock anywhere in the UK, and I'm trying not to check the tracking number every half an hour! Once that arrives, I'll be able to pack up the quilt and it's backing in a (large) package and pay an extortionate amount of money to Royal Mail to deliver it to a lady in Cumbria who will be quilting it for me.
This will be the first time I've ever had one of my quilts professionally quilted. Normally I would never dream of it, as I really do enjoy the process of quilting, and I like owning the process from beginning to end. But this quilt is a bit different. I have already spent hours and hours on it and I love it. It's been a project that has been all about the piecing and it's important that the piecing shines in the finished quilt. When I was thinking about quilting it myself, I contemplated a large spiral or and all-over stipple. But the reality is that there are a lot seams, and a lot of seam allowance - some blocks are more seam allowance than block. And with my machines I think I would experience so many thread breakages and needles snapping, that I would quickly fall out of love with the quilt. And I don't want that. So this quilt will be quilted by someone else, so that I don't ever stop loving it!
We're hatching a plan to display a number of the finished 365 quilts created in the Facebook group at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in the summer. I won't be able to be there, but I hope my finished quilt will be!
Watch this space for a finish in the next few months!