Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Why it's always good to have those unfinished quilt tops lying around

I finished this quilt top last fall. I even put together a backing for it, but it's been on my shelf ever since. It started when I made this pillow a couple years ago, then made a replica of that block for myself, but then decided to add 8 more and make it a lap quilt. All that to say, I had no purpose in mind for it or urgency to finish it until last week.

That's when I found out a friend from college- my age, two kids- was diagnosed with breast cancer and would have surgery a few days later. And, she was 12 weeks pregnant with twins. Needless to say, this was awful news and I couldn't wrap my mind around all the what-if's and all the worry and fear. But at the same time, everything I was hearing from her and her family was full of hope to beat this thing. Such an amazing attitude, the least I could do was finish this quilt for her. When you make things all the time, you are even more compelled and obsessed when something like this happens to someone. It's like you can't think about anything else until it's done. Part of me feels like it's weirdly a selfish act- like I need to feel better that I've actually done something in a helpless situation.  Is a selfish gift still a gift? Sure. I'm rambling now, but I'm hoping some of you quilters and makers out there can relate to the feeling.

Anyway, lucky for me, when I messaged her husband to ask her favorite colors, he said purple. This quilt had a sealed fate, and a very clear deadline date.

The pattern is based on the popular granny square block, but they are enlarged to 3.5" squares instead of 2.5", then I put wide sashing between the blocks out of the same Moda Bella Feather solid as the background. Most of my quilts don't have this much white in them, so I really wanted the quilting to stand out on it.

Free-motion quilting is something I've become a lot more comfortable with (even though I know I have SO much room for improvement), but I always have mixed feelings about the finished product. I seem to love the flow of my little practice quilt sandwiches-where I try out all different designs that all run together- much better than most of my quilts that have an all-over design, or even different designs based on the piecing. So I decided to treat this whole quilt like one of those practice pieces. I would just go with the flow and change designs when I got bored. Sometimes I would follow the lines of the piecing and sashing, most times I ignored them. It was definitely the most fun I've had quilting, and I love the way it turned out. It was just like quilt doodling, and the resulting crinkle is amazing. With such a simple and symmetrical piecing design, the quilting really helps to move your eye all over the place and make it interesting.  I'll definitely be "free-stying" like this more in the future.

I took these pictures after washing the quilt so it doesn't look so bad, but I wanted to show you the pucker action I got on the back. You can kinda see it on the right of this picture. Totally not that noticeable and I'm not one to unpick for something like that. But it happens. Adds to the charm.

I even labeled it before mailing. I always say I'm going to label my quilts, but then I never do. I felt like if this quilt stayed around in her family for any amount of years, I wanted them to know when and why it was made for her. It can be a small part of the some-day-story of how mom beat cancer while growing two (TWO!) babies :)

I didn't have a good binding on hand, but I got lucky at the local small town Sew&Vac here and found this Art Gallery Oval Elements in the perfect dark purple. I love framing all that white in a dark color.   I think the quilt finished at about 55" square. 

The package arrived the day of her surgery and her husband let me know that he'd bring it to her in the hospital that afternoon. Surgery went really well by the way, for all three of them!


  1. Oh, I can't even imagine what she's going through. Prayers for her and her family! Your quilt is beautiful and I hope that she zens out by tracing all of your freemotion designs. What a thoughtful gift.

  2. These are the kind of blog posts I enjoy most from quilting bloggers. Amazing job. I'm sure it is much appreciated. My thoughts are with your friend!

  3. (don't cry at work don't cry at work don't cry at work)

    dammit jess, you're such a thoughtful, loving friend. i know what you mean about it feeling selfish to make something to make yourself feel helpful in a helpless situation, but really, being on the receiving end of thoughtful gifts, it really DOES help. your pillow has comforted me a few times when i've been sad/hurting. it will mean the world to your friend to snuggle under a quilt you made, i know it.

  4. Oh wow. How terrifying for her. I'm glad her outlook is positive. Bless you for finishing this for her. I'm sure it will bring much comfort. Yes, I get the whole ' I want to give a quilt' thing ; )

  5. what a wonderful job. i'm sure it will help your friend to feel better. she will know that she is loved! sending all my best wishes!

  6. yeah, i totally understand feeling helpless in the face of such sadness. and i do think wonderful things come out of selfish things (though i suspect you're the only one who sees this as selfish). it's a lovely gift and i hope it gives your friend and her family comfort. keep on rocking, jessica!

  7. Best wishes to your friend, Jessica!!! I am sure this quilt will bring much comfort. Yes, this is definitely a good reason to have unfinished quilt tops lying around. I love this version of the great granny square block, and your doodling style of quilting gives the quilt a nice texture.

  8. How great you had this top on hand and it turned into a lovely quilt with an important glad surgery went well and certainly hoping for the best!


Thanks so much for your comments-I LOVE to hear from you, so speak up! And I usually reply in email to your questions, so make sure your profile has your email.