The quilt is finished! I beat my deadline by 5 days, not bad! When I started this project 5 months ago I knew that it would take time to create but I didn’t realize until I was about half way through just how much time. I took off some time in December to travel with my daughter to NYC and for Christmas; I worked on it almost everyday until then.
In January I slowed down a little, sitting at the sewing machine for hours at a time is not my thing. The fun part was over, the rest was work, rewarding work but work nevertheless.
I left off in Part 2 with the quilt laid out on the living room floor and all the furniture shoved to one side. I decided the easiest way for me to sew the blocks together was to bring the sewing machine downstairs. I hated the thought of running up and down the stairs! The blocks are placed on the diagonal which means that my rows run on the diagonal, the longest row starts at the head of the bed in the purple/red area and ends at the foot in the green/multi area. I started with the longest row. Sewing the blocks together wasn’t bad it just took some time since there are 128.
On previous quilts, I have sewn the whole top together before I started quilting. Didn’t think that would work with this one! Many years ago, a woman named Georgia Bonesteel shared her method of quilting in sections. I researched her and read up on her tips. Basically, you quilt in sections leaving a seam allowance + some, on the sides of the quilted section. Then you carefully sew the top layer of 2 sections together, trim the batting so it doesn’t overlap anywhere, and hand sew the backing. Admitably, a pretty obvious way to do it, you just needed to think of it!
The fabric that backs the quilt is 45″ wide so I was able to sew 3 rows of blocks into a quilting unit. I had 3 big sections and 2 triangular sections to quilt. I took my time with the quilting. The fabric is very heavy and has to be guided under the presser foot; sounds easy but the weight means that you have to shift the fabric that has already been sewn away from the needle and carry forward the fabric to be sewn. Otherwise the fabric will pile up just behind the machine and not yield to additional fabric and the machine is not strong enough to pull the full weight of the quilt toward the needle. I have set up a table behind the sewing machine and drug the cutting table over to hold the fabric in front. This image is a little out of focus but you can see the mounds of quilt on both sides of the needle.
It took a little more than 2 weeks to quilt, 3 long weekends. During the week I would make the sandwich of backing/batting/top and pin it carefully with safety pins so that the fabric wouldn’t slip during sewing. Working with sections as long as these, the safety pins worked great for the first half; I had to resort to straight pins after that, a couple of blocks at a time. I did most of the sewing on the weekends, 5 or 6 hours a day.
When I laid the quilt out on the bed, it was too big! Very frustrating to say the least…In the end, I only had to trim 2 squares off down the long sides and just tucked a little more under the pillows!
The final step is putting on the binding. I cut 1 3/4″ strips and pressed them with the raw edges toward the center of the strip. Then I sewed it on. Next, I trimmed away the batting and fabric from the seam allowance. The final step is hand sewing the binding onto the back of the quilt. The binding, quilting across the joining seams and clipping of threads took a full weekend.
This has been a very cold period for Raleigh, in the teens many nights. It was awesome to crawl into bed Sunday night and snuggle under the weight of our new quilt! The old quilt was no where near as heavy or warm, I don’t even need a sweatshirt anymore!