Some quilts you can whip out in a week or so and some take….3 years. Alas, this is one of those projects that seemed to go on and on, but I finally finished. It’s completely hand-sewn, hand-tied, and hand-bound. It started as a special gift for Poppy, my 6 year old, but is now a special gift for Poppy, my 9 year old. She’s been very patient with me, and thankfully she still loves purple. (And who could have guessed I’d finish it when Pantone would choose ultra-violet as their color of the year?)
My daughters and I have always loved the Little House on the Prairie books. I’ve read them to both girls on their own as well as together, and they’ve read them themselves multiple times. Even though it’s been a few years, references to the Long Winter or the storm of locusts come up regularly in our conversations. Because of my love of sewing, we’d always focus on and talk about all of the hand-sewing scenes in the books—Ma making clothes for Pa; Laura hating to whip up a seam on a sheet; Mary’s meticulous hand-piecing; and eventually Mary’s going-to-college wardrobe.
Three years ago the topic of hand-sewing was on the table, and somehow I committed to making Poppy a hand-sewn quilt. I thought about a hexie quilt, or even yo-yo’s, but I was working on another project from Denyse Schmidt’s Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration, and was in love with the postage stamp doll quilt in that book. I decided to go simple, with 2″ squares.
Selecting the fabric was fun but a challenge because purple wasn’t as popular as it is now. We decided to balance the purples with some nice berries. Poppy and I dropped into fabric stores wherever we went and picked out a fat quarter or two. I cut them into squares and sorted into light and dark. From there I’d sew them into rows of three, alternating light and dark, then 9-patch blocks. This was my traveling project for a long time. It went to Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, and even Hawaii. There were many, many times I wanted to switch to machine piecing, but Poppy objected, saying it wouldn’t be as special. How could I argue?
I don’t think I could have survived all the hand-sewing without Gutermann quilting thread, which is waxed so it slides through fabric easily and doesn’t tangle. It’s also really strong, so I’m hopeful it will hold up to heavy use and lots of washing. For tying I used perle cotton to tie a double knot in each block. I did not do a repeat stitch, as is often recommended. I’ll have to report back on how well my knots hold up.
Pop loves it, and I’m glad I stuck with the hand work. I actually kind of miss it (but won’t be doing it again.)
Pets love handmade quilts too. 🙂
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