I was happily handstitching down the binding around a quilt last night when I began to wonder when a quilt actually becomes a quilt. I know it sounds a little weird but I feel that I've noticed the process of change more on this project I think because the quilt top wasn't made by me. I was given a quilt top last year by my lovely mother-in-law Betty who asked me to quilt it for her. It was a quilt top which had been donated at some point (we believe perhaps from a deceased estate) to the Salvation Army. Now my mother-in-law (who will be 80 this year but sometimes you wouldn't know!) is a woman who likes to keep busy and so uses fabric donated to the Salvation Army to sew bags for the Salvos to use when distributing care packages when people come in looking for help. So a good use for fabric you would say! On this occasion however she was given the quilt top as well with the suggestion that she should cut it up and use it for bags. Clearly whoever gave it to her was not a quilter! Luckily while Mum is not a quilter, one of her daughters Kerrie and myself are so she knew better! Anyway, the upshot of it was that she wanted to have it finished off so she asked me to do it for her.
When I actually laid it out and started pinning the sandwich together I was 'nose to nose' with it, so to speak and really started to appreciate the thought that had gone into the placement of colours together and the fussy cutting of fabric to make the blocks. After I took the photo above I realised that the colour placement in different blocks really changed the look of the blocks and even though they're all the same, some look completely different. The fabrics seem to be a mix of clothing and quilting fabrics and while I was pinning I found myself thinking about the maker and whose the clothes might have been. Did she use scraps from her family's clothing, or perhaps she would buy old clothes from the Salvation Army to cut up and re-use this way? Its fairly certain we'll never know but it is nice to know that her quilt is eventually getting finished and will be used one day!
Anyway this was the point at which I had to start thinking about how I would tackle the quilting as usually while I'm finishing a top I'm thinking about the quilting stage! When I took it off the table and brought it back inside (I sandwich quilts outside on a picnic table!) I said to my husband, "Its turning into a quilt now, it looks completely different!" And it did. The simple act of being sandwiched had changed the look of the top already.
Then I machine quilted a grid around the pieced blocks to hold everything together before starting on the free motion quilting. This is the first time I have quilted a whole quilt using free motion and you can tell when you see some of the star blocks up close but I was pretty happy with the stippling part. It was the outlining of the stars that was a bit wonky but you have to start somewhere!
Then my problem became what next? What pattern to do in the long cream zig-zaggy strips? I had in my head that I would feather them but I wasn't really convinced and then when I looked at them again I realised they were a bit narrow for what I was thinking. In the end after putting it aside for a week or two my inspiration kicked in and I decided to echo a 3/4" line down either side and then quilt inside the lines using a combination of loops and leaves and straight away I fell in love with the look of it!
At this point I felt the quilt had transformed again closer into becoming a quilt and everytime I looked at it I liked it more! Once I finished it I realised that I had inadvertently created a different look for the quilt which was something I have often seen on other people's quilts but hadn't yet had the opportunity to try for myself. So pretty happy so far!
Then I had to decide on the binding colour and eventually chose a plain pink which seems to tie in nicely with both the top and the backing. Now with the binding sewn on the front and only the hand finishing of it to go I still feel its not quite a quilt but its close! The label is on and the binding needs three sides to finish, the loose threads all need to be pulled through and it needs a wash but its nearly there.
I'm giving it back to Mum on Mother's Day and I'm sure she'll get a surprise because I've had it for quite a while now and she's probably forgotten about it (she can do that! Which I think is funny because its been occupying my mind for months and she will have totally forgotten she gave it to me!).
Anyway, its close to being a quilt but not quite! I'll post a photo once it is officially a quilt!
If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking with me through my rambling on!