nine05

life in balance


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The ten-year quilt top

About ten years ago, early in my college career, I took a quilting class at my alma mater’s extracurricular craft center and started this quilt top.


I don’t remember those years very well a decade out, but I do remember my insistence on doubling the size of the quilt, the breath-taking cost of the fabric (at the time it was a fortune to me) and my determination to pick something that looked simple. I was terrified to cut the fabric, wincing every time my rotary cutter slipped. I ironed my seams every which wonky way – and not the good kind of wonky. And apparently, at the very beginning, I felt the need for basting stitches to help me sew on the machine, which I had pretty much never done before.

I continued to work on it off and on throughout college, and when I left school, it went into deep freeze. I carried it with me through three states, from Ohio to Texas to Maryland, constantly telling myself that when I was braver, better at sewing, more reliable with my rotary cutter – one day when all the stars aligned, basically – I would finish it. And in the meantime, I felt bad. I felt bad about the fabric sitting around doing nothing, and about my own inability to just Get It Done.


This year I went to Squam for the first time – and in some way it lit a fire under me to finish the unfinished. So I pulled the top out of cold storage, spread it out and assessed where things stood with the project after a years-long hiatus. I found that for the most part, I was well over halfway done. Crazily, after such a long wait, I was actually able to knock out the rest of the top in about a month’s worth of weekend work.

I love the paisley border that’s outermost. I’ve been really into modern quilts lately and thought I would hate the borders – nope, they really pulled the piecework (which I wasn’t crazy about initially) together into a coherent whole.


Now the last step is to piece the backing and send it out to a machine quilter for finishing! Well… the last step before binding, anyway. I’d love to break into hand-quilting or quilting on my sewing machine, but for this project, I thought the rush of having it finished was worth more than the satisfaction of doing my own quilting on the top. Plus, it’s quite large – kind of a queen/king size hybrid and probably not the best project to learn to quilt on! For this one I’ll have to be satisfied with being just a piecer.

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Under construction!

The idea for this blog was born as I worked on the ten year old quilt top in this picture. I’d like to document my process and, at the same time, become comfortable again with the written word. More pictures and text coming soon!