Collection Quilt

This small quilt may not look like much to you. It's only 38" x 50", not even big enough for a twin bed. But it's hanging proudly on the wall of my home for a reason. Finishing this quilt was a massive achievement that came to mean much more to me than I ever thought. It's one of my most prized possessions.

In short, it's completely sewn and quilted by hand. And I had never appliqued anything other than a small square before this project. Hand sewing is slow sewing — it took me a year and a half to complete—a crash course in discipline and patience. Over time, I began to really value this slow practice, it started to feel like an act of love. I have specific memories sewed into these blocks, where I was, who I was with, what I was thinking about, worrying about. I took it with me from road trips to hospital waiting rooms. It's a beautiful thing.

Like all of my ambitious projects, I started it on a whim. Needlework was hosting a monthly quilt-along and I wanted to be a part of the fun. Plus, like I've said many times before, I love a project I can do in front of the TV.

I knew next to nothing about applique, so figured this was a great way to learn. And it really was! Carolyn Friedlander designed this quilt as one long appliqué class. There are 12 different blocks, each one teaching you a new technique and increasing in difficulty sequentially. The instructions are very clear and detailed and include photos to illustrate the techniques. There are even tips for choosing colours and fabrics. As we all know how indecisive I can be, this was probably the most challenging part for me. I decided to stick more or less to her colour scheme, but chose fabrics from my own stash as much as possible. I chose my fabrics as I went along, but this was a bit of a momentum killer. I would highly recommend picking out all your fabrics first.

Deciding to quilt by hand, another very time-consuming method after a year of piecing, just seemed like the natural thing to do with this quilt. Although I really wanted to be finished, I liked the idea of it being entirely by hand. Maybe a part of me also didn't want it to end?

I used a solid grey chambray on the back, which shows off the hand-quilting really well. Not that you get to see that while it's hung on the wall. But I know it's there.

Speaking of wall-hanging, I recently discovered this genius method from amy a la mode. All you do is hand-sew a long loop to the back, slide a wooden board or dowel through and screw in a couple hooks to each end. Then you can just use small picture nails to hang the hooks on, leaving very minimal damage to the wall. With a heavier quilt, you could probably do the same, just use a thicker piece of wood.

Finally, here are some shots I snapped throughout the process.

Needlework carries several more Carolyn Friedlander applique patterns and I can't wait to tackle another one, just as soon as some of my other epic projects are finished. More on that in my next post!

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