the journey of my quilt top

Monday, July 21, 2008

It started as a quilt top.  Just a top.  My mother purchased it for us about ten years ago.  To make memories on.  And if you can believe this, the woman who made it, charged her ten dollars.  The woman said that she didn't do it for the money.  She just loved to do it.  
This quilt top was hand stitched.  Perfect little stitches.  928, 2x2 squares.  (Oh, come on, you knew that I would count.)  It measures 87"x 79".
(the five of us.  july 2002.  i think that i was making peanut butter and jelly sandwich # 3,192.  i can't even imagine how many pb&j's that i have made in their lifetime.)

Well, the quilt top was used.  Just the top.  We have used it on every road trip we have ever taken.  On every picnic we have ever had.
For years I have wanted to finish this quilt.  Well, the years keep coming.  And the quilt top is still, just a top.
The kids keep growing.  And still.  It is just a top.
Until last weekend.  When I decided it was time.  We have a little road trip coming up and I was not going to have my family sitting on a top.  Just a top. Again.  So, I got busy.  And I sandwiched.  Three times.  To try to get it right.  With heavy chairs holding my huge piece of fabric that I used for the back.  And the entire time I was pinning, I was thinking about the walking foot that Erin told me I needed.  And about how I still hadn't purchased it.  And about how there was no way that I was going to get to a store to purchase a walking foot.  And I was thinking about the woman who had hand stitched all of those pieces together.  And it was like that woman whispered to me, "Just hand stitch it, for goodness sakes!"  
So that is what I did.  And I sat with that quilt on my lap.  With all of those pins.  And I was miserable.  And I wondered why people don't use safety pins instead of straight pins to hold it together.  
When I told my mother, she just giggled and said, "Yes, people use safety pins, and there are actually curved safety pins made just for quilting. " Who knew?  Oh, besides all of you quilters. (Hmmm.  Telling that story may just rank right up there with my freezer paper story.)
Those things are seriously the best thing ever invented.  
I worked on it all week.  With a marathon stitching day yesterday.  And finally, I  have finished our picnic blanket.  And I love it so much.  With all of its uneven stitches. And puckers.  And memories.

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71 comments

  1. beautiful story..quilts are like that...now that it's finished you must sleep under it for good luck (an old quilters superstition) :-)

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  2. Such a great story! I am wishing you and your family many more years of fond memories on your New/Old quilt! :)

    Hugs,
    Sheree

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  3. What a wonderful story and a true treasure. Good work Leslie.

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  4. What a fabulous story and long may your beautiful quilt be treasured. Well done on getting it all finished. The pin thing did make me giggle though!

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  5. and that't why women have made quilts since the beginning to tell and have stories like yours. Wonderful Leslie and have a great trip with your family!

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  6. i'm so glad i popped over to hear the story behind the quilt. it's beautiful. it will be cherished (it probably already is...).

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  7. Yay!! I love it! The quilt and the story. Every pucker is a memory.

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  8. i hope that only the best memories continue being made on your quilt. have a wonderful road trip with your family.

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  9. wow. that is amazing to hand stitch a quilt that big! beautiful!

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  10. Oh, I love it! And it will mean so much more because it was done by hand.

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  11. oh, picnic quilt memories. are always good. yours included. for sure. we have an heirloom picnic quilt in our family. and i would like to make one for h-kun and it. yep. good job on finishing your blanket!

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  12. Congratulations! The quilt is beautiful. I am so impressed that you hand quilted it in that short amount of time.

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  13. WOW! You're like wonder-woman, girl.

    It's beautiful.

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  14. That's my favorite thing about quilts, the "imperfections".. the puckers and the rumples!

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  15. the quilt is beautiful. good for you for finishing it up so beautifully.

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  16. The quilt is absolutely beautiful!! Great story to pass down with it also.

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  17. It's lovely! How wonderful to finish something that already has a history, and will have more!

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  18. Oh, that's wonderful Leslie! What a treasure you and your family have.

    And yes, that's almost as good as the freezer paper story.

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  19. Fantastic! I can't believe you finished it in ONE week!! That red fabric is mesmerizing.

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  20. The huh? The what? you handstitched the beautiful behemoth in a week! I don't even know what to say. Speechless!!!

    Either way I am sure your family will love it even more now as we all do!

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  21. Good for you. Now to make new memories on a somewhat new quilt. Have a safe trip.

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  22. Awesome! I love that you hand stitched it. It just seems fitting. :)

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  23. i can't believe that you got that finished in a week! it looks wonderful, leslie. i would have told you about the safety pins, but i thought you knew!
    congrats and have a safe trip!

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  24. I have a friend who is an avid quilter and when I quilted my first item (placemats) and asked her about a walking foot, she'd never heard of it and has only even used her regular machine foot or done the stitches by hand. See the walking foot is over rated ;)

    As much work as it was for you doing it the way many women have before you, by roughing it and doing hand stiches, it is what makes that the best quilt ever! Enjoy your bottom!

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  25. such a nice story. that picnic quilt top deserved to be made into a full-on quilt. it's gorgeous, and you're a super quilter to get it done in a week. wow!

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  26. I love this story. I love it. And I love that you hand stitched the back on - despite the misery. It just seems so... *right*. Some things just get infused with memories - without ever really intending that it should be that way - and they make the greatest stories. And this is one of them!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  27. leslie! i love it! the quilt, the story, the journey. absolutely spectacular that you hand quilted it. ooh, this is too much!

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  28. When I was expecting my first daughter, we used the huge fabric panels on the walls - raindrops and rainbows.

    When we moved - those fabric panels came down and have since been used just like that quilt. For tablecloths and picnic rugs - beach blankets etc.

    I still have them and plan to use them in a weding quilt for the little missy one day.

    I send her off to college this fall.

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  29. How fantastic. Well done for doing all that stitching, you must be so pleased with it. It is beautiful.

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  30. Beautiful Leslie! The story and of course the quilt. Isn't funny how we get wrapped up in our gadgets and machines forgetting that we have the "source" always with us?

    Thanks for sharing and have a good time on your road trip :-)

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  31. It may be my pregnancy hormones at work, but I am sitting here with a few tears in my eyes.

    Thank you for sharing. And have fun making more memories.

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  32. That is a terrific story! I can only imagine how much MORE use the quilt will get now that it's completed!

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  33. It's beautiful!
    There must be so many memoeies in that quilt!

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  34. Is there anything you don't do? I still want sheet sleep pants, don't know how to knit, and I have tons of jean squares already cut, that need to be sewn together for a quilt. Can I have a cup of your talent?

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  35. What a lovely story, and congrats on handfinishing your quilt!

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  36. What a great tale of the traveling top - you did a great job! Machine quilting such a large top is tricky! Good job!

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  37. Wow, that is wonderful! And how great will that be to pass down through the generations!

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  38. Wow. that rocks. you are a superstar. :)
    good for you, congratulations!

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  39. What a thing of beauty and family heritage you've created. Huzzah!

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  40. Wow-- that's a lot of work! Looks great (and what a nice story).

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  41. How beautiful - the quilt... and the story!
    :-)

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  42. Anonymous7/21/2008

    Great story-beautiful quilt.
    I learned to make a quilt several years ago--I enjoyed the process and the end result--but then I learned knitting & haven't considered another quilt-
    Rene'

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  43. Am out of words.....enjoy it's warmth and all the love it brings as you all lay on it!

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  44. Beautiful story -- and beautiful quilt!

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  45. I love the idea of all those thousands of stitches, each done for the love of it. The fact that you added your own makes it a treasure indeed. Beautiful. Thanks for telling us about it.

    And yay for good, practical tools!

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  46. I love all quilts! Wonderful job finishing it off so that you can continue to enjoy it!

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  47. Gorgeous! You'll get tons more years of memories out of that blanket!

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  48. beautiful story. i love that picture taken of you guys five years ago too. PB&J! yum!

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  49. What a great quilt! I know it will be passed down to the next generation along with more wonderful stories.

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  50. I love that quilt and I love the memories that will be retained in each of its squares and every little stitch. Beautiful.

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  51. Wow! I'm impressed, Les! So happy you got to finish it before the road trip. I LOVE the yellow color. It looks so lovely....what patience you have. Congrats!

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  52. Good job! That is no small undertaking! I'm with you on the PB & J count. It comes up a lot around here. I have a feeling there's a walking foot in my future...I love the picture of you holding the quilt.

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  53. Quilts are such storytellers and the story with yours is golden - make sure you write it down and keep it where you store the quilt. Beautiful!

    Tanya

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  54. Woohoo to you. Well done for your patience, and endurance. Fabulous story and thank you for the tip on curved safety pins. Off to buy some now.

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  55. Ah, this story made me so happy! It looks fantastic and really - hand stitched in a week - that's a pretty good effort I'd say!

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  56. One week!? It would've taken me months to complete. Beautiful work L.

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  57. That's awesome! Here's to many, many more years of memories and enjoyment with your treasure...clink!
    Marissa

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  58. You do beautiful work! And what a great story!

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  59. valerie7/22/2008

    What a beautiful quilt, and story. You are inspiring!

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  60. It looks beautiful... congrats on getting it done!

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  61. Isn't funny how sometimes we forget that we can hand-stitch. It looks beautiful.

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  62. I love that story! The quilt is beautiful. Now it will have even more meaning behind it as your story of finishing is added on to all the memories. So great!

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  63. Wow - that is very, very impressive - I can't believe all the work! And in just one week! But now are you going to let people sit on it in -GASP - the grass? After all that work? You're a nice mommy. I'd be all like, GET OFF MY QUILT, DARN IT! It's going on the wall. And then never hanging it, either, because, well, I never actually get around to hanging things. So yeah. Your way is probably better. Way more fun. I stink.

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  64. I have a quilt top that I made and sandwiched in a weekend...it's been four months, and it's still waiting to be hand-seamed. I know the feeling. Congratulations on getting it done!

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  65. What a beautiful quilt and what wonderful memories.

    That's a lot of hand stitching - wow!

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  66. That is wonderful! I am sure you will cherish it and your kids will tell their kids and so on when they make their own memories using it! Wonderful!

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  67. Beautiful quilt and lovely story.

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  68. I found your blog via my dear friend, Mette at Erleperle. So glad I dropped by here to see your wonderful photographs of such beautiful hand made things! This quilt is so stunning! I get so inspired by reading a blog like yours! Happy weekend and happy crafting!
    ~Emily

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