CHQuilts: My latest favorite quilt is done

Monday, October 26, 2020

My latest favorite quilt is done

Orchid Flowers
Every quilt I work on is always my favorite. And the best part of the process is the finish.

I’m really pleased to have finished this one, since it has been hanging around unfinished far too long.

In fact, I started it so long ago that I had forgotten naming it “Orchid Flowers.” I am not exactly sure when I started this quilt. I decided I wanted to make a traditional Dresden Plate quilt, and had begun sewing the pieces together before having a real concept in mind. Each of the ‘plates’ is made up of 20 ‘blades,’ which are appliqued onto a piece of background fabric. It doesn’t show up well in the photo, but each square contains alternating white and cream-colored paisley prints. The circle in the center is also the opposite and alternate color. From what I can piece together, (pun intended) once I had made 20 of them, I started to conceptualize an actual quilt. That was around July of 2015.

This was a bit of a storied project

According to what I’ve written previously in CHBlog, I finished this quilt top in August, 2015. That was a few months after my husband suffered a debilitating stroke. There was no time for quilting with so many doctor and therapy appointments. It was a pretty stressful time, so when I eventually did get back to working on it, this was indeed my therapy. I wrote about that too, how quilting is good medicine.


I had planned to hand-quilt this quilt, since it is such a traditional pattern, established back in the 1920’s. I found though, that hand-quilting it proved to be quite a chore. It was hard to needle through the seams in all the blades. When I had about nine of the 20 blocks quilted, I realized I wasn’t having much fun doing it. My stress-relief project was actually having the opposite of its desired effect, so I decided to rip out everything I had done. I decided that quilting it on the machine was a much better option that might result in actually finishing it. I’m so glad I made that decision. I truly enjoyed the quilting process. 
So, in all, it took about about three or four months to complete. Every project I do is a challenge in some way. The challenge here was to learn to quilt feathers free-hand—no marking. I am so much more comfortable after doing these lovely, traditional quilting designs. I love how they look and am anxious to use them more often in future projects.

Another challenge was to decide on the border option. I finally decided on a leaf and swirl motif, also free-hand. I love how it turned out. I will use this motif again.

Dresden border
I enjoyed doing it. 

 The border took longer than I had anticipated. It is pretty densely quilted, but it very random and free.

I told myself I would have a finished quilt this weekend. So, I started the day Sunday, early, before breakfast, with two sides to finish.

Once that final border motif met the place where I started, I could call it done. It was a thrill to cut that final thread. But it wasn’t the end yet.

There was still the binding. I like to sew my binding onto the back of the quilt by hand. That always takes longer than I’d like. So, by the time I worked my way around all the way to where I started, I was pretty tired. My fingers hurt. I hadn’t done hand sewing for some time and was out of practice. Well, I certainly got the practice yesterday. I spent about 12 hours in all, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. And I still wasn’t done.

To me, a quilt is never complete until after it is washed and dried. That is when all the fabric shrinks around the stitches making the whole thing poufy, textural. I call it ‘quilty.’

I never pre-wash my fabric. I just put a Shout Color Catcher into the wash, two in fact, just to be sure. I have never had a problem with dyes running or fading.

So last night, I took the warm quilt out of the dryer and spread it out onto my lap as I sit on my favorite chair, just so I could inspect it. Before I could look over the whole thing, a couple of cats jumped onto my lap and snuggled into the soft, warmth of it . Now it is done. And, it is oh, so satisfying.

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