My mother did not quilt. My grandmother did not quilt either. My great-grandmother probably did quilt as befitted the time in which she lived, but as we were not destined to know one another I can’t be sure. What I’m getting at here is that quilting was not something I absorbed from my childhood surroundings. I wasn’t mitering corners at grannie’s knee or using a rotary cutter in elementary school. It is rather baffling therefore that for my first quilting project ever I decided to make a queen-sized quilt for my baby daughter. I considered the lap quilts but felt she would outgrow those too fast, and who has twin beds anymore anyway and so heck- why not just go big or go home? So I went big. I completed all of the blocks during her first year of life and even got them all put together with the inner borders. We were living in Eugene, OR at the time and knew we wouldn’t be able to stay. I chose colors to remind us of that place- the blues of the sky, the greens and browns of the earth. For the background I chose a patterned fabric featuring bright umbrellas in front of a cloudy sky. Once the top was done it just sat. And sat. For 2 years. I’ve heard this is common tale- the patchwork top is the exciting part and after that it’s just levels of tediousness.
Once I finally came to terms with this understanding I hired a longarmer. In other words, one who possesses a long-arm machine. It was a wonderfully freeing experience which has left me with a finished quilt, a sense of peace, and a neater sewing area. Thank you Heidi Hendrix in Lusby, MD!
The longarm machine is an invention which allows the quilter to spread a large portion of the quilt out while machine quilting the patchwork top, inner batting, and backing together with a set pattern such as spirals. If your other alternative, like mine, is using a small sewing machine shoved into the back corner of your loft, a longarmer might be preferable.
For the next quilt I will be using a solid color for the background, and instead of doing a sampler quilt where every block is a different pattern, I’ll just be sticking with the ones I like. Rail fence is one of my favorites- nice and simple and best of all- no triangles!