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A Quilt 7 Years In The Making

Summer Blues Is Finally Finished!

© Stephanie Boon, 2016 Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved Embroidering a quilt label http://www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The final stitches

Slow Stitching a Quilt Label

It’s Slow Sunday Stitching with Kathy and I’ll be spending a few special hours embroidering the label for Summer Blues this afternoon. Yes! It’s FINISHED! The final piece of the quilt done and dusted. I’m ecstatic! But true to the spirit of this quilt, I’m making mistakes right until I cross the line! I started a label the other day, then decided it was a tad on the ginormous side so scaled it down a bit and started again.  It’s nothing fancy, but I like to embroider them rather than write in pen. I’ve spent 7 years on the thing, what’s another few hours sewing? I’m using a simple split stitch for the text and I might add a bit of detail around the edges, I’ll see how it goes. I’m just looking forward to a bit of peace and quiet with the needle and thread later on today.

Summer Blues

Want to see it? (Probably for the final time!!! I’m sure you must be sick to death of it by now.)

© Stephanie Boon, 2016 Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved Summer Blues hand made quilt http://www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Summer Blues – it looks weird without all the wadding around the edges!

© Stephanie Boon, 2016 Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved Summer Blues hand made quilt www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The flying geese border

The Mistakes: What I’ve Learned

Mistakes? The many, many mistakes! It was my first (almost fully) hand pieced full-size quilt and I was a bit too free with the seam allowances. I don’t mean generous, I mean I didn’t bother to measure them, I drew around square templates and cut everything by eye with scissors. Some allowances were huge, some were very scant as I tried to be frugal with the fabric. I learnt it’s probably better to use a rotary cutter and ruler for something that’s going to be hand quilted; it’s annoying having to quilt through so many layers because the seams are too large. And frayed seams are especially annoying when you’ve cut the seam allowances too small. And a rotary cutter is also much quicker when there are so many units of the same shape.

I’ve learnt that it’s easier to draw on the quilting lines before you sandwich the quilt. I know this and yet I forget to do it every time. So annoying, especially on something this size. I’ve learnt that it’s probably better to have a clear idea of how you’re going to quilt it before you start… making it up as you go along is all well and good until you change your mind half way through and have to unpick loads.

I learnt that the maxim, ‘measure twice, cut once’ is a load of rubbish in my case: I need to measure at least 50 times before I cut anything! I can’t add up to save my life – I even cut the binding twice the width I needed it just last week!

I learnt that I need to cut larger seams for my flying geese borders. Once I’d squared up the quilt I lost so many points along the edge that it’s now a case of ‘spot the point’, rather than ‘spot the missing point’!

I learnt that making a quilt with new fabrics to this size is bloody expensive (several hundred pounds – the backing fabric alone was almost £80.00), but that doesn’t mean I have to worry about it being perfect. I think that was the biggest mistake I made: striving for ‘perfection’ and getting upset and frustrated when I was unable to achieve it.

© Stephanie Boon, 2016 Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved Summer Blues hand made quilt http://www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Border detail – spot the point!

Not Forgetting The Good Points

There are so many good things about this quilt, but they’re not all about the the craft. My patchwork and quilting skills have improved 100 fold over the 7 years I worked on and off Summer Blues. I learnt I have tenacity and perseverance and that staying power makes me feel good. I learnt how to use a quilt hoop and rocking stitch on this quilt, after years of managing without one. I learnt to let go of worrying about perfect stitches, irregularities and perfect points. I learnt to accept that ‘I’m at where I’m at’ and that I can only improve with practice. It’s an inspiring place to be.

© Stephanie Boon, 2016 Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved Summer Blues hand made quilt http://wwwDawnChorusStudio.com

Turned back to show the Phillip Jacobs backing fabric

The Journey

I started this quilt 7 years ago after an amicable split from Kim’s dad (after 23 years). It was meant to mark a new beginning, something just for me. There’ve been so many ups and downs over the years, so much heartache and illness, and this quilt has soaked up the tears and brought some sunshine too. I’ve loved sewing it (for the most part!) and there are many happy memories attached: sewing in the garden in summer, sewing with friends around their huge table, sewing in the pub with Janie over lunch. And this community: with your help and encouragement I’ve finally got here. Thank you!

Today feels like the end of an era, another new beginning. I can put Summer Blues behind me at last, move on from the negative stuff that started the journey and tuck myself up with the good things I found along the way, full of hope for the next 7 years.

A Few Details

  • Started April 2009, finished July 2016
  • Approximately 118″ x 75″
  • Mostly hand pieced
  • Hand quilted in a hoop
  • 100% cotton wadding
  • Fabrics include Kaffe Fassett and Moda
  • Backing fabric Philip Jacobs
  • Binding fabric Jennifer Paganelli
  • Double fold binding cut on the bias (applied by machine, hand stitched down)

Enjoy the rest of the day. I’ll be back in the week with something different to share!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

PS I’ve just realised this is my first finish of 2016!!

26 replies
  1. Quilter Kathy
    Quilter Kathy says:

    OH my goodness I love this blog post! I was getting teary there for a minute in reading about this life changing quilt!
    I am soo happy for you… that you have finished this beautiful quilt and have learned so much about quilting and about life over these 7 years… you rock!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you SO much Kathy! Your comment made my day! Well, my whole week probably 🙂 Thanks to you and all the Sunday stitcher for your very generous encouragement along the way – I don’t think I’d have got this far without you. I’m really looking forward to sharing something different next week!!!

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thank you Carole – it’s going to be a great hug! I can’t stop smiling whenever I walk into the bedroom at the moment…ignoring my clothes all over the floor!!!

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Jennielou and thank you for your lovely comment! I’ve been thinking about the cost today, and spread out over 7 years I reckon it’s a fairly cheap past time really! (Way cheaper than a lot of people spend on their hobbies.) And you can’t argue that the value is in the enjoyment of hand sewing and not the cost of the materials – definitely worth every penny. Thanks for coming by and saying hello, it’s always wonderful to meet a new quilty friend and I hope we’ll get to know each other well 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sophie
    Sophie says:

    Wow ! Congratulations for finishing your Summer Blues Stephie !!! Your quilt is gorgeous and goes very well on this bed. I’ve loved reading about thoughts and story behind this project.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Sophie – it’s definitely the sort of bed for something ‘home spun’! A lot of the pleasure of quilting is the stories we build up as we stitch isn’t it, especially on something that takes a few years!!! I’ve definitely learnt a lot about quilting and myself through this quilt, which is something to treasure 🙂

      Reply
  3. Kaja
    Kaja says:

    Just beautiful, as I knew it would be. Congratulations on getting to the end of this particular journey, you must be so happy to have it on your bed. Good luck, too, on the journey still ahead; I can’t wait to see what you will be up to next. As an aside, I always mark my quilts after I’ve sandwiched, but I use a hera marker not a pen.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Such kind words Kaja, thank you so much 🙂 I’m definitely enjoying sleeping under it, but I still think it looks weird with a binding rather than the raggedy edge of the wadding that was there for a couple of years!

      How do the Hera markers hold up – do you mark a bit as you go along, or do you find the creases stay a long time? I’d love to continue to mark after I’ve put the sandwich together – and something ‘invisible’ like this might save me a whole lot of swearing when I’m unpicking the bits I don’t like and leaving pencil marks all over the place! Your advice is, as always, most welcome!

      Reply
  4. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    Just a beautiful quilt Stephie! Congratulations on a great finish. Thank you for sharing the history of the quilt and your thoughts with us all. Now, what’s next????

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Thanks Maureen! Your comment made me laugh and has inspired another blog post…hmm, so many projects so little time, haha! I don’t know how you keep on top of all the wonderful quilts you’ve got on the go at the moment, I’m in awe of your progress – especially with your back problem and little helper lately! x (PS I apologise for the delay in replying, I did reply earlier in the week but apparently it didn’t post and I hadn’t realised.)

      Reply
  5. Lynne Nicholson
    Lynne Nicholson says:

    Oh squishy hugs my girl!! Well done. I adore your quilt. Seeing you work on it made me want to quilt my eyesight isn’t the best so I’ve invested in an accuquilt go so I can make accurate cuts (with my ruler and rotary cutter no two “squares” were the same size and shape due to the difficulty lining up the ruler, and ruler slippage as I cut. Great for crazy quilts not good for accurate geometric quilts.
    @\0/@ GO STEPHANIE @\0/@

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      What a brilliant idea Lynne! I think ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ definitely holds up! My eyesight seems to be heading south (with age) quicker than I ever expected and I’m not averse to the idea of a magnifying glass should I need one in the future. Judging by the state of my embroidery on the label I could probably do with one now 😀 x

      Reply
      • Lynne Nicholson
        Lynne Nicholson says:

        I bought an ottlite magnifying lamp it is a floor lamp that can be changed to a table lamp. Wonderful to help me see what I’m sewing on my machine at the table by my chair for hand sewing. I’m also starting to dabble in using beads. Not a cheap lamp but well worth the money.

        Reply
  6. Abigail
    Abigail says:

    Oh this is just so stunning Stephie! I was so glad to hear that the nights are cool enough to use it 😉 It’s chilly here tonight aswell so I will be looking at cuddling up in my duvet – bliss!

    Reply
  7. Jeanne Brown
    Jeanne Brown says:

    I think that it is just wonderful, I love all the colors. I don’t think that it has been that long . I have some squares that I embroidered 52 years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter. I have washed them and am starting a quilt for her birthday. Hope to have it done by September. By the way her name is Kim.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Jeanne 🙂 That’s wonderful and always better late than never, haha! I bet it’ll be a really special birthday gift, one to be treasured for years to come too. Do you think embroidery designs have changed much over the years? I remember a pre-printed one I made when I was about 12, a very ’70s kitten with big, soulful eyes! I absolutely loved it, but I imagine a 12 year old wouldn’t be very impressed if it didn’t feature a Disney Princess or two these days! Come to think of it I can’t imagine many 12 years olds wanting to embroider anyway, very sad. Even more reason that yours will be cherished I’m sure 🙂

      Reply
  8. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    What a beautiful blogpost! I love hearing about all you’ve learned through your journey. And quilting is all about the journey. When people ask me how long one of my applique quilts takes to make, I say “2 cups of coffee in the morning”. I think we get so attached to our quilts because they do share so many emotions in our life along the way. I hope you don’t mind, but I think I’ll do a quick post today sending people your way to hear your lovely words!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh Sandra that’s so lovely, thank you! And I absolutely LOVE your response to the age old question – I’m definitely going to remember that one. I think you should make one of those memes with it, I’d definitely use it! It really is true about the attachment capturing emotions on a long term project – the journey is everything 🙂 x

      Reply
  9. Bossymamma
    Bossymamma says:

    I can’t believe you finished Summer Blues when I was on holiday! I have waited for this quilt for ages and you put the final stitch in place when I was out of contact!!! Sneaky, or what? Will you be sending it to me by post or by courier? Ha ha ha! (Oh, congratulations, by the way.)

    Reply

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