Friday, April 16, 2010

My Sixth Quilt: All about the Stitches

More than once over the past year, I've thought of this quilt as "the most heavily hand quilted thing in the history of the world". Both because I made my quilts big enough to fit on top of a queen bed and because I chose to quilt the lines of my backing fabric, this quilt is Very heavily hand stitched, which is a true testament to how much I love doing this. This front is much different than all of the others that I did—when I was deciding what to make for my friends Katherine and Jonathan, I was determined to find a way to cut straight to the quilting. I'm not as big of a fan of the process of piecing the front, so this seemed like a good solution since the piecing was minimal. And once I started quilting and saw how lovely the texture was on the front, I knew I was sold. I did go through about 4 spools of thread in the making of this though, which is a personal record. 

All of the fabric for the front was leftovers from previous quilts. The backing is the Good Folks Dusk fabric from Anna Maria Horner.

I have to admit that I'm really proud of this one and I'm going to have a hard time parting with it. But Katherine, if you're reading, I'm planning to bring this to you when I come to nyc in late May, and I know you and J will give it a wonderful home.

Since I had a few questions on my process, I'm going to take a moment to explain a bit about how I do my quilts. I quilt them all by hand because for me, that's the part of this process that I like the most. I get to spend about a year with each quilt that I make (though only a few months for the wall hanging), which has been a real plus for me since all but one of them have been gifts. It makes it easier for me to give them to friends and family when I've already had a length of time to enjoy them.

That said, there is a point along the way, usually at about the 75% completion stage that I am hit with the feeling that I Will Never Finish. My way through this—which actually hit really hard with this last quilt because of the sheer amount of stitching—is similar to how I've gotten myself through long hikes/climbs, walks or runs. I think, "Just Keep Going". That might not sound very compelling, but it really has helped me. And once I get over that hump and I start to see the end coming near, well then I get pretty giddy.

I have used my machine for some piecing, but it really depends on my mood. I don't find the need to iron seams as much when I do it by hand, so that is often why I skip the machine. As far as size, I've tended to buy 3 yards of fabric for the backing, so it winds up being about 1.25 yards in length (I make sure to save enough, about 4 inches or so all around, to use for the binding).

If any of you have other questions, please don't hesitate to ask! I'm sure I've skirted over important aspects since I'm so familiar with how I do these.

News: For anyone in or around Des Moines who's interested, I've set up a Modern Quilting Guild group for us on ning, so please register and share with your stitch happy friends. I am still figuring out how the site works, but for now I'm hoping we can use it as a way to see who's out there and interested in eventually meeting up. Thanks!


  1. Amy, this is GORGEOUS! I love the colors, but I reeeeaaaally love the stitching. This is my favorite kind of quilt. Maybe someday I will have the patience to actually do it myself!

  2. WOW. The stitching on this blows my mind -- how did you get the circles so perfect?! (even following the pattern on the back... amazing.) And I adore the colors and the big blocks of fabric. Seriously. Impressed. KNB will love it.

  3. That is gorgeous! I love the pattern of the stitches and the large blocks of fabric.

  4. Your history in quilts is lovely to see! They are all beautiful and each tell their own story. Keep it up.

  5. Love this! I machine piece, and will be learning to machine quilt, but I want to some day take the time to hand piece and/or quilt one day. I've always loved the rhythm and satisfaction of punching a needle through fabric to create.
    Fantastic job!

  6. Holy. F.

    I am amazed. The QUILTING.

    This is stunning! I mean, I actually feel a bit stunned.

    I need to lie down.

  7. Thank you everyone! I really appreciate your comments- I am thinking about making more smaller pieces, so baby sized quilts and wall hangings, so I can make more than one a year. Enjoy your weekend!