A queen-sized quilt? What was I thinking?! Only for Kelly...
Kelly has been my best friend since sophomore year of high school. We were just people who went to school together and had classes together until then, but we slowly realized that we both loved crossword puzzles [and were consequently the coolest of people]. We were still just sort of friends when she invited me to NYC over Spring Break with her and her mom. She wanted me to go so she wouldn't be alone with her mom for 5 days, and I wanted to go because her mom said she'd pay for everything but the plane ticket. Best decision ever. We spent 5 days touring art museums and cemented our friendship over coffee, puzzles, and the ability to pack for a vacation in just a Jansport backpack.
College came around and she went to MIT, while I stayed in Florida at UF. She came home once a year and I visited her twice up there. I spent summers working and she spent them in places like Sierra Leone, India, and Singapore doing internships for her architecture program. I hope you can tell by now that she's super awesome?
Last year when she graduated from MIT she decided to go to grad school at Berkeley for urban planning, so now she lives out in CA, and we still only get to see each other for about a week a year. Plane tickets to CA are pretty hefty, so I haven't gotten to visit her yet. Whenever she comes home I clear my schedule and try to spend as much time as possible with her.
At Christmas she mentioned how much she liked Stephen's simple patchwork quilt and sort of asked for one. Then later in the spring she said she wanted to pay me to make one, but felt weird paying me, so she'd send me presents in exchange for a quilt. I said sure, and got started collecting fabrics. And then in April she mentioned she wanted to use it on her new queen-sized bed.
And I stalled. Feeling very unsure of tackling a queen-size quilt.
But for Kelly...
This quilt is made up of 510 five inch charms. It measured about 95x108" before washing. Stephen is oh-so-nicely holding it up when it's damp, because I plum ran out of time for it to finish drying before I had to meet Kelly. Which is why all these pictures are just "meh". Hopefully the quilt crinkles more!
Many people expressed interest in what I ended up doing for basting. I had to move all my furniture as far back as possible in my living room in order to accomplish this. I've tried taping the backing to the carpet as you would for hardwood floor basting, and it does not work for me. So I lay the batting out on the floor, then spray baste each side to it individually. This time I tried pinning the batting pieces into the carpet so that it would remain taut...it didn't work exactly how I'd imagined it would, but maybe that was just user error.
Apologies for the picture, but this was an afterthought as I was running out the door. There was no way in hell I was going to piece a backing after piecing the top, so I pulled out a queen-sized flat sheet I had on hand. Too small. I had to run out and get a king-sized sheet, and it was juuust big enough.
How long did this whole quilt take me? Well, I sewed the first 28 [out of 56] nine-patches, and then I was SO BORED. So I pulled out my computer and Season 1 of Veronica Mars. Kelly and I LOVE this show. Love. Spunky female detective played by Kristen Bell? Yes please. Watch it, love it, thank me later. I watched the entire first season [22 episodes at 45 min per episode] while piecing the rest of the top together and quilting it. I had to bind it without any TV distractions. So I would say the whole thing took about 25 hours to piece, quilt, and bind.
The picture above shows a few things: 1, the quilt is clearly still wet, so I hope it ends up looking better from the back when it's dry, and 2, that it's fairly lightly quilted and looks like it could be basted better. I can't wait for the day when I'm a professional baster and those quilts are as flat and smooth as can be.
Because this quilt was a beast, I knew I wouldn't be able to quilt it as much as I might normally quilt. So I put some straight-lines down the quilt every 4 rows, following the seam lines. Then I added some free-motion flowers using the squares to help guide me. I quilted a single petal in each square. Every other row I alternated where the flowers started so that they would be staggered on the back of the quilt. The flower part of the quilting actually went really smoothly...during the straight-line part I could feel my soul shriveling up inside. Ha!
There are a few special fabrics in this quilt just for Kelly: the Children at Play rocket print that she loved from Stephen's quilt and is a nod to the smarties at MIT, the Etchings blueprint fabric for her architecture degrees, and the gray Michael Miller Catherineholm enamelware print to celebrate our obsession with coffee at any time.
It was certainly tough to make this quilt this huge, and it may not have turned out as awesome as I wanted it to be, and I may have cursed at the air quite a few times during the process, but I would absolutely do it all over again for seeing the appreciation on Kelly's face when I dropped it in her lap :)