the quandry of quilting

If I would just keep my mouth shut, I could save myself a lot of work.

But no, I had to tell my parents about the quilt family members assembled for my neighbor’s 50th wedding anniversary. It had foot square blocks with an different embroidered picture for each family member. With my grandparents’ golden wedding anniversary looming on the horizon of time, I mentioned it as a gift idea to my parents.

A couple weeks later, my father asked, “how’s the quilt coming along?”
Before my next call to my folks, I went shopping for material.

Initially, my artistically inclined husband considered the quilt completely my project. In my haphazard way, I designed and embroidered blocks for our family.
Those blocks would have been sewn into the quilt – except my sister sent her precisely drawn and stitched blocks for her family. One look at her excellent work and my competitive man began cutting new blocks for our family. He used his talent and created fantastic pictures for me to embroider another set of quilt blocks for our family.

I don’t remember what happened to my unacceptable creations.

My grandmother hung the quilt proudly on the wall in her sitting room.
Ten years later, I made a similar quilt for my husband’s parents and a few years later a greatly modified version for my parents. Then I said I had finished quilting – I preferred cross stitch.

I meant it, too – until I realized I could combine cross stitched pictures with quilting.

Overnight I began collecting old quilting magazines at garage sales and talking about ideas.

If I could just make up my mind what I want to do before I start assembling a quilt, it would take a lot less time. I can’t make up my mind, so my quilts are not so much created as evolved.

I literally have had quilts completely assembled when I realized another cross stitch picture suited the quilt better than the one stitched deep in the middle of the quilt.

Each time, my husband assured me that the one in place would do. Each time, after he left the room, I began ripping out stitches to replace the block.
Replacing a block or two, is one thing. The most recent quilt – which uses a technique I have never tried before – has evolved so much that I have re-sewn some seams half a dozen times.

Before the most recent grandchild’s arrival, I told my husband, “I think I’ll make an “I Spy” quilt,” thinking of the ease and fun of assembling a multitude of uniquely patterned four-inch blocks for the child to discover.
“I thought you were going to make a bottle quilt,” he protested, no doubt thinking of the bundle of fabrics with realistic patterns of hobbies and objects he had recently chosen with the older grandchildren’s help.

Both quilts use small patches of no-two-pieces-alike fabrics. However, an “I Spy” quilt consists of square blocks while a bottle quilt requires assembling the same fabrics into bottles with lids.

I know I said I wanted to make a bottle quilt. I asked him to pick up fabric. But after I read enough about jar quilts to understand the challenge it would be to my beginner skills, I realized I should never have mentioned it.
Since I had mentioned it, our kitchen table conference concluded with the bottle quilt evolving into a “baby bottle and baby food jar” quilt – an even more complicated version of the bottle quilt.

I chose a dark blue background fabric to use between bottles and spent one long evening assembling and remaking one bottle three times before the white material against the blue background and the pale pink fabric of the complicated nipple came out straight and even.

Last week I assembled the bottles into a quilt top. The background of my nearly finished baby bottle quilt is not blue – it is a soft orange and has a much simpler pattern for the bottle’s nipple.

Initially, I set aside deep orange and purple fabrics to create shelves to ‘hold’ the bottles and jars and to back the quilt. Last week, I pulled out a warm brown fabric and used that instead.

The original plan included half a dozen extra things tucked between the bottles – items such as children’s blocks, a teddy bear and a camera. The quilt has none of those.

Over the months of puzzling my way through this quilt, I laid out the completed fabric pictures seven or eight times before I stitched them into place and declared it finished – stood back, studied it proudly and noticed two minor flaws in the arrangement.

The baby won’t care. Her parents won’t know the difference, but my hand keeps gravitating towards that seam ripper.

I expect to have it finished sometime before her golden wedding anniversary.





One response to “the quandry of quilting”

  1. jottingjoan Avatar


    well actually we may end up adding another whole shelf to make sure I have a title for the quilt. This is my current way of designing quilts, they have themes and tell stories so I like to give them a title. Thus far I have made “Child’s Play” in brilliant primary colors with cross stitch pictures of toys, animals and fun kid stuff, Cities, in midnight colors and outlines of cities, planes, trains and cars, “Bunnies, babies and Bears” in Easter Egg colors with Precious Moments, Teddy bears and the names of one family’s members and anniversary date.

    I did not name my youngest grandson’s quilt … if I had, it would have been “Ride’em Cowboy!” it was cowboys and cowboy themed print, Roy Rogers, and then I did cross stitch of a rocking horse with a child, a cactus, cowboy hat, boots, golden horse and horse shoes.