One of the most treasured objects in my house is a quilt a dear friend made for my daughter many years ago, when I was getting divorced (the pink one in the main photo). This friend has had a very challenging life, and carries many burdens and troubles; and yet, when I was getting divorced and some comparatively blessed friends disappeared, she made my little girl a quilt to help comfort her during a very difficult time. I can’t even put into words how impressed I am by her generosity and kindness to so many people (and if this paragraph has her blushing in her seat, so much the better). Seven years have passed since then, and that lovely little pink quilt is still draped over the back of a chair in the living room, Frances still requests it when she is sick or sad, and if my house were on fire I would grab it on my way out the door.
(Just now, when I went digging through her flickr feed to find a better picture of this quilt than I was able to take this evening when I finally got in from work at 8 pm, I learned two things: holy cow, this woman has made a ton of quilts; and this was the very first picture she ever posted on flickr! What a happy surprise.)
Still, time passes, children grow, and mothers like to snuggle under quilts with them while they may–all of which is to say that I wanted also a larger snuggle quilt that Frances and I could enjoy together. It ended up being a mite larger than it really needed to be, but that is getting ahead of myself.
I am a big believer in tactile comfort. Soft clothes, yummy food, hugs and kisses, warm blankets, hot baths–things that feel good help you feel good, I think, or at least better. This has been a tough year for my girl so far, and there has been a corresponding increase in the number of tactile comforts in the house. A good cuddle quilt was essential, so I moved it to the top of the crafty priority list.
Finding a quilt pattern was the main difficulty. It had to:
1. Be not too difficult to put together. My quilting skills are still very tenuous and I wanted to be reasonably certain that I could line up all the seams and end up with something that didn’t look ridiculously amateur. This meant squares and rectangles.
2. Not use tiny blocks or patches. I wanted the pieces to be large enough that you could see the raccoon faces, or what is the point of using raccoon fabric? (You may ask yourself what is the point of using raccoon fabric in the first place. If you saw our house, Dear Readers, you would know; it is fairly dominated by nature themes and objects throughout. How could we not use the raccoon fabric?)
3. Call for fabric quantities that I already had in my stash, to minimize new required fabric purchases.
I cut out all the strips one night when I couldn’t sleep. Effective for distraction. Not so effective for accurate cutting, as I discovered when I went to assemble the strips into quilt blocks and discovered that all of my geometric orange print rectangles were one inch too short. D’oh!
This necessitated trimming an inch off all of the blocks before piecing them together, turning all of my giggle boxes into giggle rectangles, which means the quilt as a whole is 8″ shorter than it should be. Oops. Good thing it wasn’t meant for a bed–and maybe a blessing overall, since, well–
For a throw-size quilt this thing sure turned out to be massive once it was all pieced together with the borders and everything. Holy smokes. Even with the missing 8″, it uses most of a piece of queen-sized quilt batting. Will you look at this thing? Can you imagine it 8″ longer?
I put it together with the batting and backing about a month ago and got the whole thing quilted, then realized that (despite the instructions’ insistence to the contrary) my remaining binding fabric would not be enough to bind the whole quilt, so I had to wait for an opportunity to head back to the fabric store for another metre of the pineapple print. In the meantime, we used the unbound version for our snizza dates.
As of last weekend, and many hours spent stitching bias binding pieces together and ironing them into quarters, it is finally finished.
I know the traditional thing is to take a nice outdoor shot of the finished quilt draped over something so you can see it, full-scale and in good light. I have no intention of subjecting myself to that kind of cold or discomfort, however, so we’ll have to make do with my indoor shots. It’s big! It has raccoons, rabbits, foxes and moths on it. It adds a much-welcome touch of bright orange to our living room, what with this gloomy winter we’ve all had. It’s warm. And if need be, I can wrap Frances and myself up in it, cocoon-style, and we can imagine it into a magic force field to keep the whole world safely away.