What’s that? You don’t remember who I am, let alone Part I of this saga? Well, let’s start with a bit of a refresher.
I’m Mrs. French Fries. I’m a Milwaukee blogger who got engaged in September of 2008, and was married in June of 2010 in a whirlwind day that included torrential rain and awesome photos, jars of candy as our centerpieces and homemade wedding napkins for DIY decor, and the color pink. Lots and lots of pink.
For those of you who don’t want to go back and read the original post, here’s a quick refresher for you:
- I posted way back when about how I thought it would be awesome to make cloth napkins for our wedding, with the intent that after the wedding I’d make them into a quilt. (Insert general schmoopiness and Barbara Streisand singing “The Way We Were” here.)
- My mom had to help me finish this little pre-wedding project, as I was low on time and high on stress (and not the best seamstress at that time).
- The napkins turned out great! Everyone loved them! Some people stole them, even when they were told that I would be using them after the wedding! Skittles!
- I started making the quilt, got as far as finishing all of my quilt blocks, and then…just kind of stopped. Quelle surprise. It sat for 4-5 months in this state in my closet.
After I was out of the sickness of my first trimester, I started thinking about doing a maternity photo shoot. And, just a few weeks ago, I contacted our wedding photographer about the shoot – and she had time this past week to fit us in! When I was trying to think of things that could be used as “props” in the shoot, my mind wandered to the unfinished quilt that was taking up space in my spare bedroom’s closet. I quickly decided that it would be neat to include it in some way…you know, with all of the “continuity” that the quilt represents and the “Circle of Life” thing and whatnot. (Insert Rafiki saying “It is time!” here.)
After deciding I wanted to use the quilt in the shoot, I had less than a week until the shoot. (My mind flitted briefly to the thought that there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of being able to get it done after the baby arrives. This solidified my drive to get the quilt done – for real – this time.)
That’s what got me to JoAnn Fabrics at around 10:00 last Saturday morning, looking for quilt batting and backing. It’s also what kept me in what will soon become our baby’s room for the remainder of the day, sewing up a storm and draining my iPhone battery whilst listening to the Adele station on Pandora.
I tried to take pictures of the process, but my inner monologue of “must get it done” got the better of me. But, let’s recap what the quilt top looked like, shall we? Here’s a picture from my original quilt post:
Ahhh, yes. That caption at the top of the photo must have really spoken to me…considering I “basked” in the feeling of the quilt top for months upon months. MOVING ON.
So, at this point I had my blocks assembled. I proceeded to mark them in rows – A1 through A7 across the top, then B1 through B7 for the 2nd row, and so on. Like this:
Then, I sewed my rows together: A1 to A2, etc., all the way over to A7. Then, once all of my rows were complete, I sewed row A to row B, then what was now rows A & B to row C. Pretty easy, but definitely time-consuming. And, for those of you keeping track at home …that’s 49 quilt blocks, total. GAH. Someone go back to me when I was starting this quilt and tell me that “less is more.”
So, with my quilt top assembled, I had to admit…I was feeling pretty badass. Well, as “badass” as a novice quilter can feel, I suppose. I couldn’t revel very long, though – I still had to finish this thing. I picked out my batting and my backing fabric based on my measurements I had taken, and realized that I needed batting and backing muslin that was at least 90″ wide in order to not have to piece things together. Luckily, I found both at the store and was able to get home to make my quilt sandwich.
A quick note here: I considered using bias tape and edging the quilt that way (aka the traditional way) but because I was short on time, I didn’t want to mess with all of the pinning that required. So, I Googled “quick way to finish a quilt” and decided on a “pillowcase binding.” Basically, I cut my batting and my backing fabric slightly larger than my quilt top (to allow for error, which was inevitable on my part). I hesitate to show you this picture because it’s when I was cutting everything aka NOT IN THE RIGHT ORDER, but it’s the only picture I took of this step.
Then, put my quilt top and my backing fabric right-sides together on top of my batting – so in the picture above, the batting and the backing fabric were switched in order. I pinned it around all of the edges, and then sewed it on three of the sides, leaving one side open (it looked like a big duvet cover). Then across the 4th side, I took the backing fabric and the quilt top and sandwiched them together by hand, making the 4th side match the other three.
Then, I topstitched the entire quilt along all 4 sides, and then quilted around each of the blocks, working in rows and columns. I briefly considered quilting each individual block, realized that it would take me around 50 years, and thought better of it.
When I was finished, I had this:
And let me tell you…it feels so good to be done. This was, by far, the biggest and most complicated sewing project I have ever been crazy enough to take on. It represents countless hours of cutting, piecing, and sewing back together, and even though it’s not perfect (far from it!) I’m pretty proud of it. Out of curiosity, I looked back to when I originally posted the idea for making the cloth napkins for my wedding – it was two years ago yesterday. I couldn’t help but think about how much my life has changed over the past two years…much like the fabric in this quilt. How much sweeter my life is, and how happy I am. (And then my pregnancy hormones kicked in and I started tearing up.)
The big question remains: would I do it again? Yes, I would. Knowing how much work it entails, I hesitate to say “in a heartbeat!” but when I think about how amazing it is to have a memento like this from our wedding…and then when I think about my baby girl crawling around on it in a few short months? Well, let’s just say that I can’t completely blame the pregnancy hormones on the tears I get in my eyes.