When I say beating the deadline, you have to understand I mean it very much in the “deadline passed, this is the new deadline” kind of way…. But I have finished the wedding quilt!!
This quilt is my sister’s wedding present. My sister’s wedding is 3rd July, so you see how the deadline reference creeps in. However, I am not blogging the quilt from the wedding reception. Oh no, that would be rude! My sister’s wedding is (was) 3rd July 2004. (Not that I behaved entirely impeccably at her wedding reception anyway, but that’s a *whole* other story….) So I’ve beaten the 10 year deadline. Just…
There is, of course, a story which explains perfectly why this quilt has taken so long. In fact, there are several stories. May I give you some tasters? No spoilers. Just snippets.
Sissy and her lovely husband got engaged in New York. So when I set out to make the quilt, I thought it would be good to make one which combined a double wedding ring design with a New York Beauty design. In 2004, this wasn’t an *entirely* stupid idea. Mostly, but not entirely. I had spent the last 4 years being a stay at home mummy, and I was used to having the time to implement my technically complex, ambitious ideas. However, in January of 2004 my marriage had ended, and in May I began working full time again. Which made the idea *almost* entirely stupid. Because these are both technically difficult, time consuming blocks.
Not one to acknowledge my own stupidity, I ploughed on for a couple of years, trying to get New York Beauties to work. Trying to integrate them with Double Wedding Rings. I must have cut up, stitched together, and thrown away about £200 worth of fabric, trying to get my almost entirely stupid idea to work. Eventually, my then boyfriend went to work and made me some templates. It just so happened that my then boyfriend worked at Bentley. So the templates were cut from steel left over from making Bentleys. Kind of the Rolls Royce of quilt templates, then. Except, more the Bentley of quilt templates. And so, eventually, I made a successful New York Beauty. And there it is, on the right.
Unfortunately, by this time, I had done two things. The first was to run out of the fabrics I had intended to make the quilt out of. Still… I’ve never been one to let a small thing like that defeat me! So I spent almost the entire holiday one Christmas, tracking down the world’s last remaining fat quarter of one particular Michael Millar grape coloured fabric. It was in some remote and Christian part of the US, and it wouldn’t ship for almost eleventy billion weeks, but it meant I could carry on with my New York Beauties. So I bought it, and paid over a kidney and two small children in shipping, and waited…
The second thing I had achieved in all this time (about 4 years) was to recognise that I would never have the time in my new life to make a quilt out of New York Beauties and Double Wedding Rings. Still, I thought I could use the NYBs I had already made. Singular. NYB. I wasn’t sure how, but I knew I could.
So I thought about it for a couple of years.
And a bit longer.
I might even have made another couple of New York Beauties. Maybe.
But they wouldn’t ever fit together quite right, and I couldn’t make a coherent narrative out of them. So eventually I abandoned that plan, rare fabrics and all.
Then I decided to return to triangles. I hadn’t made a triangle quilt since the decidedly leary quilt I made my mother, right at the beginning. So I made the granny quilt, and then thought I’d try a traditional triangle block. I wondered about flying geese, and I began experimenting. If you scroll back to 1 January 2013, you can see the story unfolding…
Anyway, I came up with a flying geese design, and built it around a theme of cream on white roses which echoed Sissy’s wedding theme quite well. And piece by piece, block by block, it began to take shape.
Once I’d finished the top, I needed to get some backing fabric. I found some in Hereford, on a visit to my lovely friend Penny. And then I had no more excuses, so I basted the quilt. And then it sat around for a month or two. Which, in the great scheme of the journey this quilt has been on, was virtually no time at all!
This weekend, conscious of the looming deadline, I sat down to quilt it. This quilt is 8′ long by 7′ wide. Ish. It’s big and it’s heavy and it was bastard hard to manipulate through the throat of a sewing machine. But goddamit! I had a deadline!
I wanted to free machine an excerpt from the reading I read at the wedding. It’s a beautiful reading – an American Indian blessing – which, because of my own recent separation, I found ridiculously hard to read, on the day. The whole blessing reads:
“Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May happiness be your companion and may your days be good and long upon the earth.”
Obviously, I couldn’t get all of that on the face of the quilt, so I chose selectively…
After I’d wrangled that through the machine, my back and shoulders and hands were tense and sore, and I wasn’t wild about the idea of doing much creative wrangling, so I finished the quilting in a stitch in the ditch grid, across the sashings of the flying geese blocks.
So I traipsed all the way round Oxford (via Google) and I found Masons in Abingdon (which I had found before via said famous Penny) and I found a blue fabric of very nearly the same shade and type. Very nearly, but NOT BLOODY QUITE. So I bought an elegant sufficiency and took it home, to work out what in the name of all that was holy I was going to do next.
I hit upon a very elegant solution, if I say so myself. A very elegant solution indeed. I bound the quilt entirely on the reverse, as you can see here if you squint very carefully. Here I am, demonstrating the reverse of the quilt in the grounds of my very lovely workplace, and coincidentally pointing to the reverse binding. And the New York Beauty. Both of which are worthy of your attention.
So I took an emergency afternoon off work, and I stitched the binding on, on the 1st July. And here I am, still in the very elegant grounds of my very lovely workplace, showing you the front, with it’s eternity-pool style, unbound edges (and I shoe-horned the ‘eternity’ word in there because although you can’t see him, the quilt is being held aloft by an extremely accommodating Professor of Mathematics who is the tallest person in the world and who doesn’t believe in numbers. Particularly big ones, and double particularly eternity). If you look carefully, you can just see his red shoe poking out from the bottom of the quilt.
Then, on 2nd July, I bundled quilt, children and all into my car and I drove like a demon to my sister’s house, and I handed over the wedding quilt. And Sissy duly shed a tear, and the children played football with their small cousins in the garden, and we went to Wagamama for dinner, and later in the evening, my sister sent me a picture of her wedding present, in its new home. (I say she sent it to me. Really, she posted it on her Facebook and I have stolen it from there…)
And that, dear readers, is the gripping tale of how I delivered my sister’s wedding present in less than 10 years. Comprehensively beating the deadline, as I’m sure you’ll agree.
The moral of this story is: never let over-ambition and the unattainability of your goals prevent you from spinning a good yarn to explain away your own persistent crapness. It’ll all come right in the end!