Friday, December 31, 2010

One More Homemade Gift or My Oldest UFO

My big accomplishment in the gift department this year has been a long time coming.

Back in 1998, when I was still a very new quilter, I fell in love with a Thimbleberries block of the month pattern.  My local quilt shop, sadly long gone now, had kits you could buy each month.  I quickly pieced the first few blocks before realizing that I had nowhere for this quilt to go.  It was a twin size but, although my boys were in twin beds, it was not boyish or juvenile at all - totally inappropriate for either of their rooms.

My mom also loved the pattern, and suggested that I could make two of them and give them to her for my brother's old room.  She said she'd even redecorate the room around the quilts.  Silly me, so young and vain and naive!  I hadn't learned the danger of "Twin Quilt Syndrome" (closely related to, but much more expensive than "Second Sock Syndrome").   Which is to say that making the same thing twice is boring. 

The blocks were pieced in no time - probably no later than early 1999 - and the tops finished and sandwiched by the end of that year.  But then I was pregnant with Gracie and making two quilts for her (that's another post), and got distracted. 

I started hand quilting the first quilt, only to realize within a short while (okay, a few years!) that machine quilting was not only possible but faster and...well, faster.  If you think hand quilting a bed sized quilt takes a long time, you should try it when you aren't enjoying the process at all.  By this time it was a chore hanging over my head.  Every Christmas, Mother's Day, birthday, or anniversary, my mother would hold the gift in her hands for a moment and mournfully observe, "It's not big enough to be my quilt."

I finally got the first quilt done and wrapped it up for Christmas in, I think, 2006.  It's kind of a blur at this point.  I was so excited, but also dreading finishing the other one.  Now the pressure was really on.

Luckily I had cut all of the pieces, including the binding, at one time and actually managed to keep up with them.  Aren't you impressed?  I sandwiched the second quilt, moaning and groaning the whole way.  I got the blocks quilted, and then decided to go ahead and bind it. 

Marking the quilting in the border is always my least favorite part. It had taken numerous tries to find a suitable marking utensil that would show up on this deep red and still wash out, but about halfway through the first quilt I had discovered the Clover white pen.  I don't know if they don't hold much ink or if they dry out easily, but I went through three of them marking these quilts!
I got about half of the border quilted by last Christmas, but then got stuck trying to work out how the ends would come together.  I finally bought yet another white pen around Thanksgiving and decided to suck it up and finish the darn thing.

On Christmas Eve I ran out of thread with about 18" of quilting left to go.  I didn't even know where to get more of this particular brand of thread, so I just said, "the heck with it!" and finished with a slightly lighter color.  I'm so glad I didn't make myself crazy over that because, now that it's washed and dried, you can't even tell where that spot is. 

I held my breath and washed and dried it.  I was so relieved and excited that there were no loose spots in the binding or repairs to be made, simply snipping some threads and taking pictures.

Of course, after all those years of listening to my mom, I couldn't bring myself to put a big box under the tree.  She'd know what it was in a heartbeat!  So I wrapped up a new cookbook and, as always, she sighed before unwrapping it and said, "Still not big enough to be my quilt."  The kids and I swallowed our giggles.

Gift giving was over and it was time for dessert and dishes.  My parents and in-laws were lingering over coffee while DH and I started washing pots.  I tsked myself and said, "Darnit!"  And then, "Hey, Mom.  Can you do me a favor?  I just washed a load of dish towels so I'd have a bunch, but I never got them out of the dryer.  Can you run and get them for me?"

At this point, a couple of people were suspicious.  I'm a big believer in kids doing manual labor, and all three of mine were standing right there.  I know my mother-in-law wondered why I hadn't sent Gracie up those stairs instead of asking my mother to go.  I know Cousin Judy was silently disapproving of my blatant disrespect for my elders.  But my mom didn't bat an eye.

When she opened the dryer, she saw a sign that said, "Merry Christmas, Mom!" and her quilt.  We all waited quietly at the bottom of the stairs until we heard her yelp with delight.  The first thing she said was, "Honey!  We have to paint the guest room!"

And that's the story of my oldest UFO.  Started almost 13 years ago in January of 1998.  Finished on Christmas Eve, 2010. 

What's your oldest UFO?  Fess up!

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!


  1. I love the story - and the quilt! I tried hand quilting one for my daughter, finally finished it by check to a hand quilter. Your story is great!

  2. Good for you on a completion! Thimbleberries always seem so welcoming and warm to me and I love the way you chose to quilt it. Lovely gift.

  3. Oh thankyou for the little giggle! Awesome effort and now I truly dont feel so bad about the three years its taken me to finish my daughters DOLL quilt - yes very sad!

    Happy New year

  4. What a delightful UFO story! Thanks for sharing!


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