The cross-country quilt

A few years ago I had a summer off work, which seemed like the right time to take on a big quilt project. I had no experience, but plenty of enthusiasm and bags of fabric scraps from my grandma, my mom, and my friends. I organized the scraps by color family, pieced a 45-strip square block from each color family, and separated the blocks with denim. I used cotton batting and a vintage bedsheet for the backing.

Then I moved to Oregon. I brought the safety-pinned pieced quilt with me, and every once in a while I worked on hand-quilting a block or two. I have an old quilt from a great aunt, so it wasn’t hard to see that my  stitches are BIG and SLOPPY on the whole hand-quilting-scale. When I was about three-fourths finished, I looked at the whole thing and felt an overwhelming sense of “UGH”. It looked amateur, and not in a DIY folksy way. In an inept, inexperienced way.

I kept the hand stitching in place, ran the whole quilt through the sewing machine (block-by-block), then ripped out every last hand stitch. And people say I’m not patient!  But I AM used to ripping out knitting projects and restarting. I like the final look, plus it’s fun to have my mom and grandma point out different scraps and describe their past lives – i.e. my mom’s dance dress, my aunt’s first school dress.



  1. Pingback: Arden’s quilt | Foxflat's Blog
  2. bonniehull · July 16, 2009

    Nice quilt Katie–though I bet I’d like it better with the funky hand quilting–sort of Gee’s Bend-ish.

  3. Kim · July 15, 2009

    Wow! It looks so good! I’m so excited that you finished it. Oh, by the way, I love the Katie fox cartoon. It makes me smile 🙂

  4. Jess A. · July 14, 2009

    This looks great! Your eye for color is really clear in this project.

    I’ve had the idea for a while of maybe making one of those “I love this old t-shirt too much to get rid of it” quilts, but I always stop myself (tho I save the t-shirts) because I’m afraid of starting such a project. Maybe the time will come soon enough.

  5. Bethany · July 13, 2009

    isn’t it the best feeling when you get to the finally product and it is everything you wanted it to be?! i say if it doesn’t feel right – keep ripping it out until it does …

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