June was a month of beginnings. I began sewing for the first time in several years, I began work on the largest lace knitting project I have attempted, I began the new baby knitting spree (for friends) that will span through the summer and into the fall.
All of these beginnings left me little time for finishing. I welcomed July arms full of works in progress: quilts that needed bindings, lacy knitted dresses complete save for the picot edging, and a half-finished knitted stole that already measures several feet in length. Because I am determined to complete all of my June projects before I begin much of anything else, July is a month of endings. The good kind, of course. The ones where I bind off, block and send knitted love to newlyweds and newly born.
I’ve already made it to the first ending. This weekend I finished the quilt that I meant to make for Addie before she was born. This beginning goes back nearly six years, when I briefly flirted with the idea of adding quilting to my crafty repertoire. Over a couple feverish weeks, I managed to make templates for and cut out pieces for a massive drunken log cabin quilt top and sew together a few fat quarters with the intention of making a strip quilt. Then, as suddenly as my quilting obsession began, I fell out of love with patchwork and piecing and returned to my usual knitting and bookbinding.
A couple of years ago, pregnant with Addie and determined to make armloads of baby sweaters and hand sewn treasures, I remembered my strip quilt and its brown, purple, and yellow hues. Set against a background of deep purple kona cotton, it would make the perfect bold and not-too-girly baby quilt. I intended to make it her play quilt, the one we would lay on the carpet for tummy time and take outside for mini picnics.
But the broken sewing machine ended my quilting aspirations and for two more years the rectangles languished beneath my fabric stash. Then, just after Addie’s eighteen month birthday last week, I finally resumed work on her play quilt.
As I pressed the rumpled fabric I realized why I had put away this project in the first place. Once I had sewn together the fabric strips I had no idea what to do next. I’d never made a strip quilt, or any quilt, and the little planning I had done didn’t take into account the small amount of fabric I actually had to work with. Rather than deal with the problem, I stashed the unfinished quilt top beneath a stack of uncut fabric.
My solution was to make a stacked coins quilt. I had enough purple Kona cotton to make a crib quilt-sized top, and I dug up espresso brown cotton sufficient enough to eke out a quilt back.
This time I sketched the quilt’s layout and did some simple math before tearing through my fabric the old fashioned way – with brand new for-fabric-only scissors. I pieced together strips of stacked coins and the purple Kona cotton, and ended up with sixteen quilt blocks – seven more, it turns out, than I actually needed.
When the time came to sew together my quilt top, I learned why I will invest in a new rotary cutter before I dive into my next quilting project. Even though I cut pretty evenly with the scissors, it still wasn’t even enough to prevent my stacks of coins from going a little wobbly.
After I completed my first bit of quilting ever, I set out to make and adhere my first bias tape ever. I had no idea what to do, but this lovely tutorial from Heather Bailey guided me through most of it. The quilt’s bias binding is definitely the work of a novice, but now that I’ve been through the process once, next time will look more polished, right? Did I mention that next time will be when I make a quilt for me and Z? I guess I should go ahead and budget a month for completing the bias binding on that monster, because if binding a baby quilt takes me two weeks of steady work, I’m going to need a lot more time for something queen-sized.
The bias binding, the quilting, the piecing — it was all worth the trouble. Addie loves her stacked coins quilt. It’s already become a favorite peek-a-boo prop and go-to fort-building material.