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Three Generations Top

My Three Generations quilt top is finally done and off to the long-arm quilter. What a relief!

My goal with this quilt was to create something that was both vintage and modern at the same time. I wanted it to look as though it owed something to every time period during which it was worked on. Basically, I wanted to span the last 50 years of quilting in this one single piece, and maybe use that to tell a story about the three women who worked on it. Lofty goals, and I’m not sure if I accomplished my mission, but you know? I love it just the same. Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It’s not exactly my usual style, but it’s not exactly not my usual style either, if that makes any sense. Plus, it’s colorful and fun and pretty and sentimental and will be a genuine family heirloom someday.

And it’s clear that all of my stops and starts and pauses to regroup and redesign were entirely worth it. So I guess working on this quilt has been a lesson in trusting my gut. When my gut says I need to change something, usually my brain screams, “No way! Keep going! Just finish the freaking thing!” (Sometimes I think my gut is a better quilter than my brain. My brain always just wants to hurry up and finish, so I can move on to the next project that it’s cooking up.) But this quilt shows that I’ll be happier in the long run if I put in the extra hours, effort, and thought to make it right. Brain and gut need to work together for optimal results. : )

The quilt store is estimating that the long-arm quilter will be finished with it around Oct. 19. I need it no later than Oct. 21 to be able to give it to my grandma when I see her in person. So there is a glimmer of hope that it will be completely done, when I wanted it to be! I’m prepared for disappointment, but encouraged nonetheless. I’ll post full details on this quilt (fabric, etc.) when I get it back from the quilter.

P.S. Check out my blog’s snazzy new look! I figured it was time to settle in and hang some pictures on the wall in this bloggy home of mine.

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A Brand New Plan

So I have completely scrapped my original plan for the Three Generations quilt.

I made some of the alternating blocks (as shown in my digital “sketch” in this post). Somehow those blocks were both too plain, and took away too much of the focus away from the vintage pinwheel blocks. I’m not sure how it was possible to do both at once, but leave it to me to come up with something that doesn’t work in any respect. : )

(In retrospect, I think my mistake was that I got lazy and only scanned in one of my grandma’s original blocks for my digital design plan. As a result, my “sketch” didn’t accurately reflect the colorfulness of the real quilt.)

This is a special project, so I want it to be right. And the star of the show has to be the curved pinwheel blocks, especially the original five that my grandma hand-pieced all those years ago. So once I decided to scrap my original plan, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to better showcase those blocks. I also did some looking around online, and eventually came across this quilt from Red Pepper Quilts:

Pinwheel Baby Quilt by Red Pepper Quilts

Now, those whirlygigs really pop. So, with this quilt as my inspiration, I decided to frame out all my pinwheels in the same blue retro print I bought for the back of this quilt, and then sash it all in some sort of neutral, probably beige. (I love the putty color used on the Red Pepper quilt, but my mom and grandma aren’t big fans of anything even close to gray.) Then I’m going to fill it out with a pieced border or two to make the whole thing queen-size, so that my grandma can use it on her bed if she wants.

Of course, the new design plan calls for more pinwheel blocks, so I spent my weekend making eight more colorful curved pinwheels. Now the big push is on to finish this top—I’ve set myself a deadline on this one, and I’m determined to meet it!

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Three Generations Quilt

A few months ago, my 87-year-old grandma sent me five curved-pinwheel quilt blocks.

This adorable woman hand-pieced the blocks in the late 60s and early 70s, but never got around to finishing the quilt. When she heard I had taken up quilting, she wondered if I might want to put these blocks to use.

I did. Not only that, but I roped my mom into the project as well. Because, really, how cool will it be to have a quilt that was worked on by three generations of women, over the course of 40 or 50 years? I might even have to think of some small task I can give my 3-year-old on this quilt. Then we could call it the Four Generations Quilt.

I think the blocks are cute—I haven’t seen this curved pinwheel design around much. Grams also sent the cardboard templates she originally used and all of her leftover fabric. Some of the prints she sent look like 30s reproductions, and some are just plain dated, but some of them are actually very retro cool. Like the ones used in this block, which is hands-down my favorite of the bunch.

The only remaining issue was how to use these flower-like blocks in an overall quilt design. So I scanned one of the blocks and played around with it a bit before coming up with the above design. Along with my grandma’s five pinwheel blocks, my mom will make three, and I’m making four. That will give us a total of 12 pinwheel blocks. Then I’ll make the alternating blocks: A print square (not necessarily blue) in a white frame, and set all the blocks on point.

Something about having the blocks on point seemed to enhance the movement of the whole thing. When I look at this design, I see my daughter blowing on a pinwheel out in the backyard on a summer day. Or maybe I picture a farmhouse windmill lazily turning in the breeze, while hens fuss around nearby. Fitting, I think, for a quilt that had its genesis with a woman who was born and raised on a farm almost 88 years ago.