Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Connor's Quilt top (Finally)

My youngest son graduated high school back in May 2012.  He didn't decide what quilt he wanted until that Spring, before he graduated.  I'd found a block, way back when I was first learning how to quilt, in the Winter of 2001-2002, and thought it would be easy (it wasn't) and bought enough material to make both my son's a quilt, using this block.  Well.... as someone who had never sewn, and was just learning how to make a quilt (I'd only  just finished my first quilt, 13 inches square, and all by hand) I found out that I was trying to take on way too much at that stage.  I cut out all the pieces and tried to sew them together, properly.  Grrr!!!!  I had to rip out and re-sew every single piece more than once.  Grrr!!!!  After making one block, I showed it to my boys, and told them that they wouldn't ever get this quilt, sorry.

First block ever made
Yes, I know, this block looks pretty easy, but, it is NOT for beginners!  This block started teaching me how to place my 1/4" seam in the correct place, and how to trim blocks to make them square.  I wish I'd had a teacher, or, an experienced quilter to get help from, but, the lady from my church who'd taught us the mini quilt (by hand, not machine, no less) had gone back to work, and the other ladies in the group were still meeting, but, didn't know any more than I did at that point.  That is why I abandoned this block/quilt.

Skip to Spring 2009, when I asked my oldest son what he wanted in a quilt for his high school graduation.  He didn't want a quilt in his college colors, or, any other quilt, he wanted 'that quilt' for his dorm bed.   Oh no! 

Well, if I was going to make that block, I was going to string piece the blocks and make enough blocks for both boys.  I found that pattern and the stencils that I'd made, way back when, along with all the fabric that I'd bought.  I made enough blocks to finish one whole quilt, and left the other blocks, since I still had 3 years before the youngest one  would graduate.  This is what I came up with for the oldest son.

Christopher's quilt
Since I've never made a pillow sham for Christopher, I have 14 blocks left (including the original block made).  I figured that would be plenty of blocks to make another quilt for Connor, when the time came.  Well, guess what!?!?!  When the time came, Connor didn't want those blocks in those materials any more.  He still wanted 'that block' but, he'd picked out several fabrics the summer before (he was going to make a quilt, but, never found the time), and he wanted me to make 'that block' in his fabrics, BUT, he didn't want the same setting, either.  He wanted everything offset and slightly wonky, and HE wanted to design his quilt. 

Ok, Connor decided what fabrics went where in the blocks, then I cut them up and sewed them together.

Connors blocks, waiting for the next step
Yep, I made 28 of those blocks, just in case, since I didn't have a clue how they would be put together.  He kinda wanted a layout like above, but, that is way out of my math skills to make them that wonky. 

Connor wanted to design his own quilt top.  Well, the blocks were finished before the end of March 2012, but, with graduation activities going on, he didn't have time to sit down and start designing.  He left for the summer less than 10 days after graduation (he worked at a summer camp in another state), and only came home for a whole 3 days before he left for college.  So much for having time to design the quilt.  He finally agreed to let me start setting the blocks on point.  I didn't get very far before my trusty hand crank got tipped over, and didn't work properly anymore.  Eek!  I stink at fixing tension issues! 

From my previous post, you know that I attended the River Rat TOGA in September.  I took my 1959 Singer Spartan hand crank to the TOGA to see if someone could help me fix it.  I found out that it had multiple tension issues, but, after several wonderful sewing repair guys helped me, we finally got it up and stitching nicely again.  Yipee!    Now to get 'that' quilt finished. 

This quilt didn't like me!  Of course, it would have helped if I'd drawn out what I was trying to do, but, nope, that might have made sense, and made things easier, so, of course, I didn't do that.  I didn't think it would be that hard.  WRONG!  (did I mention that this quilt didn't like me???)  I've done more ripping out on this quilt than I've done in the past 2 years of sewing.  First, the blocks ended up a strange size (12" unfinished, 11.5" finished).  Then, I set them on point, not knowing how many blocks I would need, or how much sashing I would need to get this to a size that Connor wanted it to be.  That whole 'on point' thing with the odd size blocks was just too much for my math skills.  In the end, I mastered that quilt!  I won!  Here is the finished quilt top.

Connor's finished quilt top
Connor wanted things offset, and a bit wonky.  He didn't want a 'regular' quilt setting at all.  I couldn't do exactly what he wanted (too much math involved) but, I think I got the idea.  The corners are also offset.

bottom right corner (same as top, left corner)
bottom left corner (same as top, right corner)
Connor's quilt was pieced on this sewing machine.
1959 Singer Spartan hand crank (3/4 size machine)
The top quilt was pieced on my trusty Janome 4800QC.  I didn't collect vintage sewing machines back when that quilt was made.  The top quilt was hand quilted (by me), but, Connor's quilt will be quilted by a professional long arm quilter from one of my quilt guilds.  It will be finished by Christmas. 

Now to go figure out scrappy backing for this top.


  1. It'll be over soon, then you can go about the business of enjoying quilting again. You've been in Quilter's Hell! (Cute little Spartan.)

  2. What a neat story! Thanks for sharing it, and the quilts you made your sons! They are both cool! I sometimes use my grandmother's Spartan that she taught me to sew on. But hers is not a hand crank. Where did you find that Spartan hand crank?

  3. I often wonder how many of us began quilting with projects way too hard! Connor will love his quilt and he'll always remember that he picked out the fabric and had a say in the design. Glad it will soon be done! ~Jeanne

  4. Both quilts turned out beautifully! I am sure your sins are going to cherish them forever! :)

  5. Wonderful job and I loved seeing your little Spartan. I keep meaning to get my Davis hand crank out and play with it more!

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  7. Oh it's wonderful Cheryl!!! Way to go :*) I love that block and I love that you didn't give up. Your sons are such lucky guys :*)

  8. I had to smile at Danielle F.'s comment about your "sins" cherishing the quilts when I'm sure she meant "sons". Okay. Your story is not uncommon to quilters. I seem to recall starting out with grand ideas not knowing what the heck I'm doing and throwing it all in a heap only to come back to it several quilts & years later and try to fix it. Yup. That's our job. Your end result to this project is beautiful. Nicely done.

  9. Wow Cheryl, all your hard work and perseverance paid off! Those are both great quilts and the boys will cherish them, I'm sure.
    Do you use the hand crank to put the binding on too?
    I will never forget how much you helped when I was getting my hand crank cleaned and running properly. The last thing I had to fix was the tension. The problem was with the bobbin (the vibrating kind) and every time I popped the bobbin case back in the machine, the tension would change. Finally I just left the bobbin in and adjusted the tension screw while it laid in place. It works perfectly now! I don't know what kind of bobbin you have but I thought I'd share that, just in case.
    My oldest son has asked me to make him a quilt- he has requested Escape Artist. Yikes! I hope I can do a good job for him. It looks like a hard one. Your story has given me some encouragement though, thanks :)

  10. Indeed you did "win". Great work, even if it took a while!

  11. Fabulous quilts.....I am sure your son is absolutely delighted. Thanks for sharing. Marie (mlismore@optusnet.com.au)

  12. I'm glad to know that my kids are not the only ones who take over a project that is yours and make it theirs...using us to figure out how.


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