Here is the quilt, which we've used on our bed from October to June each year for the last 20 years.
I've raised the blinds in this picture and put all the lights on to get the truest color, but over the years, we've kept the blinds closed on the west window (on the left side of the picture). The other window faces north, so generally the room is fairly dark. This is how the quilt looks from the doorway. It looks pretty good for a 20-year old quilt doesn't it? Keep reading and I'll explain in a few minutes why I've included this tidbit about the lighting.
I started designing this quilt in August 1982. My diary told me so. I also still have a folder with odds and ends of plans and templates, including an old grocery store receipt for dish detergent (55 cents) with scribbled notes on it about yardage requirements. We were living in a rented duplex at the time with our 18-month old daughter. I had recently learned how to hand quilt and had it in my mind to make a bed quilt to replace a cheap store-bought bedspread we got when we married in 1978.
I chose two blocks. I'm not sure of my source, but I have a note paper that mentions Puss in the Corner and Grandmother's Cross with the dates 1898 and 1931. I must have copied that information from a book. I also have the graph paper design that I colored and most of the templates that I made from graph paper and glued to plastic stencil material.
Notice the double border at the top of the design. I used that so that the quilt was long enough to fold over our pillows and would still show a border, as you see in the picture of it on our bed. You can see a couple of options that I tried out at the top of the design page.
I'm not sure when I purchased the material for the quilt. I didn't mention this quilt in my diary again until June 1983, when I noted that I was working on it, and in October 1983, when I mentioned that I was still cutting pieces out--over a year after I started the design. And in February 1984 (!) I noted that I had started cutting out the blue pieces for the quilt. I wasn't using a rotary cutter yet, so all that cutting was by scissors after tracing around each template. Now, in between all that cutting, my son was born (July 1983), so I have some idea of what I was up to most of the time. But I also quilted a double wedding ring top for my sister-in-law and made some other quilts that I'll blog about sometime.
In May 1984, we moved to a little bungalow. Our old bed quilt was now nearly 6 years old and looking a little worse for wear, but I was sure I'd get our new quilt finished soon and I refused to buy something else in the meantime. We lived in that house for 11 years. My husband and I had an attic bedroom (the kind with a sloped ceiling where you can only stand up straight when walking down the middle of the room). During that time, I won $100 worth of wallpaper (which went far in those days) at a local store. In my optimism about finishing the quilt, I chose wallpaper to match the new quilt--an ivory background with a tiny dark red and blue print--to cover the knee wall of our room and a navy striped paper (very much like the outer border of the quilt) which I cut apart and made into a border strip where the knee wall met the ceiling. Never mind that it did not go with the brown/navy bedspread with the giant stylized paisley that we were using.
After we moved, I took a job quilting for pay (I'll write about that some day soon). And there were always other projects to tackle. I abruptly stopped writing in my diary the day we moved, so my detailed notes about quilting the bed quilt ended. At some point I got it pieced. I still have the plan for the quilting design--which I soon found out was way more dense than I realized and would take (almost) forever to hand quilt. But I was committed, and there was no turning back. I made templates from plastic stencil material and drew around them with a silver lead pencil as I quilted in a hoop on my lap.
Here's the design:
And here's how it looks in quilting:
Well, you probably know where this story is going. In 1995, we built a new house and moved into it in July. By that time the old bedspread from 1978 was pretty much shredded, and the "new" bedspread had never had a chance to enjoy its beautifully wallpapered attic room. So shortly after we moved, I made the push to finish the new quilt. I had to shop for new material for binding, but was lucky to find a red that was almost the exact same color as the original red fabric--it even had a little whitish figure in it. I finally finished the quilt 13 years after I started it, and we've been using it ever since. It used to hang all the way to the floor, but sometime along the way, we bought a new bed with a thicker mattress, so now there is a dark green dust ruffle added to the box spring.
I didn't know a lot about fabric selection in those days (except that I knew I didn't want floral), so the quilt doesn't have a lot of contrast. It's not a style I'd pick now either, but I still like it and have a little feeling of excitement when I pull it out of the closet when the weather starts to cool in the fall. Because it took so long to make, I've never considered replacing it. However, the last couple of years, I've been noticing something...
Here's what the bottom right corner looks like today (I've folded it up to the top of the bed so you can see it):
And here's the left bottom corner--the one by the window that ALWAYS HAS THE BLIND DRAWN):
Faded! See that contrast between the two sides? It's getting worse really fast and starting to feel kind of rotten. The little bit of light from the setting sun through the blind each day did its damage. No matter how much we think we are protecting our quilts, light is an enemy, even if it does take 20 years to notice.
Here are some stats: The quilt measured 104 by 111 inches when I made it (10-inch blocks, 2-inch sashes, and borders of 2, 4 and 3 inches). The batting is a fairly light weight polyester and the quilting thread is a hand quilting cotton. The quilt is now roughly 101 by 107 inches. I don't know if that is shrinkage from quilting or washing.
So there you have it. I'm not sure if this quilt is 20 years old or 33, but it's had a good run. Persistence did pay off. And apparently made me a little too attached to the final result. Now it's time to let go.
I'm linking up today with Jenn from A Quarter Inch from the Edge for Throwback Thursday. (Button is on the right).
Now, go work on a UFO, WIP, anything!