Old quilts. Well, not really an 'old' quilt, but one finished several years ago. This is the Piecemakers Times and Seasons Calendar Quilt design that was released in the year 2000. In 2006 my two sisters and I put our heads together and began the collaborative journey of crafting this applique masterpiece as a gift for our model-train-mad father. It took about four years to complete, taking the ups and downs of life into consideration.
I reckon the learning curve was fairly steep, despite the fact that all three of us are competent stitchers. Each block must connect accurately with the one beside it, the one above, the one below and so on. We decided to tackle it by dividing the quilt into four rows, and we worked each section through so that there was a consistency of background type fabrics (sky, mountains, hills, rocks, water etc). It was important to forward plan each stage so that there would be enough of a given fabric allocated to flow into the surrounding blocks. Once these main fabrics had been sorted, we each took our respective block away and had creative licence to choose the remaining fabric elements for that block (houses/trees/shrubs etc). It was surprising how well the finished pieces blended with each other, and in some ways I think the finished quilt has more interest as a result of our individual influences.
Once all of the blocks were completed they were stitched into rows and then joined together to make the completed top. This was no mean feat! Despite the fact that we are all pretty reasonable sewers, it was definitely a 'fudge' job to make it all fit. My sister J is the measurement genius, and it was pretty tricky to square up each block within tolerances. In the end we found it easiest to applique each block to the next to ensure that the connecting pieces came together accurately. A final border was then added, the quilt top was basted and then quilted by hand.
At this point I really have to acknowledge J as the driving force behind this project. I know it would never have happened without her encouragement and enthusiasm.Taking on a project like this definitely taught all of us a whole lot more about colour and tone, and how sometimes it is the ugliest of fabrics that works best of all. I think we would all say that we look at fabric in a different way than before.
Oh, and our Dad does love it ...