It’s called “A Garden for All Seasons”, and it’s the creation of my bestie, Victoria Findlay Wolfe.
It’s a quilt she made that is NINE feet tall by THIRTY feet wide!
It’s so big I couldn’t get it all in one picture:
It hung at the AQS Show in Paducah back in April, and standing in front of it hanging full out, you could get the real feeling of how truly massive this quilt really is! Way above your head (even Victoria’s tall head), and really, really loooooong!!!
I was very excited and honored to get to quilt this one for her. I love a good challenge! And a challenge it was.
Since “A Garden for All Seasons” has been out in the world, I’ve gotten lots of questions about how I actually quilted it, so I’m here today to talk about that part of it. Read on if you’re interested — and get ready for lots of pictures!
The main question I get is “How did that fit on your frame?”
My frame is a 12-foot frame, so it will hold a quilt up to 115″ wide and still give me room for backing to extend past the edges and still fit the machine over it. This quilt was only 108″ tall, so that part fit just fine. The backing was yards and yards and yards of this solid green, and it took over an hour to load the backing! (And yes, I pressed it first, which also took about an hour!)
The next dilemma was the batting. Victoria shipped me a king-sized roll of Quilter’s Dream Poly Request (their thinnest loft, so as not to add any more weight than necessary) to use from. I decided to use it off the roll, but there was a small issue I had to work past. On the roll, it’s folded in half, so I had to unroll quite a bit of it, then stuff the roll back under the frame, and unfold the part I was actually ready to use, all while keeping it straight and not stretching it.
Then it was time to load the quilt top. Thankfully, Victoria had rolled it up to ship it, starting at one end and rolling it to the other. So I only had to unroll enough of it to load on the frame, and left the rest of the roll laying on the floor in front of the frame (and trying not to step on it the entire time).
After that, it was quilting as usual! Just an awful lot of it. Like the equivalent of FOUR queen-sized quilts all loaded at once!
Victoria usually sends me a photo of her quilts ahead of time, and I print those out to use for making notes on while I’m quilting. For this one, that came in really handy, since I wanted to quilt a different design in each flower, but quilt each flower that had the same fabric with the same design as the others from that fabric (that was a mouthful!). I had to use the photo as a map to keep track of which design I had quilted in which flowers, because on a quilt that size, there was no way I’d simply remember it!
So here are a few shots of the quilt while I had it on the frame, where you can see some of the different designs I put in the flowers.
I had to keep the designs fairly large-scale, or a fill-type that would work in a large scale, to fit the flowers. Very large flowers need quilting that matches!
In the places where the quilting wouldn’t show as much, I did simpler things . . .
. . . and in places where it would be really visible, I got a bit fancier!
For all the green pieced flowers, I did different things in each one.
The orange print centers of each flower are all quilted with the same design:
Another frequent question I get asked is “How did you get all of it rolled up on your frame?” To be honest, when I first started out, that was one of my worries. Would my take-up roller hold 30 feet of quilt? The answer is YES! Thanks to the low-loft batting not making it extra thick, I actually had room to spare when I was done:
But it sure made a fat roll!
The roll was so fat, that as I neared the end, the roll extended forward more and more into my workspace, so it shortened my work area, causing me to have to roll it more often and not be able to quilt as much during each pass.
And then I came to the end of the picture I had printed out . . . but there was a lot more of the quilt still laying rolled up at my feet. (Insert *head scratch* here — hmm, what?!) Turns out, the picture I was working from was not of the entire quilt — I still had about 7 feet more to go!! I wasn’t as close to finished as I thought — ugh!
But finally, the roll completely unrolled, and came off the floor. I was thrilled to get to cut the batting off the roll and stop wrestling with it!
And I eventually reached the very end, after 8 long days!
And then it was time to take it off the frame. And My Cowboy was nowhere to be found. And I had to do it all by myself. And wrestle it into a box to be shipped. It was quite the workout! And I needed a nap afterwards. It weighed 29 pounds!
Let me say right here how super ecstatic I was to not have to be the one to bind it — Whew!
And then I got to see it hanging in Paducah, and even I was in awe — still — even after having been the one to quilt it.
Because while quilting it, I only got to see little bits of it at a time — it felt like any other quilt. And I did not have room to spread it all out and look at it full out, so I never got to see it like that. It’s massive, and very impressive.
Here are some more close-up shots of the quilting that I took while it was hanging in Paducah, so you can see some more of the quilting designs I put in the flowers:
I get asked how long it took me to quilt it, and when I say 8 days, I get mixed reactions — some think it seems long, and some think that was fast. For me, fate put it all in perspective for me before I ever started . . .
The quilt that I had on the frame just before this one was a hand-appliqued, king-sized quilt, in which I had to do thread-color changes, and carefully quilt around all the appliqué, and do lots of ruler work. That quilt took me THREE WEEKS!
And then I loaded this one, and it only took 8 days. So the time it takes is all relative, I guess! It was a very fun, challenging quilt to quilt, and I’m honored that V chose me to quilt it for her. I seriously would not be the longarm quilter I am today, were it not for her continually pushing me out of my comfort zone, and challenging me to come up with ways to help her quilts convey their messages. Thanks, V!