That 30-foot Quilt!

Posted on July 5, 2017 by prairiemoonquilts in Longarm Quilting, Quilts

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!!!

You can read all about the making of the quilt top on Victoria’s blog HERE and HERE. She talks about her inspiration for making it, and how she did it.

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!

42 responses to “That 30-foot Quilt!”

  1. Wanda says:

    WOW!!!!! I am impressed.

  2. I’m amazed. The size of that is mind blowing. It looks wonderful! You did a fabulous job with the quilting. I would have been so nervous that it wouldn’t all fit on the back roller as I got closer to the end.

  3. Donna says:

    Very interesting! You answered a lot of the questions I’ve had about how you quilted such a huge quilt. The photos are great! Proud to have you in our midst! You help push me to try harder.

  4. Rose Marie says:

    I never realized your frame was 12 ft long. So my biggest question is now answered. I wish I had seen it in person…….I guess I chose the wrong year to skip Paducah!!! Great job.

  5. Thanks for sharing! I wondered how you fit all that on your quilting frame, or how you determined what designs to use. I loved this quilt and was in awe of it. You are right, you just can’t imagine how large it is unless you see it in person!

  6. Ceil Podzimek says:

    So impressive, Shelly! …for you and for Victoria. I love that you treated each petal and flower center individually but also with respect to each separate flower. I can’t imagine even planning a 30 foot quilt, let alone actually making one. I think I’ll stick to a king size quilt (like Carol’s wedding quilt) as the biggest I’ll ever do. So proud of the work you and Victoria do.

  7. Layla Strong says:

    Beautiful quilt and beautiful quilting. I love it. But why did she make such a large quilt? Is it to be used as a table cloth for an event table? I was trying to think of ways it could be used. Or possibly like a castle tapestry, to be put on a long wall.

  8. Bev Jones says:

    Amazing, just amazing! I wanna be Shelly when I grow up!

  9. Wendy says:

    Wpw — just wow! You two make an amazing team! I’m just grinning from ear to ear as I read this!

  10. Lori says:

    How FUN is that??!! You two amaze me…and make me snicker. 😉

  11. Melanie says:

    Love it! Way to go!
    Of course I knew you could do it. 😉

  12. Marlene Clausen says:

    What an amazing challenge! Great work!!

  13. Linda Knight says:


  14. Susan Nixon says:

    Wow, your quilting is beautiful and the quilt is, in the original meaning of the word, awesome.

  15. Karen Edwards says:

    I think you two are absolutely NUTS, but what a fabulous job by both of you. Do you know where its permanent home is?

  16. Carol Wesolik says:

    Hi Shelly – AMAZING!!! Thanks for sharing the pictures and insights! I was fortunate to participate in Victoria’s June DWR retreat at her home in June. Victoria shared a number of the quilts you quilted during the retreat. Seeing your craft – paired with her designs – was STUNNING!!!!❤️. You are gifted!
    Ps – love to the goats!!! They are so sweet!

  17. Pam Martin says:

    Your quilting is amazing.

  18. Leona Rice says:

    Congratulations on your work quilting. My question is: whatiin the world would be the purpose of such a quilt other than for show?

  19. Dar in Mo says:

    I saw this in person in Paducah this year and was amazed at the size initially. Now I am in awe with the designs of your quilting. With your talented ideas for the quilting in the flowers, it would not be the extraordinary quilt that it is. IMHO Vicky owes you a ginormous amount of gratitude for your quilting designs.

  20. Ranch Wife says:

    You are nothing short of amazing…and maybe just a little nuts, but I think most folks who are considered genius are a little nuts. 🙂 You and Victoria make a good team. I think you’re both brilliant and the combination was too much for one brain so the good Lord had to split it up between you two. That quilt belongs in a museum and probably in the Guinness Book for the largest quilt ever. Just stunning.

  21. Christina in FL says:

    WOW! You are an amazing artist! I am certain Victoria is overjoyed with your beautiful quilting. Thank you for all the details you shared about your process. I have deep respect for your talent!

  22. Ada Clarke says:

    Incredible quilting Shelly, thanks for sharing the journey and all the lovely pics; I could almost feel the tension in your sewing room and I would have loved to see you wrestling that batting, hope your muscles didn’t grow too big.

  23. Why, is my question. What is a quilt this big for! Just making the hexagons very large made the piecing easier. Though I too agree that the quilting was beautiful. So again WHY was this quilt made so large?
    Just because!

  24. Patty a says:

    And I thought my 8′ x 10′ quilt that I free motion machine quilted on my home machine was a big quilt. Compared to this one it’s small! That is a crazy cool quilt!

  25. leanne says:

    wow what an amazing quilt and so much awesome quilting too !

  26. Millie says:

    You are my hero! I would of not been able to of figured it out and would probably refused to do it. So this gives me something to think about when I get one large king… Your quilting is beautiful.

  27. Ben says:

    I was fortunate to see the quilt in Paducah. Very impressive work by both of you!

  28. Phyllis Fitzgerald says:

    I am almost speechless after seeing and reading your detailed descriptions of your quilting process. Wonderful inspiration for those of us who are intimidated by smaller designs. Thank you . Where will this call home?

  29. Sherryl A Eschbach says:

    It’s terrific! I only wonder what do you do with a 30′ quilt? That’s huge

  30. Christine Higgins says:

    I have watched the progress of this quilt with fascination since Victoria started posting about it. I was thrilled to be able to learn the quilting process, thank you for taking pictures and sharing the process! I am in awe of the creativity and work that went into this amazing and wonderful piece of art! My next dream is to see it in person. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

  31. Estie says:

    Wow and wow!!!

  32. bobbie rumler says:

    this is amazing and I commend you…I know I couldn’t

  33. Alison Smart says:

    Quilt is just fabulous! Staggering to contemplate making one of this size and amazing amount of fabric!
    As for the quilting, truly inspired, fun and gorgeous.
    Congratulations to you both!

  34. Kerry Hubbard says:

    Simply AMAZING!!! I love everything about this quilt. I am praying GOD sends a V into my life. I want my longarm quilting to blossom too. Keep up your beautiful work.

  35. Cathy Wilson says:

    What a beautiful job. You are one brave soul for I would be fearful of ever taking on such a task. I saw your name on another quilt of Victoria’s called the Cascade being featured on Quilt Inspiration. I loved the quilting so I clicked on your name and came to your site. I must follow you. Thank you for your inspiration.

  36. katie z. says:

    Wow! You two are amazing. And… I can see why there are so many quilts waiting to be quilted!

  37. Sandra says:

    Totally breathtaking, I’m so impressed Your work is beautiful, and……… Victoria, such talent!

  38. Susie Q says:

    You did a great job explaining and showing the quilting process…. and the quilting is grand as well.

  39. Margaret Andrews says:

    I think I came here from A Quilter’s Table, maybe? Anyway, SO glad to see this post. I had missed it. Loved, loved, loved seeing this in Paducah! My husband and I took a few pictures, and have showed it off to several friends, always encouraging them to follow you and Victoria! Thanks for answering the questions I had. I’ve learned to take photos of my quilts as I go, lest I forget what I’ve done on the top border when I get to the bottom? (yes, I did that to a lap quilt I made for myself. Oops!)
    PS. I think I have my email straightened out again. And, again, thanks for the great class in Macon!

  40. Barb Bevell says:

    I’m so glad I was able to see this quilt on display in Paducah, along with all the other quilts you made for Victoria.

    I’ve really enjoyed re-reading this post today. I am amazed at the amount of work you had to do to quilt it. Loved the pictures, too. So glad Victoria keeps pushing you. What’s next?

  41. Suzi leong says:

    You are such a gifted asking why, how, what
    for,…just go at it and do it. You are free of rules,
    and just create. You learn what you need to do to accomplish your art..magnificent. We are blessed to
    be able to share your gift, and such a gift it is!

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