My youngest daughter is getting married at the end of August. When she announced her plans, I said to her: “You realize that, as a professional quilter, I can’t NOT make you a quilt for your wedding, right? But, I would like for you to tell me exactly what you want in the way of a quilt, so that I don’t work my tail off on something that you won’t like or use.”
After a couple days, she responded: “We’ve talked it over. We want it all white, and king-sized. Whatever else you do is up to you.”
Well, that just leaves it wide open, doesn’t it?
What would YOU do?
Strangely, I didn’t panic, but it did sort of freeze me in my tracks for a bit. But when I got over the initial shock of having to take on such a daunting project, I pulled it together, and I have begun.
I’m gonna walk you through the steps I’m taking, and you can join me on this journey of mine, as I make a special wedding quilt . . .
Step 1: Come up with a plan . . . of sorts. Stare at the plan for a week or so, then change it a few times. Assume you have it finalized, and figure up what you’ll need to purchase to execute this plan. My plan is for the finished quilt to measure 100″ square.
Step 2: Buy the supplies. But don’t get enough the first time, ’cause that would be too logical. Realize a little bit into the project that you only got about half of what you need. Make note to get more as soon as you’re able. I’m using Moda Bella White as my base fabric, both on the front and the back. I pre-washed it. I got 9 yards to start with, but I probably need twice that much!
I also bought some white wedding satin to use for sashing, white satin cording and some dangly bead trim (which I have big ideas for, but may not be able to execute), lots of embroidery thread, some white satin ribbon, and beads. I have some more beads on order, and I’ll also be using some buttons. This quilt will probably weigh 75 pounds when I’m done!
Step 3: Let the project ferment long enough to lose some of the things you purchased, so that when it’s time to start, you have to spend an inordinate amount of time looking for the things you know you bought, and put “somewhere safe”. When the wedding is only 6 weeks away, it’s safe to finally begin working on the quilt. (Hey — you never know — what if they were to call it off at the last minute?)
Step 4: Spend some time musing about how you’re actually going to accomplish a king-sized quilt, given the customer backlog you have for the longarm. I decided that since I can’t tie up the longarm machine long enough to quilt the entire thing at once, I’ll do it in sections. Each section by itself will take a minimum of time on the longarm, leaving it free for “real work”, and then I can do the hand sewing part of the wedding quilt of an evening when it’s time to sit down after a long day. The only trick to that will be not falling asleep in my chair, needle in hand!
Step 5: Begin drawing the design for the quilt. I started with the middle section. I did their initials on the computer, then put that in the center, drew the section edges around it, then filled them in with my design of choice. While just this center section took me 6 hours to draw and get ready to transfer to the fabric, it’s not as difficult as it appears. It’s symmetrical, so I only had to draw half of each design, then flip it and trace it to complete it. I did that part in pencil, then when I had it the way I wanted it, I went over my lines with a sharpie pen so they would show up to be traced.
Step 6: Trace the design onto the fabric, after cutting it a bit larger than the finished section size will be. The center portion is only 25″ square, so I cut a 30″ x WOF piece for the front, and the same size piece for the backing. I loaded the backing on the longarm, then put the batting on. I’m using Quilter’s Dream Poly Select. It’s the perfect loft for this project, and it’s nice and white, so it won’t “yellow the quilt down” any. To trace the design, I used blue washout marking pens. I pressed the top, then traced the design carefully, trying not to put any wrinkles back into the piece, then loaded it on the frame. I didn’t want to press it after marking, because heat sets those blue marks, and I need them to come out when I’m finished.
Step 7: Machine quilt the part to be machine quilted. It may seem like I’m going about this all backwards, but I want the quilt to look a certain way on the back, and a certain way on the front. I want lots of embroidery on the front, but I don’t want to have to quilt next to the embroidery, or quilt over the embroidery, so I figured the best way to do it, is to add the embroidery after the machine quilting part is done.
Here’s an in-progress shot of the quilting:
And this is how the back looks now that it’s done:
Step 8: Begin the hand embroidery portion of the center section. I’m embroidering the design on the front, right over the top of my machine quilting lines, and adding in some extra swirls and filler stitches in certain places. This part is very slow going. I’m using 3 strands of DMC white embroidery floss. It took one entire skein just to do one corner of this design, so I may have to go purchase some more thread!
In lieu of taking knitting to my knitting group meeting this past week, I opted to take this along and make some progress on it, since time is short. My friend, Darlene, asked me a couple questions, then as I was elaborating on the process, she said, “Girl, you better shut up and sew! You’ve got a lot of stitching to do there!” So so funny — and so true! And now, whenever I’m working on it, her words ring in my ears — “just shut up and sew — you have a long way to go yet!” Haha!
When I’m done with all the embroidery, I’ll soak this section to get the blue lines out, then add some other embellishments. I have buttons, beads, ribbon, and other things to add to it yet.
Next up will be drawing the rest of the designs that go in the various sections, buying more fabric, tracing, quilting, embroidery, and so on . . . I think the end of August is going to get here before the end of this project!
Be sure to check back in later, and you can join me as I continue the saga of The Wedding Quilt.