Every time I’ve worked on these quilts lately, I’ve joked that they’re five years in the making. Today, I looked back at the past posts I’ve shared of their progress, and reader: THESE TOOK EIGHT POINT FIVE YEARS TO FINISH.
When I started these, our girls were still both in preschool. They loved bright pastels, like pink and lemon sherbet, and this Dream On collection is nothing but those electric citrus shades, plus a healthy dose of bright white.
These days, they’re much older. The youngest no longer cares for pink, on the grounds that color-based gender norms are inherently patriarchal. She’s eleven.
Lucky for me, considering I’m the one who left these languishing for EIGHT YEARS, she loves everything I make for her. In fact, at this very moment, she has no fewer than THREE blankets or quilts on her bed and she is as unwilling to choose just one as she is unwilling to evict one of her six trillion stuffed animals from their perch by her pillow.
So our girls now have their twinning twin postage stamp quilts, and their room is absolutely overflowing with cheer–just in time for school to begin and the days to get shorter.
Their beds were hand-made by my stepfather, who has worked with metal for nearly five decades. He bent the stainless steel frames himself, and added cast iron accents from a foundry in Birmingham, not too far from where I grew up. My own bed frame is very similar, and one of these twin frames belonged to his own mother before she passed away, so they hold a special memory for all of us.
The vintage feel of these fabrics and colors, which are probably more the echo of my own 70s childhood than my girls’, seems to blend well with the bed frames, and the impact of the colors can’t be denied. That stuff is magic.
For the life of me, I can’t fathom what made me want to piece these blocks one tiny two-inch square at a time? I guess I took the idea of “postage stamp” very, very literally. They could just as easily have been strip-pieced or made like the Scrappy Trip Around The World quilts I’d already made.
But the result of that monotonous square after square after square is this unexpectedly warm. wabi-sabi effect: the small imperfections and itty bitty mis-matches that arise from that many independent seams don’t make these quilts less wonderful for me. They make them feel even more handmade and inviting, like something made by a doting grandmother as a treasured keepsake.
One of the things that delayed this project for so long was my desire to use an orange peel design for the quilting stitches. I put it off and put it off and finally made the decision to just do diagonal lines every other square, like I did for my all-yellow quilt and my Scrappy Tripalong quilt–it’s quick, requires no marking, and the geometry is pleasing in the end. It’s less fancy than the orange peel but it’s FINISHED.
Binding is always a trick to choose, and I’d already switched up the backing fabrics, swapping out the pink floral from when our girls were five and three for a yellow floral on one and a blue floral on the other, pieced with leftover blocks and some orange + green accents. I had a delicious orange dot for the binding, but it went in the backing; I had a lovely pink dotted stripe, but I wanted to pick something the girls would still like.
This Kona solid in Lemon was just the ticket. As always, I cut Continuous Bias Tape (using my YouTube tutorial method) at 2.5″ wide and applied it by machine. I’ve never (I don’t think?) hand-finished quilt binding and after waiting the better part of a decade, I wasn’t gonna get precious on these quilts, either. Getting crisp, square corners by machine is always the challenge, and if I do say so myself, I think these turned out pretty great!
I’m still working through a pile of half-finished projects in my sewing room, and I’m thrilled that these quilts aren’t part of it any longer. I can report that using, laundering, and handling a finished quilt top that is NOT quilted doesn’t do any lasting damage—we put these on beds and ran them through the washer/dryer at least a dozen times over the years, and they didn’t show a hint of damage other than a single stain from pen ink.
Moral of the story: USE IT even if it isn’t finished, and FINISH IT as soon as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect, if perfect leads to it being forgotten.