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Thread: Unfinished Quilt Stories

  1. #1
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    Unfinished Quilt Stories

    I went through my boxes of unquilted tops the other day and counted them up. I was pleased to find I had less than 20 (ok, 19 but who is counting) and that doesn't count work in progress so the numbers will be going up soon.. Took pictures of all, and had various thoughts. Most of them haven't been quilted yet because I just haven't gotten to them. For the last couple of years I've been able to use a friend's long arm but that access isn't what it once was so I'm looking at ways to get more things quilted.

    A lot of time I'm just quilting because it's what I do, but some of these unfinished tops have unfinished stories so I'll share them here. Please join in with your own stories if you wish.

    Unfinished Quilt Story 1 -- Delectable Mountains/John's Quilt

    I started this top for my Hubby's dad. He didn't know what to think about his son up and leaving his whole life to marry some woman from the internet, but we were able to meet and he was sure that I loved my hubby and would take good care of him, even if I was taking him from "home".

    John had a good life, part of that was taking care of his aged father from ages 70-96+, one thing he learned from that was he didn't want any extreme measures. When confronted with some basic health issues (diabetes, heart, etc.) that could be controlled by medication he opted not to treat, and he died within about 2 years from the doctor's warning in his mid-60s, he thought he'd have a couple more but we didn't.

    I don't know when/if I will finish this top. I want to do sort of a swirling wind design in the background but don't really know how to achieve what I want, and then a radiating spiral out of the stars. When I took the corner shot, I couldn't find the backing fabric (which I later did but that box was already packed) so I shot the binding on a pillow since I felt the kraft paper was too close to the background.
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  2. #2
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    Unfinished Quilt Story 2: Tennessee Waltz/Jerry Springer Wedding Quilt

    This combination of the Snowball and 54-40 or Fight was made popular in Judy Martin's book Scrap Quilts which really changed my quilting life -- even though this is a "planned" and not scrap variation.

    Dear hubby asked me to make him a quilt for his niece who was getting married. She's actually the daughter of his best friend but niece is closer in many ways. Hubby moved away from Michigan to be with me in Seattle and hadn't seen her at that point in about 5+ years, really didn't know anything about her other than when she was a little girl and knew nothing about the husband-to-be so couldn't tell me anything about the couple. It wasn't a lot of notice on the wedding, about six months. I didn't have any projects going on and while I really don't like making a quilt for someone I don't know and I didn't have anything I wanted to do, I love my hubby so I said yes.

    Went to the LQS for inspiration, and was taken by the background fabric. My design changed, went back to get more fabric (two days later) but it was gone, of course! But I did find another piece from the same line in a lighter colorway that I pieced into the border. You can see it if you look for it but I'm not going to point it out. I'm not really happy with the blue I chose, it needs to be a little bit stronger.

    I paper pieced the star points so they'd be nice and crisp. While I say I'm not good at paper piecing, I can do this sort of thing especially after all this practice! It's the tiny little pictorial stuff I have problems with. I got the quilt top finished, it was about a month before the wedding and I was pleased. And then the phone call came...

    The wedding was called off. Bride and groom had a huge fight. We have only gotten bits and pieces but over the years we have now heard multiple sides of the story and pieced it together like an episode of the Jerry Springer show. So this is how I understand it: Bride-to-be accuses wild older sister of sleeping with the groom. Older sister had dated groom-to-be but he was not the baby daddy of either of her kids and she didn't want him. Groom was dating younger sister just to get back at older sister and it sort of got out of control and he never really asked her to marry him, she just started planning the wedding.

    I will eventually finish this quilt. I'm not sure how I'm going to quilt it, I'll probably have a reason to finish it off in a hurry and just do some sort of all over edge to edge design. Maybe heavy stippling or pebbles in the white? Dunno. Designing the quilting is the Achilles heal of my process.
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  3. #3
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    ​Great tops and just work at getting then done one at a time.

  4. #4
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    thanks for sharing, they look great
    Nancy in western NY
    before you speak T.H.I.N.K.
    T is it True? H is it Helpful? I is it Inspiring? N is it Necessary? K is it Kind?

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  5. #5
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    Unfinished Quilt Story 3: Roman Stripe/Cousin Michelle

    This quilt is pretty much a direct lift from a traditional one shown in the Pellman's book The World of Amish Quilts. I really like working with solids, always have even before my vision issues got more pronounced. I've done a number of "almost Amish" projects over the years. I also like working with dark backgrounds instead of light.

    My cousin once told me that I should make more quilts in purple. Oh, I replied, is that so I could give them to you? And she shot me the big grin and the "you got it!". She has an artistic flair and does crafts herself but is more modern than dainty floral. I do love wild backs and she will appreciate the op-art flair of it.

    The background color is Kona Midnight Purple. It's funny how colors react to each other but every set of stripes has at least one purple in it.

    I fully intend to finish this quilt -- it nags at me constantly. I had saved it to get my skill up high enough to do what I want. I've designed a nice triangular scroll with hearts and loops and such that will be done in each half of the triangle.

    I want to do a cable in the border, have a bunch of stuff ready to figure out how to fit the design in perfectly.

    Right now unfinished top 20 is in process... it's another purple quilt and I'll post pictures in a week or so. A very different approach and color set made from 42 different purples in the blocks with a 43rd as a border, and about 16 different white on whites. Most of the time, even when working with solids, I'm working with scraps!
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  6. #6
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    I may have to borrow this idea for my donation quilts. looks great
    Nancy in western NY
    before you speak T.H.I.N.K.
    T is it True? H is it Helpful? I is it Inspiring? N is it Necessary? K is it Kind?

    Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

  7. #7
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    Forty three different purples! I can't wait to see that quilt.

  8. #8
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    Great stories... albeit sad. Can't imagine not treating diabetes! For the two quilts with sad stories, I would finish them up and donate them to a good charity, making good come from sad.
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  9. #9
    Super Member MaryMo's Avatar
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    Thank you for sharing. Your quilts are beautiful but it's the stories that make each one over-the-top awesome. You've inspired me to take a second look at my unfinished quilted projects . . . and maybe even finish a few.

  10. #10
    Junior Member PAMAR's Avatar
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    Roman Stripe - I started that same quilt, from the same book, in the same colors, for my son's first twin bed. He is now 43 and I still need to finish handquilting the border. Not a twin bed in the house! Will probably go to charity when finished (if I get it done in my lifetime!).

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the comments

    Nan, if I were to do the Roman Stripe again I'd definitely make larger blocks with wider stripes, the top triangles are just sort of too tiny and lost in mine. I know the strip finished width on that one was 1", I think it's a 8?? inch block. I made the "strata" and cut triangles both directions, some were made from small odds and ends I made in a pyramid shape and then trimmed down. So maybe try a 2" strip (either cut or finished) and a 10" block. It's actually very versatile, I've seen the background used with a large scale juvenile print, bright primary dinosaurs I think it was with sort of rainbow blades of small scale prints. Plus, like any half-square shape, there are endless possibilities to arrange the squares just like with log cabin quilts.

    If/when John's quilt is finished I have already given it to my husband who will either keep it for himself or give to his half brother. Half brother is just around 50 with serious health issues of his own, he just had I think it was a double bypass but in order to live, he's going to have to change his life. Hubby and I have both been dealing with our own issues, I've lost about 100 pounds over 7 years and have gone from uncontrolled diabetes over 350 glucose readings to one metformin a day, serious life style changes, and glucose around 105. Hubby has lost about 140 pounds now doing Keto, he is getting regular doctor checkups and scans along the way.

    The Jerry Springer quilt I just laugh about and don't feel it's cursed. It will either be a random donation or there will be a good opportunity for it. And next time I will tell the hubby that there is a rule that says wedding gifts can be given the first year of the marriage...

  12. #12
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    wow, you've given me a new way to look at my unfinished things.
    I'm in the process of purging my home. I didn't mean to keep stuffing
    things in the "junk" room and it was ok, right? It was for leftover stuff
    that we use around here and gobs of medical pprs, warranties etc. that
    I never got around to filing.
    I've not promised my dh not to do it again.
    I promised myself! All this so I can get back to my quilts that do have
    stories...my stories...that were buried, but their time is coming.
    It is a blessing, to be a blessing !
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    LOL, Pamar, the next round of unfinished top pictures will be the ones I had intended for my son. Who is now 30 and expecting his first and probably my only grandbaby in September. But that's what you get for hand-quilting!

    So here's my bug jar top. I was very active on-line swapping fabrics around Y2K on mostly defunct or changed boards. The first swap I participated in resulted in these, must have been around 1998?? It was the first swap for many of us and after quite a bit of discussion and we decided on 10" squares so that everyone could fussy cut their particular size and it would cut well from a width of fabric. I finally put it together about 10 years ago but yeah... my son didn't have a twin bed any more and so I didn't feel a rush to finish.

    I swapped a lot of 10" squares with a lot of people and have had to come up with ways to use it, and I still have lots of them left.

    All the jars use the same tops. The shelves are wood grain planks that I fussy cut along the plank size. I added a couple of gold fish bowls, fish tanks, and baby food jars of bugs. Plus, the naughty geckos got out and are getting into mischief. I'm missing a close up shot of the spider and web in the top corner. I'm not the best housekeeper Besides, that's what the geckos are for!

    I'm thinking of a tight tiny stipple on the speckled light blue background wall fabric. I'm not sure what to do with the jars. I had thought of simple kind of curved "hip" lines enough to hold them down, or emphasizing the bug shapes, like maybe a big moth or spider over the jar of little ones... This will be a play/use quilt for the grandbaby who will be a boy. I was sort of wanting a grand daughter to dress up but I guess if someone needs to dress like a fairy princess it can be me.

    Edit: Apparently I haven't made binding for this one yet, I look at the binding as another opportunity to add fabric so am keeping my eyes and mind open.
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    Last edited by Iceblossom; 05-08-2019 at 07:04 AM.

  14. #14
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    I am enjoying the stories.

  15. #15
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    How Fantastic the quilts and the stories. Keep them coming, I want to read all 20!

  16. #16
    Super Member LindaMRB's Avatar
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    I want to see all twenty, too!
    I have 10% of what you have: 2 exactly, and I am counting...the days when we get moved and unpacked and I can get back at it!!
    I love when a quilter does all kinds and varieties with different fabrics and colors!

  17. #17
    Power Poster Mousie's Avatar
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    oh my gosh, IceBlossom! I have a dgd that has Aspbergers and have agonized for
    so long on what kind of quilt to make for her.
    She is very intelligent and particular. Seeing your bug quilt it just clicked! She has
    Always loved bugs so much. Her YaYa bought her a bugbarn when she was little
    and she was fascinated with it.
    I Love that those little stinkers, the geckos got out. It's so perfect!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 05-08-2019 at 08:04 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps
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    Thanks for sharing the stories and the photos of the quilt tops. The second made me laugh out loud, and I'm still smiling as I write.

  19. #19
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    Mousie, I hope you enjoy the idea even if it doesn't get made. As I looked for this spider picture, the more I like the idea of making some various large bug outlines, so I would use the same dragonfly for each jar with dragonflies, the same spider, etc. But my son was gifted and ADD and one of those kids... I had better make darn sure everything has the correct number of legs and wings and body parts.

    I found the spider shot, it was on the camera somehow and not the card. It's two purchased puff balls and I made the web using a zigzag stitch on my little old vintage machine.

    Edit: I made a design decision that I would just fuse down the geckos and that gradually over time and use they would disappear off the quilt. If I go the tight stipple route that will show the places they used to be. I sort of like how quilts age and change.
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    Last edited by Iceblossom; 05-08-2019 at 07:58 AM.

  20. #20
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    Great quilt tops and stories !

  21. #21
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    Not all the unquilted tops have stories... but here are more of my now 30-year old son's unfinished tops. I have edited this to point out that he has gotten many finished tops as well!

    He had bunkbeds for a number of years. I think we changed them out when he was about 12 and they were long gone by the time I had the fabric collected and the top made. I saw this concept in Quilter's Newsletter but I wasn't happy with it as a square, my boots are taller (and made for walking!) by half an inch. So you aren't seeing double, I made two quilts for the bunk beds. About half the boots are the same in both quilts, and about half are only in that quilt. If they were for twins, I'd probably pick two color ways of the same fabric and use it as the border on one quilt and the backing on the other. But these were made for matching decor so have the same border, a basic chocolate brown backing, and the binding is the spongy sand. Again, many of these both tops and feet were made from the 10" swapping squares, others collected by me along the way.

    One of my friends really liked the bug jar and the boot concept, she made coordinating quilts for her grandson's bunkbeds using one of each. They both used the same bright turquoise blue back fabric, her cowboys were more Montana while mine definitely are from the southwest.

    Edit 2: I do have a quilting design for this, I will most likely being doing the uneven pointed star sort of stipple, or if I can work out a lasso that looks like one, something like that for the background. The thread will be the basic tan color of the background. I'll swoop down into the boots at the tab area with a big tear drop shape, smaller one inside of that. I'll do some zig zags on the heels (which are all the same solid black btw), and on top of the toe a wider ziggy with little loops at the end, an actual leather sewing sort of design.
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    Last edited by Iceblossom; 05-08-2019 at 08:21 AM.

  22. #22
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    I should be doing other things... but one more story and then I have to start packing up to go to my mom's. She's having back surgery on Friday and I will be there for at least the next two weeks. I'll have computer access but not sure if I'll be posting from there or not.

    Ok, this quilt sort of belongs in two categories. Probably after I come back from my mom's I'll start posting my Quilts for Each Month Project. Short form is I made quilts all the time but always gave them away. My own were rotting away so I would make myself a quilt for each month. Not a quilt a month (which I've done) but for each month, so it's been a couple years now and will be a couple more and it deserves it's own thread. But this one I decided wasn't worthy, it is couch sized and I want bed sized, couple other things.

    I made a donation quilt as an original variation of a ribbon block, but by using two different blocks set on point, it was all large and easy square seams and no triangles. A pet peeve of mine is when I piece a triangle all nice and everything and then it gets turned into a square by the piece next to it! One of the guild ladies asked me to teach a class in it and this was the piece I made to have for the class demonstration and also to see how long it would take. I wrote up directions and sized it in various ways from crib to queen sized. My donation variation I do have an old school photograph somewhere and used a different focus under-the-sea fabric for each ribbon (so the red in this one) with the same squares in all columns that are green here.

    I don't have them handy but I should be able to find those directions if anyone wants them, it's a fast donation quilt that I made several times, just didn't get this one for me done.

    The cardinal fabric was one of my thrift store finds and I just think it's so fun, but this quilt is sized to what it is because that's all the fabric I had and was never going to be able to get any more.

    Planned to replace it will be a string quilt variation, white background, first string next to the white will be the same red, all the other strings will be random. I went through my Christmas fabrics when I was purging and kept only true red, white, and green fabrics for this. All the others (an entire file box) went to the Forgotten Children's Fund volunteers who made stockings of them.

    PS: Yes, in one of my compulsive moments I decided I had to piece the binding from the green and red used in the blocks. Pieced binding can be a lot of fun -- really!

    Edit: Oh! I found the perfect continuous line cardinal quilting design that I'll fit into the peaks of the red triangle shapes, white thread. Will fill in the rest with holly leaves.
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    Last edited by Iceblossom; 05-08-2019 at 08:53 AM.

  23. #23
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    I love these stories! And you've inspired me to go through my own boxes of UFO's (in various stages) and write down a plan for each of them. If I don't Love it any longer, I'll finish it and donate it. Thank you!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 05-08-2019 at 09:48 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  24. #24
    Power Poster sewbizgirl's Avatar
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    I have a Jerry Springer quilt story too! When we found out a young man we knew and liked was finally getting married, I began making a quilt. Had never met the bride-to-be.... So we gave them the quilt, they got married, and within about a month the marriage was over and they were separate. Turns out she married our friend to get back at an ex-boyfriend who she wanted to be with. It worked, and she left our friend, like a cast off pair of socks! She was conniving and manipulative, but guess who ended up with the quilt? Yes, she got it and most everything they were given as gifts. Our poor friend: Used and abused.

    Jerry Springer.
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  25. #25
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    Don't it figure, Sewbizgirl. That's the one saving grace of the story is that I still have the top. And since I never announce I'm giving a quilt to someone until it's done, nobody but the hubby even knows.

    LynnBBQ, a few years ago I went through and made a spreadsheet of my UFOs and unfinished tops. At that time I had over 20 which is why I'm glad I'm under for the moment. Full disclosure: Some of the same quilts are still on the list but many others have come in gone. I consider a finished top a finished project, just not quite a quilt yet... I no longer have anything I consider a UFO, sure, some projects have been collected but not started and there are a couple works in progress but that's not the same thing.

    With the spread sheet I measured the tops and put that down plus any notes I needed and I had various boxes for stage of completion. So like fabrics collected, top finished, back purchased, quilting design chosen? That really helped me get ready so they could be quilted down as well as think about the quilting aspect, again it's not easy for me. You'll notice in my photos that my binding is generally already made and is stored with the tops and backs. I try now to always put the project into quilting hold with it's back, binding, quilting designs, and notes to myself

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