Projects, projects, projects – Grandma’s Hankerchiefs and other UFO’s

I don’t know any quilter without an unfinished project. Or two. Or seven.

A quilter’s pride may be the size of the fabric stash. A quilter’s secret shame is the number of UFO’s (Un-Finished Objects).

Why all these unfinished projects? I have a couple of theories.

Conspiracy Theory I: Quilts inspired by fabric collections. I recognize the conspiracy of fabric manufacturers to get my money coordinating colors, patterns, and textures. I am truly grateful they provide me coordinating fat quarter bundles, pre-cut strips, and blenders. I find it easier to design and construct my quilts when everything matches.

Conspiracy Theory II: The unopened fat quarter bundles in my stash, or quilt kits still in their original packaging. I do have a plan for them. Really, I do.

My list of quilting UFO’s reads like a baseball line-up, including the relief pitchers deep in the bullpen.

  1. The Around the World baby quilt using Eleanor Burns’ Quilt in a Day method. The baby I think I was making it for is now 8 years old.
  2. The Dear Jane quilt. Three blocks down and 222 left to go. This is a great project for using up scrap fabric from my stash, but, oh, so many tiny pieces in those four-inch blocks. Apparently, Jane had more time on her hand during the Civil War.
  3. A block-of-the-month Civil War story quilt with an appliqued eagle in the center. The pieced blocks wait for the eagle to hatch.
  4. Grandmother’s Flower Garden. The blooming flowers need their garden’s border. Yes, sewing the borders is simple when compared to the Y-seams of the hexagons. Nevertheless, the border fabric lays folded beneath the stored top.
  5. The Redwork Quilt. Once upon a time, I bought several redwork embroidery blocks at an antique show, then added sashing and a border. I have no idea how to quilt this because of the embroidery.
  6. A quilt inspired by Civil War reproduction fabric. The top is complete. The backing is ready. I even have the batting on hand.
  7. The winter scene throw quilt. Since I can’t leave a pre-printed panel alone, I cut it up then added pieced sashing and borders.
  8. Polar Bear Paws in Winter is a tone-on-tone quilt in cream shades. Even though this is one of my early quilts, I haven’t decided on the batting. The original concept called for a wool batting. I still haven’t decided.
  9. The partially quilted Family Tree wall hanging. There have been four family weddings and five babies born since I started this quilt.
  10. Toile inspired throw. This one stalled due to a miscalculation of the yardage needed for the backing.
  11. The Blue and White T quilt. 254 six inch blocks of triangles. Need I say more?
  12. Miranda and Her Friends throw quilt. Throw-sized means easy-peasy except when the pattern is paper pieced for sharp points. And has curved seams. And is appliqued to look like cats.
  13. Norway. This is a variation of a log cabin pattern. I love the colors I chose. I love I can use pre-cut strips. I love the pattern is called Norway, the birthplace of my great-great-great grandparents.
  14. Angela’s Wedding Quilt. As she is getting married in September, this quilt is quickly moving up the Need-To-Get-It-Done list.
  15. The New York Beauty quilt in cheddar and white. I saw this quilt at an antique show and said to myself, I can make that. I ordered six yards of cheddar fabric from a website specializing in reproduction fabrics. The fabric I got strikes me more as like the blaze-orange my father wears for hunting, even after washing. I suppose if I let it collect dust for 100 years and fade in the sun it would look less like the block of cheddar cheese in my refrigerator. I don’t have that much time.

Which brings me to Grandma’s Hankies. Several years ago my aunt asked if I could make her a quilt using her mother’s and mother-in-law’s handkerchiefs. I said sure, and she sent me the thin hankies. I came up with a design, then life happened in the forms of a complete basement remodel and two job changes.

My original design started with the hankies and two soft shades of pink. I backed the hankies with fusible web to give them a little more body, then cut the hankies into quarters and overlaid them on the background fabric with the edges toward the inside of the block. I wanted to make a larger 4-patch block by alternating the hankie units with a slightly darker soft pink floral background. When I laid the fabrics out with the hankies I didn’t like it, and the project stalled for several years.

Coming back to this project I decided I needed another color and chose bright white to contrast the light pinks. I’ve sketched alternative layouts and calculated the final size if I decided to place the blocks on point instead of in a row and measured the yardage of the fabric I set aside for the project against the new design. Though still not settled on the design, I am closer to a direction for this quilt connecting my grandmother, my aunt, and me.


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