Monday, September 23, 2013

The Barter Quilt

In October of 2012, I started another hand-pieced top using  ... oh my gosh ... MORE of the fabrics that had been used to make the Diggin's Quilt and 4-patch and Straight Furrows and Underground Railroad and a small Ohio Star quilt that went to the tornado victims of Moore, OK.   I swear this fabric was multiplying on its own.  I can't conceive that I ever bought that much.

I like having hand work to do when I'm away from home. I call these projects my "Forever Projects" because I really don't have a deadline for them to be finished and I really don't care when then get done.  I've had a number of Forever Projects since the first one in the 1990's.

I called this particular Forever Project "Vertical Diamonds".   Clever and original, huh?  :-) 

Well, I worked steadily on this project.  Every Wednesday, I visit with my Dad and always take along a Forever Project.  A lot of this project was sewn during those Wednesday visits.  By Spring of 2013, it was done.  My notes don't say how big it turned out to be but judging from the picture, I'd guess, off-hand, that maybe it was double?  *maybe* a queen.  I'm not really sure.

In fact, the picture to the left isn't even of the *finished* top!  I know there is another blue border around that outer border of diamonds.

In any case, I eventually got the top finished.  Now I was in a quandry.  For whatever reason, I wanted this top to be hand-quilted.  I had put a lot of time and effort into all the hand-piecing, although it obviously can't be seen.  It seemed to me that hand-quilting would be the "proper" way to finish this quilt.

But not by me.  I don't do hand-quilting.  The limited number of SMALL projects I've done have been more than enough for me.  I appreciate hand-quilting.  I recognize the skill it takes.  But, for me?   it's simply terminally boring.   So, this top was going to remain just that ... a top ... because *I* was not going to hand-quilt it and I'm just waaaaaay too cheap frugal to pay for someone to do it for me.  (Not that they wouldn't be worth it!! Heavens no!  *I* just don't want to pay for it!  Just as other quilters don't want to pay for longarmers to quilt their quilts.)

Enter my quilting buddy, Donna.  Donna hand-quilts.  She pieces tops only under duress and then, only so she has something to hand-quilt.  She'll even buy cheater panel prints, just to hand-quilt them.

In the Spring of 2013, I asked Donna if she would be agreeable to a barter ... would she hand-quilt my top?  In return I would longarm quilt any quilt she has.  She *was* agreeable except that she wanted me to finish piecing a Forever Project of her own ... something that had been languishing in her To Do pile since 2002 or 2003.

I jumped on the opportunity!  Without wanting to sound like a braggadocios, I feel confident in my own sewing ability to be able to sew almost any doggone quilt top you can throw at me.

In March 2013, we exchanged projects.  I handed over my Vertical Diamonds.   We talked about what sort of hand-quilting would be done.  I was of the opinion that ANYTHING she did would be a vast improvement of it laying about in my house.  I was completely comfortable with whatever she felt comfortable doing.  She stressed that she was not an expert hand-quilter; that her stitches weren't the same size top and bottom.  I reminded her that the top wouldn't get quilted *at all* if I held on to it.  She took notes on what we discussed and I gave her permission to change the quilting designs if she felt the urge to do so.

Donna's project came from the book, "Trip to Ireland" by Elizabeth Hamby Carlson which combines Irish Chain blocks with Trip Around the World blocks in various fashions.  Donna's choice was "Irish Trip".

She gave me a GINORMOUS storage bag of yardage, strips, the book and a color key to relate her fabrics to the fabrics used in the pattern.  Because there was no time deadline for her to hand-quilt my Vertical Diamonds, she asked that I not start on Trip to Ireland "too soon" because she didn't want to be under  "pressure" to finish the hand-quilting.  So, I sat on it for a couple of months.  

Donna would sporadically send me photos of her progress-to-date.  After the second one, I realized that even if she took YEARS to do the hand-quilting, if *I* waited until she was almost done, I might very well forget not only where I put her project but that I was supposed to do anything at all!  So, in August 2013, without telling her that I was starting, I did.

I cut hundreds of strips.  I made tens of hundreds of strip sets.  I sub-cut thousands of strips from the strip sets.  I made tens of thousands of Irish Chain blocks (well, 13, if you want to be specific).  I made tens of thousands of Trip Around the World blocks (well, 12, if you want to be specific).

Each block is made up of 10 strips. Each strip has 10 squares, so that each block has 100 squares.  The entire Irish Chain and Trip around the World block portion of the quilt is made up of 25 blocks (5 rows of 5 blocks each) for a grand total of 2500 squares.  Not every intersection meets *exactly* but, by golly, most of them do!  Two borders, one narrow, one wider, surround the pieced center.

By September 2013, the top was completely finished.  The measurements are approximately 88" x 88"; it's a good sized quilt top!

  So, now ... all of Donna's materials, supplies and the completed top is packed away in a ginormous storage bag.  I *HOPE* I remember where the darned thing is when Donna eventually finishes the hand-quilting on my quilt. :-)

At that point, I will have a fantastic, incredible hand-quilted sandwich.  She will receive a pieced top, made as carefully as I could do.  I think we will both be very happy.  :-)

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