If you've followed my blog for awhile, you may recall previous posts about my journey through completing several UFOs that Mom left behind at her passing. (Such as here, and here. And this one talks about the experience a little more deeply--what I learned, how I felt.)
I finished a whole bunch of her UFOs in those first few months after she passed away in April 2009, mostly because I wanted them to go into the general distribution of keepsakes amongst my sibs, and I wanted to finish a few that I knew she had intended as Christmas gifts for that Christmas. (One of the above blog posts talks about those.) A couple took a bit longer, but I finished up the vast majority of them within 18 months. The very last one, however, sat for some time. I kept taking it out, looking at it, puttering a bit, and then putting it back away. It felt somehow overwhelming. It was the only one of her UFOs that I'd kept that was still in pieces, and trying to figure out how to pick up where she'd left off and finish it the way she had planned was beyond my mental capabilities any of those times I pulled it off the shelf to shuffle through it again.
But last summer, when my daughter and I decided to spend a week together at the cottage (my first full week there in years n' years), I decided it was time to finish Mom's last UFO while I was there, in a place Mom had loved so much and where she'd done a lot of quilting herself.
Here is what I started with. The project bag contained:
1. A whole ream of print-outs of variants on the design and paper-piecing foundations therein.
2. 24 pieced log-cabin blocks.
3. 16 paper-pieced flower blocks.
4. One paper-pieced stem/leaf block.
5. A boatload of fabrics--some she'd already used, most still uncut. She clearly hadn't made all her final decisions yet.
I had distinct memories of her planning this quilt. She had told me she wanted to make a quilt for our family cottage, where we'd spent every summer as kids. After my Dad had passed away in 2001, my oldest sister had spent several summers rehabbing the cottage, including repainting the inside walls a soft yellow. Mom wanted to make a pretty, summery, blue and yellow quilt to go with my sister's new color scheme. In fact, I had given Mom some fabrics out of my own stash in case she needed them--I recognized some of those fabrics in the project bag. Probably, of all Mom's UFOs, this was the one with the most personal connection for me.
It was also the trickiest to finish. I could write a whole long blog post about how I had to figure out which of all the print-outs of designs was likely her final choice; I could write a blog post about having to figure out how to get log cabin blocks (not on foundations) to play nicely with paper-pieced flower blocks. As for that, I'll just say, don't take a tape measure to this quilt to measure for square. I went for "good enough for horseshoes."
I could write a blog post about trying to figure out how I was going to re-create seven more leaf blocks to match the one she'd done when she didn't have any of THOSE foundations printed in the project bag. (She had every other paper-pieced pattern for leaves and stems known to quilters, I think, but not that particular one. Go figure.) As for that, suffice it to say that it took me three years to have the sudden realization, "She designed it in EQ. What're the chances it's a block in the EQ Library?" Well, of course it was. But the one she'd already made wasn't the right size--and I could imagine her doing that, realizing it was the wrong size, throwing it down on her sewing table in frustration and walking away, intending to return to it when she was in a better mood, and that's why it was still in pieces in a project bag. Been there, done that. In any case, I made 8 new ones, using her fabrics and fabric placement.
I could also write a blog post about laying it out on my design wall, checking it by her design....and then taking the bold step of moving a couple of things around because I liked it a little better. Sorry, Mom. Hope you don't mind. It's still about 95% her original design.
I got the center pieced at the cottage. But there was no border fabric in the bag, so I had to wait until I got home and could head to my LQS to by border and backing. Found the perfect border. Got talked into another fabric for the backing that looked better in the store than it did when I actually got it on the quilt months later, but that's okay. It's backing. I'm not sweating it.
I had it custom-quilted at my LQS because trying to figure out how to quilt it adequately was beyond me. At this stage, I just wanted it done. I was able to pick it up from them last week, and got the binding on it yesterday, just in time for my guild's show n' tell.
The last of Mom's UFOs, done. It's the end of an era for me. I introduce to you, "Summers by the Lake with Shirley," Designed by Shirley DeMott, pieced by Shirley DeMott and Sandy Hasenauer, quilted by Debby Kenney at Mt. Pleasant Quilt Company.