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"A warm hug": also known as "hand quilting takes forever"

My parent's Christmas present was quite a time sink.

I've always enjoyed making things -- I started knitting during elementary school, crochet shortly after.  Sewing and embroidery followed soon after, and other creative explorations into woodworking, origami, and weaving.

Lately I've found I really enjoy hand-sewing... things.  Like clothing, bags, or quilts.

I decided, in early November 2019, that I wanted to make a quilt for my parents for Christmas.  And I did some quick math and decided that I could possibly, probably, hand quilt it in time for Christmas.

So I did.

Finished quilt!
It was really fun!  I used two layer cakes (Regency Sussex), and a pattern called "Landlocked Sea Lovers" by Moda Bake Shop (.pdf download). 

Washing, ironing, and pairing the color blocks took about a day.  Cutting and constructing the final blocks took another day.  Creating the quilt top took maybe a couple of hours.  Making the quilt sandwich neatly (something I still struggle with) took about an hour, since I safety-pinned everything.

But the quilting... each square took about 10-20 minutes to quilt.  I did get faster as time went on.  I quilted squares, rotated 45 degrees so they're more visible on the fabric.

Quilting in process. 
I tried to learn how to use a thimble, but never could get the hang of it.  I quilted much faster and much more consistently without a thimble. 

I quilted at home, quilted in my hotel room while I traveled for work, and then quilted at home some more.  I quilted during lunch breaks at work, during some meetings (shh, don't tell the managers!), during hangouts with friends...

I finished quilting on December 20th.  Slightly behind schedule. 

Done quilting -- now on to the binding!
I started on the binding the next day -- machine sewed it to the front, and then carefully hand-stitched it to the back.

Hand-binding is my favorite part of quilting, I think.  Piecing is fun, but I get bored of it after a while.  Hand-quilting is satisfying, but I wouldn't call it fun, plus it's difficult to see your overall progress.  But hand-binding is repetitive enough to let your mind wander, and quick enough to see results quickly.

I finished the entire quilt on the 22nd.  I washed it that night, and let it hang to dry.  It was dry on the evening of the 23rd, which was great, because it needed to be wrapped and driven to my parent's place for Christmas!

They enjoyed it, and my dad was especially impressed by the time I had put into it.

After I left for home, my mom sent me a picture of Jackie the dog enjoying the quilt:

Jackie the dog
I think I need at least a couple more months to recover from the hand-quilting marathon.  But I definitely want to do another one in the future! 


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