Sunday, June 24, 2007

Unfinished Business

If you’re an avid thrifter, you may have had this experience at a flea market or estate sale. From across the room, you spot a quilt that takes your breath away. Even though you’ve only glimpsed a corner of the design, you recognize it as a classic. While reading the ridiculously low price scribbled on the tag, your heart begins to race. “At last, the quilt gods are on my side,” you mutter incredulously, for you’ve discovered the rarest of finds--a beautiful applique quilt, in pristine condition, at a reasonable price!

With trembling hands, you pull the treasure from a pile of rumpled linens. But it feels remarkably light for a quilt and something has fallen from between the folds and onto the floor. There at your feet, lies a plastic bag overflowing with wrinkled scraps of fabric in the same colors as the quilt. Then it hits you. What you are holding is not a finished quilt--it is someone’s unfinished business!

This might well have been the fate of my Whig Rose quilt, had dear friends not interceded on its behalf. From the start, it was destined to be a collaboration but I could never have predicted how many hands would leave their mark on it with loving stitches.

I received the center block from Chris K. in a 1992 Christmas exchange. As much as I loved the block and wanted it to be the focal point in a quilt, my life was too hectic to start a new project. We just had our second child and were selling one house while building another. Needless to say, the block got set aside.

Once settled in our new home, I decided to meet local quilters by taking a class. Out came the Whig Rose block--a perfect starting point for a class on designing borders. As you can see, Border 1 provides a simple frame around the busy center. Border 2 is the classic half square triangle, with a controlled color layout. For Border 3, I got as far as designing the applique, cutting out leaves and flowers, and basting the pieces in place. Once again, it got set aside, this time for several years.

Life had gotten in the way, BIG TIME! I thought the quilt would never be finished. I asked my friend Barb V. if she would be willing to complete the applique and she agreed. When she returned it to me, I thought the border needed something else. How about berries? Barb took what she now referred to as “our quilt” and dutifully stitched fifty-some berries (Who’s counting? I bet she was!) amongst the appliquéd flowers.

After that, I lost all sense of guilt or shame. I couldn’t bear to have it machine quilted since every other stitch had been done by hand. So, Mary C. was enlisted to hand quilt the Whig Rose. Kathy S. added the binding. Sheila L. shuttled the quilt between volunteers and although she tried that “possession is 9/10 of the law” bit, she returned the precious quilt to me--finally completed, 15 years after its inception.

Is this waaaaay more than you care to know about any of my quilts?


  1. Nooooo! It's a wonderful story! The quilt is fabulous...hard to believe it could be improved, but it has been, by its lovely history and your sharing of it.

  2. What a beautiful quilt, and what fabulous friends you have!

    Thanks for visiting, I'll be back soon.


  3. The quilt is beautiful! and what wonderful memories of generous friends it will have for you.
    I have an unfinished quilt top tucked away for about 17 years now. Someday I'm hoping to get it finished!

  4. isn't that really what quilts were about..they told a story of many hands working together...and as this quilt is passed down through your family this story will be told...that is a very special quilt indeed :)

  5. Love this the story behind it. Also I love the picture at the begining, looks so old and new at the same time. I also like when people finish their old projects, like I dream to one day.