Friday, August 3, 2012

Make Your Own Medallion Quilt, with Simple Tips for Prolonging the Process

Create your own medallion quilt in less than two decades. It’s easy. Deliberate, procrastinate, and remember, you can’t rush quality work!

1. Choose a theme fabric. In 1992, I purchased one yard of a beautiful toile print, designed by Jinny Beyer to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America.

Tip: Look for hard to use fabrics like large scale directional prints. Buy just enough to limit your options when designing the quilt.

2. Collect coordinating fabrics. My favorites were reproduction prints from 19th century quilts in the Smithsonian and Shelburne Museum Collections.

Tip: Choose a monochromatic color scheme based on one of your least favorite colors, in my case, blue.

3. Select a quilt pattern. I liked this simple antique medallion quilt (circa 1840-60, owned by Penny McMorris), featured in the Autumn 2005 issue of Designers' Quarters Magazine.

Tip: Use the pattern for inspiration, but change it just enough to require reworking all the math.
4. Wait 10-15 years before you begin sewing. By that time, my MS made the task too challenging. I got this far and the project stalled.

Tip: To simulate sewing with MS, wear mittens and tie one hand behind your back.

Tip: Miss every deadline you set for gifting the quilt: high school graduation, college graduation, grad school graduation, etc.

5. Call in reinforcements. My quilt buddies stepped in to complete the sewing and even sent the quilt to the machine quilter for me.

Isn't this wavy design fun for a nautical quilt?

Tip: Avoid asking your friends for too many favors. I’m pretty sure I’ve worn out my welcome with this crew!

6. Document your work. Photograph the finished quilt in a lovely outdoor setting.

Tip: Nag your kids to take waaaay more pictures than you need so you’ll have plenty to choose from.

Tip: Use one of the photos as the background for your quilt label.

Tip: Design the label digitally on your computer, but never actually get around to printing it on fabric or sewing it to the quilt.


7. Create a nifty slide show.

Tip: Post it on your blog, but don’t mention a word about the quilt itself. Keep readers guessing. The suspense will leave them wanting more.

8. Wrap it up already! Wait another year (you can't rush blog posts either) and write about how to prolong the making of your own medallion quilt.

This Christopher Columbus Medallion was intended as James' "Coming of Age" quilt. He didn't seem to mind getting it a few years late. As you can see, it's enjoyed by the whole family.

*In an interesting bit of synchronicity, today is the 520th anniversary of the day Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain on his voyage to the New World. Maybe my 20 year process was meant to be after all.


  1. Fantastic quilt and what a great post. I love your writing style. What fun. Happy 520th anniversary of the day Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain on his voyage to the New World. (what a thought!)

  2. How funny! Now, blue is my favorite color, so I love your quilt. Some ideas just take time to stew!

  3. What a wonderful post. I had tears running down my face as almost every part of it fit me. I am a master at procrastination! The pattern is wonderful, and I wonder if it is still available? Just gorgeous, and well worth the wait in seeing. Medallion quilts are a true favorite of mine and I have my own affected by procrastination - a replica of a Jane Austen medallion quilt. One of these days................... I promise. Thanks for sharing this beauty with us.

  4. Thank you for starting my day with a laugh. I think I may have already implemented at least some of your trips on my own projects!

  5. I'm certain you haven't worn out your welcome! I loved seeing it when it was finished.

  6. Good tips throughout--I'll have to remember some of those :) My least favorite color is pink so I'll have to start collecting that, I guess, for my Procrastination Project. Your finished quilt is amazing. Great story!

  7. OMG - This sounds so much like me and I have only been quilting for a year! Thanks for the inspiration.