Big Girl’s Blouse is finished!

I finished this quilt top back in December last year and thread basted it in January. Then, I stalled.

However, in October I got serious about finishing off some unquilted tops. I moved my sewing machine downstairs to the dining room table, where I have enough space to support the weight of a quilt as it moves through the machine, unlike in my cosy little sewing corner, and I set myself to work.

Simple patchwork quilt made up of squares that include many fabrics recycled from mens shirts

I still love the mix of masculine shirt fabric and feminine florals and spots.

Oh dear. I love piecing, but when it comes to quilting, I have my moments of doubt and hair-tearing.

When I have to quilt in straight lines, I become even more tense and edgy.

If I do not ease the foot pressure on my sewing machine’s walking foot, the layers feed through at different speeds, which results in a horrid, wrinkly mess on the back.

If I do ease up the foot pressure, the foot has little grip on the fabric and I have less control on the stitch length as the weight of the quilt pulls it through the machine.

I managed to roll and shove and wrestle and pull the thing under the throat of my machine. As I sewed the rows of horizontal stitching, the stitches were uneven, but the lines were mostly straight. I could live with mostly straight. When it came time to sew across in the other direction, things started to look less promising. I started to sweat about puckers and distortions where the lines of stitching crossed. I contemplated unpicking the lot and starting again. I tried to keep the swearing to a low mutter, but I was so cross that I thought about renaming the quilt the ‘Divorce Quilt’ to reflect my frustration and because I can see that cutting up her husband’s shirts could be something that an angry wife would be tempted to do. (Note that my husband willingly gave me his old shirts to cut up!)

For a while, the only positive I could see in the quilting was that the tension was perfect, allowing me to sew with white thread in the top and pale blue in the bobbin.

My husband talked me into carrying on, and I am so glad he pushed me to continue. Now, I really cannot see the problems that had me fretting and worrying when I was at that midway crisis point. I am really happy with it. Really happy.

I am glad I persevered with the straight lines. They look as I had hoped. Especially if you do not look too closely.

Simple patchwork quilt made up of squares that include many fabrics recycled from mens shirts

I quilted straight(ish) lines about a quarter of an inch on either side of each seam.

I like how the joins in the backing fabric are invisible as I painstakingly matched the pattern.

I also love the feel and drape of the Quilters Dream wool batting. It is light and snuggly. I hope it washes well. If it does, I can see myself using it often again.

Simple patchwork quilt made up of squares that include many fabrics recycled from mens shirts

The backing is a very girly Tanya Whelan print. I love big florals as quilt backs.

If you are looking closely at the photos and wondering about all the purple stuff on our front lawn, I will explain. Many of the streets in my suburb are lined on both sides with jacaranda trees. I find myself endlessly humming Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ every year in November. We even have an annual jacaranda festival, on this weekend. I always take my dog; she loves meeting the piglets and lambs at the petting zoo. She also loves the sausage sizzle.

Jacaranda tree

If you walk along my street at this time of year and look up, this is what you see.

Have you ever started to hate a project only to fall in love with it all over again?


42 thoughts on “Big Girl’s Blouse is finished!

  1. Ah, many a time I have got half way through a quilt and wanted to throw it out! But I find perseverance pays off! I’m sorry you had issues with your walking foot! Maybe it needs adjustment, or you need a new one? I’m sure the wool batting will hold up to the rigours of washing too!

  2. I’ve never actually finished a quilt top and put it away without immediately sandwiching and quilting it, but I have begun to hate a quilt where the quilting wasn’t going according to plan. Since I’m rarely very ambitious with my machine quilting it has never been hard to put right, but I feel for your frustration! This quilt is gorgeously varied and fun, and I too adore that backing fabric! Congratulations on another finish.

    • You never put things away? I am impressed.

      Unless there is something in the cupboard I have overlooked, I think I have now cleared my backlog of unquilted tops, except for Dear Jane, which I just started hand quilting and will proceed slowly, slowly.

      • Oh, I’m so glad Jane is getting out a bit!
        I have exactly one project sitting in the cupboard half finished. It’s an Ohio Star, which I have mangled so badly that several of the sections are almost banana shaped. It needs picking apart and remaking. I’m starting to think that EPP is the solution, because the pieces will be stable, and because I can crank the shapes out fast!

  3. It turned out splendidly, Carla!! Sometimes gritting your teeth and just soldiering through is the way to go – leave the seam ripper in the drawer! 😉 The Quilter’s Dream wool will wash like a dream (pun intended LOL). It’s the only bat I use. I have quilts that have been washed over and over – it holds up wonderfully 🙂 I have a total love/hate relationship with my current project! Now in the love stage so maybe it will get finished this week!!

    The Jacaranda trees are beautiful!! They bloom here in the winter (desert) so they are gearing up to burst soon!

    • I did not use the seam ripper once on the quilting, Judy. A proud moment for me. There was a lot of teeth gritting.

      Thanks for the reassurance on the wool and its washing. I have another queen-size piece in my stash for a future quilt top.

      Isn’t it funny how the jacarandas bloom at such different times. Ours go wild now, which is late spring here.

  4. I’ve done some row quilting (though FMQ) and had the quilt rolled on either side and found it really difficult. When I unrolled it and just had the quilt smushed out everywhere I found it eased through the machine much easier. The rolled up sandwich seemed to pull quite a bit. I think I just have a better grip or find it more comfortable to hold it when it’s smushed rather than rolled!

  5. So sorry for your frustration, but the end result was worth it. Your quilt is so pretty, I just want to snuggle up with it! I once did a quilt with straight lines and was afraid it would be nothing but puckers, but it all worked out at the end. My hate stage in a project usually comes sometime in the piecing. I always fall back in love when I start quilting. 🙂

  6. I’m so with you regarding love for piecing but angst about quilting. Yours turned out lovely. I agree about the large floral for the back – perfect complement to the shirtings and prints on the front. Nicely done!

    • We are alike. I love piecing, but my favourite method of quilting is sometimes known as ‘cheque-book quilting’: to send it out to a friend and her long-arm machine!

      I am hoping I fall in love with hand quilting as I hand quilt my Dear Jane. Machine quilting and I will probably stay no more than friendly acquaintances.

  7. I am so glad your husband urged you to continue. I definitely can fall in and out of love with a project repeatedly. And straight line quilting on a domestic machine is definitely one of those sure-fire recipes for the love/hate dynamic.

  8. I have a few projects that I’ve lost the love for, they have been put aside for the moment. I think you should be really pleased with how the quilt turned out, your organic lines look great and really suit the quilt.

    • I have learned that I seem to like two opposite styles of quilts: simple one-patch quilts like this as I like their look and ridiculously complex ones like Dear Jane as I enjoy the challenge of making them.

  9. Pingback: The cupboard of shame | Granny Maud's Girl

  10. Yes, the one I’m working on now. I started it as a cot quilt 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my youngest but he came too early and I never finished it. I periodically got it out over the last decade with the intention of finishing it but it was too hard, the squares weren’t square enough, couldn’t decide on the fabric etc. I rejoined the same quilting class in September, 12 years on, and it was just the confidence boost I needed; with the teachers help I got it together and am LOVING finishing it, now hand quilting. I didn’t think my 12 year old boy would want it now but he still does (it’s bigger than a cot quilt now, 9 squares). I’m already looking forward to my next project! Would love to share a phot but can’t see how to…

  11. This is so sweet! Especially since it is your husband’s shirts! (I can’t believe it has taken me this long to check in on this post!) one of my all time fave backings is also a Tanya Whelan print, for a sweet baby quilt I made last year “Falling Roses” …sweet girly roses, PLUS big polka dots 🙂

  12. Even the title of this post makes me smile! And the fact that you were tempted to chicken out more than a few times in the process of quilting it makes it even better. Kudos to you for preserving! I think I much prefer your November to our November. It’s grey, grey business out there these days!

    • I am a stubborn little so-and-so. Of course I persevered!

      Not grey here. It is stinking hot so I stayed indoors most of the day, and we have a smoke from bushfires around the city. Actually, the smoke is a bit grey.

  13. I love your alternate quilt name of Divorce Quilt. Too funny. I think it turned out beautifully and looks so soft and snuggly. Please let me know how you like the wool batting. I’m considering using some on a wedding quilt for my sister-in-law’s upcoming wedding since they live in a colder climate.

  14. This quilt is so pretty! I love your idea of using the old shirts for the pieces. It captured my interest last summer and I began assembling fabrics and shirts to use. I had no husband shirts – so I searched for some at the second hand store in town. Then I became sidetracked – so now am returning to the task. I hope my quilt turns out as nice as yours looks.Today I am resuming the cutting process and hope to begin piecing tomorrow. Can’t wait to see how it looks. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • Hi there,
      I was so inspired by your quilt made from the men’s shirts. Sp three years ago I decided to try to make one too. So it is finally complete and I think it is amazing. I would love to send you a photo of it. How would I do this?
      Thanks….and thank you as well for the wonderful inspiration!

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