Another (Finally) Finished Object: Drunkard’s Path

Our camera disappeared unexpectedly.  It’s a mystery.  I should find it under a piece of large furniture, or hidden in a toy basket, but for now we’re using the iPhone.

I finished the quilt!  Binding and all!

I started cutting it two years ago after spotting a similar quilt in a magazine.  When I lamented the fact I wouldn’t find so many blue and brown batiks to make the quilt,  a co-worker suggested I dye them myself.  Of course!  I never dyed anything before, but that didn’t bother me.

I discovered brown isn’t really a color, and I found it hard to achieve the chocolate colors I craved.  Several experiments turned out like something a pig dragged through the muck and slept on.  Eventually I had a few usable pieces, and I supplemented using any brown “hand dyed” fabrics I could find.  My husband got into dyeing some blue pieces; we made a few attempts at batiking on the back patio.  I say laughable, but I used most of the pieces.  They weren’t works of art, but when chopped and sewn served their purpose. 

(Top Left Corner- Very Bad Free-Motion Quilting)

I put the top together in a few weekends, over-thinking it as always.   The first blue border I added was too light.  It looked awful.  I took it to work, and the quilting gurus assured me it was awful and I should use a bluer blue.  I batiked a piece of “bluer blue” fabric with my husband and then threw the whole shebang into my own personal Area 51- where UFOs go on a classified basis.

(Taken last year, shows truest colors)
Last October, I retrieved the quilt from Area 51, put on a new-to-me season of Mad Men, and unpicked the borders.  It took six episodes.  I had to do it all at once, lest the quilt return to Area 51.  Then I put on the new borders, and basted it a few weeks later.  I did some of the quilting a few months ago, then folded it up on a chest in my room.  
That Bastard and I stared each other down every single time I stepped into my bed room.  For months.  No words, just a staring contest.  I made excuses not to finish the quilt, and waited until “just the right time” when I would magically have five or six hours on end to take it to work and free-motion quilt it on the big frame.

Then last week I walked into my room to put away laundry and engaged in yet another staring contest.  Suddenly I had enough.

I realized I’d never quilt this the perfect, artful way I’d envisioned and I’d probably never find five or six uninterrupted hours to use the free-motion machine at work. I had the sudden thought I’d rather have a warm, usable quilt than an unfinished one.

I said “FUCK YOU, quilt.  You don’t own me,” and shoved it through my machine, stitching in the ditch and puckering every so often.  My daughter watched Winnie the Pooh in another room, it wasn’t even her TV time.   I didn’t care.  I wanted that quilt done.

Then, all of a sudden, she was.  All that procrastination over two hours of quilting.  I threw on the binding and that was that.  I feel strangely empty.  The quilt has so many technical flaws I should hate it, but I don’t.  I don’t even mind the half-assed attempts at “artistic” quilting.  They look hideous, and I’m slowly unpicking them.

The wavy edges give this away as a dressmaker’s quilt.  The quilters I know make flat quilts.  I’m happy with the finished quilt,  despite the messes and the mistakes.  When I look at it I smile.  There’s a flash of my wedding dress, there’s the hours my husband and I spent in the back yard with a wax pot, there’s the trip to Cairns when I visited a quilting shop.  I can see the encouragement and advice from the women at work; I see much more than what it is- a somewhat mediocre quilt.  We no longer stare each other down, but smile fondly at one another. 

(I finished my jumper/pinafore today, I can’t wait to show you!)


22 comments

  1. That's right. The quilt doesn't own you. I need to tell off my partially finished quilt top, too.Did you make your wedding dress? I'd love to see a photo.

  2. oh my god. I love this sooo much! Wow!!!!! The last bit actually brought tears to my eyes…there's so many beautiful things wrapped up in this quilt AND it's done!!! YAY! Can't wait to see your dress!!

  3. It's lovely. All this perfection in quilts is a new thing. I have quilts made in my family that are at least 70 years old, we still use them some and I can tell you they are riddled with mistakes! I don't think any one in the 30s or 40s considered themselves "a quilter" or expected the perfection we do now. My great grandmother would have been boggled by a quarter inch patchwork foot and the like. She just stitched things together by hand slowly and wonkily in the increasing free time of her old age.

  4. Pish posh, it is fantastic!!! Drunkards Path is a dressmaker's block, because we're used to setting bust seams and sleeves. Quilters prefer straight seams I find! :) I love it, it has all of the true character of a real quilt – memories all worked into its layers. And pish posh to arty quilting. My free motion quilting is pretty huckery, but it looks great from a distance and at retreats other quilters always say I am an overachiever because I go like the clappers and get things done!

  5. It's absolutely GRAND! I love it, the design, the fabric and the colours are wikid!!Good for you for just get'n it dun!(And, there comes a time in every mum's day when the TV is the best thing to keep the kids out from under your feet.)

  6. LizaJane- I did make my wedding dress, I keep planning to post and don't…Mrs C- You always crack me up, I love the way you write. I hadn't thought about D.P. as a dressmaker's block, but you're right!Thanks for the kind words, everyone. :) It's nice to have it finished, I'm already thinking about the next one. This chilly weather turns me to knitting/quilting.

  7. That quilt is gorgeous! And it has a beautiful vibe that comes thru in the photos. No surprise that you're fond of it now that its finished and you can see all the memories instead of seeing work yet to be done. Congratulations.

  8. Okay, you are now my new hero…for finishing a quilt (something I'd never even start) and for standing up to the damn thing as it stared you down over the years. I love the quilt-it's beautiful, and this blog post is one of my favorites.

  9. I LOVE your quilt! Seriously. And I'm betting I would love it just as much seeing the dye job up close & personal. Curious that I just discovered the drunkard's path myself (and how to sew those curved edges).Here's to more completed projects!

  10. It looks really beautiful! Your post made me laugh so hard too! My aunt is awesome at quilts and has made me a few, I love em but they do look like an awful lot of work!

  11. Oh wow! How did you manage all those little curves?! I don't care what you say, I think it's fantastic! Even if it's a dressmakers quilt. :)I made exactly one quilt in my life, and unless it's a basic sew-a-bunch-of-large-squares-together kind of quilt, I'm not doing it again. Now for a few years at least. Whoa frustrating!Here's my quilt, by the way. :)http://sewing.livejournal.com/306705.html


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