May 7, 2018

Spin Cycle Quilt for Northern Ireland

If I had to pick my top 5 favorite quilts I've ever made, this would be one of them. It recently arrived at its new home in a little village near Belfast, Northern Ireland, and I have to admit that it was hard to let it go. As I made it, I started thinking about someday making another one to keep for myself. I often think that as I make a quilt, but by the end I've changed my mind due to the amount of work involved. But this one? I'm pretty confident there's another Spin Cycle quilt in my future (even though it did take a lot of work!).

Interference in the cutting stage

So here's the story of this quilt. My dad's grandmother, Margaretta, grew up in the countryside near Belfast, Northern Ireland, and later moved to Pennsylvania, where she married and raised a family. As a result, I have a lot of distant cousins still living in Northern Ireland. One in particular, Ella, is a genealogy junkie who reached out to my dad many years ago. In college, I spent a semester studying abroad at Queen's University Belfast, where Ella worked in one of the libraries, and she introduced me to many of my relatives. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and there was even a tinge of family resemblance.

Early block layouts

Finished blocks before the addition of sashing

My dad has kept in touch with Ella over the years, and they met up again last year when my parents traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland. After their trip, he asked me to make a quilt for Ella. He had no requests for pattern or fabric -- my favorite kind of commission! -- so I started brainstorming. I bought the Spin Cycle quilt pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew a long time ago but never got around to making it. The circular design reminded me of the ancient Celtic burial mounds that Ella took me to visit when I was studying there, and it's a generous throw size at 75x75 inches, so the pattern seemed like a good fit.

I've been collecting a mix of Denyse Schmidt fabric for years, and her prints inspired by New England textile mills and small towns seemed appropriate given Belfast's history as the center of the Irish linen industry. Two sides of the same coin, in a way.

I won't lie -- it took a LONG time to piece all these blocks. But when I started chain-piecing 8 or 9 of them at a time, things sped up. Still, there's a lot of time, determination, and Netflix-viewing in this quilt!

For the quilting, I decided quickly that I wanted straight lines for simplicity and no distraction from the fabrics and piecing. My local longarmer, Pat, quilted it for me.

The back is ... a little crazy. I wanted to do something interesting and patchwork-feeling, but with such a large quilt, it needed to be big piecing. So I cut 18-inch strips of varying lengths and arranged them in an order that pleased the eye (my eye, at least).

Finally, the label. A hand-embroidered label felt like a must for this quilt, since it's going to family far, far away. I hope it becomes an heirloom, and I wanted to do it justice with the label. All the way from Knoxville to Dromara.

1 comment:

Maggie @alifewellstitched said...

Loved seeing this one at Show and Tell at the Guild meeting. It would be very hard to give this one away,, but the story behind it is wonderful and I am sure Ella loves it.


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