Two years and two months after starting The Splendid Sampler journey, I’ve finally finished it! It took me a year to finish all the blocks, seven more months to decide on the setting and sew the quilt top together, six months for the quilter to quilt it, and one more for binding. I loved every step of the journey, and am so excited to share this finished quilt with you! (If you haven’t heard of The Splendid Sampler, you can read more about it here.)
It took me a long time to decide on a setting for the 100 blocks. I finally decided to frame each block with strips using the scraps I had left from the Lizzy’s Legacy collection by Betsy Chutchian for Moda Fabrics. I used this collection for the whole quilt and had enough from my fat quarters to do the setting for almost the entire quilt. (I did have to add a little more fabric from my stash.)
Although I like to pretend my piecing is completely accurate, I knew with this many blocks and strips that being off just a little would be magnified as I started sewing the quilt together. So I cut my strips oversized and then trimmed my framed blocks down using a square Creative Grids ruler. It was a lot of extra work, but it ensured that all my blocks were the exact same size, which made it a breeze to sew together into a quilt top later on.
I separated my blocks into lights and darks (based on the frame color), and then alternated blocks in rows. I would lay blocks out, then took a photo with my phone to see what stuck out to me. I tried to evenly distribute colors, techniques (pieced, embroidery, applique), and similar motifs (like flowers, squares, stars, etc). I went through many layouts under my cat’s watchful eye, and ended up with a quilt that looked balanced.
I had the amazing Marilyn Kidd of Beyond the Square machine quilt my quilt. (I discovered her through my favorite quilt store Hen & Chicks Studio.) She used five thread colors to custom quilt each block and did a phenomenal job! Every time I look at it, I notice something new about the quilting — I think the constant discovery is a very special experience. Here are a few close-ups of some of my favorite blocks she quilted.
I love the hearts she put in the corners of all the lightly framed blocks and the brackets she added to the outsides of the dark blocks. I especially love that she quilted through my embroidered and appliquéd blocks — I’m glad she wasn’t afraid to add her own touch to those blocks!
I chose binding that was the same as the backing for this quilt. Since there was so much happening in the quilt, I wanted the binding and backing to be simple and dark. I machine stitched the binding to the quilt during a quilt retreat, then spent a few car trips and a few nights on the couch hand-stitching the binding to the back.
And I added a small label in the corner. I was lucky enough to be one of the designers of a quilt block in this project, so I made a note of where my block was located in the quilt.
I’m truly proud of this quilt! I learned so many new techniques while making it, and also learned what patience and love is required in such a large and long-term project. It was a quilt of a lifetime, and I know I’ll enjoy for years to come.
If you’re interested in making this quilt, you can buy the book on Amazon here.
Thanks for joining me for “happy hour,”
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