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  • Writer's pictureUrsula Almeida

Behind the Design: Rainbow Quilt

A Long Time Coming

I won't always be privy to a quilt's backstory, but this one has a long story to tell. Long because it sat unfinished for decades. That’s okay! It happens and here's how we fixed it.

My sister had pieced the top in high school. She was so far ahead of her time – I wouldn’t be surprised if the class was canceled the following year (not because of her!) because it was during a time of decline in handcrafts, the dark ages, the 90s. Thankfully we’re back on the upswing!

Oops! Back to the quilt.

She did all this amazing piecing; making rainbow blocks with lots of bias angles, sewing on a tiny border and a heavy border – both with mitered corners, mind you. However, she said that as soon as it was done, she knew the fabric of the heavy border was wrong. And then, you guessed it, it sat for almost 25 years.

The gorgeous rainbow batik she found that theoretically should have complimented all her hard work just … did not. She knew it immediately. However, it was a class project with a deadline. And it was technically finished. Project completed, grade earned, on to the next assignment. But deep down she knew the border had to be fixed.

Sage Knitterly Advice

Honestly, we’ve all been there. The project that sits in time out forever, waiting for the magic moment when we have the energy/time/whatever to fix it. *Sigh* That’s a tough decision to make but my knitting group has a mantra: If you have to ask, “Does it need to be fixed?” it needs to be fixed. Plain and simple.

I know it’s not that plain nor is it that simple, but … it kinda is. If you’ve already asked the question, the answer is yes. The next step is to take the emotional attachment out of the equation. Now, I know that can be hard and we aren’t going to go into THAT step this time but basically, I just told my sister I’d fix the border and all she had to do was say okay.

So, weren’t we talking about quilting??

Finding Design Inspiration

Fast forward – border removed, new border attached, mounted on the frame.

Then it was my turn to pause and ruminate over motifs and thread color and all the decisions I needed to make. It was a geometric, abstract quilt that didn’t give me any obvious ideas. Since I had taken many pics over the course of the project, I scrolled through them to get some inspiration. The angle of one pic had the look of a fuchsia, a favorite of our late mother. My sister and her husband are avid gardeners so I was off and running! Well, almost. There was lots of doodling to narrow down shapes and placement and figuring out how to travel from block to block.

A fuchsia blossom, inspiration for the custom quilting design and the same variety my mom grew. Photo credit GrowJoy

Thread, Thread, Thread

Once that was decided, I moved on to thread color. With the variety of value in the quilt, I didn’t want to just go with one color and I didn’t want to overpower the meticulous piecing. I made the decision to use three different thread colors. Yes, three. Charcoal on the black (which appears darker to the eye than in this pic), teal on the blue/purple, and pink on the red/orange. It turned out to be the right decision but it was a lot of work! For every row of blocks, I changed the thread three times, so twelve times or maybe 14 with the borders.

And that’s it! Minus the many hours of actual quilting ;)

Client quilt, custom quilted with a combination of freehand designs and ruler work.

Time for Honesty

My oldest knitting project is within 10 years old after a RUTHLESS cull in 2020. It was harsh. It was painful. But I freed the yarn for another project. Leave me a comment with the age of your oldest quilt top or what decade it was finished since age is just a number ;)

You can also follow me on Instagram @ursamakes and, if your quilt top is ready for quilting, click the Book a Quilt button below and let's get finishing!

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