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Twenty-one Years from UFO to Beautiful Quilt

This is the story of how it took 21 years to make a Triple Irish Chain quilt. If you are a quilter or a collector of quilt tops, you might even see yourself in parts of this tale. Maybe this will inspire you to finish those UFO's (unfinished objects) that have been tucked away on the closet shelf. It can be done!!

After finishing my very first large quilt -- that was the sampler quilt that I talked about in my first blog -- I found a pattern for a Triple Irish Chain. I was attracted to this pattern because I could make it using scrap fabrics. I still love making scrap quilts and made that first one because it reminded me of the quilts that my Grandma Lammers made. Another reason that I love scrap quilts is because they use up lots of fabric in my stash!

When I see a quilt pattern that I would like to make, I often fail to check the size of the quilt. I just know that it is a cool quilt that I like and sometimes it has an added bonus of having a new technique that I can learn. Such was the case with this quilt as it turned out to be rather large -- 77" x 114" -- basically a king-size quilt. The size is relevant to mention for two reasons. First of all, this quilt took quite a while to construct. It took me so long that I ran out of the muslin fabric that I started with and then could not find an identical fabric with which to finish the quilt. I made the decision to finish it with what I could find in the manner that our quilting ancestors did when they simply used whatever they had on hand. It was either that or reconstruct the entire quilt with new fabric and that would have meant starting over from scratch.

The second reason that the size of this quilt is relevant has to do with decisions on how to quilt this piece. The quilt was too large for me to comfortably quilt on my domestic machine, so I planned to hand quilt it on my Grace frame. In the meantime, I had hand-quilted my sampler quilt as well as bed-size quilts for each of our three daughters as high school graduation gifts. As a result, the Triple Irish Chain quilt did not get finished.

When I purchased my long-arm quilting machine, I was thrilled that the time had finally come to complete this quilt. When I unfolded the quilt top, however, I found several dark spots on the fabric. They were especially noticeable on the blocks with muslin. They made the quilt top look terrible so I googled "how to clean dark spots out of fabric" and found several remedies to try. I figured that I couldn't really make it worse. I used Clorox 2 diluted in a bucket of water and soaked the trouble spots several times over a period of about a week. I was satisfied with the results as most of the stains disappeared and others lightened enough to be not quite so noticeable.

Next I was able to load the quilt onto my long-arm frame and begin to make

quilting design decisions. Since this was one of the first quilts that I did, I wanted to use this quilt to practice some new designs. I used a continuous curve in the Triple Irish Chain blocks and pieced border, a feather design in another border, and a simple stipple design in the outside border. I used a Sue Heinz design in the open spaces of the center blocks called Tsunami found in her book, "Fill Harmonics", that I learned in a class that she taught for the Midwest Machine Quilters group.

This quilt is now on the bed in our oldest daughter's room. It felt so good to finally finish a quilt that took 21 years to make and be able to use it. Now it is time to check the other UFO’s that I have on my shelf and work on getting those finished, too!!

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