Today I am absolutely thrilled to share my finished Tulip Quilt, a project 11 years in the making. This quilt is certainly not a masterpiece in design or craftsmanship, but I am so happy with the finished project nonetheless. This quilt has been with me for most of my adult life and has witnessed so many ups and downs over the years, from grad school to a real job and, rather ironically, right back to grad school! It represents perseverance through crafting and through life, and I’m proud to see it finally completed.
I started the quilt in 2004, immediately after I finished my first quilt. I cut out all the pieces for the tulip blocks and started piecing them by hand (before I had a sewing machine), and then the quilt sat untouched for 8 years, surviving several moves and apartment clean-outs. I guess I was sentimentally attached to it! In 2012 when I bought my machine, this was the first project I started working on, and I finished piecing the quilt top and assembled the “quilt sandwich.” After another hiatus, I resumed in the fall of 2014 when I purchased a walking foot, essentially required equipment for machine quilting, and finally the quilt is complete in 2015.
Pattern: My own design, although I’m sure I’m not the first person to invent this 9-patch tulip block.
Fabric: Quilting cotton from a discount fabric store (JoAnn’s), some 100% cotton and some poly/cotton blends. Clearly I purchased this before I became a fabric snob. 🙂 No shame!
Level of crafty satisfaction: I love it! My machine stitching could be neater, and my hand quilting stitches could be smaller, but overall I’m just happy to call this project DONE.
To check out all my in-progress posts on this project, click here.
It is hard to describe the feeling of looking at a finished project that you started 11 years ago, but I suspect that anyone who has worked on a long-term project, whether through sewing or any other hobby or profession, knows exactly what I’m talking about. The satisfaction that I’m feeling at this moment is quite overwhelming, and I suspect that this quilt will be cherished, despite its imperfections.
I also suspect that this heart-swelling feeling will return when I finish my PhD – another very long-term project into which I’ve poured countless hours and my blood, sweat, and tears. 🙂
As you can see, I convinced myself to use the leftover red/pink fabrics from the tulips to create a scrappy border, and I’m quite happy with the result. Thanks to everyone who weighed in on that! I think a clean white border would have been really striking, but already having the red scraps was just too convenient to ignore. I machine stitched a single row of quilting in the center of the border and called it a day.
After my recent adventures in machine quilting and hand quilting, I’m finally convinced that the density of quilting is sufficient to hold everything together over the long-term. Although the back of the quilt is plain white, I think it’s a good blank slate to showcase all the (extremely laborious) quilting. I haven’t washed the quilt yet, but I’m excited to see the increase in “quilt wrinkles” afterward, especially on the back.
I used leftover green fabric for the binding, attaching it by machine on the front of the quilt, flipping it over to the back, and securing the folded edge by hand. It took me a full 3 hours to slip stitch the binding by hand, but I just love the look of a hand-finished binding. I could have stitched in the ditch by machine, but after all that quilting and 11 years, I figured I might as well do the very last step right! Surprisingly, it took no time at all for me to remember how to miter the corners of the binding, even though it’s been 11 years since the last time I did it. I guess some things just stay with you over the years. 🙂
My favorite part of the quilt is definitely the whimsical birds. That little bit of applique goes a long way! The birds and leaves are simply zig-zagged onto the quilt top by machine, nothing fancy. I stitched the beaks and legs with embroidery floss by hand.
Unlike my first quilt, which rarely sees the light of day and receives white glove treatment, this quilt has already found its home on my little couch, and I intend on using it to its full potential. In fact, Maggie was napping on it for most of the time I spent writing this post. 🙂 Because the craftsmanship is not as exquisite on this quilt, I’m not as afraid of getting it dirty or allowing it to wear and fade over time. Then again, I’ve already asked John if his hands were clean before he touched it, so clearly my protective nature hasn’t completely vanished. 🙂
All in all, I’m glad to have finally completed this project, and I’m quite happy with the end result. I don’t think I’ll ever make another full-sized quilt, so I might as well enjoy this feeling while it lasts!
Now, what to sew next?? The snow is melting, and I’m ready for a new spring wardrobe!
[Edited to add: Download the FREE pattern to make your own Tulip Quilt!]