that moment when …

… you finish a quilt and you can’t quite believe it’s actually done!

That very thing happened to me today.

I put the final stitch in a quilt that has been on the go for at least a dozen years. Yep, you read that right, 12 years! So long ago in fact that I can’t even remember how the blocks were constructed! How bad is that?! Mile a minute quilt 009

The funny part is, the technique for making the blocks was called ‘mile-a-minute’ … let’s think about that for a moment.  There are approximately 1,440 minutes in a day, 525,600 minutes in a year and it has taken me 12 years to complete the quilt , so by my reckoning this quilt should measure around 6,307,200 miles!! 🙂

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Mile a minute quilt 007

In my defense, it is entirely hand quilted except for the final border which I stitched on the machine.

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hand quilting

I learned a thing or two during the making of this quilt.

For instance, I have learned that my choice in fabrics has changed A LOT in the last 12 years, which isn’t that surprising really given the huge array of fresh modern fabrics around these days. I could spend all of my wages on fabric, seriously … if only I didn’t have to feed my family and pay the bills! Darn, there’s always a catch!

I also learned that ‘scrappy’ borders are stretchy little suckers and need careful handling otherwise your quilt WILL end up with somewhat wiggly edges.

I learned that if you leave a quilt-in-progress in a heap on the floor of your workroom, it is highly likely that your pet dog will use it to sleep on. The same pet dog may also piddle on it, causing you to have to dunk it in the bath tub (the quilt, not the dog).  And, because you used a water erasable marker … yep, you guessed it … all your quilt lines will disappear!

Ironically, if you then re-mark the quilt lines and store your unfinished quilt in a cupboard for years on end the marks won’t come out completely, no matter how many times you wash it (true story).

But you know, for all it’s imperfections, I have also learned to love this quilt.  It may not have my favourite colours in it; it may not be my favourite design and my stitching may not be as neat as I would like,  but we’ve spent quite a bit of time together already, this quilt and I,  and we have come to accept that neither one of us is perfect.

And I am OK with that.

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Mile a minute quilt 038Happy stitching everyone!

Natalie xx



57 thoughts on “that moment when …

  1. I love this design! I have been sewing 11/2 ” squares for some time as leaders and enders and am looking for the best plan to finish them. Something similar to this looks like a good possibility.

    • I also enjoy hand quilting when I can and your quilting is absolutely stunning. Congratulations on a beautiful creation.❤️❤️❤️

  2. I have been saving Mile-a-minute blocks forever, but when I came across this post, I began to lay them out for a top. Yours is just beautiful!! Do you have any special tips on doing this? What size block and sashing did you use? I am so excited to get started on this. Thank you for the inspiration and motivation!

  3. Wow, Natalie, that is awesome, in the true sense of the word. I admire anyone who can spend all of that time and energy and produce such an awesome piece. Love it. Well done. Pat

    • your quilt is beautiful. I could do with using up my stash as it seems to be growing. The white sashing and hand stitching look wonderful. Thank you for showing us. X

  4. Ah, another kindred spirit down to the blue bottle and chicken on the window ledge. Wonderful job. No such thing as an ugly fabric. I have made and given away a zillion Mile A Minute blocks. Therapy for my soul.

  5. I find your quilt stunning! The crazy stitching in the background fabrics adds to the myriad of colours. Your hand quilting designs were a brave undertaking and turned out beautifully!
    Well done.

    • My land girl!! That quilt is soo beautiful!! Your hand quilting is superb and I just love the colours you chose! It took me 4 years to finish my daughters”university quilt”. needless to say she was done before the quilt. lol Several pats on the back for you!!

  6. Meh! that is not so long! My mother started a baby quilt in 1957(for her first child) and only completed it in 2015 in time for the arrival of her first great-grandchild! Absolutely a true story!
    I love your top stitching, it is gorgeous !

    • I’m doing that now! I started my first quilt when my girls were 2 & 4 years old. I got 1 square done. They are now 45 & 47. I’ve started it again, not for my granddaughters Who are too old, but for great grandkids who will hopefully be here after I’m no longer alive. How’s that for planning ahead!?

  7. Wonderful! I think in time you’ll stop seeing the individual fabrics and fall in love all over again. Machine pieced outer border can be forgiven as a balance to finishing the quilt. I have never finished a hand quilted quilt in less than three years. Btw, of my quilts that were appraised by a certified quilt appraiser, the hand quilted ones are more valuable than machine quilted ones, all else being equal. Congrats!

  8. This is incredible! And I relate to the story. I curse over and neglect my quilts to the point that my husband thinks I hate doing it. But when one of them is finally done, I realize I love the thing so much, I can’t give it away. It’s the life we breathe into these little love projects, they are a masterpiece of the soul.

  9. Salut! I hear you on the 12 year thing, fabric tastes changing, and so forth but I have to say, your hand quilting is gorgeous, and that quilt sparkles with light and shade! *applause*

  10. This is a fantastic Quilt!
    I am from Serbia, Europe, and the quilting is not in our tradition, so I’m learning from my experiences and the Internet.
    Your quilt is my inspiration to try something so nice to do.
    I have never worked hand quilting and I am a bit afraid to try it …
    Thank you very much for sharing this beauty with us.
    Greetings and congratulations from Serbia.

  11. Hi Natalie, congrats on your big finish, and hats off to you for actually finishing a project that has taken so long. I was absolutely amazed by all the gorgeous (up close) photos of the quilting. I am a hand quilter too so I really appreciate it. I think I would have done those straight lines by machine though too, mind you your hand quilting stitches are so even I am sure you could have achieved a good result with them too. (Not that I don’t understand just wanting to be done with it.) So are the square scrappy blocks not quilted at all? I see some embroidery on a few of them. Just wondering how they are stabilized. I am currently working on a flannel quilt and I want to machine quilt it, because there are so many seams in the blocks and all. So if you just quilted the sashing then that would be much easier. By the way love the Celtic designs you chose, they really make the quilt. And I think because it is scrappy, it kind of eliminates the age of the fabrics, so twelve years or not they look pretty amazing. I guess looking at it from a distance you see them as a whole and not little bits. Well done!

    • Hi Jodie, I quilted ‘in the ditch’ around each of the scrappy blocks to fix them in place. I had thought of tie-quilting them in the centres too, but I kinda liked it just as it is, so I didn’t bother in the end. Glad you like the Celtic designs – I am from Northern Ireland, so Celtic knots were a must! You might like to take a peek at another quilt I did a few years back – it is a wholecloth quilt and is completely had quilted too. You can see it here Good luck with finishing your flannel quilt and thanks for your visit here today 🙂 Natalie x

      • Hi Natalie, Ah stitch in the ditch, I should have figured. Thanks for that info. Maybe I will try that. Thanks for the link to the whole cloth, it is absolutely lovely. Hopefully you have had a chance to show this quilt. Love your designs, always admire the whole cloth quilts, one day when my stitches have improved. Would be nice not to have to fight with sewing over seam lines. I do hope Morning Star will be cherished by your grandchildren!

  12. Hello! I really like how it looks like your quilt is beautiful and a great job. With so much color has given a very cheerful air this spring !! Congratulations !!

  13. You and this quilt have a shared history that a quilt completed in a fortnight and lacking dog piddle simply could not compete with. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.
    Lovely Celtic whatsit hand quilting!

  14. Oh I so LOVE your finished quilt. It tells a story of all that has happened over those 12 years while it waited to be finished. I have many fabrics similar to those you have used, and I too have a different selection of favorites now and I’m sure I will like some new ones yet to be designed. Best Wishes ……. JB from Australia

  15. Your quilt is beautiful and the stittching is amazing! I usually stich by machine, would like to get hold of the (machine-)art, but …… May be I begin to stich by hand! Gratulations with your work of art!

  16. Guauuuuu, que maravilla de trabajo, que preciosidad¡¡¡¡¡. Nos ha gustado muchisimo ese acolchado tan perfecto. Felicidades por ese laborioso trabajo.
    Un beso.

  17. WOW! I love your quilting. I love the Celtic knotwork. I also hand sew. I am just jumping into quilting and have been a little intimated. I don’t know how to use a sewing machine, but have hand sewn costumes and clothing for Renaissance Faires and plays. What advice would you give ?

    • Hi Sue, I used a frame. Nothing fancy, just one of those hand held universal craft frames – I think they are sometimes referred to as Q-Snap frames. It takes longer to hand quilt for sure, but to me there is nothing more satisfying. Natalie x

  18. Your quilt was an inspiration to me. So well made and beautifully hand quilted. I think I now need to have a look through ALL my unfinished projects and work on finishing them all before I start anything new. I do love all the new patterns and fabrics that are available nowadays but some of the older ones are nice also. Job well done Natalie.

  19. Hi,your quilt is beautiful and inspirational! You have a brilliant sense of humour about your quilting which made me laugh because your right we can take it a bit too much to heart when it takes us too long to finish a project. Well done 🙂

  20. Wow! This is beautiful, as always amazing quilting. I really do like scrappy quilts and am determined to make one soon. It’s nice to hear the quilt history, especially it being left on the floor…….! Happy stitching! Pam

  21. Oh my word, amazing, beautiful, awe inspiring. To think you did this by hand. I’ve said it before but your stitching is impeccable. I love it. You should be so proud. xx

  22. What a lovely quilt, I’m sure there are many miles in the stitches. Is the white border hand stitched too, the close up shown looks so neat and even!

  23. First of all a big well done for not giving up on it but finishing it off. I think it’s great, the colours may not be your favourite right now but you never know they might be in the future!

Thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment. I love to hear what you have to say - it really does brighten my day! Natalie x

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