Soooooo……about a year and a half ago (maybe a little longer, but who’s keeping track??), my best friend’s husband, Steve, decided that it would be a good idea, since he had retired, to have a quilt made out of all of his ties that he wore over the years to work. More specifically, he decided that I should be the one to make the quilt, since I’m one of the few quilters that he knows personally. I very naively agreed with him that this was a phenomenal idea and that I would do it. One thing, though. Ummm….I had never worked with silk before and had not realized what a ginormous PIA this would be. Nonetheless, I had agreed to take on this project, so I set out to complete it. I won’t lie. When I first started working on it, if I could have backed out gracefully, I certainly would have. But a promise is a promise.
The first surprise was that he actually packed up (very neatly and super organized) several boxes filled meticulously with 200+ rolled up ties. He then proceeded to mail them from Georgia to Massachusetts. Seriously, people. This picture does not include all of the boxes.
After I had recovered from receiving all the boxes filled with ties, I had to get on with the process of deciding what type of quilt, specifically what PATTERN. On the surface of things, this seems like a simple task. But trust me, when you take the time and make the effort to construct something from scratch with your own two hands, you want the recipient to LOVE it. It must be perfect. I wrestled with this for a while. When you look on the internet for ideas for a tie quilt, most of what you find are silly, comical patterns. Knowing that Steve has true love and respect for traditionally pieced quilts, and also knowing that Erin (the biffle, his wife) would have to tolerate the quilt in her presence, it seemed that a “real” quilt was the right way to go.
During a conversation with Erin some time later, she casually mentioned the quilt (and how much she loved it) that is on the bed on the British sitcom “As Time Goes By”. I replied that I had never noticed it. Her response? “How have you, the quilter, never noticed this?”. I will admit she seemed a little incredulous. 😉 I made a mental note to do a web search for it later. It really is a nice, traditional quilt, don’t you think?
When I saw it, I thought it was the perfect way to blend the history of Steve’s ties with something Erin loved, as well. Since she would have to look at it every day, seemed only right. Then I had to get down to work. The quilt pattern itself was easy to replicate. It’s just big pinwheels. I then chose which ties I would use for the quilt and deconstructed them. This one used to be Steve’s “fine Republican tie”. Hey! No room for politics here!
Then I had to figure out exactly how to work with the darned silk they’re all made out of. Seriously Steve, you couldn’t have had the forethought to find some nice cotton ties for me to work with?? Surely you could’ve thought of this 20-30 years ago when you were buying these ties. 😉
Figuring out how to work with the silk was a bigger task than you would’ve imagined. It’s so slippery and uncooperative!! Turns out, all I had to do was ask Stacey at Heart in Hands Quilt Shop and she could’ve taught me. Which she did. Which made the rest of my tenure with the quilt infinitely easier. Turns out there’s this iron on backing you can use to make it not so unwieldy….
So I would cut the backing out in the size I wanted, then iron it onto the deconstructed tie. Once this step was completed, it enabled me to cut the silk into the shape I wanted so it could be sewn together to form the final square. Woohooo!!
Once I started accumulating squares, I started piecing them together.
Once I had all the squares constructed, I laid them all out to determine the correct color sequences and started sewing them together. First, I sewed them into long rows. Then I sewed all the long rows together. There were many long nights sewing and ironing by the fire….
After that, I sewed the borders on. When I was finished sandwiching the top of the quilt with the batting (all organic cotton, of course) and the backing, the top stitching was completed. Then all that was left was stitching the binding into place. I hand stitched that into place, just because I love the look of that so much better than the machine stitched look.
I think the finished product is beautiful. So much so, that I plan to enter it into the Marshfield State Fair quilt competition.
So, even though it started out as a painful project, it actually turned out to be quite a lot of fun to make. (Don’t tell Steve……)