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As I edit these photos, I’m still not sure quite how this quilt happened.

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Of course, I’ve wanted to make this quilt since Denyse Schmidt’s book Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration hit my doorstep a couple of summers ago. I had this FQ bundle of the Flea Market Fancy Legacy reprint–only the second FQ bundle I had ever purchased!–and really needed to do just the right thing with it. I thought of copying Angela at Fussy Cut’s amazing, bright elongated long cabin take on the original line. I thought about making Sew Crafty Jess’s Lucky Square pattern. I thought about making a fan quilt; Suburbs; a Red-Pepper-Quilts-style simple HSTs-with-white quilt. But really? In my quilter’s heart I knew it had to be Snake Trail for this fabric, fabric that seemed too good and too special to cut into.

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But when I decided this a couple of years ago, I wan’t quite a skilled enough quilter to make it happen. I just didn’t have the chops. I struggled with FMQ. I struggled to make some blocks lay flat. I kept not making the quilt, and I kept not being quite able to use the Flea Market Fancy fabric for anything. In the meantime, though, I made a whole bunch of quilts. I made some harder quilts, like Penny Sampler and Bargain Basement; I made some easier quilts, like Briar Rose Boy’s Nonsense. I free-motion-quilted a whole bunch of quilts–charity quilts, quilts for Boston, my own quilts. I developed a set of quilter’s skills and a quilter’s eye, and this year, when I started thinking about “all the hard things” I wanted to do this year, Snake Trail topped my list.

And buddy was it worth every bit of the 2+ months (on and off, of course) I spent making it.

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I made the quilt exactly as Denyse Schmidt calls for in her book. The quilt is twin-sized (I dream of one day having a guest room with a twin bed to put this on!) and took 48 blocks. Each block takes 14 snake “segments,” which had to be more-or-less hand-cut off a template. I used that clear, flexible no-melt template plastic, and stuck the templates to my fabric using scotch tape. Then, I used my ruler and rotary cutter to cut the straight edges, and my scissors to round off the top and bottom. 672 times. Then the pie pieces and weird maxi-pad middle pieces had to be cut (they were bigger so I rotary cut those around the same template-plastic-scotch-tape mess).

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I had every intention of sewing the whole top up over the Boston MQG/Seacoast MQG retreat in March in Kennebunk Maine. Three days with no kid, no dishes to wash, no macaroni to make, no laundry to wrangle? I could make five quilts. No, but I forgot to factor in that I really need to sleep and actually I still need to eat and oh yeah this quilt is actually a hoss. A beast, if you will.

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Though it did take longer than planned, the cutting was really the only tedious part. I found that the sewing went mostly smoothly. When I pieced together the blocks at the end, I had to be VERY careful to line up the snakes. It took a lot of unpicking. It took help from friends on Instagram.

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The quilting was a bit of a challenge too. I had seen Don’t Call Me Betsy’s tutorial for Baptist Fan free-motion quilting and knew I really wanted to try it. Why I chose a monster beast of a twin quilt to try it out I’ll never know, except: could there be a more perfect quilting motif for this block design? It took two days and 2.5 Frixion pens, and quite a lot of positive self-talk at the sewing machine (if you look up close, my fans are WON KY) but holy cow you guys, the texture.

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A final thanks should to go Sarah over at Smiles Too Loudly because SHE was the one who (maybe a little joking? I can’t tell) suggested that I try using the Kona Cerise as a background when I found white fabric JUST TOO BORING. She made me look super-smart but it was all her idea. Now, I can’t imagine this quilt any other way but cerise!

Now I can’t wait to take on my next challenge quilt. I cut an easy project to keep my hands busy while I plot and decision-make, but I have big ideas already :)

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