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This is a story about a bucket list quilt and two quilters.

Who among us hasn’t looked at all the gorgeous Single Girl quilts out there and felt that potent mix of desire and self-doubt and template loathing? When I first started quilting through 2010 and 2011, I was vaguely aware that this was a quilt. And people were making it. And it was hard, and they griped about it and were proud of it, and finished it as though they had given birth. Of course, I thought, “psssshhhhh I can do that.”

I sewed my first curved blocks, and thought, “maybe not.”

In 2013 I felt like I really became a quilter. I started making quilts I was proud of, that I felt like could hold their own next to any other quilter’s. I don’t talk a lot about Big Goals and Things I Mean To Do, but my 2014 mentality is Try All The Hard Things. It’s time to sew that lawn top with the 1400 buttonholes up the back. Time to make a queen-size quilt that speaks to my style, and FMQ it on my little Janome. Time to knit little striped sweaters and big striped sweaters and learn some dadgum colorwork. Maybe even make the Elisalex.

When I write all those things I mean to do in a list, this Single Girl looks like both a piece of cake and the tip of the iceberg. Because really! Only four rings! Big huge curve to piece! Little bitty ol’ quilt! But I was scared, nonetheless. I knew I wanted to make this quilt for friends who were expecting their first son in March. They chose purple, orange, and gray for their nursery (they have the best taste) and I loved thinking of the kind of quilt these colors would make. I procrastinated, and stalled, and just didn’t make the quilt.

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A week before the baby shower, Lucy and I flew to East Tennessee to spend a week with my family. I packed my Single Girl pattern, and a huge pile of fabric. My grandma packed her little Brother. Within 36 hours of landing in the South, Grandma and I had all the pieces cut for four rings and I had my first ring sewn together (see first photo in the post). Another 24 hours and we had the whole quilt pieced. What can’t two quilters do together?!

I was so blessed to get to work with my grandmother on this quilt. She’s healthy and strong and still a prolific quilter, but I know there will be times later in my life when I will look back on this project and finally realize what a sweet time this was.

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We worked kind of assembly-line style. I used scotch tape to tape the paper templates down to my fabric, and rotary cut the straight edges (and then used the cutter to hack each piece out of the fabric). Grandma used scissors to cut around the curves of the templates. She also kept track of how I was distributing my colors across the rings. Then, I pieced the ring segments while she cut my background fabric. She’d press, I’d sew.

And she came up with the idea to do the orange and gray border, and swap it top and bottom. Smart!

At the end, Grandma came to two conclusions: 1) there is no reason to be afraid of this quilt, and 2) she would like to do one. I’ll be sending her a copy of the pattern as a thank-you for helping me.

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I backed the little quilt in silver-gray minky and quilted it with a loose loopy FMQ pattern (it’s best not to get too fancy when you’re quilting minky). I did use a cotton batting for a heavier quilt–a March baby is a winter baby, in Boston! I handed off the quilt to the proud mommas-to-be this past weekend, and I think they were pleased.

I’m surely pleased to be able to cross this pattern off my list. (Though I think there’s another one of these coming this year!)

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