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