Mom's Quilt Process in Photos & Words

Free Kefir Recipe eBook from Cultures for Health

Mom’s quilt is finished.

It feels kinda crazy to actually say that, but it’s true – the quilt is finished, and it even survived washing and drying.

It’s good to be done, and done on time. I’ll arrange delivery to her sometime this week, and then I will let go of this quilt. I may never see it again, or if I do, it may be torn to bits or crumpled in a corner somewhere, unused. I still think she may just throw it away, but as I’ve said all along, I am able to accept this outcome. It’s troubling to think about, but this quilt has been a process for me, a way to spend time thinking about my disturbing relationship with my mother, to try to come to peace with it, to figure out what I am willing and unwilling to do for her, and it’s helped me in that regard.

Through making this quilt, I have been able to develop more compassion for her, to put myself in her place more easily, and to realize she does love me, just in a desperately dysfunctional way. Unfortunately for me, she needs me. While I am so much happier with her completely out of my life, as an only child with a rapidly degenerating mother… I may not have that option anymore. I may need to just suck it up and assist her as required… within reason.

For those of you just tuning in and thinking “holy wow, what a horrible daughter,” you’re probably right – but my mother has pushed me (hard) to this point over the last five years. While I surely have a hand in our problems, she’s … well. This post shouldn’t be about my mother’s personality disorders.

Here then, for my own documentary purposes (and for show and tell,) are photos of the process.

The Kansas Troubles Snow Blossoms fat quarters arrived. I put them up on my design wall to get a good look at them all together. I wasn’t sure what to do with them at first, but then this fairly insane idea came to mind. “Maybe I’ll make a quilt for Mom, because she’s probably cold and lonely most of the time.

I decided to keep it simple – I cut them all in half and arranged them in rows. I machine-stitched the top, and then decided to hand-quilt the rest. I’m not sure why I made the choice to hand-quilt this particular piece, but I’m very glad I did. I enjoy hand-quilting quite a bit – it’s restive, meditative, relaxing. For this project, it ended up being just what I needed – the slow pace afforded me plenty of opportunity to wrangle my complicated Mom Feelings.

Basting this sucker was unfun. I’d never basted anything larger than a baby quilt before, and had only done that once. I started out with pins, ran out of pins, and switched to basting stitches. It took me seven hours to baste this quilt. At the end of the day, I was a sore, pissed-off, frustrated person. If you are curious about my frame of mind that day, this post will tell you all about it.

The hand-quilting started out pretty wobbly.

I tried with a hoop and without, and ended up doing most of it with.

My hand-stitching did get better over time. Not perfect, not nearly – but better.

The unquilted middles of the panels had too much unquilted space for the batting to remain happy for long, so on advice from Barbara and others, I decided to tie the centers with some golden pearl cotton. I think the end result looked quite nice, although this particular example looks like little alien antennae.

Finally, after nearly 100 hours of hand-quilting, I was done! Only the binding remained. The binding, however, did not want to be put on. It fought me, kicking and screaming, every step of the way. Ok, maybe it was me who was doing the kicking and screaming.

I didn’t miter the corners – I mangled them. Each corner is unique in its screwery.

This one is, by far, the worst – but at that point, I so did not even care.

The hand-stitching on the back of the binding varied wildly, from nice and neat to too small to too big – do I care? That’s a big negative, Rubber Ducky.

This afternoon, I finished the binding. As I was making the final stitches, I had a very anti-climactic feeling… I’d thought I’d want to jump up and down, but rather, I was mostly content it was done but still feeling discontented. I realized the next step was The Washing Machine, which could quite easily rip the quilt to shred before Mom had a chance to. I took a bunch of pictures, just in case.

I took a few last looks as I loaded it in. Fortunately, we have a front-loading washing machine, so no agitator to violence the innocent quilt. Marshall helped get things settled in.

Goodbye, little quilt…

Oh god, here we go.

I sat and watched, only allowing it to tumble for a few minutes before forcing the machine to drain, rinse and gently spin.

Each time it spun, I envisioned the quilting being torn apart.

Twenty minutes later, I gingerly pulled it out and looked it over.  Everything seems to have survived! Yay! One hurdle left… The Dryer. Fortunately, our dryer is large enough to shelter a family of four, and has ultra-gentle settings. Still… oh boy. Hold onto your butts, here we go…

Hang in there, little quilt…

The timer on the dryer registered 5 minutes left. I couldn’t wait any longer – I had to see. I gently lifted the finished product out of the steaming hot chamber, steeled myself to witness its complete obliteration, and took a good hard look at some of the quilting. Huh. It looked … intact. Even the pearl cotton hadn’t frayed too much. Double-huh! Also, yay! \o/

So what we have here, people, friends, readers… is A Finished Quilt!!

It’s only big enough to cover the top of our king-sized bed, but it wasn’t intended to be a bed quilt, really – I envision it more on her couch, something to snuggle under as she watches her endless television shows. Something she can hold onto, a tangible piece of her only child, as it were, something I took the time to make for her, to comfort her, in a strange way to keep her company.

It’s warm – I’ve spent many hours under it in my bed as I quilted it. The backing is flannel, the only one that sort-of matched at JoAnn’s. I’m not wild about the pairing, but was more concerned with comfort and softness over The Perfectly-Matched Flannel.

So there we have it – my first “real” quilt finish. I suspect there will be more hand-quilting in my future, but for now – I have to figure out how to get my dad’s quilt done in less than a week. Jinkies. The top is assembled, but needs fixing due to way-too-small seam allowances that caused shenanigans. I’d hate to present Dad and Janet with an unfinished flimsie for Christmas. :-\

It’s already 5pm on a day when I’m supposed to have So Much Other Stuff done – yikes! I’m off. Thanks for reading. 🙂

Posts at least a little bit like this one:

Finished Quilt, Hand-Quilting, Quilting , , ,

8 responses to Mom's Quilt Process in Photos & Words


  1. That is really beautiful Erin!! I love the warm, cozy fabrics and the yummy flannel as the backing!! Saaaweet! I can’t wait to see your Dad’s, too. 😀

  2. Elle Clark

    It’s beautiful! I really hope it doesn’t get destroyed! But I understand the dealing with mom process! I made it through making cookies with my mom without thinking how much I wanted to bash her with the rolling pin. Progress! I understand! Congratulations!

  3. You’ve done what Christmas is all about.
    Congratulations.

  4. Linda

    Beautiful quilt!!! I have a daughter with borderline personality disorder (THAT LIVES WITH ME), so I do understand your feelings.

  5. Erin

    Thanks, everyone. 🙂

    Linda – My mom is a practicing psychologist, and I firmly, firmly believe she has Borderline Personality Disorder, too. I empathize having someone in your home with the same thing! Given Mom is a psychologist, she refuses to even consider this disorder (or any other) as a possibility. Still, she meets all but two of the DSM criteria. At the very least, she has histrionic personality disorder, but I’m pretty confident of Borderline. It is, to say the least, difficult dealing with her.

  6. Linda

    Difficult is an understatement….Have you read Walking on Eggshells? It has helped me. So does quilting. I have seven UFO’s at the moment, and my brain is constantly thinking of new quilts to make.

Leave a Reply