Trains on a quilt (November 2008)

Although I’ve been doing some sort of sewing since I was a little girl, I was afraid of quilting for a long time. Probably the idea of so much fabric and so much time gave me commitment-a-phobia. A few years ago I successfully completed a somewhat unorthodox lap quilt. That gave me the confidence to try a bigger project. The boy has always had a fascination with trains, most boys do, don’t they? Anyway, I decided that I would make a train quilt for his birthday and I started months before and managed to get myself to work on it a little at a time. (I have to pat myself on the back for this sort of major planning, totally out of my normal mode.) I found this wonderful vintage collage look train print from Robert Kaufman fabrics. Because of the large scale of the print I decided to showcase it in a large panel framed with borders rather than cut it up and piece it back together. For a long time I didn’t know what to put with it so I ended up doing something totally out of character for me. I took the train fabric to the local fabric store and asked the ladies at the counter to help me pick out border and backing material. I came home with the dark red and blue. It took me one whole evening to do all the math necessary to figure out how to cut the fabric for the borders. Another evening was spent rotary cutting all the fabric to size. A third evening accomplished machine stitching the top together. Wow, I was shocked at how fast it was going together. At this point I hit a snag. Layering the quilt sandwich turned out to be pretty difficult. I finally found a great method the day before we moved. It required pinning the fabric to the carpeting and since we were moving into a house with no carpet, I had to convince my husband that it had to be done that night. He graciously helped me pin the quilt layers together amidst the boxes. After that was done, the quilt had to wait a bit for the whole moving operation. When I got back to it I began hand quilting around the motifs in the train print. This took a number of evenings but was surprisingly pleasant to do. After that I stitched all around the borders. I couldn’t figure out what to do on the widest blue border so I left it unquilted. Hopefully that’s okay, it has survived two trips through the washing machine. I made my own bias tape and finished applying that to the edge the night before the boy’s birthday. After he went to bed I snuck in and laid the quilt over him. We woke up the next morning to surprised squealing!