A few months ago I noticed an Instagram post about a sew along for the Jen Kingwell Halo Quilt. I started one – back in 2016 at a quilt retreat! After a little digging, I pulled out my blocks… all two of them. I thought one or two blocks a week would give me a finished Halo quilt top.
I turns out that the chaos of so many scraps was a little too much for me. Sometimes I can handle messes in my sewing room, but this one made me tense. So I plowed ahead and finished the blocks in a month. The only rules I had for myself were a fussy cut center square and attention to value. Beyond that, I simply pulled fabric, cut and sewed.
I have a word of advice if you’re thinking about making this quilt. Buy the acrylic templates. Jen Kingwell is the designer of the pattern, and the templates do two things: improve accuracy, and speed up the cutting process. I didn’t have the templates, so I made my own from plastic and hand cut every piece of fabric in this quilt. After I’d finished about half of my blocks, I was really regretting my decision. But here we are, in 2020, and I had no idea how long it would take to get templates shipped so I kept going. It all worked out.
Most of the time I love the process of making really scrappy quilts, like my January quilt. Though I did not enjoy the process of making this quilt top as much, I realize it had a lot to do with the pandemic and instability of life at the time. Still, it was good to keep sewing even though it felt complicated. And now I have a finished halo quilt top to show for my efforts, rather than a box of pieces and a couple of blocks.
Next comes the quilting. It’s tempting to hand quilt this like so many others have done, but I am so slow with hand quilting. I also have a long list of hand sewing projects in various stages. I’m leaning toward machine quilting this one just so it doesn’t take forever to finish.
Either way, I have a finished Halo quilt top! Hooray!
I needed something to mend. Big things are broken in our lives, in our world, that we can’t control. Still, I needed the feeling of restoring something, making the broken beautiful. Recently I purchased a vintage floral crown from a favorite shop that was closing. I was drawn to the blue velvet and satin leaves.
Many of the leaves had pulled away from their wires, so I began by gluing each leaf back onto the wire. (My binding clips were very helpful in this process, by the way!) I bought some vintage millinery flowers at the same time, and added them to the crown.
We all have something to mend. Probably in our textiles, but mending is bigger than that. We need it in our relationships, in our thoughts, in the way we treat people at the store. We all see the holes. None of us can mend the world alone, but we can all find something to mend in our own lives. Restoring this crown reminded me that mending heals me, too. I love the crown; I love how I felt after fixing it, even more.
Fixing my crown reminded me of an old quote, wise words from a very good man:
“This year, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.” – Howard W. Hunter
It always feels good to finish something, and finishing my Liberty Dresden quilt feels great! I started this quilt in a workshop with Kathy Doughty years ago, then put it away. Eventually I finished the quilt top and immediately proceeded to ruin in when I quilted it myself and it puckered. So this quilt has become a lesson in failure and endurance, because I had to pick it all out and start over with a new plan.
Every dresden blade in this very large circle is a Liberty of London print from a collection on cotton years ago. I was lucky to have some long, skinny scraps and made good use of them. One of my favorite things about this Liberty Dresden quilt is the background. I chose to do something unexpected and used this dramatic Mostly Manor stripe by Victoria Findlay Wolfe. (I will admit here that it’s one of my most favorite fabrics of all time, and that I hunted it down in every colorway. It’s that good.)
Additionally, I used this
Although it’s unexpected, the bold purple and navy stripe complement the feminine florals of the prints in the dresden. Purple is also a good neutral in many cases. On the second round of quilting I quilted a different design in each blade, starting small at the center and making it bigger as I got to the edge. I continued each design to the edge of the quilt.
In three of the blades I added big stitch quilting in a bright yellow 8 weight floss by Sue Spargo. You really can’t see it at a distance, but it’s a nice touch up close and it adds interest.
I finished the quilt with a red binding – another unexpected choice that makes me smile! I also added a yellow center. It took forever to finish, since I quilted it twice and did a LOT of unpicking, but it’s done and in the family room for my kids to use. That feels good.