The Green Albatross

I have a quilt that I started collecting fabrics for in 1992. You know, when hunter green was all the rage. I started making blocks for a quilt for my dorm room, and they came out uneven, non-square, etc. I abandoned the project when I went back to school that August and didn’t come back to it for 10 years.

In 2002, Mom was clearing out her sewing room and found the Rubbermaid tub with all those fabrics in it. And the original design I had drawn out carefully on graph paper. And the wonky blocks. She didn’t want it cluttering her house anymore, so she foisted it on me.

At the time, I was participating in a block-of-the-month club at my favorite quilt shop, and decided to use those block designs with those old fabrics. It soon became apparent that I didn’t have enough fabrics, so I went in search of more hunter green.

In ten years, the popular dark green had gone from a blue-based green (the hunter we all knew in the early 90s) to a yellow-based green (more of a forest/piney green, and yes, there is a difference). These greens aren’t really compatible. So I had to figure out a way to integrate the colors on one quilt. I started making the blocks with white fabrics in the background, and then most blocks had both a green from the 90s and a green from 2002.

When I finished all twelve Ohio Star blocks, it became apparent that I didn’t have enough blocks for a quilt that would actually be useful — I didn’t NEED a quilt for my dorm room anymore, obviously. So I needed more blocks. And I didn’t want to make more Ohio Star blocks.

So the Albatross went dormant for another year. Then I made a Flying Log Cabin (log cabin pattern with flying geese in the corners) quilt, and decided in 2004 THAT might be good supplemental block for between the Ohio Star blocks. And I used up almost every bit of my 1992 greens making enough Flying Log Cabin blocks to make the Albatross into a king-sized quilt.

Dormant for another year.

I sewed the quilt top together into 5 strips of 5 blocks each plus the sashing strips, and was getting ready to sew the whole quilt top together. But I don’t have a sewing machine that’s large enough to quilt a king-sized quilt — it would be too difficult on my shoulders. So I contacted a local quilting-for-hire person. It would cost anywhere between $375 and $800 to have the thing quilted, depending on how much detailed quilting I wanted her to do.

Are. You. Kidding. Me??? Even the Albatross, and the almost 14 years it has now taken me to get to this point, is not worth that kind of money.

It might take me a long time to get to it, but I decided to quilt the stupid thing myself. But I was at a loss — this quilt is kind of “country” in feel, and I don’t DO country. So my geometric quilting styles wouldn’t really work. And I’m not the type to meticulously draw out a static quilting pattern 25 times and then carefully quilt on my tracings. I much prefer free-handing, and I know I do a better job when I do that anyway. But what pattern? Finally, after staring at it for a long time, I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but I wanted to practice it first. The quilt I finished yesterday was my practice session for the Albatross.

Because it’s too big to quilt in one piece, I’m quilting it in sections, and I’ll join the sections AFTER the quilting is done. This is a somewhat unorthodox way to do a quilt, but my mom did it for her bedquilt, so I know that it works.

And last night, riding high on the inspiration of finishing a quilt yesterday, I started quilting the Albatross. And it’s coming ALIVE!! I’m quilting with variegated purple thread. And it looks so good. Even for being not colors I normally work with (and with the borderline “country” feel — ugh), I’m going to have to say that I will really be proud of this monster when it’s all done.

Jerry came up and looked: “Wow, that’s the Albatross? It doesn’t look like crap anymore! And you can quote me on that.” Isn’t that just the sweetest?

Here’s one of the Ohio Star blocks… If you see orange threads, that’s the basting thread. It’ll come out.
Ohio Star

Here’s one of the Flying Log Cabin blocks…
Flying Log Cabin

And here’s the strip I did last night. This is strip #2, which is what the little pink post-it says. That way I’ll keep them in order when I sew the whole thing together.
Green Albatross Strip #2

Keep me motivated!!

(Jerry, are these picture sizes better, even if they are blurry from being shoddy quality?)

5 thoughts on “The Green Albatross”

  1. IIRC this skin allows up to a 500px width on pictures. This weekend let’s get it all sorted out, and teach you how to resize things so that they remain clear. 🙂

  2. Oh. My.

    The colors…. SO similar to the single full quilt I’ve done.

    Early 90’s. Kaitlyn took it with her to the hospital and adopted it as her own….

  3. Thank you. I feel so much better that I have a quilt I started in 1997 and it is still unfinished. Mine is sandwiched and about 80% quilted – but I made the mistake of hand quilting 😉 (not my favourite thing to do!)
    You give me inspiration to complete my quilt

  4. Elaine, I could look at your quilt pictures for HOURS. You are so talented and creative. You need your own show on HGTV, “Quilting with Elaine” or something of that sort.

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