Tuesday, 6 March 2012

My Wonderful Wedding Quilt

There were so many things I loved about my wedding day but none more than the amazing wedding quilt that my wonderful friends and family. This was a secret project that I knew nothing about until we were presented with the quilt after cutting our wedding cake. I wanted to share it with you partly just because it is so incredible - this is definitely one of those "things you would save in a fire" items - but also because I thought it might inspire others of you to do a similar project for someone you love. It is a great wedding gift, but could also work for a new baby gift, a birthday gift for a landmark birthday, or an anniversary present. We worked together to make another quilt last year for my little sister's wedding, so I came to learn more about the work involved from the other side of the project last summer!

The wedding quilt project was masterminded by Martha, one of my oldest and best friends in the world. Together with my sisters and both of our mums, they emailed all my girlfriends, female relatives and future in-laws and asked who would like to be involved. Everyone who wanted to contribute was given a basic format to follow, which ensures there is some consistency in the overall design. They were told a set size for the square pieces, given this pattern of light, medium and dark fabrics to follow and asked to add a personal design in the centre. The good thing is that each individual square is small and light enough to be easy to post, so people who live far away or even overseas, can take part if they want.

The centre designs of each square are so personal to us, and reference things from the history of my relationships with the person who made each square: my friend Sarah put tea and cake on her square as a reminder of the many times we have been for afternoon tea together, while my Mum embroidered the lyrics to one of the songs she sang to me and my sisters when we were little ("You are my honey, honeysuckle/ I am the bee"). My mother-in-law and sister-in-law featured a beautiful cross stitch design from one of the seed packets sold by their family company - fittingly, Hearts' Ease - while my sister's friend did a fantastic square featuring the binary solo from Flight of the Conchords song "The Humans Are Dead". Each one was completely different and totally personal to us.

Once all the individual squares were collected, they had to be assembled into a quilt top. A single fabric was used in between all the squares, which again brings together the different designs. You then have to add backing, edging and sandwich a layer of padding in between. All these pieces are sandwiched together and tacked together to hold all the layers of the sandwich together. The edging and piecing together is done with a sewing machine, but then all the quilting was done by hand. You can do as much or as little hand quilting as you can bear, or you can do it by machine if you are confident with a sewing machine, but bear in mind that the quilt will be enormous (ours in the size of our king size bad) and heavy, so it will potentially be hard to manipulate when using a sewing machine.

One of the most wonderful things about this quilt to me is the many hours of work that went into making it. The time, thought and effort it obviously took to make this precious heirloom are what give it its value to me. It is incredibly moving to look at it and think of the love that went into it. We have it on our bed every day so I see it all the time and it is part of the fabric of our every day lives. I love the idea that one day I will hand it down the family, along with the stories behind each square.

Having worked on another wedding quilt myself, I can say that it is also a really fulfilling thing to do for someone special, and there are such happy times to be had sitting with a group of other women (or men) of several generations, friends and family, all working on hand stitching a quilt like this. It feels solid and old fashioned and symbolic to work on something like this, knowing how much meaning it will carry. We will treasure our wedding quilt forever.

Have you worked on a collaborative wedding project before? What did you make? And what special wedding gifts have you been given?

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Amy Xxx