Tumbler Quilt

Tumbler was my second quilt. The top was started in the late 70’s, but I put it away before it was finished. It was made primarily from sewing scraps, and I remember that there were quite a few Laura Ashley prints. Even back then, before I started using vintage fabric (although now that I think about it, these prints would probably be considered vintage now), I was attracted to the look of a scrappy quilt. However, if I were making this quilt now, I would pay more attention to creating contrast in the placement of the pieces.

In 1995 after one of our teachers invited a quilter to give a talk for the students and display her quilts, I was inspired to start quilting again and vowed to finish this old top. All the pieces were cut, so it didn’t take long. This time I did all the quilting myself, but it was difficult. I was using Warm and Natural batting, and it contained some kind of weird woven fibers that made it hard to pull the needle through the layers. I had to use a small pliers which took forever and ruined lots of needles. Now I use a softer batting, but I still need help pulling the needle through. I use those round, rubbery needle pullers — I always keep one in my mouth while I’m quilting. My husband thinks it’s pretty weird, especially when we’re having a conversation and I’m talking with this stupid thing in my mouth, but there’s no other convenient place to keep it since I need to use it every few seconds. I don’t understand how other people can hand quilt without a needle puller.

Several of my tops are done, but they are not basted. I had to take a break from hand quilting because I was having some tingling and numbness in my right hand (the beginnings of carpal tunnel, I suspect). Fortunately, embroidery and hand piecing do not cause these symptoms. Once I finish the wool quilt, I’ll start hand quilting one of those tops.

Martha Dellasega Gray, 1978-1995
machine pieced, hand quilted
74″ x 82″




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