I started this quilt in April of 2010, piecing by hand.  I had decided to make a series of blue and white quilts to give to my son Michal and his wife Rebecca.  I had to look around quite a bit to find templates I was happy with, and finally found them in a book belonging to my friend Debby.

This is the first block…

And this is the completed quilt top

Debby and I had claimed a mission of collecting blue fabrics for a planned series of blue and white quilts.  I wanted to place darks and lights to create a bow or flower type effect in the block intersections, and when I saw the quilt coming together, I was very excited.

The quilt top was fully pieced by August of 2010, finishing at 96″x101″ , then stored for later quilting.  I had always planned to machine quilt it on my longarm quilting machine, and had visualized several different quilting designs over the years.  But there wasn’t a single design that I was intent upon placing on the quilt.

I am a member of The Pioneer Quilters, a handquilting group that meets weekly to quilt on each other’s quilts.  We host an annual quilt show that benefits the Lane County Historical Museum in Eugene, Oregon, and we also demonstrate at the County Fair each year.

PioneerQuilters Workplace

To my pleasant surprise, my name came to the top of the list to have a quilt in the frame at the County Fair!  I had only two weeks to prepare, but when I was asked if I had a quilt ready, my immediate answer was “Yes!”

The quilt that came to mind was the hand pieced Double Wedding Ring quilt that was sitting in the cupboard waiting to be quilted.  So I scurried home with plenty of advice in my ears and began to plan the quilting of my Double Wedding Ring quilt.

I did pre-baste my quilt, which is a little unusual for loading a quilt into an old-fashioned quilting frame.  But I knew that because it was a DWR, it had scalloped edges and might load a little wonky.  And I also realized it would sit for a while after the fair before its turn came up to be quilted upon steadily.

We’ve already rolled twice at the time of this photo, but it shows most of the quilt

This is how our club works:  we quilt on three quilts at a time, each in order.  So Quilt No. 1 is the first quilt one would go sit at when you first get to the meeting.  When that frame fills up, then members would begin to sit at the frame of Quilt No. 2, and so on.  For the Fair demonstration we will start a brand new quilt, which is basically the next quilt in turn to go on the floor.  After the fair, it waits in storage until a quilt comes out of the frame, then the fair quilt will go on the floor and be Quilt No. 3.  So…I knew my quilt would be stored for a time after the fair, and decided a pre-baste was a good idea.

Since there was no border on my quilt, we immediately started quilting the “meat” of the quilt.  First were a row of the ovals across each side of the quilt, then into the interior of the rings.  Each ring was stitched in the ditch and each seam was stitched in the ditch…so there’s a lot of quilting that isn’t visible, but makes the quilt design really pop.  I used a Hobbs Polydown bat and a very nice lightweight white tone-one-tone wide fabric for the backing.

Examining the quilt design and discussing the approach on the very first day

As we quilt, fair-goers come by and watch what we’re doing, ask questions and tell us their stories about quilting.  It is an extremely enjoyable time to share quilting.  We quilt from 11am to 5pm for the five days the fair runs.  That’s a lot of womanpower at work!

The first day we rolled the quilt two times on one side and one time on the other side.  The Pioneers facing front in the photo are on the rolling edge, just beginning the quilting.

The first block!

Here is a photo taken in the afternoon of the second day.  The light really shows the quilting shadows well.  Each oval has three ” echo” ovals inside it and the interior of the ring has an elongated oval, echoed in the same way, with feathers coming off it.  Of course all seams are stitched in the ditch.  If you look closely at the rings, you can see some of my basting stitches, just temporary stitches to hold the layers together before it’s quilted.

This character came in for a few hugs and kisses, and pretended to quilt with us for a bit!

We quilted until our fingers were ragged!  Over five days we quilted 1/4 of the quilt.  During that time most of our members came and spent at least a few hours quilting and the frame always had a core of a half a dozen quilters at it.  We also consumed copious amounts of ice cream and other Fair food, shopped at the fair and enjoyed the atmosphere.  One day was extremely hot but the rest of the time it was very comfortable.  And yesterday afternoon at the conclusion of our demonstration, we rolled my Double Wedding Ring quilt up and I have it at home now.

Just a personal note:  I will be keeping this quilt for our bed at home.  Since all my very close friends have had a hand in finishing it, many memories have been created that I will cherish through the years.  I am planning to make a replacement quilt for Michal and Rebecca, and of course they will inherit this one…

Many people wanted to know how long it would take us to finish this quilt.  I am making an estimate that my quilt will be on the floor in January of 2013 and perhaps be done by June of 2013.  The quilting seems to go very quickly, and if it does the quilt will be finished in time for next years Lane County Fair.  I hope so, anyway!