This is the Masterpiece quilt. It's not called that because I am egotistical, but because it took me long time to make and I put a lot of my heart into it. I worked on other, smaller projects while I was doing this one, so I needed a handy way to refer to it. "Crown of Thorns Variation" was just too long.
Ya'all have seen a tantalizing bit of this quilt before, when it was all folded up in my display box.
It makes me want to cry when I see how badly this fabric has faded in places. In the lower left corner, see those green spikes? That used to be black in the arc - now it's brown.
I've really been struggling with writing about this quilt. It's very emotional for me, so much happened while I was making it.
After I made my first real quilt with my Mom, I started making blocks out of the book Quilts, Quilts, Quilts. As I was doing that, I saw a picture of a quilt made from a block described as Crown of Thorns varition (cover of QNM magazine, Oct 1987). For some reason, that stuck and I decided I had to make this particular quilt. Not in the same colors - heck no - and not with that border, but I loved the block.
A friend had the pattern, so I traced out the templates and began hand-piecing the blocks. I didn't have much of a stash, but desperately wanted to only use each fabric in two different blocks. I begged and borrowed and used some fabric in retrospect that I shouldn't have. It was 100% cotton but meant to be turned into clothing. Had a rougher texture. Used cheap calicoes, and those are the ones that have faded so badly. They came from regular fabric stores, not quilting shops. Learned that lesson - to me it's worth the price to pay for real quilter's fabric.
I designed the border myself. I'm actually amazed that I managed to measure everything out properly so it all fits together right. I find it a much easier process to make things fit together when I'm hand-piecing than when I'm working on the machine.
When I started piecing the blocks (in either 1990 or 1991), I was living on my own for the first time (woohoo, no roommates) and was very very far from home. I met a man, got engaged a month after we started dating, got married 5 months later by a justice of the peace with two friends as witnesses. (I hate ceremonies.)
That was right before Christmas of 1992. In mid-January my dad called and said my mom had inoperable brain tumors. The cancer had spread. She was terminally ill. I had known she wasn't feeling great, but certainly not the extent of it. And my dad had waited for three weeks before telling me how sick she was. I don't want to talk about this particular subject anymore, but Mom was gone a month later.
Flash forward to August 1993. Sweetie and I flew home to visit Dad. I had the Masterpiece top completed by then and brought it home. Dad set up the quilt frame he'd made for Mom and I struggled to baste the top. I remember how frustrated I was and in tears throughout the whole process. I didn't know how to do it by myself and I just plain wanted my Mom.
I hand quilted the whole top. No hoop or frame, of course. Regular black quilting thread. That took awhile. This is embarassing to admit, but I didn't date the quilt when I finished it. Signed it but that's about it. I do a much better documentation job now. Masterpiece was in a quilt show in August of 1994. Got a ribbon for best hand quilting, even with all the little quilting knots left on the back.