This is the story of the creation of a very special quilt. I project managed it, but the heavy lifting was done by dozens of women working together, designing, shopping for fabric, stitching, and contributing financially towards the batting and backing fabric, the big ticket items.
Then there's the most generous contribution of all, that of our amazingly gifted long arm quilter, Linda Billett (Artisan Quilting)who took our cobbled together collection of blocks and made them into a stunning quilt, fit for an Archbishop's wife.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
A little less than two years before our Anglican (Episcopal) Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, was due to retire, the Sydney ministry wives decided to make a quilt as a retirement gift for his wife, Christine.
Whether it was because I'd played a part in the making of farewell gifts from the ministry wives for the three previous Archbishops, or whether it was obvious that, when it comes to making quilts together, 'I'm just a gal who can't say no', I quickly found myself heading up a small but enthusiastic committee of women whose husbands, like mine, were Anglican ministers in Sydney.
We began by meeting for coffee at my home to toss around design ideas.
Our quilt needed to -
* Reflect Christine's love of the colour blue, and her interests which range from children's literature to grandchildren, flowers and gardens, hospitality, travel, reading, and of course the friends she and Peter have made over the years in their various parishes.
* Consist of parts that could be easily separated for many stitchers to work on independently.
* Be an easily achievable pattern for stitchers of any skill level.
Finally we agreed our inspiration would be the Wedding Snowball Quilt from Kaffe Fassett's V & A Quilts.
We bought a selection of navy fabrics for the corner triangles of our (6.5in unfinished) snowball blocks, cut them into 2.5in strips, and sent these to our volunteers with instructions to make the blocks. We asked them to use fabrics from their own stashes as the feature fabrics, only specifying that these should be predominantly blue.
What a wonderful assortment of blocks came back to us after 6 months! Butterflies, maps of the world, teacups and teapots, children, tiny footprints, lots of flowers, and a handful of these exquisitely hand embroidered blocks featuring churches where Peter and Christine served.
The real excitement came when we laid the blocks out and saw how well such a diverse collection played together.
Tweaking the layout, swapping and reswapping to get the balance just right, took some time, and this was where it was valuable having many eyes to spot the problem areas.
Finally we were happy with the layout.
Working on the assembly as a team, it was vital that we sewed the blocks together exactly as planned, so every block was labelled with a letter and a number on a tiny scrap of masking tape, and the blocks were stacked in rows ready for machining.
We made great progress.
And by the end of the day we had an almost-complete queen sized quilt top!
The paparazzi were keen to capture the moment.
Some were a tad keener than others 😊
Our top just needed a border, and we found the perfect French stripe in Les Olivades, but with life taking an unexpected turn it was to be a few months before I added a thin strip of navy and then the wide mitred border to finish our quilt in style.
Next time I'll show you our fabulous finish!