My Baltimore Album has been on the UFO list for 20 years! I began it when hubby was stationed at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas around 1996. My friend, Janet, invited me to attend a Baltimore Album hand applique class with her; each month we learned a different applique technique. Our “text” was Baltimore Beauties and Beyond by Elly Sienkiewicz. I learned so much and gained speed and proficiency while hand stitching. Why, then, did I not finished this project in the ’90s?
Our instructor suggested that we purchase 2 yards of our feature fabric. I should have heeded her advice, but I bought only one yard of a multi-colored floral print. One yard is not enough for some applique pieces and an outer border. So, that was problem #1. In addition, many of my coordinating fabrics were not top quality. This made me question whether it was worth the effort to set the blocks together and quilt them. Another difficulty related to finding coordinating fabric. With the passage of time, fabric companies change tones and intensity of the fabrics they manufacture. So five, ten, twenty years later, fabrics that would blend nicely with my quilt blocks are no longer available.
Originally, I planned a quilt of twelve blocks; note we are down to nine. I nixed the incomplete woven basket of skinny bias strips and Broderie perse flowers with ruched handle. (It landed on the “free” table at my guild.) And the reverse appliqued feathered heart will become a decorative pillow at some future date. Since each block measures 15″ square, nine blocks makes a sizable quilt.
The impetus to finally finish was a UFO challenge issued by the quilters I retreat with each spring. Every year we name the UFO we will complete and bring to retreat the following year. (Failure to complete means you owe a fat quarter to everyone who does complete her UFO!) For several years I have resisted putting my Baltimore Album blocks on the promissory list; but last spring, guilt goaded me into it. Even though the fabrics are not top quality, the blocks were very nicely made and deserved to be finished as a quilt.
My friend Karlene helped me with a pleasing setting and advised on sashing fabric – a shirting from the Downtown Abbey line. Cornerstones were cut from my floral theme fabric. Another friend had yardage of an older solid pink that blended with the multi-colored floral. Even though the fabric dilemma was solved, I still dawdled at beginning the quilting. I could not use a pantograph for all over quilting because of the 3-D ruched and folded flowers, so I had to decide on (agonize over) custom quilting designs.
By using off-white thread, the feathers show up nicely and add interest to the wide pink border. I employed echo quilting in the three Hawaiian-style applique blocks, and chose various fillers for the backgrounds of the other six blocks. I used the remaining floral fabric for binding which adds cohesiveness to the quilt.
I am so glad I transformed my nine languishing Baltimore Beauties into a lovely quilt and lasting memory!
Do you have a similar story of a long-standing UFO?