Archive | 13:10

The Greatest Quilt Ever Made

31 Jan

For one reason and another we’ve had a bad start to the year (no change there then), but one lovely thing did happen: I got a quilt. 

This is no ordinary quilt, however: every inch of it has been handmade by my dear friend Viv of vivinfrance fame. 

In December I received the following email from her:

I’d like to make you a lap quilt or cuddly as we in the trade call it.  They’re usually about 1.50 metres square, but I’ll make it any size or shape you like (within reason!) It will be a multicoloured scrap top, backed with fleece, and you can have the backing in your choice of these colours:  sky blue, apricot,brick, camel or dark blue.

Who could refuse an offer like that?  Certainly not me, the coldest woman west of the east. 

Viv’s first update:

First two blocks made in an experiment in randomness.  I hope it works!  My sewing machine is misbehaving, though – the twiddly-bit underneath that holds the bobbin keeps falling out.  Air is blue here.

I think that last bit was talking about how cold it was in France just then, because she’s too much of a lady for it to be anything else.

On 23 December, when sensible people were running around centrally heated shops, below-zero streets and sitting in car parks for an hour-and-a-half, awaiting a space and fighting strangers to the death for it, I received this:

Four blocks made, 11 to go!  It’s looking quite exciting.

In early January there was a complaint about the number of email addresses I have, so I think Viv was tired from the Nike-factory-worker-impersonation making my quilt had become; but she did say this:

Progress report:  12 blocks done, 3 or 4 left to do, depending on whether I make it 4 x 4 or 3 x 5.  It’s turning into a trip down memory lane for me – leftovers from favourite dresses I made entirely by hand in Seychelles, fabrics from my very early days as a quilter, one or two snippets from some cottons that my daughter brought back for me from the Hindu Kush in 1994, from which I made her a kimono – the first of many.  There are also pieces from two huge bags of samples given to me by my friend who’s gone back to UK to live, and another friend who used to be a textile and dress designer.
I also have the backing, which is bright red fleece, unless you have a rooted objection, in which case I need to think fast.

[small edits for privacy]

I had no objections, not being one to complain at cheerful colours.  I was chuffed at the knowledge that Viv’s gift to me was not only all her own work, but made of her happy memories.  How wonderful to own something made in and from happiness.  And from such a wonderful phrase, too: Hindu Kush – I have always loved saying it.

This was an exciting one because it had a photo as well:

I thought you might enjoy the state of my work-table in the last stages of making the blocks.  The machine’s playing silly buggers and I’m tearing my hair out in handfuls, but am I having fun?  I am?  Who’da thought it!


Viv made that gorgeous pincushion, you might like to know.

Then I discovered Miss Vivienne is not quite the lady I first thought her:

Well then, it’s all gone together – not without a great deal of swearing – and the red fleece backing is now being quilted with the top.  I must warn you that I’m not the world’s greatest machine quilter, but if I’d waited to hand quilt it you wouldn’t get it until April!  I think another week to finish it.  It is anything but an heirloom quilt – more a rough and tumble everyday job.

Viv got something wrong here: it is an heirloom quilt.  I shall give it to whichever of my eventual grandchildren visits me most and brings the best presents.

She included a photo:


On January 18th I got a message to say it was on its way, ‘fast post’:

Tis anything but a masterpiece, but I can vouch for it being nice and warm – it was covering me knees all the time I was hemstitching down the binding and the label, and I was jolly hot!

And on the twentieth Viv emailed the tracking details in case there was a problem; to which I was able to reply:

I’m sitting snug under it even as I type!  It has just arrived and I put the computer on to thank you and there was your email.

Not me at my most eloquent but I was too thrilled for niceties.  Viv also sent me her process notes, as I requested.  So kind of her to keep a record of her gift so that I can keep a record of her gift.

I have used the quilt every day since it arrived and I LOVE it.  It is the greatest quilt ever made because it is made of and with good feelings; given with good feelings; and received with good feelings. 

And you know what the best part is?  As good friends as we are, we have never met.

Thank you, dearest Viv.





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