Well, it took more than a year from start to finish, but I finally got my niece's Noah's Ark baby quilt finished and sent to her.
Last year, my sister announced her pregnancy and soon after decided she would be having a Noah's Ark themed nursery. I've made baby quilts for all my nieces and nephews (well, except for two who came into the family as older kids) and I looked all over for Noah's Ark fabric but I couldn't find any. I got out my copy of A Quilter's Ark by Margaret Rolfe, and thought about using her paper piecing patterns to make a Noah's ark quilt. I talked to my mom about it and decided I would go for it. I changed the pattern in the book, which uses 4-inch square animal blocks, to a simpler one with 16 animals, all pieced in 6-inch blocks. I planned on making the ark block a bit smaller than the one in the book as well. So I got some striped and pink fabrics, and made my first couple pairs of animals (zebras and flamingos). Then I got pregnant with my baby and lost almost all the energy I had for sewing or anything besides resting a lot and barely getting by.
I ended up working on the quilt off and on a little bit during my pregnancy, and then bit by bit in these last months since my baby has arrived (she's 6 months old now!) (I better get going on a baby quilt for her!)
So, our other sister was coming out to see me this month for her spring break, and I decided I would finish up the quilt so she could take it back to Utah and give it to baby Natalie. I'm pretty sure I had it pin basted when Shelly got here. I started out with machine quilting the sashing.
I had thought I should probably hand quilt the animal blocks. But I didn't want to. I told my mom I thought they wanted to be hand quilted, and she thought it would be ok if I machine quilted them. But then... I didn't have quilting thread in all those colors, and, well I actually went ahead and started machine quilting one of the lions with an echo-quilting design. And I hated it. I picked it out (I've never unpicked quilting before, I don't think) and decided it was going to be hand quilted.
I worked on the handquilting, a lot, while Shelly was here visiting. I thought I would get it done. I had also promised to make some clothing items for Shelly's kids though. After a couple days, it became clear I wouldn't be able to send the quilt back to Utah with Shelly on the plane. So I went ahead and sewed up her daughter's pink camo skirt and pink-heart-shaped-leopard-print hoodie (pics of those another time). She went home (miss you!) and I finished the Noah's Ark quilt a few days after she was gone.
The animals are pieced mostly from scraps I had on hand, and some with new fabrics I bought specifically for the project. The sashing is JoAnn linen blend, scraps from maternity pants I made for myself when I was pregnant with Jacob, who's almost 5. Hand quilting was done with 2 strands of embroidery floss, various colors. This was my 4th quilt to have this rainbow binding fabric. It's officially all gone except scraps now. I got my first spool of Superior thread for the machine quilting, and I kind of like it. It's a very slightly variegated natural color and it's a bit heavier than regular sewing thread or the silk/cotton Mettler thread that I use sometimes for machine quilting.
The project was kind of discouraging at times, especially in the middle when it was taking so long. But finishing it up and seeing how it looked as I did that hand quilting was kind of fun. Kind of exciting. My fingers hurt really bad after all that hand work though. It feels really good to get a big project like this all done.
(You can see all the pictures at my flickr account, even super-enlarged, if you want. Link is in top-right corner.)