Friday, 4 November 2011


Most knitters/quilters/embroiderers will confess to a couple of UnFinished Objects in their work basket. Some are abandoned happily, others we’re always meaning to get back to. My daughter Ruth and I recently had the experience of picking up someone else’s UFO and bringing it to fruition.
In one of those convoluted six-degrees-of-separation ways we were put in touch with someone we already knew who was looking for a quilter to complete a quilt for his mother. His mother is very elderly and ill and he had come across a quilt she had started some years ago and thought it would be good to get it finished.

What Ruth and I were presented with turned out to be eleven completed square blocks which had been constructed in a variety of hand-sewn methods and quite a bit of spare fabric. We were given free rein to get on with it as we saw fit. It seemed important to us to use what we had been given as simply as possible and not get fancy with it. After some initial consultation we made our decisions surprisingly quickly and became a sort of quilting tag team.

Ruth created one more square based on some partially assembled scraps. I finished off the sashing borders around each square. Thus far we stuck with the hand sewing, but knew that we would have to get out the machines to finish it within a reasonable time.

I put the squares together and assembled the quilt top by machine. Then Ruth took on the assembly of a backing piece using a variety of fabrics from the work basket.

She added a binding strip and, using some quilt wadding from my stash, pinned together the quilt sandwich. I took it back and spent a couple of evenings hand-quilting very simply along the seam lines of the squares. I hand-stitched the binding fabric to finish the quilt. The finished article is about the right size for a cot.

In all it took us about a fortnight to finish - much quicker than we would have been working alone! We both enjoyed the process, delighting in the sense of continuity with another needle-woman. It was such fun to rummage through someone else’s workbasket (finding a couple of other UFOs in the process).

We were both also pretty anxious about taking liberties with someone else’s work. We had no idea what the original plan had been and worried that the lady in question might feel affronted by some of the decisions we had taken. Thankfully this proved not to be the case. I was taken to meet her and deliver the quilt on a day when she was feeling reasonably well and visiting neighbours for coffee. The quilt soon became the focus of conversation and memory as she pointed out some of the fabrics which had originally been used in her children’s clothing. I have heard since that the project is still proving a successful talking point in the family.

It makes me wonder what unfinished items will be hanging around in my work-basket when I die.
(I didn’t take work-in-progress photos I’m afraid, so what you see is the finished quilt in all its squidgy, lumpy glory – very difficult to photograph)


  1. mm reminds me of a half finished jumper........

  2. A brilliant thing to do! I think it looks great. X