Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Year Quilts

Early on in my quilting journey I joined an online quilting group called Southern Cross Quilters. Through this group I learned about Year Quilts and I signed up to make one in 2003, my earliest opportunity. 

Making a year quilt involved two things. Firstly keeping a diary. I had never been very good at this but for the next few years when I participated in the year quilt I kept one. For each day, each diary entry the participant chose a piece of fabric to represent the day. A scrap of the fabric was glued into the diary next to the entry and the rest of it was incorporated into a quilt, which was the second part of the deal.

The quilt was pieced over the course of the year and at the end of the year you would have a complete quilt (or at least when ever you finished putting the quilt together you would have a quilt)

The above is example is from my first year quilt in 2003. The back of the quilt featured fabric my daughter bought me back from her year in Malaysia as an exchange student along with the signature blocks that fellow year quilters exchanged that year.

Selection of the fabric could be made on whatever basis you wanted so long as you justified it in your journal. Special days were often much easier than ordinary days and sometimes the connections were very tenuous or forced. I admit that at times I would go and do something on a day just so I could use a particular fabric I had, or to at least have something that I could use. Days I sewed were always good as I could use a piece of the fabric I had been working with. Easy.

We had a special email group online, a subgroup from SCQ, to talk about how we were going and especially to swap fabrics. Once a month we had a special swap. Participants would send it up to 6 pieces (6.5" square) of 5 different fabrics and we would get back 30 different pieces of fabric. The fabric was always picture fabric, sometimes known as conversation  or eye-spy fabric. This way we could build up a stash of fabric from which to choose.

Over the years that I participated I chose several different designs for my quilts. The first year I made calendar blocks, set out just like that years calendar.

Another year I made a jar quilt design with each jar being a week and the different fabrics layered into the jar.  At the moment I can't find the quilt and it seems I didn't take a photo of it which is both surprising and disappointing. I hope it turns up. Must be hiding in a cupboard somewhere.

2006 we were going overseas for 7 weeks so I wanted a hand project so did quilt as you go (QAYG) hexagons.

2007 was my final year. I started doing very small pieces to make a wall hanging as I felt I had enough big quilts. I never finished it. The design went crooked and my heart wasn't in it and I stopped writing the diary and it all fell apart. I still have the couple of months worth of pieces I had stitched in my UFO pile. I hope to incorporate it into a quilt backing one day

A legacy from my year quilts includes 3 sliding drawers full of picture fabrics. I used to sort the squares into categories to make it easier to select what I wanted for each day. These fabrics have formed the basis of many eye spy quilts that I have made over the years since then.

I might try making another year quilt one day if there is a special year coming up. Till then I'll continue to raid my stash of picture fabric for other quilts.

Hope you all are having a good year


  1. For some reason I had it in my head that your jar year quilt was the one you gave Grandma and Joe, although from your J post I know that's not the case. Maybe it's in with the camping stuff?

  2. Wow! That is a lot of work. Pretty cool though. I really like the hexagon quilt. I started one of them a few years back, but I was hand sewing it and I totally bailed out. It's all bundled up in my UFO stash. One of these days I'll get back to it. Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie