A Thirty Year Labour of Love

Quilt 1 edited
My patchwork quilt – 30 years in the making.


You know when you have those projects that you just can’t seem to finish – it may take you a few weeks, it may take you a few months or even a year. You pick it up, do a few bits and pieces, put it down again and promise to yourself you’ll get it finished “next time”. Well, I had one of those which spanned over 30 years. Yes – it was truly about 30 years (give or take a year or so). A patchwork quilt I started in an after-school craft class when I was about 10 or 11 years old became a project which I’d fall in and out of love with depending on what was happening in my life.


Quilt 3 editedPatchwork quilt - hexagon abstract pattern

Sometimes it would be a few years in-between stitching – I’d catch sight of it in its plastic bag in my sewing cabinet and thought it was time to finish it – until I got too busy again.

My idea back in the beginning was to have as many different materials as possible – no thought of patterns or colour co-ordination as in the beautiful quilts you see these days. My grandmother would always be on the hunt for me for boxes of material off-cuts from neighbours and friends. I’d also buy packets of Laura Ashley material squares that were ideal for what I needed. You know, I just had a hunt through my stash of stuff and I still have the original cardboard templates and left-overs of the Laura Ashley squares.

I’d spend my time cutting the hexagon material shapes from the large template and paper ones for the temporary inserts from the smaller template. Each hexagon was sewed together by hand.

When I reached my early 40s, I once again found my little quilt sitting in a cupboard and decided there and then – ok Therese – let’s get this finished. No way were these many years of hand sewing going to waste. After all the paper inserts were taken out, with the help of my lovely Mum I placed the finished piece on to two large pieces of calico with a thin layer of wadding in between and machine sewed it together.

Quilt 2 edited
My finished quilt – a real labour of love.


So, it may not be the prettiest quilt around – it has no colour theme or special pattern and it isn’t worthy of hanging up at a quilt show. But it’s 30 years of memories – from clothing we had as kids, to my grandmother encouraging me to learn to sew and rounding up boxes of material, to my Mum (who passed away 11 years ago) who helped me put the final bits and pieces together to come up with the finished goods.

Yes – I love my little quilt and it gets a lot of use in the colder months snuggling up with my hubby and kitty. So remember everyone, your projects don’t have to be perfect to look at – just perfect for you in the knowledge that you gave it a go and made it yourself – even if it may have taken longer than you expected.

Have you got any projects that have taken you years to complete? I’d love for you to share your stories.




  1. I have one like that, a story that is. I too started a hex project in my early teens and dreamt of a big quilt. However I quickly decided to just make a pillow. From scraps (which I honestly like much better than the modern types). My 30 years in the making project was an embroidered pillow. It grew and developed and was finished this spring. Woot!

  2. Congrats Therese! You wrote a lovely story about your “Little quilt.” I am doing needle work as well – only for myself and my family. I know the feeling after you fisnished a project! I am really proud of you that you at last finished this project. Enjoy your quilt with Ian and your kitten during the colder winter evenings in front of the fire place. xx

    • Thanks Santie. Like you said, it’s really satisfying once you have finished your project. Now I need to finish the tapestry my Nana started & I’ve been trying to finish. Nana passed away in 1984 so again it’s a 30 year process to try & finish it.

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