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ET Phone Home, Fettled!

Long, long (long) ago, I started a hand piecing project that I knew would be a long-term project. I had no idea just how long it would actually take.

It started when I saw a blog post by Lynne of Lily’s Quilts of her new block and I fell in love with it. Her blog is undergoing some renovation, so this follow up post to the initial one is only post I can find. And on that post, I left this comment:

Notice the date - such optimism!

I started (not long after Lynne’s post) by making a test block

(It was made into a mini quilt in June 2015)

I bought background fabric and furtled through my fabric boxes to find suitable prints and plains (and a lovely friend bought me some bright tone on tone fabrics at FOQ (or maybe the first Fat Quarterly retreat?) to supplement what I had) and by April 2013, I had this:

And by the start of June, I had my first block:

It took me eighteen months to finish the next block (isn’t it amazing how long things take to make when you’re not working on them? It’s a constant surprise) and by June 2015 I had a box of coloured triangles cut and marked, ready to piece. 

By April 2018, I had nine blocks so I was obviously getting into my stride (cutting the background into strips for each round of shapes and batch prepping the pieces made a huge difference to how quickly I could prep a block, which meant I was more likely to do it) and by June 2018, I had sixteen blocks which were sashed and joined. The original plan had been for thirty-five blocks but by 2018 (if not earlier), I knew that I wasn’t going to make all those so changed the plan - once I got to sixteen, I thought about whether I wanted to make another nine to get to twenty-five and the answer was no!

By late spring 2019, I had a finished top:

And then that summer I decided that I didn’t like the backing I’d bought for it a year or so before (it was pink and white and I realised I wanted to quilt in the ditches on the front and didn’t want to have to faff with black thread on the front and bright pink on the back), so in April 2020, I bought the backing from Olive + Flo Handcraft and by July I’d pieced the back (all those Zoom chats were ideal for hand sewing the two long seams):

And then I layered it and things sped up a little. Only kidding - stitching in the ditch round all those triangles took ages and I thought I’d never finish. All that turning and stuffing of a big quilt through a small harp space was warm work and, in the end, I had to wait for cooler weather. 

I finished quilting the middle and started the edges in October 2021 and that was when I really had to grit my teeth and concentrate on getting to the end: I quilted the corners and wasn’t happy with the spacing because three had eighteen lines quilted and the fourth had nineteen marked. So I pulled out three corners, re-marked all of them, quilted them and then turned the quilt over and saw the drag lines:

So I pulled them out again! I then misted and pressed all three layers of every corner and took it to a friend’s house so we could have a go at getting the back under enough tension so that I could re re quilt the lines. That didn’t work (fortunately, we decided to check it would work after tacking the first corner), and we spent the rest of the afternoon playing with lengths of thread trying to find a quilting design we liked. We found a couple so I spent the next couple of weeks marking them, discovering they didn’t work on all four corners (no idea why and I wasn’t in the mood to find out) and I didn’t like them anyway. Just as I was teetering on the edge of the pit of (project) despair and contemplating setting fire to the bl**dy thing, it occurred to me that hand quilting was an option and that the original straight lines might work as it’s a gentler process than machine quilting. So I tacked a corner, marked a few lines and got to work. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I turned it over after those lines were done and didn’t see drag lines! 

Finally, in January 2022, I trimmed it

and attached the binding to the front. And then, by the middle of February, it was finished. You may be wondering why it’s taken until now to post about it? So am I, to be honest! But, when it’s taken nigh on a decade to make, why rush the blog post?! On a windy March day, I went to a friend’s house (the same friend who helped with the quilting plan when all felt lost) and pegged it on her line (I didn’t have anywhere big enough unless I laid it on the front lawn and leant out of the upstairs window to take photos. Given that I live on a windy street, I decided that wasn’t something to be undertaken without an assistant/weight so a friend’s washing line it was, which was much better all round) and tried to take photos in the split seconds between gusts of wind.

Quilt stats

(It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve done one of these!)

Name: ET Phone Home

Block designer: Lynne Goldsworthy 

Fabrics: Garden Dot (white on black) plus various plains, prints and Oakshott cottons

Pieced: by hand

Quilted: by machine and hand

Thread:  pieced in black Coats cotton, quilted in King Tut in ebony

Wadding: Warm & White

Backing: AGF from Olive + Flo Handcraft’s backing section (always worth a look!)

Block size: ~12”

Quilt size: ~78.5”

Started: May 2013

Finished: February 2022

Needless to say, Mini Archie has already lined up the next Fettling List project to concentrate on…

I finks it’s going to be Summersville until your arm is betterer
and then Winterkist once it’s up to doing quilting *benevolent face* 

Well done for getting to the end, even if you did scroll down to the finished quilt photos/video and then straight on to see Mini Archie!


  1. Oh, I love it!!! Well done. I've really enjoyed the ET saga and so proud of you to see it finished. Hoping that you are feeling better and your arm and shoulder are feeling much more kindly towards you again. ehugs to you and MA. Congratulations! Pompom waves!!!

    1. My elbow is a little better, my shoulder not so much but the pain is better which is nice. Thank you for the quilt compliments *admires pompoms*

    2. Sending more love and healing to shoulder.... ((((((((( Helen's Shoulder )))))))) Yippeee for less pain!

  2. Oh Helen you are brilliant for finishing, a huge amount of pom pom waves, and fanfares. it's such a magnificent quilt and looks wonderful wafting in the breeze. Such a story of trials nd tribulations with those corners. Well done can't ever be enough praise!!!

  3. Oh my word, it might have been a long time in the making, but well worth it, it is absolutely stunning.


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