The Loyal Union Sampler Quilt – AKA Another Project That’s Too Big For My Britches

Sometime in the early spring of 2022, I purchased a sewing machine. It was something that I wanted to do for a while since I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of quilting. I’ve touched on this topic before in earlier blog posts. However, as luck would have it, less than a week after making the quasi-impulse purchase, I was asked to stage manage a production at a theater that I had been dying to get involved with.

Add to it, the show was a world premiere production, which is not something that is common in community theater. I chose to do the show. The poor sewing machine and the small amount of fabric I purchased sat in the craft space, gathering dust. Only to be used sparingly on my off-nights or on the weekends. And, honestly, I didn’t really accomplish anything even when I was sewing.

For most of the remainder of 2022, the sewing machine and fabric went unused. Partly due to my doing yet another show in the fall, but my parents also “rejuvenated” the finished basement. Since that’s my usual crafting space, I wasn’t able to do too much.

The Saga of Quilting

During the limited amount of free time that I had during the spring production, I started watching Craftsy classes on how to quilt. I found a beginner’s quilting class on there that covered everything from how to wash and cut your fabric, to designing basic quilt blocks, and putting it all together in a final quilt. (This post is not sponsored by Craftsy. This is what actually happened. I had been gifted a subscription to the site in February of 2022 and renewed my subscription earlier this year.)

While I did enjoy the class and learning how to do it, I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of making the quilt in the class. It was a little “basic” and reminded me of a child’s (read: baby) blanket. Perhaps that was just the colors and fabric design the teacher used. But still, I wasn’t over the moon with the design. Nevertheless, I persisted. I purchased the fabric (mostly fat quarters, some yardage), cut the blocks out (poorly, mind you), and pieced a few together.

Thanks to the color and design choices I made, the finished quilt would have more of an adult/mature feel to it. But then the “rejuvenation” project came along and everything had to be put away. And then the fall production set in. All of this meant no time for quilting or sewing.

Winter came and despite spending more time inside and not doing theater, no progress was made. Though my desire to use my $200+ investment still called to me.

Finding the Perfect Project

Frankly, I basically ignored the call for a little while. But then I found myself in a JoAnn Fabrics one dull afternoon last summer. While roaming the store, I came across a quilt pattern with a name that I recognized from my work at the library: Jennifer Chiaverini. She’s a fiction book author whose list of published works is extensive. She’s known for her Elm Creek Quilt series of novels and this quilting pattern book is related to the book series. The Loyal Union Sampler Quilt’s cover immediately grabbed my attention. It’s Civil War-inspired and the blocks themselves are quite interesting.

And, of course, since I have a penchant for big projects, the 106-inch by 106-inch quilt called out to me. I purchased the book and immediately went home and started thumbing through it. Later that week, I found myself back at the craft store, laying down a small fortune for only a few pieces of the fabric I would need to make it.

Later that day, it hit me. I was probably too new to quilting to tackle this massive project. As a way to find inspiration (and support) for this new-found desire, I turned to YouTube. Among the hundreds of videos I sifted through, I discovered one that talked about handling large projects. While I can’t remember the video’s title or whose channel it was from, I do recall one thing: Take each block at a time. Don’t worry about the final piece. It’ll come together eventually. Break the project down.

Once I started looking at the project from that perspective, I knew I would reach my goal.

Rearing to go with new-found energy, I decided to bite the bullet and order one of the largest pieces of fabric I would need for the project: a 7-yard cut of a beige-colored fabric that would serve as the primary color for the blocks. Thanks to (which is now operated by Amazon), I was able to find a lovely piece of yardage without spending too much.

The Long Break

Shortly after I purchased the first three fabric cuts, I had to put the project on the back burner. I, once again, started doing theater. And, as it always does, the production receives every waking hour that I have available. I was involved with the show for most of the summer of 2022, and the performances ran into the month of October. I’d like to be able to tell you that once the show closed (ended, for you my non-theater readers) I was gun-ho and ready to start the beast that is the Loyal Union Sampler Quilt.

But, I’d be lying.

Instead, I entered the typical post-show depression. And despite suddenly having more free time than I knew what to do with it, working on the quilt hardly ever crossed my mind. I guess that Instagram influencer that I follow who talks about zero-waste living has a point. She recommends that you wait about 30 days before making any unnecessary purchases. If you’re still thinking about or desiring to have the item you originally wanted 30 days ago, then buy it.

Photo by Adonyi Gu00e1bor on

Still autumn turned to winter and that’s when I started having inkling feelings of doing something other than crochet. With the basement project completed, I slowly moved my supplies out of storage (my grandma’s house, lol), and back to where they usually lie in wait until they are needed. Though having these things closer to me was nice, I didn’t really do anything with them.

Until the end of March 2023…

The Urge to Quilt

Finally, it happened! The Quilting Bug returned.

Honestly, I’m not sure what sparked its return. But when it came, it came in full force.

Sadly, the fabrics that were used in the mock-up of the quilt in the pattern booklet are no longer easily available. But honestly, after thinking it over, I was okay with that. My goal was not to create a reproduction quilt of the mock-up quilt. Honestly, I found the fabric patterns, when used together to make a quilt top that was too busy for my liking. There weren’t many places where your eyes could “rest.”

This (only somewhat) unfortunate occurrence gave me the liberty to find my own fabric choices. Since I had started buying fabric months earlier that is reminiscent of the ones used in the original pattern, I decided to stick with that mantra and built a theme around those fabrics (I plan to have a post that details the fabric I purchased which will be coming soon).

Now that I have all my fabrics in hand, well, except for the one I’ll use for the backing. I can now start the process.

However, literally the day after I purchased another two cuts of fabric, I was offered to work on another show. (Three shows starting in 12 months of each other is really a lot.) And of course, I accepted it. I’m a glutton for the theater (and apparently spreading myself too thin). Luckily, for this one, my time commitment is not as much as the previous ones. For the first month or so of the process, I’m only needed once a week. I’ll take it!

Why Am I Blogging About This?

If you’ve read this far, then you may be wondering why I’m posting about this on a typically food-related blog.

Well, I went into 2023 with the goal of expanding my audience and making my website more like a journal than a food blog. This is one why I feel I can reach that goal. Another reason is I enjoy writing about the stuff I’m working on and since I’m on another health kick, I’ve been baking less often. Writing about this project will give me an opportunity to still make regular posts, especially in the weeks between baked goods.

And finally, because I want to. I think it will be fun for me to look back on the process of making this gargantuan quilt. If you’re not a quilter or a crafty person, then feel free to come by sparingly or not at all. I’ll still be making food-related posts, too. So don’t worry. They’re not going anywhere.

I hope you’ll come along and join me on this journey.

Until next time…

Cover image credit


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