Bella Bella Quilt

We Carry
by Sara Snuggerud in Sewing Tips

Bella Bella QuiltI get to head out to Chamberlain, SD this week for Heirloom Creations 4th Annual All Inclusive 3-Day Sewing Retreat. This retreat was originally inspired by a local group of quilters who wanted be to pampered, have everything provided from meals and rooms, and NOT sleep in bunk beds. I remember asking if they wanted me to teach them anything and they said, “No. We just want to bring our own projects to sew on.” Sounded easy enough for me!

Since it was the very first sewing retreat I had ever planned, we sent out invitations to a select few people who would be forgiving should I totally goof up the entire weekend. As it turned out, it was a huge success and we have been offering it every year since.

At the first retreat, I thought if everyone else was bringing their own projects, then I should too. I wanted to make a quilt that I had wanted to do ever since I first laid eyes on it. I wanted to make the Bella Roma quilt from Norah McMeeking’s “ Bella Bella Quilts: Stunning Designs from Italian Mosaics” book. This book features designs based on inlaid Italian marble floors.

On the first day of the sewing retreat, four years ago, I opened up a can of worms…no, I mean I opened up my beautifully selected fabric for the entire quilt, printed off the foundation paper piecing patterns and started sewing. I sewed and sewed and sewed and sewed for three days straight. I had just started to make head way on this quilt and I knew it would be a long process.

A year ago, my mom phoned to tell me she had just attended a trunk show at a quilt shop in Las Vegas by one of our quilting friends, Norah. She had all of her quilts from her Bella Bella book and asked if I had ever seen the book. Had I seen it? I have a quilt half completed from it!!!! I was so excited to finally put two and two together that day. I had not remembered that Norah McMeeking was the same gal from my home town’s quilt guild in Santa Barbara, CA. Click here to visit her website.

Bella Book

Fast forward to 2008. I had hoped that my Bella Bella quilt would be finished for the Quilts & Vines show last August but we had hit some snags. Bella Bella and I started having words with each other. Not nice words either. But I still loved her and still loved the colors that I had originally selected. (Thank goodness I did not run short on any of the fabrics…I would have been up that creek now that it was three years later)!

Here are a few in progress pictures of me paper piecing the center medallion.

Bella Bella Piecing 1

Bella Bella Piecing 2

Let’s just skip forward to the happy ending. We put away cross words as she finally came together and was send off for machine quilting. She finally arrived home in time to be my grand finale at December’s Sewtopia Sewing Club. We have since forgiven each other, put behind us the struggles we had, and she looks absolutely stunning. She is currently on display at Heirloom Creations, and will have a permanent prominent display place in my home in the near future.

Countdown: 126 Days