"Trail of Tears" -- Road to Oklahoma Quilt Block
(Dot Lake, Alaska, USA)
This is my 19th completed quilt. I usually don't buy new fabric, but I fell in love with these animal prints so I bought 4 jelly rolls (2 prints+2 blacks). I spent more than a year trying to figure out what quilt block would work the best when I saw a mock-up of a "Road to Oklahoma" in similar colors.
The pattern called for 72 blocks when I started, but I didn't want to waste any fabric so I decided to up-size to 90 blocks. Quickly figured out I needed 3 more animal prints and more black so I headed off to JoAnn's for more. No animal prints in stock so I found three "animal-like" prints and bought 15 inches of each.
I made the quilt in three separate panels and quilted each one by doing stitch-in-a-ditch around every black piece with gold thread. The backing is a goldish-brown sheet.
When I sewed the quilted panels together I was underwhelmed with the whole project. It just looked BLAH to me. I decided it needed a border. I was trying to figure out what would go with the animal prints when I started to think about the "Road to Oklahoma" and how the Cherokee nation was forced/marched to OK and they called it the "Trail of Tears" as many people died along the way.
Brainstorm: native American inspiration came in the form of some scraps I got from the thrift store.
I pieced all the scraps together with some other scraps to make the quilted border and added it to the center.
One challenge was the three lines of machine embroidery I used as the quilting on the border. My grandmother's old machine would get so hot after one line of stitching, I would have to stop. I cleaned and oiled that machine three times in the course of doing the embroidery and prayed I wouldn't kill the machine before I was done.
Second challenge: the mitered corners on the border. Never did that before but I found a cool trick on YouTube worked like a charm. The binding is fussy cut from the same native print scraps to bring the darker colors to the top edge.
The quilt finished at 80" x 90" and it took me almost exactly a year between lots of other projects but I love the end result.
P.S. Someone said every quilter should try a "Road to Oklahoma" block quilt. I'd have to replace "should" and say "maybe once, never again!"