Finished! Postage Stamp Quilt

I’m very pleased to have this one bound and finished in plenty of time for Christmas. It was a fun, easy quilt from start to finish. I think it’s a very rare thing to be able to say that so I’m just going to revel in that moment for a while…

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This quilt has been nothing but a gentle, stress relieving joy to make. I really hope it can bring those feelings to my sister when I give it to her. She’s had a tough time recently so I’m delighted to be able to give her a ‘hug she can keep’ with this quilt.

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I’ve got a couple of earlier posts about the piecing, progress and basting for this quilt. All that remains to comment on is the quilting and binding.

Quilting: Some people call the pattern I used Dogwood, others call it Orange Peel.

I’ve used this pattern on a couple of quilts now and it’s a great all over pattern that I find more interesting (and less likely to look shoddy) than stippling or meandering. I think it works nicely for the structure of this quilt by softening the squares without distorting them.

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Binding: I did have enough of the backing fabric to complete the binding to match. I almost did do that. However, as I was attaching the first side of the binding I began thinking about my sister…

She has a very important, professional job where she does amazing, complicated and serious stuff with money and maths that I couldn’t begin to understand. When she needs to be she is the epitome of a smart dark grey suit (the kind of smart that my Mum would describe as “so smart it makes your teeth ache”). Kind of like the colour I used for the backing and binding of the quilt.

But my sister is also the kind of person who brings the sunshine into the room when she enters. She’s the brightest, most colourful firework at the finale of the display. She is every colour all at the same time. Just like the front of the quilt. So I couldn’t resist adding in a section of bright hot pink to the binding to reflect the flash and spark she brings to all she does. It’s an added bonus for me that the pink fabric is actually left over from the lining of a bag I made for her a few years ago. Just a nice link back that makes me smile.

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Here it is sat next to our Christmas tree just before I take it upstairs to add the label and then wrap up ready for her to open and snuggle up with in a few weeks time.

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Basting on the table

This week I added the final row of blocks to my sister’s postage stamp quilt. Each block is 16 little 2” squares of alternating light and dark fabrics in as many different colours as I could gather from my scrap bin. There were no new purchases for the top of this quilt at all (however the batting and backing were purchased specially – shh). While making this top it was really fun to look back and remember the stories of the experiments, successes and “okay, not doing that again”s that each fabric could tell.

It’s a big quilt top at 76 x 68”. When it was all pieced I just couldn’t quite face getting down on my knees for hours to baste it on the living room floor. (I think at 5months pregnant it’s ok to look for shortcuts here and there). So I decided to try using the dining room table. We have a heat protector and a vinyl table cloth on it so I was reasonably confident I could avoid sticking pins in my nice wooden table top.

The first third was easy. Just lay out and smooth the backing, layer the batting, and then add the top. I oriented everything to the top right corner because I knew I would have excess batting and backing to cut away and wanted to maximise the usability of the scraps.

Pin regularly. Here the postage stamp design was helpful to get regular pinning spots.


Once that portion had been pinned I trimmed the excess batting and backing leaving about 2” extra all around the top to allow for shifting during quilting. Then I grabbed a strong cardboard tube that I saved from a few years ago when I ordered some curtain fabric online. It has been sooooo useful over the years for rolling large quilts and once again it proved perfect for the job. I simply rolled the basted section up and then moved it across the table so I could start work smoothing the next quilt section.


Same process again… smooth the backing fabric. Bring the batting down on top of it and smooth that out too.

Then bring the top down and smooth that as well. Pin regularly.

And repeat for the final section.

Voila!! A pin pasted quilt without an aching back and knees. Success.

Now I know I’m taking a risk just pin pasting this. I could have thread basted it or added spray basting glue as I went. The table top method didn’t prevent this, my own laziness did. I’m (reasonably) confident that my quilting pattern will enable me to smooth as I go. My first line will be the long centre spine. Then I’ll be working my way out in lines every 4 inches (two squares) on one side so I can smooth outwards as I go. The advantage of pin basting is that you can reposition if you need to as you go along. Once one side is done I’ll come out from the centre spine on the other side in similar parallel lines, again smoothing as I go if needed. Finally I’ll add the perpendicular lines (again middle out to top and bottom edges) to complete the quilting. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Fingers crossed. 

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Finish!! – Quilted Jungle Panel

Just one week after finishing my Circus Panel quilt I was itching to keep on making stuff for the baby. So I quickly turned my attention to the second panel I’d ordered online, a jungle themed printed animal scene.


With the green flannel bed sheet as backing like the circus panel and my usual batting I happily basted and quilted around all the animals to stabilise the quilt. Then I decided to have just a little more fun than I did for the circus quilt. I changed colours and outlined the vines and leaves in green and the elephant’s ear in blue. I then felt inspired to fill in some of the big gaps with some more green leaf outlines even where they weren’t printed on the panel. I only did a few, but I quite like the effect it has.


It did mean I had quilted off the edge of the top so using the backing as a binding would have meant careful (or boring) unpicking. Instead I grabbed some dark green fabric from my stash to make a binding. I machine stitched it to the back before pulling it round to the front to also machine stich along the edge there. I’ve found it to be the neatest way of machine binding, which I definitely wanted to do so it had the durability to withstand regular play and washing.

After washing it occurred to me that I should have prewashed my binding fabric because it has shrunk more than the quilt itself (which was prewashed). Oh well. Live and learn.

Now both my quilted panels are rolled up and lovingly stored in a cupboard with the presents friends and family have given us for our new arrival so far. Fingers crossed they’ll all be being used by a healthy baby in about 4 months time.

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Finish!! – Quilted circus panel

I’m trying really hard to not buy a ton of ridiculously unnecessary baby stuff too early. The compromise I worked out in my head was that I could start making stuff now because it takes longer than buying so I couldn’t make stuff at the last minute.

I like the idea of having a couple of non-precious quilts that can be wall hangings, play mats (dog free zones for the baby), or snuggle wraps when cuddling during the early months. I found a couple of sweet gender neutral animal themed panels online and couldn’t resist. They feel more like poly cotton than pure cotton, but they do look cute. I then spent ages looking for mint green flannel fabric for the backing but just couldn’t seem to find any (so frustrating). Eventually I ordered a king size flannel bed sheet in exactly the right shade. Everything got washed (I don’t normally prewash my fabrics but because of the different fabric types involved here I thought it might be best.


The quilting was simple and pretty loose. I wanted them to be soft and snuggly so I didn’t want to over quilt. My main issue with this one was how to manage the large empty space in the middle. In the end I liked the simplicity of the radiating lines idea. I then just outlined all of the carriages and animals.

I tried a new (to me) technique here of bringing the back fabric round to act as the binding. I felt it was safe to try on this occasion because the printed panel gave me confidence my top was square (ish) without needing trimming. Also, for once I hadn’t quilted off the edge of my top so it was easy to trim the batting to the edge of the top without also cutting the backing fabric. I’m pleased with the way it turned out. We’ll see how durable this binding method is once the quilt starts getting used and washed regularly. 

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I Spy a finished Jigsaw Quilt

I’m so excited to share my latest finish with you today. This quilt is for my godson as his christening present in a few weeks time. I’m delighted I got it finished in time.

Thank you for your comments and suggestions on the layout. I trialled (what seemed like) every combination of block placement possible. In the end I felt that the quilt needed something smooth and flowing to balance the riot of colours, images and corners. A rainbow effect seemed to tie everything together and give the overall Jigsaw coherence. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.img_0802.jpg

 

It’s a really busy quilt, but I like that the busyness of the patterns mean that it can cope with so many bright colours. The images were gathered over a series of months from scraps and fat quarters that caught my eye. I also asked his mum for some of his old baby clothes so I could include them as well. That’s where the larger motifs and the two pockets came from. I’m hoping that the I Spy element of the quilt will keep it fun as he grows up and starts learning to talk.

The finished size is 39″ x 44″. I quilted in the ditch around each square and then free motion quilted around each Jigsaw protrusion. That was hard going but I got better as I went along. For the larger blocks I just picked out a couple of shapes/lines in each to quilt over to stabilise it.


It’s been washed (very gently in the bath) and it didn’t fall apart, so when I’ve worked up the courage I’m going to try it in the washing machine. I want to be able to confidently tell his mum that it can withstand normal household usage. Fingers crossed.

The quilt itself is nice and snuggly. I was very cosy with it on my lap whilst I buried my quilting ends. However, for an 8-month-old I figured a play mat would be just as useful as a blanket. So I came up with an idea to make it suitable for both indoor and outdoor play. Here it is in its outdoor mode.

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Don’t notice much difference?

We’ll look closer at the corners. On the underside of the quilt I placed a button hole in each corner.


Then I got a piece of vinyl table cloth and cut it a little bit larger than the quilt. Using the leftovers I made a button hole square and attached it to the underside of each corner of the vinyl.


And voila!! Now the quilt can be used outside without worrying about it getting wet or muddy. Simply attach the two layers together with the buttons in each corner.

Building blocks for the Jigsaw Quilt

One of the cute baby outfits my friend gave me to include in her son’s quilt had an adorable little applique panda leaning into view and waving. It was too big for one of the 5″ blocks and it was on a white background which wouldn’t fit too well with the bright colours I’m using in the design.

I decided this might be a good opportunity to get Christopher’s name into the design by turning the panda piece into a large feature block.

I extended the white background by joining two pieces together to give me a wider surface to play with. Then I made some building blocks and hand embroidered his name onto the lower tier. I turned the edges under and got them to more-or-less stay put with the same bondaweb layer than enabled me to fix the blocks to the background.

 

I stitched the internal edges of each block to help them be a bit more recognisable. However, now I’m really stuck for how to secure the edges without making it look too textured. I’m almost tempted to leave them as they are and just use an all over quilting design to secure the edges ‘almost’ incidentally.

Any thoughts? This quilt is proving quite the design challenge.

 

A quilt for my uncle

My Grandmother died early in 2015. Her eldest son (my uncle) asked me to use some of her favourite clothes to make a quilt. He gave me a huge pile of clothing but picked out a bright red skirt and a purple paisley skirt as most important to include. He also requested that I include the image of a ship. Recently, he and Granny had enjoyed going on cruises and he wanted their shared hobby to be reflected in the quilt.

The design for this quilt was a long time coming. However, in the end I picked a few more items of clothing that co-ordinated with the two ‘must include’ items. I then ordered some nautical themed fabric to help with the overall coherence of the quilt. I experimented with some scene-based layouts but I’ve never done an ‘art’ quilt and it just didn’t feel right to me. I eventually decided to use equilateral triangles all over. I felt this had a nice link to signal flags used on ships (so enhancing the nautical theme) but also gave each of the fabrics a chance to be recognisable in their own right and so do the job of being a memory quilt

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Granny’s red skirt was given pride of place with a single triangle to make it really stand out. I also added a flange to the border using the red fabric so it encircled the whole quilt. It felt like the best way to include it without throwing off the nautical colour scheme.

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Archer decided that he had to be in all the pictures of this quilt. There is just no arguing with him when he’s that cute.

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I embroidered a ship in one of the triangles made from one of Granny’s old bed sheets. The quilting was simple wavy lines to evoke the sea in an otherwise very angular pattern.

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This quilt was a really strange journey for me. In the beginning stages it was all about remembering Granny and doing something to work through my own feelings. However, the more I stitched the more it became my uncle’s quilt. My thoughts shifted to him, his relationship with Granny, my relationship with him, and how this quilt could help stitch our family closer together. Finally I made the quilt label. Instead of naming the quilt, I just embroidered a message that summed up everything the quilt had come to be.