This project has a long and complicated back-story, as I shilly-shally-ed for ages about what to make as a baby gift. I’d eventually settled on a cute hand-printed Danish stuffed Noah’s Ark kit (retro as you like, dug out from my mum’s UFOs…). My mum had done 2 of the animals, and once I had done 2, I could see why she stopped there. Fiddly. As.
When you start to simply dread getting out the sewing machine, you know it’s never going to happen. I fancied making a little quilt, so I had a look through my stash and found a set of red, white and blue Makower fabrics. They were an impulse buy at Hobbycraft a couple of years back, but never got sewn up. I love red white and blue, and I think it’s fairly acceptable to most people, unless the baby grows up to be an anarchist, I suppose?
I intended this to be purely from stash, but due to the size miscalculation I ended up having to buy both wadding (Hobbs Heirloom 80/20, from The Quilt Room) and backing fabric (from Threadhead Fabrics. I cannot recommend them enough – I ordered it Friday lunchtime, and it came the next day, with a cute felt sticker that saved my daughter’s ass almost immediately when she wrote her own name on her friend’s card, and we were able to PUT AN OWL ON IT.) Thanks guys!
I was inspired by the cover quilt from American Homestead Quilts by Ellen Murphy – I bought the book purely on the strength of this design, and I haven’t regretted it. (The book itself is quite twee. The designs themselves are an equal split between lovely and brown, but the little vignettes accompanying each quilt make me cringe a bit…)
Because I wanted a baby quilt, I decided to do just one block, with borders. I though this might be a bit small, so I scaled it up *crazed laughter*. By the time I stood back and realised the size of the finished top, I was in too deep to back out…
So. Patchwork is easy. Fairly quick, and extremely satisfying. I think it took maybe 3 or 4 evenings to cut and piece the top, at which point I started to worry about quilting it. I’ve fallen hard for the pattern known as ‘baptist fans’, but I wondered whether I would be able to do it on a quilt this size with the equipment available!
The temptation to wuss out and go for straight-line quilting was strong, but I knew I’d regret not trying. I also wanted to soften the effect of the large-scale block somewhat, which I felt would be best acheived with baptist fans. The only option, machine-wise, was my vintage Brother, due to it’s large throat. I tested the walking foot out on it, but it doesn’t like… Oh, it pretended to, for long enough to get my hopes up, before it went ‘Ha, fooled you, fool!’. So that was out.
In the end, I decreased both the presser foot pressure and feed dog height, and this seemed to feed pretty well. Not perfect, but you know, it worked!
I didn’t mark out the whole quilt or anything – just marked the start of each arc, and eye-balled it. As a result, the rows of fans don’t so much march across in serried ranks, as surge merrily sideways, as though it were they, not I, who had consumed roughly 2 bottles of gin during the process. I don’t think it’s very noticeable, though that could be the gin.
The low point came about 1/3 of the way through the quilting when I had to unpin and re-pin the rest of the quilt. I knew I didn’t have enough pins to start with, and there was enough creep to mean that the back is caught in folds in a couple of places. Weirdly, this doesn’t bother me at all! Once I’d re-pinned, there were no more problems!
Because I ended up with the selvedge dots on the end of my binding piece, I decided to make a feature of them.
I am so chuffed with this! I’m a tiny bit sad to be parting with it, but I really feel I’ve gained a lot of experience from the process, and that’s what counts when you’re new to something! Plus I’m definitely going to make the cover quilt for myself at some point. I just need to recover from this one first…
I hope all your projects (quick or otherwise) are turning out great! Have a fantastic week lovelies,