Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Patchwork Quilt Obsession

As a kid, I was well into my crafts.  In 1980, I started a patchwork quilt and I worked on it until I went away to college in 1985.

It's still not quite finished . . .

My Mum dug the quilt out of storage in 2008 and brought it down.  When we laid it on the floor, we both had the most incredible nostalgia when we saw the pieces that had gone into it.  The majority of them were left-overs from Mum's dressmaking projects from the 1960s to the 1980s - a time when it was generally cheaper to make your own clothes than it was to buy them. Seeing those fabrics all together like that really surprised us with the powerful memories they evoked.  Some were from dresses she made for herself, some from the ones she made for me and some had been given to me by my aunt and grandmother especially for the quilt.

The inspiration to start again came from my lovely work colleague and fellow craft nut, Skye Pennant.  We've been egging each other on - she has started her own quilt and I'm trying to finish mine.  I'm intrigued with hers as she's been sewing it on a machine - an option I didn't know was possible.  I think I prefer to hand-sew as it's more portable and I can do it on the sofa, but machine-sewing would certainly be quicker and easier on my poor, tortured craftsperson hands!

We regularly bring our quilts in to work and compare notes (and swap fabrics).  This was Skye's on Monday - with colour-coded post-it notes!

She's being really patient and organising and sewing ALL the squares, then labelling them for assembly later.  I'm impressed!

You can find out more about Skye's quilt adventures on her delightful blog - even artichokes have hearts.

Meanwhile, I'm currently trying to resolve mine by straightening edges and working out the size it needs to be.  I think it's gone beyond quilt and has entered the territory of bedspread.  As it's going to have to be a bedspread on a king-size bed, this is going to require a lot more sewing.

 It's all hand sewn, using hexagonal templates.

It's interesting looking at sections of colour now and seeing how much they were the ones that my Mum preferred to wear - blues, soft pinks and browns, navy blues and maybe some sludgy greens,  whereas I longed for purples, yellows, oranges and reds. If I could scrape enough money together, I would treat myself to a quarter of a metre of a red floral print or a yellow gingham (I still have some of that left over today!) just to liven things up a bit.  The limited fabric choices led to some quite desperate colour juxtapositions which I regret now, but I have resolved to leave them as they are, no matter how I squirm when I see them!  The colours I'm incorporating now are much bolder, as are the prints - often a lot larger in scale.

Sewing a piece like this takes so much time - not only in the actual physical sewing, but also the time taken to sit and contemplate how all the different 'arms' of coloured rosettes are going to join up together, and what colour goes best where.  My ideal sewing situation is an empty living room with the quilt on the floor, ironing board up and piles of fabric stashed around or laid out next to the quilt, ready to be incorporated.

There are so many gorgeous fabrics I want to make sure are in prominent positions - the last remnants of the retro fabrics and choice cuts from some lovely new ones, like this Loulouthi print by Anna Maria Horner.  Amazingly, the three rosettes shown below are all from this one piece of fabric and there are at least three more colour permutations possible.

Will it ever be finished?  I hope so.  I shall keep you posted.


  1. That quilt is beautiful ! I had started a grandmothers flower garden and haven't finished it yet. Now you have inspired me to get it out and start working on it again. Good luck.....finish it, you will feel great when you do not only that it will feel good to sleep with. Are you going to hand quilt it?

    1. Thank you so much! I had no idea that the pattern is known as grandmother's flower garden. I am glad that it has inspired you to get your quilt out and start working on it again - I'd love to see it when it's done. I'm not sure how I will finish mine yet - I suspect it will be more of a bedspread than a quilt as it has got so big.