Thursday, 14 March 2013

First finish of 2013 (and my first full size quilt)

At the start of the year lots of scrappy trips around the world blocks started appearing on Twitter. I liked them but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do a totally scrappy quilt as the scientist in me struggles with “random”. After playing around with designs in PowerPoint, I realised I could use the method for a not-very-scrappy trip block for a quilt that I could hopefully finish in time for Mother’s Day.  I picked turquoise as the main colour with an orangey accent and decided that a 6 x 4 block quilt would be about as big as I could manage.  As it wasn’t going to be scrappy, I worked out I could sew three primary blocks of each row and only have to use the stitch-and-unpick method on three blocks. (It’s difficult to explain it in words, but it made sense at the time and it worked.)  I had all the fabrics picked by mid-February and all the secondary blocks were made by early March, despite the best efforts of the neighbour’s cat who likes to visit and “help” with my sewing.

The quilt top was finished in time for me to take it to Liverpool Sewing Club and use their large table for assembling the quilt sandwich. I should confess that this is not a “proper” quilt in that rather than using batting and backing, I used a single layer of fleece to back the quilt. This was partly done for the sake of time (I had no backing fabric) and partly because I wanted a quilt that would be quick to dry in the absence of a tumble dryer. For quilting I used Aurifil 50 wt in variegated turquoise (shade 4654)  and a combination of simple straight line quilting on the diagonals with a step wise stitch-in-the ditch pattern. In retrospect, the variegated thread was a poor choice as the paler parts were lost on the white backing. Binding was surprisingly straightforward, thanks in part to a tip to anchor your roll of binding under a leg of your machine extension table. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I read this and can’t credit the person who came up with idea. Hand stitching the binding was a very pleasant task to do on a chilly evening and the last few thread ends were sewn in the evening before the present was to be delivered. It was a pity the sun failed to shine the following morning, but at least it wasn’t raining for the outdoor photo-shoot.

There’s a lot I’ve learnt from this quilt, such as I need more practice to maintain an accurate ¼” seam, especially when piecing long strips and that a variegated thread doesn’t always work on a plain backing. This quilt should have measured 84” x 56” but my blocks ended up closer to 13.5” than 14” and the finished quilt was about 81” x 54”.  I discovered the joys of seeing my seams nesting and mostly matching (even though I pinned every seam, a few were a little bit out). I’m pleased that I managed to quilt it at home once I’d cleared the kitchen table of its usual clutter and glad that I had a large extension table for the machine. I didn’t do some of things I probably should have done such as squaring up the blocks and squaring the quilt prior to binding, but there’s always a next time.


  1. Wow it looks great Sara. Once you start something you really go for it. I still haven't sandwiched and quilted my first quilt...which I pieced a year ago!

  2. Wow what a fabulous frist quilt. I have made the tops of two this year from the Craftsy Block of The Month 2012 course, but havent been brave enough to put them together yet. Well done. :o)


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