The first quilt I made in 2010 is the one you can see below which I tended to call the "Picnic Quilt". I was inspired by a vintage quilt atop a bed in the glorious book Perfect English Cottage (as seen bottom row middle, below). Because it was very horrid weather when I finished this quilt, I don't have a full view to show you as it's very large, over 84" square, so I wasn't able to lay it out outside (must rectify that!) The quilt has 9 large panels which are made up using a kind of crazy patchwork technique and they are then surrounded by a ditsy print cotton. I used a very sturdy cotton on the back and bound it in my favourite red. A little child labour was involved in the pinning (young knees)! This quilt was quilted in the ditch but because it was so big and heavy, it was quite a task. I finally made a quilted carrying handle so we could roll it up and carry it with us on our outdoor adventures. And there I am, relaxing in the evening outside our Airstream trailer on our Summer holiday on the Isle of Wight!
Later in 2010, I decided to have a whirl at selling some quilts through my blogshop. I made three quilts and launched them onto the unsuspecting public all at once! They were made to a similar formula, alternating four-patches with full squares. The first incorporated squares of plain Moda Bella Solids, which I thought were too prominent once the top was pieced, so I appliqued on some hearts which I finally tied through the middle: the "Happy Hearts Quilt". The second used vibrant primary colours and reminded me of camper vans, hence becoming the "Happy Camper Quilt". The last one was my personal favourite, putting it on the bed for a photo shoot almost led to that one not being re-homed! It had my favourite sugary pastel colours with very pretty prints, the "Sweet Retro Quilt". All of the quilts were quilted in the ditch and used "Dream Puff" batting which is a little tricky to work with but deliciously high loft. I was able to take them all to the cottage for some pretty photos. They all found homes within days!
Somebody else had also taken a fancy to the "Happy Camper Quilt" but wanted to incorporate some more of her favourite colours, so a second similar quilt was born with some more aqua fabrics and some pinks and went off to its fabulous new home in Oz.
The photos show you some of the steps I go through in making a quilt. I lay out all the patches on the spare bed and once I am happy with the placement, I take a photo of it. I pile up each row of squares and number them to keep them in order. I take these through to piece together, using the photo on the screen to remind me of the original placement if I get muddled (and I invariably do!) The last stitch, joining the binding, is always a happy one leaving me just the hand sewing of the binding to do which can be done on the sofa in front of the telly! N.B. Note obligatory furry friend (or three) on the table. Sorry but my quilts do not come from a pet free home!
Onto this fun quilt then. I purchased some vintage fabric squares depicting Rupert the Bear. The squares obviously lent themselves well to a log cabin design. I even used a fancy backing fabric on this one and quilted lines either side of the seams, with a Dream Cotton mid-loft batting inside. This quilt now hangs at the top of the stairs on our half landing, just outside my Den. I enjoyed making this one, the "Rupert Story Quilt". N.B. No floral prints were used in the making of this quilt, it's a miracle!
With a divine piece of vintage embroidery as my inspiration, I made some gorgeous vintage fabric cushions for a lovely lady with a green and purple colour scheme and as I had some squares of fabric left over, it seemed natural to continue the quilt obsession and make a purple and green quilt: "Purple Haze" was born. "Natural" was in reality not very sensible as I needed to cut lots more squares! I incorporated some vintage embroidered cloths and a mixture of modern and vintage fabrics and this time, added a polka dot border. This quilt went to a deserving young purple-loving lady in Oz who received it for Christmas... and then I happily made another for the cushion lady, too!
Fast on the heels of this, another lady asked me to incorporate some Cath Kidston fabric squares she already had into a vintage-style quilt. I added lots more Cath K designs of my own along with lovely modern and vintage floral prints and vintage embroidered cloths. I'd grown fond of that polka dotty border, too. Some Dream Puff batting and in the ditch quilting, some Cath K pink rosebud binding and "Fancy Flowers Quilt" went off to its new home.
By September, it was finally time to get started on a quilt for my boy, for his birthday to be precise. I'd been collecting bright boyish fabrics for a while (this not being a feature of my usual stash!) and worked on this during the day whilst he was at school. I decided on a pinwheel design as I thought this would be fun for a young Munchkin and teamed the fabric bearing cowboys, trains, cars, dogs, Spitfires and so on, with a variety of bright polka dots. I tried out a different quilting style, using an elongated serpentine stitch on the machine and this looked groovy but did use up an awful lot of the width of the fabric. I was excited for him to receive his quilt! He opened it on the morning of his birthday whilst we were staying in Pickering and "Munchkin's First Pinwheel Quilt" seemed to go down quite well and is on his bed to this day.
At the marvellous International Festival of Quilts in August, I was able to buy a jelly roll of fabric from the new Oliver + S line. I finally settled on a Dutch Windmills design for this quilt and spent many an hour piecing the blocks. This quilt was a long time in the making as I had to wait for the full release of the fabric line to purchase yardage for the borders and binding. This one has a Dream Cotton batting and was quilted in the ditch on my new Pfaff Expression 3.0 machine. I soon found this machine was not my favourite for quilting (which sent me off on a hunt for the perfect quilting machine!) "A Weekend in Amsterdam" is a pretty quilt though, with an unusual colour scheme and cute fabrics.
A generous lady then asked me to make a cot-sized quilt as a gift for a baby boy using mainly Cath Kidston fabrics. I teamed all Cath's best boyish fabrics with a polka dot border, a cosy blue flanelette backing and pure cotton batting for a lovely and usable quilt for baby. Working on a quilt of this size is a joy!
I must have been feeling very indulgent, the day I decided to give in to my love of pink and make a truly PINK quilt! You will not be surprised to know that I had quite a selection of fabrics from which to choose, both modern and vintage. I loved this one, so girly and gorgeous and so cosy with that pouffey batting! "Pretty in Pink" happily went to a very good customer in Oz and I'm so pleased to hear it is bringing her comfort during the hard times her country is sadly experiencing right now.
Somewhere along the line (I'm getting lost now!), I was seized by the desire to make myself a cute, country-style quilt using ditsy print calico cottons. I settled on a colour scheme based on red and blue with cream/yellow and a hint of pink. I really enjoyed making this "Calico Country Quilt" and while I was waiting for an enormous piece of batting to arrive to finish it, I used the left over blocks(and many more!) to make a similar, throw-sized quilt which went off to help keep someone new warm. I finally finished our own quilt, used Dream Cotton batting inside and for the first time, a pretty floral brushed cotton backing. I cannot deny that it feels gorgeous but boy, was it a challenge to quilt! I found using a smaller needle and lower thread tension helped (quilted on my new Pfaff Grand Quilter which did an admirable job) and quilted a quarter of an inch either side of the seam lines. I do like that simple style of quilting. This was a popular quilt such that on request, I made yet another and I still have a few more blocks so I think a fourth is a possibility! This quilt is on our bed now, I love it.
Phew, before I knew it Christmas was fast approaching. I had been quite organised though, ordered my fabrics from America (where the choice is greater) in good time, and started making star blocks several months before. I teamed these with big colourful squares of funky modern festive fabrics for my first "Jingle Dangle" Christmassy quilt which just beat the snow to keep a lovely lady in Dorset warm! I carried on, making some pine tree blocks which I found in a book my sister gave to me, and managed to complete a Christmas quilt for ourselves about two weeks before Christmas. A poorly Munchkin (and Jacky Ginge) found it a comfort whilst the cold snow lay deep and crisp and even outside.
Did somebody mention Christmas? With Christmas comes the need for gifts and parents I find especially tricky to buy for. There are only so many years you can give bath salts and socks! For Mr HenHouse's parents, I settled on this pattern from my favourite McCall's Quilting magazine, in Civil War fabrics. Here I had to eat my words, all those years of teasing my sister for her sludge obsession, and here I was, a veritable sludge convert! Well, in fact it didn't turn out so sludgy after all! This was probably the most work of any quilt I've made. Each block had 29 pieces and it was the first time I had made a quilt with setting triangles. I started this quilt way back and as I was waiting for fabric from America to finish it, I was not sure it was going to make it under the tree by 25 December (but it did)! I "upgraded" to Dream Cotton deluxe weight batting, oh truuuuly scrumptious, and went the whole hog with a co-ordinating backing. I tried freezer paper quilting which I won't be going back to in a hurry! I was proud of this one, "The Dreamcatcher Quilt", and glad it went to an appreciative home. I'm looking forward to seeing it in situ in a few weeks.
Last but not least, at the last minute, I decided I'd make a quilt for my parents too. I chose some fabrics from a co-ordinated palette which I thought would suit their home and made the best use of the layer cake to make nine-patch and heart applique blocks. I hand quilted round the hearts using bright perle cottons and for the first time, I made a scrappy binding (mainly from necessity!) I used a lovely wide soft cotton backing, the yummy ultra-cosy batting again and popped "Memories of Home" in the post, arriving up North just in time for the big day!
Phew! I have so loved my quilting adventures over the last year. I've learned a lot, making twenty quilts (I can't believe this number myself!) and am looking forward to learning even more in 2011. I have armed myself with seemingly many of the books, machines and notions available to quilters so you can be certain I hope to have lots more quilts to show you this year. I was overwhelmed by the support from my readers and customers for my little quilty enterprise and I can't tell you what a lovely feeling it is, thinking of those quilts being enjoyed in homes all over the world. Thank you.