Sunday, 10 April 2016

a bittersweet finish


I am sad I finished my patchwork blanket. I really enjoyed making it and I can't wait to start another one. But first, let's celebrate this cheerful sunny blanket. Here it is hanging on my whirly gig, catching the early spring sun. It makes me so happy to see it in its full glory. 

I started with a pile of 4 inch squares, most of them ready cut randoms from Ebay, others were cut from my not inconsiderable stash of quilting cottons. I bought a pack of random squares because I wanted the blanket to be a true mix of designs and colours, something I could not achieve with my largely coordinated stash. I spent some time sorting out really dark squares, and some with colours that I just didn't like that much. I made sure to keep the majority of squares which would not normally be my choice. Then I sorted them in to a roughly rainbow coloured pile and spread this out like a deck of cards. From this I pulled out squares working form the top or the bottom of the pile, creating a random sequence. Well, not entirely random. I avoided two of the same next to each other. As the blanket grew, my pile became more and more messy. I dared myself not to think about the sequence of squares and just sewed them together as I pulled them out of the pile. It was immensely liberating not to be dictated by the need to create the perfect colour distribution but it took a couple or rows to completely relax and trust my first instinct. I generally like things to match, whatever this may mean. I am trying to be more relaxed in life and this project certainly helped to chill on a small scale. It was so easy to make rows, join then on the go, until the size was just right. I made it the size of another patchwork blanket I made about a hundred years ago, it is just perfect to snuggle up under on the sofa.

I agonised for a short while over the backing. I was tempted to piece it from larger scraps but in the end, I decided to go for something neutral and bought a cheap grey flannel bed sheet. Grey is a great colour I think. I spent a fun evening pinning the sandwich of top, batting and back together. I taped the back on the floor with masking tape, smoothed the batting (cotton/polysomething 80/20) over it and did the same with the top. I used curved safety pins to hold it all together. 




I am not a big fan of heavily quilted blankets, I like the quilting to be subtle and soft. I also like the quilt to look worn and washed (if this makes sense), an effect you can only achieve with hand stitching I think. It was such a relaxing way to spend an evening, stitching one row after the other. I can honestly say that no knitting or crochet project has ever had the same effect. I find crochet boring and I am a little out of love with my knitting needles, too. I was disappointed to finish the last few stitches after weeks of stitching. 



I used stash fabric for the binding, all of it also used in the quilt. I made continuous crossgrain binding following this tutorial  (Amanda Jean is my quilting goddess). Geometry not being one of my strength, I find it difficult to grasp how with a diagonal stitching line you end up with straight strips.... I am not actually sure why it is better to have a mitered seam and not a straight one. Maybe it reduces the bulk when sewing the binding on? It is quite a narrow binding but I like it that way. I machine sewed the binding to the right side of the quilt and hand stitched it to the back with the tiniest invisible slip stitches. It was oh so enjoyable. There is something about hand stitching that is immensely satisfying. I don't think I would consider piecing a quilt by hand but I am not saying never.


I have fabric to make quilts for Sam and Annie but I am not quite ready for those yet. I am going to make a bedcover quilt for the spare bedroom, which will get a makeover this summer. Currently I am using an old linen bed sheet with a delicate crochet border of about 30 cm width. It was made by my great aunt. It is tremendously beautiful but also very delicate and the kids do a fair bit of jumping around in this room and I worry the crochet border will get damaged. A sturdy colourful quilt is just what this room needs. I'll be sure to share my progress, once I get started. I am eagerly awaiting the delivery of a large fabric bundle from Nebraska. Even taking into account the shipping costs, and the customs charge (which sometimes is added on but not always), it is worth it and adds up to less than I would spend here on similar fabric. The selection of fabrics in the US is so much bigger than the than that of any fabric shop I have ever visited here, it is amazing. 

To make the waiting more bearable, I am finally going to finish James' stripy jumper. It has been in the making for a long while. 

Wishing you a wonderful week, with lovely spring weather and no stress whatsoever. I am off with the kids and hope for some adventures. 

Thank you for stopping by and saying hello, I much appreciate it. Thanks for sharing some of the things that make you grumpy, I am glad I am not the only one. xx

26 comments:

  1. Christina, it's absolutely beautiful! I love everything about it. The colors are perfect, very random and they all look good together, and your stitching is so neat. You did a wonderful job, you should be very proud of your quilt.

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  2. That's amazing - love all the colours and patterns!

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  3. Christina! Not only is your quilt brilliant to me, but you have made exactly the sort of patchwork quilt I want to make, and have generously told me how you did it. Thank you! I am so excited! I have to go back and read this post again...and again... I have been collecting quilting fabric for y.e.a.r.s. I have a stack of miscellaneous cut squares, but most of my fabric is uncut and I have been afraid to cut it. I must try again. Truly, thank you for posting!!! xxxx

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  4. It is quite spectacular, hard to believe the squares are random. Hand stitching must have taken forever, I'm not sure I would find it very soothing.
    You are to be congratulated!

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  5. what an amazing treasure you'll have for years! Love it. (I wrote a blog post last week too about being grumpy!)

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  6. Seriously behind on blogging but read your grumpy post in work & spent the whole day chortling. Your quilt is a wonderful achievement full of happy making memories for you. I shall check out the binding tutorial as I had the devil of a time the last time I attempted such a thing. xx

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  7. That is stunning Christina. You have created a family heirloom!

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  8. Fantastic quilt, you've done a really great job on it. And how lovely to be awaiting a big bundle of fabric from America. You're right, they have some lovely choices. I hadn't ever considered buying it like that, but it's a good idea. I hope it arrives soon. I always have a hand-pieced quilt on the go, although I haven't touched the current one for ages. I love the slow calming action of hand stitching. I do it far more than the machine one that I am also making. CJ xx

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  9. A stunning creation, loved some of the fabrics you chose. Beautiful hand stitching a heirloom to be treasured.

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  10. What a bright and sunny quilt. I understand the bitter sweetness of finishing, but as you say, there's always the chance to make another. I made all my children a quilt and when they went to uni, I always put it on their bed. Somehow, it made some of the grotty rooms look a little more like home to me (even if they may well have whipped the quilt off as soon as I left).

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  11. That is my kind of quilt, it is wonderful and I love that stash has been used to good effect. Sticking the backing to the floor!!! what a genius idea. I am going to help my Aunt back a quilt and this will make life so much easier. I am still hand stitching but you are right it is to enjoyable and doesn't give me a bad shoulder like knitting and sewing.

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  12. I love it, I just love it! I am so glad you went with a variety of colors, some of the fabrics you would not have picked on your own, all the different textures add so much depth to the quilt.
    You did a fantastic job of it.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  13. Christina - your quilt is awesome! What a bright and cheery work of art. Kudos to you for handstitching all of it - wow, that many small stitches just boggles my mind.

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  14. I love it, it is gorgeous. Thank you for the tip about buying fabric from the US. May look into that. I'm just finishing hand piecing a crib-sized one inch hexagon quilt using up scraps from my 2014/2015 log cabin quilt. I've fallen out of love with this winter's log cabin quilt. It's too matchy-matchy because I didn't use enough different fabrics. I'm trying to love it but I may deconstruct it or else I'll back it with a sheet, enjoy hand quilting it and just use it as a beach/picnic throw.

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  15. What a gorgeous quilt! I really love it. Irune

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  16. It looks fabulous, but I totally understand why you are sad to see it finished. Bittersweet is the perfect word to sum it up - but it will be worth it when you snuggle under it! xx

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  17. Oh my goodness, your quilt is flipping gorgeous! What a triumph. The colours are perfect. Well done :-)

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  18. Wowsers Christina it is stunning! Gorgeous colours, and the distribution is fab, no big clumps of one colour. It's making me really want to make a quilt/blanket now. Is the binding round the edge the only bit where all 3 layers are joined? Or is your hand-stitching along the squares going through all 3 layers too ? Whichever, it's beautiful and I totally have quilt/blanket envy. Oh and another question do you wash your fabrics first before using them ?
    Jillxo

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    1. Hi Jill. I hand quilted the three layers together and the binding really just adds the finishing touch. I did wash the backing fabric first but I only washed the quilt top once I had pieced it. I also washed the batting as this often shrinks. This was all just a random decision rather than a thought through approach xx

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    2. Thanks Christina, I really must give quilting a go one of these days. Teddy quilt maybe as a first attempt :) Thx for replying, I need to sort out the no-reply thingy at some point, I know! xxx

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  19. That is such a beautiful quilt! I hope you are really proud of it. It's interesting that you didn't plan the colour distribution, because the randomness is very pleasing and well balanced. The only quilt I ever made got very pulled and twisted on the back when I tried to quilt top, batting and backing together on the machine. I think your way by hand is much nicer. Thank you for this inspiration, my fingers are itching to quilt something after seeing this! x

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  20. Hey Christina,
    Obviously I love it. It is so bright and cheerful. I could never dream of making anything so fab. You creative lovelies are so clever. Hope your holiday with the children is a good one.
    Leanne xx

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  21. It is beautiful, a wonderful random splash of colour. I love the process you describe. I get that needing things to match thing. My quilt has had no attention for months I am trying to find a walking foot for my ancient sewing machine!

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  22. That is such a happy quilt! Good for you for making it so randomly too. I know what you mean about hand sewing. It really is therapeutic. Beautiful quilting stitches ;)
    Wendy

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  23. Christina I totally Love this quilt, it is very beautiful, and I also greatly enjoyed reading your description of how you relaxed into the design and enjoyed the process of making the quilt. I feel the same about hand stitching as you, I really love it, and I don't quite know why. X

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx