Thursday, 24 January 2013

A jolly good stab at a patchwork quilt

There is a collection of children’s books called 'Green Knowe' by Lucy. M.Boston. The BBC dramatised the first ’The Children of Green Knowe' when I was just the right age for it. Being a bookworm I then read the series of rather spooky tales. There are a number of images that spring to mind when I think about the books, some that I was too scared to always read as a child. But there is one in particular. The patchwork quilt that Tolly's great-grandmother Mrs. Oldknowe mended while telling him tales about the house.

For our wedding in June I undertook the frankly mad project of covering 100 cushions for the seats. It took 5 days and on the final day I actually felt slightly sick at the thought of doing the final 15.

Post wedding I realised that I really do not need 100 cushions.

So I resolved to sell them. The problem was that our choice of fabric was so specific that nobody wanted them.In the end I sold the pads and pondered what to do with all the fabric I now had in the shape of square cushion covers. A patchworkquilt! 

So I pondered on this. Do I really have the time? No. But when has that ever stopped me? I googled it. To my dismay it appears to be a really, REALLY popular thing to do right now. Did I still want to do it? In the end a friend gave me belated birthday present of a book from the 70's about patchwork making.I was committed.

 First I chopped. Yes! I chopped the cushion covers that had taken so long to make into usable strips. My matey was silently watching me and clearly holding his tongue about this.

Then I realised that much as I wanted to use all the fabric some just wasn'tgoing to work. It was a pain in the bum for the cushions. I was not going to re-inflict the pain again for a quilt. This left me with only three striped fabrics indark blue, pale blue and pink. I had a brainwave. We had embroidered tablecloths on the tables and there was one that I couldn't sell because it was stained. Snip snip.

Next problem. I had enough squares to make a single quilt. I wanted a double. Of course I could have cheated and added more fabric from elsewhere but that wasn't the point. I could have chopped up the three tablecloths we decided to keep but that wasn't the point either. I had an idea. In the attic were the sweet pea bedsheets I had as a teenager, rather faded and suffering from an attack of the moths. We got married in my parents garden and the only flowers we had at our wedding were SWEET PEAS!

I started the easy bit of making the strips of squares. The tricky part of making a patchwork quilt is getting it so that all the seams match up. I cheated and put the seams off centre, brick wall style. (I'll aim for perfect next time.)

SO far so good. But I was out of tablecloth fabric and it wasn't big enough. It was also a tad pink and girly, dare I say twee? I was always going to back the quilt with as close a match as possible to my bridesmaids green cotton sundresses so I decided that I would add two borders. One in green and one in the fabrics I did have left.

Not ideal but big enough for me to stick with it. A blanket from the wedding (We had blankets for people to sit on the lawn with.) which had got a bit moth eaten served as the filling and the green fabric went on the back. Time for the tedious hand sewing the border part.

I then attempted to quilt the squares on the machine to make it a proper quilt.This really did not work. The fabric kept rucking up and looking awful. I ripped it all out and decide it was quite nice enough as it. Let's call it a patchwork blanket rather than a quilt.

Time taken. I did it in bits but I reckon that it took around 40 hours to put together.

Cost: The backing fabric was £18 and thread was £3. The rest I already had.

The verdict
Not bad!
All in all it's a pretty good first stab. It's far from perfect but it's nothing to be ashamed of either. Fortunately I do believe that there is no point in making something if it looks like it was made in a shop.

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