A quilt for Daisy

Aug 15 078 (Copy)This quilt was about eighteen years in the making, I kid you not. Now it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out it was started way before Daisy was even a twinkle in her daddy’s eye. Originally it was intended to be a sofa throw for my parents, and it was my sister who started it. I think it’s fair to say she knew bugger all about quilting, and back then in the days of 56k dial up modems the internet was not as comprehensive a source of crafting knowledge as it is now.

So there were some odd choices made. A peculiar mix of quilting cottons and dressmaking fabrics, chosen purely for the colour and pattern. And Bek cut them out using pinking shears with a 1.5 cm seam allowances as that was all she’d ever sewn with. She ended up piecing about five rows, pressing seam allowances open and painstakingly making sure every square lined up perfectly. She’s that kind of person. A perfectionist through and through.

It’s fair to say it took her forever to get that far, and then Mum redecorated her living room in vibrant peach (why, Mum? Why?!) and the colours didn’t go any longer. She got me to batik her a few blue and peach sofa throws instead.

So the unfinished quilt top sat in a cupboard for ages. Eventually Mum asked me if I wanted to finish it for her as she’d moved house and had a living room it would suit again. I agreed. This was about eight years ago. Cue a crash course in quilting techniques. I decided to carry on piecing with the seam allowance Bek had chosen to make life easier, and pressing seam allowances to the side, but rather than sewing piece by piece, I pieced long rows which I then sewed together. No, the corners did not all perfectly align. Did I care? Not a bit. Life is way too short.

But then I stalled as I didn’t know what to do about the whole quilting process (tie or machine quilt?), and then Mum redecorated again (pink this time), and she said I should keep it when I finished it. I decided to finish it for Daisy and bought a load of fabric for the back. A huge length of spotty blue batik and another length of yellow fabric with flowers and birds on it, which you can see in the picture below.Aug 15 052 (Copy)

The original idea was to just piece three long strips for the back, but I wasn’t sure if the blue of the batik (gorgeous though it was) really went with the blues on the other side. It was too aqua. Also, I had so many smaller squares left I didn’t want to waste, so I worked out this quilting plan instead using just the blues and greens to make a large cross. I think it’s Daisy’s favourite side of the finished quilt, although I prefer the other. I got the patchwork sections pieced but for some reason didn’t cut the yellow fabric and finish the back until this last year. Quilts clearly take me a long time. Maybe they take most people a long time? I think I was just daunted by the sheer size of the thing. It’s around single bedspread size, so it fits on her small double with just a little overhang. That’s the way I wanted it as she might be moving on to a single size cabin bed when we move.

So, I finally I finished the back this year, spurred on by my desire to make a baby quilt for Gabriel, which I didn’t think I should start until I’d finished Daisy’s quilt. In a flurry of activity over the summer worked out how to spray baste the layers together on the kitchen floor. That was so much better than using pins and tacking in place!

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I did have to use a few pins as I was using the pillowcase or “birthing a quilt” method, where you build up a sandwich of layers with the two right sides of the outside together, sew around the edges leaving a hole to turn it the right side out. This is a really easy way to put together a quilt as you don’t need to bind it. The pins came into play holding all the layers together after I’d “birthed” the quilt, in preparation for the actual quilting part.

This is where I majorly chickened out and went for the easiest form of quilting: hand tying. I was happy to sew a single line of “quilting” about 1cm in from the edge all around, but just couldn’t figure out how I was going to machine quilt the middle of such a large project on my regular sewing machine, and since I don’t have any machine quilting experience (just hand quilting), this seemed like the best option for me.

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As you can see, the cats liked to help me with the quilting! I used four different co-ordinating colours of embroidery silk from my stash, using just four strands.

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Although I don’t think I’ve necessarily used the best, heirloom methods for binding and quilting, I’m relieved that this quilt is finally finished and in daily use. So far it’s standing up really well, and has even been through the washing machine when Daisy was sick all over it. Aren’t kids lovely?!
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Above you can see the back. Part of me wishes I’d cut the yellow fabric up and used it to make smaller squares. Perhaps the size of a four square block. But you know what, it’s fine as it is and Daisy loves it, which is the most important thing.

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I love the Little House on the Prairie vibe the quilt has about it, with the gingham and the sprigged calico (I’m pretty sure that’s what Laura Ingalls Wilder called it, anyway–loved those books as a child!). It’s not necessarily the colours or fabrics I’d have chosen for Daisy, but sometimes you just have to work with what you’re given.

Okay, now I need to get some good pictures of Gabriel’s quilt taken, and hopefully I’ll blog that one next week. Look at me, catching up with all these unblogged projects!

Now I just need to get going on those two other unfinished quilt tops…

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