Before I went any further, I had to at least start thinking about the design of the quilt. I’m not planning to have every little bit of the design finalised before I start, but I do need to have some idea of where I’m going. I played about with the knit fabrics a bit, and I think that I’ll applique them onto a cotton background. This should solve the stability issues and perhaps it will increase the longevity of the quilt. Neive is two and a half, and I anticipate that this quilt is in for a tough ride! I want her to be able to drag it about and use it throughout her childhood, and still be left with something decent she will want and be able to use as a teenager and adult.
I have done some experimenting with the fabrics, and created this 5 inch square, which I made into a coaster, as a sort of maquette.
Preliminary scrappy heart.
Hearts are going to be a prominent feature of the design, and I don’t care if that sounds corny, the secret ingredient is love, got it? 🙂 At first I was going to use low volume patterned fabrics for the background, but I actually think it looks busier than I’d like. I’ve been scouring the kona solids range, auditioning background colours. Originally, I was looking for one background colour, but I got seduced by a muted palette and ended up ordering six colours. (Hurry up, Mr Postman!)
I have also decided to include some song lyrics, from tunes that she and I both like. As a family, (I’m one of seven sisters) music mattered a lot to us, and I can see this tradition carrying on in Neive. So, after a few hours of arguing with photoshop, I think I’m ready to start the first nine patch!
Fabric for Neive’s memory quilt.
I picked up the bag of Neive’s outgrown clothes before christmas, but since christmas gets in the way of everything, I didn’t get into it until the festivities were over. With a memory quilt, a bit of extra effort is required to get to the start line. The first job was, of course, to cut up the clothes into usable bits. I didn’t really go to town when cutting. Rather than saving every last scrap of material, I was ruthless, just going for decent sized areas and discarding the rest. There are cases where you might want to preserve everything which might possibly be usable, but kids go through clothes at a mile a minute, so if I need more there won’t be a problem. This took quite a while, and everything still needs to be pressed properly, but at least I was in a better position to take stock of what I actually have to work with.
That said, I have no idea what is there in terms of fabric area, but it looks like plenty. Unsurprisingly, there’s quite a lot of pink, some reds and quite a lot of blues, a bit of denim, including a lime green I’m quite partial to, and a lot of very pale or white fabrics. Most of the fabrics are cotton knit t shirt or fine jerseys. I’ve not worked with these types of fabrics before in terms of quilting, but I have modified a few t shirts, and they are awkward to work with because they lack stability. I want to take this into account when thinking about the design for this quilt, which is the next step!
Oliver’s quilt was finished just in time for me to wrap it before we went to my sister’s for christmas day breakfast. It is one of my goals to get projects finished, and finished on time. My mother, although a talented seamstress, was either always rushing to get projects finished, or never finishing them at all. I think this is one of the things that put me off sewing for such a long time; finishing a project seemed almost impossible to me! But, guess what? Completing a project isn’t that difficult, as long as I remember, all together now, that finished is better than perfect.
Oliver’s quilt certainly isn’t perfect, but I do like the way it has turned out. There were some surprises during it’s construction, but, hey, it wouldn’t do if everything ran smoothly. The batting, which I got from the local crafty type shop, shrank more than my expected 5%. It was nice batting to work with though, dense with not very high loft. I would use it again, keeping it’s shrinkage in mind.
To construct the quilt, I used this ‘quilt as you go’ method from Maureen Cracknell. (That’s a link to her blog, btw, which I love. Her use of colour is just delicious. Drop by and have a read.) I’ve never done any quilt as you go before, and there are some things I would do differently. Rookie mistakes I’m sure. The first mistake I made was that my quilting wasn’t evenly spaced on each block. (This seems such an obvious error now, I can’t believe I didn’t take it into consideration. duh.) This resulted in the blocks looking different and having a different sort of ‘pull’ on them. This method calls for the back to be attached after the quilting is done and the blocks are joined, which I think is an inherently good idea. However, the large amount this particular batting shrunk meant that the backing turned out much ‘baggier’ than I would have liked. Maybe next time, if I’m using this batting, I will try shrinking the top and batting sandwich before attaching the back. That way, I can have the crinkling and a smooth back. Despite these problems, I think Maureen’s method is a good one, and I will use it again. I’m planning to use it to practice free motion quilting, as I can use manoeuvrable blocks, rather than attempting to manhandle a whole quilt top right off the bat. Also, this way, I am not risking wrecking an entire, basted quilt top and all the time invested in it. If I am not happy with a block, well, it’s only one block.
After a couple of washes, it was lovely a soft, and I hope Ceri and Oliver get lots of cuddle time with it!