If you've been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I love to quilt. I'm not a machine quilter, I'm afraid, much as I'd love to be, because I don't really have the skills to make anything but a very simple quilt on a machine. Maybe one day I'll take a course and develop some skills, but in the meantime, my quilting often tends to be of the hand stitched variety, often using paper piecing.
The quilt I'm currently working on, started as a machine project during the last lockdown, mainly to make use of an old single quilt that I didn't want to put into landfill. I often use them as the wadding, which makes the quilts very thick and warm, great for snuggling under in the winter months, whilst watching TV. The only problem with this is that sewing machines often don't like to stitch through thick layers of duvets and I therefore often end up hand stitching the quilted rows. Here's a picture of this current project:
It's not too far from being finished, but my motivation is seriously lacking at the moment, due to the fact that hand stitching the rows takes a lot of time and effort to handle the quilt and make the stitching neat.
Most of the fabrics used to make this quilt formed part of my vintage Laura Ashley fabric collection. I've collected various prints over the years, mainly ditsy ones, buying them on eBay and squirrelling them away. The last lockdown, however, taught me that it was probably about time I did something useful with them, hence how this quilt came about. I'm looking forward to finishing it and putting it into use in our living room. The colours should complement the decor and I think it's quite pretty in a simple kind of way.
On Sunday morning, I woke up and felt inspired to drag out yet another quilt project that I had started during the last lockdown. This one was for a certain canine member of our household, to put in their basket. I'd started sewing it on my machine and was going to attempt a machine made quilt, but as my machine is not currently working, I've decided to resort to the paper piecing method.
There are a few things I like about this method -
- it's an occupation that costs nothing, but produces a wonderfully practical heirloom item, that can be used for years and very easily washed.
- it's a method my mum used to use when she had the time to quilt and it keeps me connected to the memory of that.
- it uses up lots of scrap paper, of which I have a ton, after ripping all the unused pages out of LB's old school exercise books before discarding them.
- I can work on it whilst watching TV in an evening and don't have to work in the sewing room.
- I find hand stitching on small pieces, very therapeutic and don't really care how long it takes, as it's the process that I enjoy and the satisfaction that comes when you finally finish it.
In order to convert the making of this quilt to a paper piecing process, I had first to make a cardboard template for the paper pieces. This was very easy, as I already had a template for the fabric pieces and just needed to make one slightly smaller all around.
The pieces in this quilt are brick shaped I guess and cut from dog or duck print fabrics, plus some other plain and spotted fabrics thrown in. Again, I'd bought these fabrics on eBay years ago, with the intention of making something for the dog, but had never got around to it until now. As she's now 8 years old, I can't hang around much longer or she won't get to enjoy the fruits of my labour.
Anyway, here's a picture of some of the blocks I've already machine sewn, to give you some idea of how it is taking shape. It's quite cute. I've stuck to dark colours as they are much more practical for a dog quilt.
Sunday morning was spent cutting out all the paper pieces I needed, which I thoroughly enjoyed and Sunday evening was spent pinning them to the fabric pieces whilst watching His Dark Materials and The Crown. I managed to get them all tacked too by the end of the evening, so now they are ready to hand sew together. A thoroughly pleasurable way to spend the many autumn/winter evenings to come.
It may sound terribly sad, but it's helping to give me a sense of purpose at this difficult time, when it's hard to see when normality will ever return. In addition, as we are staying in London for Christmas, it will more than keep me occupied for the duration. Sometimes, having a pleasurable future goal can really help get you through the difficult days.
I'll keep you posted with progress.