For the past few years I’ve been promising to make a special Christmas quilt for our bed. And the past few Christmasses have rolled round with no special quilt to be seen. Every year I truly believe that this will be the year that I finally do it. And every year it doesn’t happen. I could never find the right fabric or the right pattern, and anyway, life always just seemed to get in the way. Well, until now, that is!
For this year, in the space of just one week (the week before Christmas, to be precise!), I pieced and quilted this beautiful festive quilt, which has, since Christmas Eve, been gracing our bed (shown here, being modelled by Chief Quilt Tester No. 1 – Mr. Boy, before it even made it to the bedroom…)
Impressed? I certainly am!
I’d been planning the quilt for a while. Back in the summer, I’d received ‘In from the Cold’ by Kate Spain as part of my monthly Jelly Roll club, and I immediately knew I wanted to use it to make my Christmas quilt! I loved the fresh colours and the cute prints, and decided that it would work perfectly with a pattern I’d had my eye on for a while – the Square in a Square quilt, from the Missouri Star Quilt Co. So I duly bought a matching charm pack, set aside some Moda Bella White from my stash, and put the lot in a drawer – after all, Christmas was ages away! Every so often I’d open the drawer, think about the quilt, and decide I still had plenty of time.
Fast forward to the weekend of 14th December. We’re back from NY. Cases are unpacked. All purchases have been put away. Washing machine and tumble drier on at full tilt. And thoughts start to turn to Christmas. And to the as-yet unstarted Christmas quilt. Ok, so a quilt for our king-size bed was looking to be a somewhat ambitious proposition, but I was sure a smaller quilt was feasible in the time available. So I decided to set to work.
By the Monday afternoon, when I rolled up to my quilt guild meeting, I had 42 partially completed blocks. The white 1 1/2″ sashing strips had been sewn around the charm squares and I busied myself with squaring up the blocks and cutting the strips required from my jelly roll whilst chatting away and catching up on all the news.
As usual, talk turned to what we were all working on, and when I said I was working on a Christmas quilt, a ripple of barely contained mirth spread through the room. The initial reaction was one of disbelief – nobody believed I could possibly finish the quilt before Christmas. A not entirely unfounded doubt, I have to admit! But being as stubborn as a donkey, I was determined to prove people wrong – and not only that, to make the quilt bed-sized if possible, just to prove to myself that I could do it.
So back home, work continued apace. To make it bed-sized, I would need to use a 7 x 6 block layout, with a 6 1/2″ border. I not only had no border fabric, but I also realised the inherent problem in using a jelly roll and a charm pack to create blocks is that there are 42 squares in a charm pack and 40 strips in a jelly roll. Which meant I was 2 strips short. Not to mention the border fabric I needed too…
A swift visit to the Fat Quarter Shop was very much in order! And 2 days later, after an enforced delay where no sewing was possible due to lack of fabric, a small package was handed over by my friendly UPS delivery man (God bless you, UPS!) – upon which sewing immediately recommenced!
So the weekend before Christmas was spent basting and marking the quilt top, before quilting the whole thing. Fortunately the 2 day sewing hiatus had been usefully spent deciding on a quilting design, which speeded the process up no end! I plumped for an idea from Angela Walters’ excellent book Free Motion Quilting. I stitched a poinsettia-like flower bang in the middle of the quilt top, and then quilted wavy lines radiating out from this, like sunrays. Simple, yet effective.
Close-up of poinsettia motif in centre of quilt
Radiating random wavy lines quilting seen on the back of the quilt
Quilting close-up on quilt top
I finished stitching the binding on Christmas Eve…
And so, without further ado, here is the finished quilt in all her splendour, and adorning our bed in time for Christmas (just!)
So, to summarise:
Quilt dimensions: 83 1/2″ x 92 1/2″ (213cm x 235cm)
Fabric – In from the Cold by Kate Spain, Moda Bella white.
Backing – Jubilee Grey Medallion Check by Bunny Hill for Moda – from my stash
Binding – some random mottled red fabric from my stash
Batting – Quilter’s Dream Cotton Select, bought from my lovely friend Elita at Busy Needle Quilting)
Thread – Aurifil 50 wt in 2280 (also courtesy of Elita)
I have to say I love the quilt, and I relished the challenge of making it in such a short time, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that again in a hurry.
Some nice leisurely mindless piecing is in order now, I feel! Watch this space…
It’s Wednesday already, and I’m finally back at the sewing machine after a few days of catching up on post-England laundry, housework, emails, and sleep. It’s grey and drizzly here in Lausanne at the moment, so an ideal day to shut myself away in my sewing room and get creating!
But what to sew??? I have to admit I’m a bit of an ADD quilter – I’m constantly starting new projects, before getting distracted by something else newer or prettier. At the last count I had 17 projects on the go, not including projects that are neatly stacked in the cupboard waiting to be quilted, and those I have the fabric for and can’t wait to get started on. Oops! So it seems reasonable to try at least to finish some of them off before I get cracking with something new, tempting as it may be…
With this in mind, I’ve decided to link up to Freshly Pieced’s WIP Wednesday, in the hope it will keep me motivated and focussed on my many works in progress, rather than flitting like a quilting butterfly from one new project to the next. And the first thing I’ve decided to work on is my Designer Mystery Block of the Month quilt from The Fat Quarter Shop. The kit for the final block for 2012’s quilt arrived back in May, and while I was in England, Block 1 of the 2013 Mystery Quilt plopped into my mailbox. So, tempted as I was to jump right in with the new one, I thought it better to finish the old one first.
So I set to work cutting, piecing and pressing, and after a few hurrying-because-I-just-want-to-get-this-finished-now-and-start-the-next-thing related mishaps (cutting the wrong size squares for the pinwheel blocks, sewing the flying geese on upside down…), I eventually produced this…
And with all 12 blocks completed, I did a little squaring up…
… and realised that one block was almost 1/4″ too big all the way round, and one block was almost 1/4″ too small all the way round. Grrrrrrrr!!!
But as I squared them up, something bizarre happened. I realised that I actually want to get this quilt top put together more than I want to start the next one. So, rather than putting the offending blocks back in their storage box, to be fixed later – i.e. almost certainly never – I’ve decided to strike while the iron’s hot, and deal with them right now. Today. This afternoon in fact! Oh yes! After which I can surely justify sewing a few strips together for that table runner I’ve been wanting to make for the past month. Can’t I???