My Quilt Stories
Welcome to my Quilt Stories. Some of the quilts I've made and the inspiration, fabrics & techniques behind them
Floral Quilt (2013)
Finished size 80" square.
I still am really proud of this quilt & love it!!
It is one of those quilts that I loved making and at no point have I ever fallen out of love with it. Often when making a quilt I will get fed up with it, or after a while lose interest and it will get folded up and put away. But that has never happened with this one. It lives folded up on the back of my dressing table chair, and each week I fold it to a different square.
The inspiration behind this quilt is the traditional design Rose of Sharon. I took the design, tweaked it and then all the other squares are made from this, using a limited number of flowers and leaves.
In 2013 when I was thinking about teaching this quilt, I also decided to teach another quilt at the same time - a block design one - but more about that one in a different quilt story!
The previous three or four quilts had all been made either predominantly or included the purple range of colours, so I was determined to work with other colours. I dragged Tony & Laura round numerous quilt shops, looking at different colours and patterns but I kept being drawn to the pinky purples, each shop I went into I picked up another batik - those in the leaves and flowers. Till in the end, Laura told me to just go with the purples as we both liked them best. I then got the plains, the batik for the border and joining strips and the soft mottled yellow for the background.
More often than not I use an Essential white on white, or cream on cream as my background fabric but with this the deeper richer colours called for a different background, personally I find plains too flat and I loved this soft yellow, it is warm and makes the other fabrics stand out.
Each square is machine appliqued, using fusible web and then stitched on using blanket stitch. The sixteen squares were layered with wadding and the backing fabric and then I free motioned machine quilted it.
I then put the squares together using the quilt-as-you-go method, adding narrow borders all round the outside, to make it balanced. By using a batik fabric for the borders of the squares and all the joining strips, it looks like one piece, the joins aren't a feature and also any mistakes or slightly uneven joins don't show!!
I offered this quilt design to Popular Patchwork Magazine and it was in the May 2014 edition.
Even though I machine appliqued and quilted this quilt, it can easily be made with hand applique and quilting or a mixture of both.
Pinwheel Runner (2017)
Made in 2017, measuring 20" X 84".
This runner was made using a special template from Sew Easy called Pinwheel Magic and it comes in two sizes 4.5" & 6.5".
This runner is made using the 4.5" size template.
With each template you have the ability to make three different styles of pinwheels.
To make a Pinwheel usually you have to cut the pieces with the different angles and then stitch together, trying to get everything to match up perfectly.
With the template you cut squares in the colours you are using, so in this case black and white. The blacks are in fact all different blacks, from plains, mottles and also self coloured pattern ones (blenders). The squares are stitched together in a chequer board design and the borders added. The template is placed on top, following the lines for the design type you want and you cut round, creating the Pinwheel squares.
Then you stitch them all together again!!! Making the finished top. Somewhere there are a couple of videos we did of how to use the template.
The runner top was then layered with wadding and the backing and machine quilted, I have used a purple thread and stitched through the pinwheels, I haven't tried to keep the lines straight, they have slight curves to them.
I had forgotten all about the template till I pulled this runner from the unit!! It was the last one in the unit and so, next week I will start on the pile I keep on the blanket box in our bedroom. The blanket box doesn't hold blankets or quilts but boots and shoes!!!
Butterflies & Flowers Runner (2011)
This was made in 2011, and measures 22" x 77".
Sorry this runner is a little creased, but it has been folded up for a while & although I do occasionally press my quilts, I try not to. I like the folds and creases to drop out naturally when I use a quilt or runner.
I think, with the quilts I have already shown in my quilt stories & those still to write about, that I use a lot of fabrics in the Purple colour family!! And this one is no exception, soft lilacs in this one.
The runner was designed so that if you didn't want it so long, you could take out the smaller sections either side of the centre panel and the runner would be the size for a single bed and yet the pattern would still flow.
I have hand appliqued the leaves, flowers and butterflies and also hand quilted it using coloured thread. I have then used French Knots as decoration on the butterflies and flowers. The whole design could easily be created using machine applique & quilting.
To go with the runner I also made a cushion cover that is 15" square.
Roman Stripe (1996)
Finished size 43" square.
This is just a small quilt, for a long time it was used over our headboard on our bed, the headboard didn't go with the colours in our bedroom but we couldn't afford to buy a new one at the time - so I covered it with a quilt that matched the colours!
It has been used and washed and has that rather faded worn look and feel. It has a polyester wadding and has been machine quilted in the ditch (right in the seams so that the quilting is hidden).
The Roman Stripe pattern, is a fairly quick one to make, it is best done on the sewing machine. It's not one I tend to teach now as it isn't one you can do for quilt-as-you-go, it's got to be made as a whole top and then quilted. It would work for the centre of a quilt or as a cot quilt - where it isn't so big that it's hard to quilt.
You decide how many stripes you want and what width, I have used five with a finished width of 1". These stripes you make as long as you can, usually you cut across the width of the fabric. Then you stitch them together and press. Next you measure the width of the stitched stripes and cut a piece of fabric to this size. Place a strip of stripes on top, right sides together, and stitch both edges, making a tube.
From this tube you cut triangles, unpick the stitches at the points, open out and press and you have a square - half and half design. The squares get stitched together to make the quilt top.
I have gone with traditional layout but they can be placed in different directions to create lots of different patterns.
Rail Fence (2007 Possibly)
When it was made ? I'm not really sure, as I haven't stitched on my tortoise logo or date. Looking at my teaching instructions, the date on those are 2007, so it possibly could have been made then. But I have taught Rail Fence before and after that date.
Finished size 55" square.
This is what I would call a 'utility' quilt - meaning that I made it to be used and washed a lot, these are quilts I am not precious about, they get used in the garden, away on holiday etc - to be fair to this one, it's not been used a lot and has spent years folded in the unit in our bedroom.
The fabric is Dorma sheets, the plain colours and a Dorma duvet cover is the patterned fabric, which is also used for the borders and the back of the quilt. The plain colours would have been seconds, as I used to buy a lot of them in white or cream, in the sale for backing quilts - they were 100% cotton, and where lovely for the backs of quilts, if I got a double or king size flat sheet they easily did the whole back with no seams. There was usually only a small slub line or the stitching of the hems wasn't right, never any big thing to make them seconds. Being seconds they were a lot cheaper plus I used to get my staff discount.
The Duvet cover was x- display, unfortunately it had somehow got caught with a trolley or pram and it had got a bit damaged and dirty along one edge. It couldn't be sold, so I was given it, rather than it being thrown away. I washed it and it worked for this quilt.
Rail Fence pattern is one very much associated with America. I have used just three strips to make up each square, I have also made it using four strips and seen lots of different variations with different numbers of strips and also a mixture of widths.
Writing this has made me want to create another one, with different width strips and more of them. 😂 In soft pastel fabrics! But it isn't a design you can make as quilt-as-you-go, it has to be made as a whole top quilt.
It's not a complicated design to create. Decide on your width and number of strips. Cut as long a strip in the width you want in each colour. Machine the strips together, press and then cut into squares. Stitch the squares together, alternate ways to make the width you want and carry on stitching lengths together to make the pattern, build up the design.
By the feel of the quilt I have used Hobbs Polydown wadding, I used to use it for utility quilts as it would dry quicker. But it can't be pressed. For the quilting I have taken one of the simple leaf motifs in the pattern fabric and enlarged it, then hand quilted then randomly on the quilt. As it's a polyester wadding used it can be quilted further apart.
Laura's T-Shirt Quilt (2014)
Made in 2014, measuring 57" square.
When Laura was younger, she had a couple of years with a number of t-shirts we loved. Rather than pass them on, I kept them, knowing one day I would make them into something. One got turned in a cushion. With the three pink fairy ones I made this quilt in 2014.
Working with t-shirt fabric is very different from working with patchwork cotton - it stretches and it is a different weight and texture.
The first job was to unpick the t-shirts, and then gently press a light weight iron-on interfacing onto the back of the pieces going to be used. You have to be really careful not to stretch or distort the t-shirt fabric and also not to damage the motifs. It takes time and careful handling to do.
Once stabilised, the t-shirts can be properly cut into the sizes needed. One of the t-shirts has made two squares as it had motif on both the front and the back, plus bits have been used for the corners and also in the borders.
I decided that I wanted four squares with a finished size of 15" square. Each motif was in the middle and then I built up with cotton fabric to the make the final size. I went with white sashing to join the squares.
The first border is made up of both squares in the t-shirt fabric and cotton fabric. The second border is white with corner squares in a mixture of the t-shirt and cotton fabric.
I then appliqued butterflies randomly on, before layering with polydown wadding and cotton backing and machine quilting.
The quilt lives in my bedroom, by the the time I made it Laura was a teenager and didn't want it in her room! I think it is a lovely memory of when she was younger and loved these pretty girly fairy pink t-shirts and fairy wands!!!
Dawn To Dusk Flying Geese Quilt (1998)
Made in 1998 and entered into the National Patchwork Championship at Olympia that year, it measures 72" X 74".
The inspiration for this quilt was from the Canada geese that flew over our house. Early every morning & in the evenings as the sunset we would hear and see big numbers of them go to and from the lakes, in the park a few roads over. There was always a big flock over there - there aren't any more!
Even back in 1998 I loved watching the colours in the sky, the big challenge was to find the enough shades to work. We just didn't have the range of shades and tones we have now.
It starts with the dark blue of early morning, going through the pale washed Grey blue, greens and yellow of cool soft dawn, into the soft blues of the morning and then the stronger blues of midday and afternoon. The oranges and reds of a bright brilliant sunset that glide into pinks and soft mauves, before turning into dark purples and blues of the night sky.
For the geese I went with a grey brown, which was just one colour of the Canada geese but also when you looked up and saw them in silhouette flying over in there V formation, this was the colour they looked.
The quilt has 32 rows of colours and the 'geese' are a traditional layout for the Flying geese pattern. All the squares and triangles are worked over papers and stitched together. If you look closely you can see the stitches in places, were I have struggled to find thread that works with both the 'geese' & sky.
This quilt was made a number of years before I learnt about grey thread!! It was only when I became a haberdashery buyer and the rep was going through Gutermann thread ranges, when we where going over to them from Sylko. And he was teaching me about the different types, weights, uses and how to colour match, that I first learnt that grey will blend with any colour and is really good for piecing mixed colours together. Since then I have always kept a light, mid and dark tone of grey for piecing in my thread drawer.
The quilt top was made as a whole, centre design and borders and then it was layered and quilted. The wadding has gone very flat and thin from the quilt being used and washed - it has faded on some of the colours, especially the blues.
The quilting was hand stitched to represent the weather maps, the lines of weather fronts and areas of highs and lows. I can remember that it was impossible to find a fabric marker to mark the design on. We only had chalk or silver quilters pencils, and they just rubbed off so quickly. Or we did have water erasable but they are blue!!! And didn't show when I tested them. So I marked the lines with 1/4" quilters masking tape, and stitched along the edge.
The other thing I can remember is it was getting very near the time to send the quilt in for the exhibition and I hadn't finished the quilting and I had some very early mornings stitching before I went to work!!!
I do have a habit of leaving things to the last minute!!! I have over the last few years, tried not to do it but ...it still happens, I seem to work better to tight deadlines!!
It is a quilt I still am pleased with and proud off.
Nine Patch Sampler Quilt (1993)
Finished size 53" square.
This quilt is definitely of its time!! So much has changed since I made (& taught) this quilt....
I will start with the fabrics, just overall looking at the fabrics, they don't quiet all completely go, the dusty mauves with the off red/deep coral shades? But each colour is used in the floral fabric. I feel in love with the floral fabric, with its dark blue dark ground and flowers & leaves. I picked out plain fabrics in the flowers & leaves colours, looking closely now I notice that there was also an orange shade in the flowers which I didn't use. I can't remember whether it was because I couldn't find the right colour (we didn't have the huge choice of plains or many fabric, like we do now!) or whether it was because I didn't like the colour, as orange shades have never really been my thing. Along with yellows and reds!
Back in 1993, the pattern books we had, weren't like we have today. They were mostly American imports, especially for this style of pieced designs, as they were considered solely American designs! As I worked in a book department I could search the publishers catalogues to see what was available, these books weren't in your high street booksellers. The books were just black & white drawings of designs, no templates, finished quilts or pretty pictures.
I would go through the books, chose the design to make and then draw it up to the finished size. Now, I just sit at the laptop, start Electric Quilt program up, find the design I want, put in the finished size & chose either to print templates or rotary cutting sizes!!! So, much easier!!
Once I had drawn up the design, I would cut it all up, into individual templates, noting which fabrics and in some cases which way round it went. Then I would pin each piece to the wrong side of the fabric, mark 1/4" seam all round and cut out - with a pair of scissors! Each piece was tacked over the paper and once all pieces were tacked, then I would hand sew it all together.
This was how all sixteen squares and border decoration were created. Once all sewn together then the tacking & paper were removed Then all the sashing and borders were added. The whole top was made before being layered with wadding and the backing fabric.
The wadding used was a 2oz polyester one, but years of being used, on our bed and I would also take it with us if we went anywhere. And then being thrown in the washing machine, means it has gone very flat, it's almost like it hasn't got any wadding in it - it's been turned into a coverlet.
The quilt is machine quilted, in the ditch round the squares and on the border.
This isn't a quilt we use any more but it is still one of my favourites and has a special place in my heart.
Jewel Coloured Butterfly Quilt (2010)
This quilt was designed and made in 2010, the inspiration for the colours are Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire & Amethyst. It is 60" square and made using the quilt as you go method. Not the method that I use now, but the older, and to me more complicated to use one, with lots of opportunities for it to go wrong!
As a general rule I tended to teach in those days to make a quilt as a top, whether pieced or applique and then when completed size, to layer it with wadding and a backing and then quilt it. Creating the top is fairly straightforward but quilting a big quilt, either by machine or hand is fairly daunting, especially to any one learning to make a quilt.
I occasionally taught quilt-as-you-go, you make each square and quilt it, with a good extra wadding and backing fabric. Then when all your pieces are made, you stitch the squares together - just the front fabric. Then working from the back, you have to trim the wadding and ladder stitch it, by hand together, without catching the front of the quilt! If you pulled it to tight the front would be uneven. Then you had to trim and carefully stitch the backing together! There was so many chances for problems. This butterfly quilt was the last quilt that I made using that method of quilt-as-you-go, not long after I came across the method (with a few changes) that I use now.
In so many ways this quilt is the last of an era in the way I taught. It is all hand appliqued and also hand quilted with sequins embellishments.
Soon after this quilt, I started to use machine applique instead of hand and also machine quilting, most of the time. I do still teach hand applique and hand quilting as I think it's important to learn all the skills, but many of the class members prefer to do machine work, I do still have a few that enjoy hand work more than machine!
Looking at this quilt after not having seen it for a while, it's folded up in a unit in our bedroom, I realise how much I have changed in how I work!! May be I should revisit this design and create it with machine applique, quilting and embroidery!!!
No Name Bedrunner (2012)
This bedrunner quilt doesn't have a name!!
I made it in 2012, to show the use of different fabrics - there are silks, satins and also cotton mixed together, it measures 23" X 85".
The silks and satins were given to me, they were off cuts from wedding dresses and waistcoats, some are plains, others have embroidery on them.
I have then used applique to add the butterflies & hearts and added lace (some are samples of bobbin lace my Mum made) and also pieces of ribbon.
I also added on some hand embroidery and pearl buttons, these came from my Granny's tin of buttons & the hearts and stars from a shell necklace from my paternal Aunt.
I have also included prairie points on a few squares and around the edge.
The main quilting of all the squares and the pattern on the border has been stitched on the machine and then I have done the odd piece of hand quilting.
Country House Botanics Quilt (2014)
It was inspired by all the visits to National Trust Houses and the textiles and wallpapers. It isn't one style but many, Chinese wallpapers, Jacobean crewelwork embroideries and Arts & Crafts works, everything distilled together.
It is a big quilt at 95" square, as you can see it completely covers our double bed. It isn't a quilt we use, I really like it but it just doesn't fit into our bedroom style.
Like all the quilts I have made for the last number of years it is made in sections - quilt-as-you-go. Although I have made it large, as sectional it can be made smaller, just the centre area makes a topper quilt, the side panels can be used for cushions or runner, it was designed to have lots of different options.
It is appliqued, with lots of hand embroidered details on the flowers and birds tails. There are flowers, birds & butterflies. It can be hand or machine appliqued & the same for the quilting, so it worked for all those I was teaching.
This wasn't a quick project to make, but very enjoyable.
The Birdcage on its own, I created into a cushion design which was published in October 2014 Popular Patchwork Magazine, and there was a floral cushion based on the quilt which was in the January 2015 magazine (which must be somewhere in the cupboard but I couldn't find it!!! There is a photo of it on published works section of my website).
The centre panel I made into a wall hanging which I entered into Malvern Quilt Show in 2014.
Sorry all the bits are a bit creased but I just pulled them put of the drawer and cupboard they live it!!
It is one of those quilts that I had thought about creating into many items, smaller quilts, runners, cushions, bags...and making up a book!
Double Wedding Ring (2012)
I had forgotten about this quilt!!!
It was in the drawer under our bed with the hexagon quilt and another quilt.
I always said I would never teach the Double wedding ring pattern. I had learnt it when I went to classes, every bit was hand sewn and trying to get it - the small pieces to make the curves then join them to each segment was a nightmare! It was a pattern I liked and I had seen some beautiful examples but it wasn't some I wanted to ever make again.
Over twenty years later, in 2012, one of my afternoon class came in and said she was going to make a Double wedding ring quilt for a golden wedding anniversary using the Eleanor Burns method. She had the book Egg Money Quilts that had the templates and instructions and she had got the fabrics on a holiday in America. Everybody was really interested, both the afternoon class and then the morning when I was explaining about it, and they asked me to go through with them and show how to do it. I went home, got the book and all the bits and decided as it was our 20th wedding anniversary later in the year, I would create a quilt for that.
The Eleanor Burns method is so much easier than how I had learnt but it involves a lot of different steps and time!! It's not something you can rush and frankly I find doing so many pieces rather boring....you do the same thing over & over!! But it does create a lovely quilt and everything goes together well. Unfortunately it isn't a pattern that you can make in sections and quilt-as-you-go. You have to make it as a whole quilt top then quilt it.
I chose to use blues, purples and a bit of green. Blues - sapphire is a colour that makes me think of Tony. His birthday is September so sapphire is his birth stone and it's a colour that suits him. Purples - amethyst is my birth stone and favourite colour. The green - peridot is Laura's birth stone. Round the edge I quilted words - love, forever....that I felt had meaning, I did them in white to blend in, you have to really look to see them. And then it's been machine be quilted on the white background to highlight the rings. Finally I hand quilted two hearts in the centre of each square. The whole quilt is about love from the double wedding ring pattern, the colours, embroidered words to the hearts.
If you do want to create a double wedding ring quilt, I can say that the Eleanor Burns method is very good - there was a number of very lovely quilts made by the classes...but it does take time and patience!
Hexagon Quilt (1997)
Hexagon quilt - this quilt was finished in 1997 - so that makes it 24 years old!!! We used to have it on our bed every winter as it is really warm, but we haven't used it for the last few years and it is folded up in the drawer under the bed (hence the creases!)
This was the second quilt I started to make, the first was the Sampler learning quilt I made in the classes I went to. I can't really remember but I think it took me about seven years to make - it's all hand stitched!
Each 'flower' has nineteen hexagons, with a side length of 1". There are eighteen fabrics the same in each one and then one different fabric and because they are all randomly stitched together it gives it a scrappy quilt and the white 'path' keeps it fresh and clean looking.
I have no idea how many hexagons are in the quilt - a lot!! & I am not going to count them! The quilt measures 85" X 90" (216 X 229cm). It has 4oz polyester wadding because at the time polyester wadding was what we commonly used. I can't remember cotton or natural fibres being around much and if you did see them at shows they were hugely expensive. Polyester waddings all those years ago weren't like the ones we have today - these were bulkier and slightly uneven. I tended to use a 2oz wadding if I was quilting and even then it wasn't easy - it all needed tacking in a grid to hold the layers together!
I decided not to quilt this one, it is layered with the wadding & a white cotton fabric (probably a Dorma sheet as I used thisee a lot for backing on quilts) which is folded over to the front to make the binding. And then it's been tie quilted in the the centre of each 'flower' and about eight other places on the 'flower' and it's taken the years of use & washing.
It has been folded away for the last few years and I had forgotten how much I loved it! It's a quilt for snuggling in very cold winter nights!!!
I don't have a hexagon quilt on the go at the moment - and haven't for a year! Up to now I have always had a hexagon quilt on the go - this one first, then I made my best friend one, then Laura's as well as a few others in between starting & finishing Laura's!!! I love hexagons.... they link us back to the women that created quilts and coverlets in the past - they have been used for centuries! Plus they are a lovely shape & are great to take anywhere. I had a small pouch with fabric hexagons waiting to be tacked over papers and I tacked and sewed them together in tea & lunch breaks, in the evenings at home, on holidays & later when Laura was growing up waiting for her to come out of swimming, music & French classes!!! I have also stitched them in hospitals.
I really shouldn't start anymore quilts but.....after seeing this I so want to make a scrappy hexagon quilt!!!