My Quilt Stories
Welcome to my Quilt Stories. Some of the quilts I've made and the inspiration, fabrics & techniques behind them
For the last 63 weeks on a Monday I have written a Quilt Story, I have gone through all the quilts we use and have laying around, and also the ones in the teaching cupboard.
If I went into the loft and hunted I would, I am sure, find my very first quilt, old Christmas ones and possibly a few others tucked away in boxes!!! But I have decided that they can stay hidden away in the loft.
The new Quilt Stories will be written when I finish quilts, and posted as and when.
Evie's Quilt (2022)
Finished size 64" square.
When my younger Sister Jenny had her first child, Anastasia, I embroidered a Birth Sampler & made a cot quilt, then a single bed size quilt for her 'big' bed and then the year she went up to Senior school for her Christmas present she got a new adult quilt. I did the same for her second child, Natalie and then along came the Twins, Evie & Toby and I did the same thing, this Christmas they got new quilts each as they have gone up to senior school!
This is Evie's Quilt.
I usually make a bed size quilt to fit their beds, taking into consideration that they have head and foot boards on their beds, but this time I decided to go with my favourite shape and size - 64" square, what I call a topper quilt. I knew this would work on their present single beds but if they changed the size, went up to a double - it would still work and it also works as a lovely size to just wrap round yourself to snuggle.
Kelly-Jane from my class came in with a lovely small heart piece that she had made and I decided it would make, enlarged, a great centre to Evie's quilt. I also need to go through how to make HST & piecing and so started the heart and used the pieces as demonstration pieces in class.
Once the heart was altogether, I layered it with wadding & the backing fabric and decided to machine quilt all over with a flower pattern. I enlarged the flower from a quilting book and cut it out and used it as a template, laying it on top of the heart square, and drawing around it, filling in the details, I drew all the flowers on and then added the connecting lines and leaves free hand. Then machine quilted the design using my walking foot.
The four borders, two shorter, two longer were made with log cabin style design, from both coloured and white on white essential fabric. The flowers were cut using Accuquilt cutter and die, I already had a few cut, left over from another quilt, so I cut a few more.
I machine quilted the borders and then put all the pieces together using the quilt-as-you-go construction method. Before binding the edges and giving the quilt to Evie for Christmas.
Toby's Quilt (2022)
Finished size 64" square.
This is the quilt I gave Toby for Christmas.
The thing with the twins - Toby and Eve, I have always created their quilts so that they link visually with each other, and yes I have always gone with blue/greys for Toby and pinks/purples for Evie.
For their cot quilts I went with the Soft Toy design, for both of them. Then their first single bed quilt both were stars, at the time they were still in the same bedroom so having the same design in different colours felt right.
This time, I have linked their quilts in the overall design, a centre square and then similar design borders with the log cabin type design.
The centre of Toby's quilt is made up of nine star designs, harking back to his previous quilt, this time the blues are much deeper and stronger in colour, but there are a few fabrics used in both quilts. The stars are a combination of both pieced and foundation pieced - one of which, caused me loads of problems!!! In theory it was a really straight forward design made up of three pieces of foundation piecing joined together and yet I was having one of those days that I just couldn't do foundation piecing, I got it wrong so many times!!! I kept unpicking and trying again!!! But I got there in the end.
Once the centre was together, I layered and quilted it. I made templates of different stars, including a couple in the top and randomly laid them on, drew them round them and machine quilted.
The borders have stars cut using Accuquilt and die, in the centre of a Log cabin style square. The whole quilt was made using the quilt-as-you-go method.
Oh, I should also say another way I linked Toby and Evie's quilts was by using Makower Essential white on white stars fabric, all the white on Toby's Quilt was it and then I used it, mixed with other Essentials in Evie's. Just because they have new quilts for their beds doesn't mean they don't have to use their old ones, they have the choice!!!
Bright Pieced Sampler Quilt (2009)
Finished size 59" square
This is certainly not in colours you would usually associate with me!!! Brights - especially the reds, oranges and yellows!!!
This quilt was made as a demonstration in classes, showing each week the different methods and techniques of each of the nine machine pieced squares. Each square builds up more skills from the previous. The nine squares were made, the yellow sashing added then pieced border, finishing with another border in the yellow. The top was then layered and machine quilted. The binding is made up of all the different fabric used in the quilt.
So, how comes I made such a bold bright quilt?
The multi coloured pattern fabric was the start of the colours. Years before I had made Tony a tie in this fabric, when we had been in a quilt shop he had seen the fabric and asked for a tie in it - it's somewhere in his wardrobe with all the other ties I made him!!!
The multi coloured fabric has all the other colours used in it, and so it was just a case of using them all.
This isn't a quilt I have used, it's another one of those that is used in my teaching to show how different one quilt can look from another just using different colours.
Blue & White Stripe Quilt (2018)
Finished size 64"
I have always loved the historic stripy quilts of predominantly Welsh & Amish. It wasn't only these communities that made them, they were originally very much part of the economy of using every bit of fabric, not wasting anything, and often strips would have lots of different fabrics, the strip does also often refer to the quilting pattern used!!!
With the old quilts, the tops and often the backs were pieced as a whole before being layered and quilted on a frame.
I wanted to interpret this style for making in smaller pieces and working using the quilt-as-you-go method.
Each strip is cut across the width of the fabric, layered and quilted. I used two commercial made stencils to make the quilting, both continuous line, a butterfly one and a rose one. I created six strips for the centre, all the same width. Then four white wider ones for the border and four corner squares.
They are put together using a dark blue fabric and on the back a blue & white print.
I also made a couple other versions, a Scandi Christmas one that I posted about before Christmas. And I also created one with flowers appliqued down the strips and wider quilted borders and floral corner squares for a present.
This is a quilt that's kept in the cupboard and brought out for teaching.
Simple Baltimore Quilt (2007)
Finished size 30" square.
My best friend Rachel gave me this kit. Rachel & her Mum, Paddi, had both come to my classes for a few years back in the mid 90's. When I returned to teaching Paddi joined my class for a while.
Rachel often had to go to America for work and she would buy patterns and fabrics over there, at the time they had a lot bigger selection and were cheaper. Rachel tucked them away, for when she would have time to do them.
Years went by, life changed and when Rachel was packing up to move she gave me both the pattern and fabrics.
The pattern is a Mimi Dietrich design, she is an American quilter who specialises in hand applique and also basic, simplified Baltimore designs.
Baltimore Quilting is a style of applique that was created in Baltimore from 1840 to 1860, it is very detailed and complicated with small applique pieces.
This design is a simplified version of a Baltimore Quilt, but still has all the elements - flowers, wreaths and baskets with detailed border.
When Rachel gave this to me, I hadn't done much hand needleturn applique for a while and it was a lovely project to get back into quilt making.
The four squares are appliqued, joined together and then the borders added and they are appliqued. The whole top was then layered and hand quilted. The hand quilting is very traditional for the style of quilt, and may look complicated but as straight lines it's quick to do.
Being only 30" square this isn't a very big quilt and I haven't used it on a bed or chair. It's really a wall quilt, although I haven't used it for years. I have only one wall that I could hang this on, the one at the top of the stairs and this tends to have my cotton reel quilt on it then a Christmas/winter one.
Drunkards Path Sampler Quilt (2007)
Finished size 69" square
This is another one of those patterns, along with Log Cabin that I really like, from one simple unit you can create sooo many different designs!!
The book I used for the patterns is an old Dover Publications one, from 1993, just line drawings but it came with the plastic templates to make either 3" or 3.5" squares.
Each of the nine squares that make up this quilt have 16 small 3" squares that make up the individual design, the design is dependent on the colour placement.
I chose a plain black fabric for the darker shade and the lighter fabrics were a pack, which was in my stash, they all had the same background colour but the pattern on each one was different.
Although this design can be machine pieced, I hand stitched all the individual squares, as I find this easier than machine working the curves, especially working on the small 3" squares. If bigger than I would machine them but I enjoy hand stitching the smaller ones, less fiddly!!
Once the individual squares were hand stitched, I then machined the 16 pieces to make the whole design.
Once all nine squares were made, I then thought about putting them together. We spent ages, looking for fabrics that worked, Tony and I tried lots of shops and fabrics. Black would have been too heavy and the other fabrics were no longer available and I couldn't find anything in a similar colour. We finally got the sashing fabric but it needed something around the squares, and the drab olive colour worked. The narrow borders of the olive were stitched, then the sashing added. Then I created the border design, with the 3/4 circles in the corner using more Drunkards path squares.
Once the top was completed, it was layered and machine quilted.
This is another one of those quilts I really like, and when I pull it out of the cupboard I am fascinated by the patterns in each square, but it has never been used as it just doesn't work in our home, it really isn't our colour!!! So, it stays folded up in the cupboard.
Roman Stripe Quillow (Can't Remember)
Finished size 39" X 54"
Quillow is the American term for quilts that can be folded into a cushion. They call cushions pillows, so the word is an amalgamation of Quilt and pillow. Personal I find it a bit of an odd word/description.
The quilt top is made, as is an extra cushion size square, once it's all quilted and before the binding is attached the square is stitched to the back, then the binding stitched on. The quilt is folded up - like a fold away shopping bag, into the square to create a cushion, a rather flat one!!
I don't have a date on the quilt and I can't remember when I made it, a long while ago!! The design is a classic one, and the instructions for this were in one of my many Patchwork books.
Roman Stripe is a brilliant, quick design, strips are cut across the width of the fabric with a rotary cutter, ruler and mat, then stitched together. Then the strip is cut to create the squares. These are stitched together to create the top, and borders added.
I really like the fabric I used for this, especially the auricula one. It's not a quilt we have used, it's been used for teaching and demonstrating Quillows. For some reason this was the size of all the Quillow patterns at the time, which I find a bit small, guess it would work as a knee/lap quilt or to cover a little person. I have since created much bigger quilts that fold into a cushion.
Butterfly Quilt (2008)
Finished size 51" square.
The butterfly design is a really old one, from when I was learning, this was a quilt that was for me, using fabrics I loved but at the same time I used it for teaching, and occasionally still pull it out of the cupboard to show.
This layout for a quilt is one of my favourites, I guess you could even say my signature style, whether the quilt is a whole top made version or as a quilt-as-you-go version.
The pattern fabrics were ones I had in stock, I think they were from Makower, but I'm not sure. I also had them in a blue/green colour way (the quilt top I made using those, is still in the box waiting to be quilted!!). The background fabric is a USA muslin, at the time I bought a lot of this from Strawberry Fayre. At the time Calico, in the UK was a thick rough fabric. The Calico I buy now is more like the USA muslin.
The four butterflies are attached using fusible web, and then hand embroidered with Stranded embroidery cotton and blanket stitch round the edge.
We tend to mostly machine stitch pieces on, with blanket stitch but when I made this there was a lot still being hand embroidered.
Once the four butterflies squares where made, the sashing and borders were stitched on. On the borders flowers have been attached. The whole top was layered and the quilted.
The straight quilting, round the edge of the squares and on the borders was done with the sewing machine. Then I hand quilted the rest. The butterflies got hand quilted and three flowers in the squares. In the centre where the four squares meet I quilted a bigger flower design. On the border stem and leaves are quilted between the flowers.
Oddly, although I love this quilt, it has never been used, it has always been kept folded up in the cupboard. Maybe one day it will be used.
Snowball Flower Quilt (2013)
Finished size 51" square.
This was one of those quilt tops that sat around for a long time waiting to be quilted.
The pattern is a very traditional nine patch pieced design, it is the Snowball variation of a classic Shoo fly block. Shoo fly, Snowball and the similar blocks are ones that I have returned to time and again when teaching. They are great for teaching Half Square Triangle squares and starting Nine Patch ones. They also can look so different and used in many ways depending on the colours and placements.
In this colour way they are stylised flowers, if done in greens they make a great basic wreath, which I have both appliqued and quilted Holly leaves on.
This top was made from squares I had used in different demonstrations in classes, pieced together and borders added, this was before I started quilt-as-you-go. Like many tops, and I still have a number of un-quilted ones, it was put away for when I had time to finish.
In 2013 I needed to refresh my machine quilting, I hadn't done it much for a while and so this quilt got layered and I then quilted it. The yellow centres of each block were wiggly line quilted then surrounded by a circle. On the pink/red pieces I stitched petals from the centres and the green pieces got leaves. The border also got leaves.
It's a quilt that is taken when we go away, used on beaches, in fields, on benches, it's not huge but a good size to sit on. This year, rather than put it away when we came home from holiday I have been using it over the wooden chair in the garden.
It's a quilt that has gone soft with numerous washings, and maybe it's got faults in the quilting as I have continued to learn and improve in my quilting but looking at it it's a quilt that I like and will use.
Hawaiian Quilt (2010)
Finished size 60" square.
This isn't a quilt style you see very often now. But when I started patchwork quilting it was a style that was around a lot, not just small squares like this quilt but huge full size quilts with just one huge design - they were stunning!
There is a whole history and meaning behind all the different designs in Hawaiian quilts, at the time I made this I read a lot about them but I really can't remember it now!!!
In the early 1990's there weren't many books on Patchwork quilting, well not in the UK, Dover Publications did a range of pattern books and I bought a number, including the Hawaiian Quilt one!
It went on my shelf for reference and on my wish list to make.
A lot of years later, 2010, I decided I would make and teach a Hawaiian style quilt, I chose four designs I liked and bought five bright Makower Spraytime fabrics - yellow, pink, blue, green & orange. Traditional Hawaiian quilts were created in bright colours and prints.
This quilt is hand appliqued, at the time I still did a lot of hand applique, and I wanted to work the designs in the traditional manor they would have been. If I was creating something like this now I would probably work with fusible web and machine applique.
I cut a square of fabric in the colour I wanted, marked the design on the front and then carefully cut the shape out, pinned it on a background square and carefully turned in the seam allowances and stitched it down.
Once the four squares were stitched, I added borders around each one then joined them together with the orange sashing and then added borders of each fabric.
The top was layered with wadding and backing and then I hand quilted the design and also a shadow line on the background square. The outside of the squares and all the borders were machine quilted.
I then bound the edge with the orange fabric.
This quilt was a starting point for other paper folded designs from snowflakes for Christmas cushions to fun designs of apples & pears and other every day bits for cushions.
Soft Toy Quilt (2012)
Finished Size 44" X 55"
My sister had twins, a boy and a girl and I wanted a quilt that I could make for them, a design that would work for them both, that I could make in different colours, rather traditionally pink for a girl & blue for a boy! And the Soft Toy Quilt was the design that I came up with.
The version for the twins - last two very bad photos! I completely forgot to take photos when I made them and it was some months later, when I went back up to Derbyshire that these photos were taken, and the quilts had been washed and used!!
So, the original design was with a centre panel with an elephant, tortoise and ball in the middle and then six squares with other toys appliqued on.
The toys used as inspiration are all ones that Laura had as a baby or toddler - the tumbling block was bricks plus being a classic patchwork design, on the twins quilt their initials are embroidered on the sides of the blocks. The car was from a simple wooden car Laura had. The octopus, snail and tortoise all came from soft toys and the duck, well Laura always had a set of yellow ducks in her bath - we still have the set in the bathroom!!! And the dog was a soft pink dog which she loved.
I decided to make a second version for teaching, which is the one in most of the photos, I did teach the twins version as well. The second version was simpler, no centre panel just the soft toy squares combined with four patch squares which make a secondary pattern on the quilt.
Both the original and second versions were all hand appliqued, with details being hand embroidered, machine pieced together with the borders and then layered as a whole quilt top. The quilting is a combination of both machine and hand - the hearts are hand quilted - stitched with love!!!
I offered the second version to Popular Patchwork magazine and it was published in the March 2014 edition.
Toadstool House Cot Quilt (2015)
Finished size 44" X 60"
For a number of years I was making a few cot quilts, usually in pastel colours. With this quilt I went to a different set of colours.
The toadstool House was the starter point for the quilt - this design, in a small version was also used to make a Quilted Postcard.
Once I had made the centre square I then had to think up and design the borders!!
The whole design is machine applique, and also machine quilted, on the longer top and bottom borders I quilted grass.
I never actually taught this quilt in my classes. When I finished it, I offered it to Popular Patchwork for publication, off it went for a number of months. It was published in the September 2015 edition of the magazine.
Teddy Bear Cot Quilt (2019)
Finished size 44" X 59".
I have made, updated and used this bear design so many times.
The first time was in the early 1990's, I was making a full size single bed quilt for a friend's daughter, the quilt theme was different toys and I had been trying to come up with ideas.
At the time I worked in a department store in the book department, which was next door to the toy department. They had a huge delivery of bears, a special offer deal, they covered a wall, all sitting looking at me. They had bright coloured pads to their feet, and a big floppy bow!! They were the inspiration for that first bear design.
He got reworked in pastel colours for a teaching quilt and years later reworked again for a cot quilt for a niece.
I then reworked the design again in 2019, getting rid of the floppy bow and just going with a coloured tummy like Laura's favourite bear.
The bear is machine appliqued, with a border made of squares. Then I added a border of foot prints - the foot or bear prints are hearts with toes appliqued and then later the outline was quilted. The top is finished with three more borders.
The quilt was layered with wadding and backing and machine quilted as a whole, being a cot quilt size it isn't too difficult to machine quilt using a domestic sewing machine, most of it is straight lines.
I have made this version with the bear in a soft mottled honey colour, as I wanted the feel of traditional bear, it took a while to find the right shade and pattern for the feel I wanted. I have then used just blue & pink. But this design would work in any colour way.
The design for this Teddy Bear Quilt is available in my Etsy shop.
Flower Sampler Quilt (2017)
Finished size 71' square.
Another quilt with a flower theme, it is a theme I go back to time and again with my quilt making.
The thought behind this quilt, which I designed for teaching was that each of the nine squares would either show a different technique or a different style of flowers that are used in quilt making.
I also wanted to create a quilt, that although the centre flowers are different the design would have a similar feel with the borders helping to achieve this. So, each centre square is surrounded by a narrow border, either in green or pink, then a wider white border which appliqued flowers in the corners and hand embroidered stems and leaves round the sides, stitched in a varigated green stranded cotton. Each of the flowers and embroidery on the border is different as it reflects the centre flower design.
A further pink border is added with green corner blocks, so when each square is joined together it gives a larger square at the joins, creating a secondary pattern across the quilt.
As is usual for my teaching quilts in recent years, this quilt is made as a quilt-as-you-go, as nine individual squares and then joined together with the green joining strips.
On the fabrics, its main colours are the pink and greens. I have used a number of different pink fabrics, from a plain to a number of small print fabrics in tone on tone blenders. The white background fabric is a white on white Essentials fabric. And finally I have used just a small amount of pale yellow fabric.
I started with the centre square, which is a needleturn applique Rose of Sharon, you may recognise the square as I then went on and made four more of these squares in shades of black & grey, I have written about this quilt in an earlier Quilt story.
Each square is a different design from simple circle flowers, to stain glass style using bias strips to folk art and Jacobean inspired.
The squares are machine quilted.
The quilt is a mixture of hand and machine work but could easily be worked as more of either, to suit each person's style of working. And yes, I machine quilted it but it could just as easily be hand quilted.
It is a quilt that can be made as a Sampler, or you can just make one design for the whole quilt (as in my black & grey Rose of Sharon quilt) or use your favourite square to make cushions. I try to make my designs so that they can be changed to suit each individual maker's style and needs.
Flowers Make Me Happy Quilt (2022)
Size 74" square.
My latest finish!!! Finished 14th June 2022.
I'm sure that I have said, but one of my aims is to use up fabric from my stash. Years ago I had bought a big bundle of fat quarter fabrics called Blue Sky designed by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts, I decided I wanted to use these for my next quilt, and I decided Flowers would be my theme!
I love Sampler quilts, I get bored with making the same design time and again, and Sampler quilts are great for teaching as it's different skills for each piece.
As common with quilts I make now, it's a square finished shape, made with nine squares for the middle of the quilt, then with a border with corner squares - it's quilt-as-you-go, made up of 17 pieces in total. Completely manageable for teaching and making on a domestic sewing machine.
Other than the Blue Sky fabrics, I added in a couple of white on cream essentials and also the fabric for the joining strips, the latte colour - I was going to use a mixture of the Blue Sky fabrics for the joining strip but soon realised that it would be far too busy and I needed a neutral colour and the joining strips all the same colour, these fabrics were all in my stash.
The nine middle squares are
- Hexagon Flower - which is a combination of paper piecing and hand applique.
- Dresden Plate Flower - again paper pieced and hand applique, with hand quilting for the stems and leaves.
- Shoo Fly Flower Wreath, the traditional Shoo Fly pieced block design always reminds me of a wreath and so I used it for the square with flowers machine appliqued on.
- Flower Basket, the traditional pieced design
- Fool's Square, this traditional pieced design just reminded me of a stylised flower.
- Dahlia Flower, a machine applique flower, I drew up.
- Hearts & Sunflowers, a traditional applique design
- Circle Flowers, another traditional applique design
- Vase of Flowers, I drew this design up to pull all the designs and flowers together, it's inspired by the Baltimore quilts, but a lot simpler design.
The borders and corner squares use a combination of the flowers and leaves from the middle squares.
The quilting is a combination of machine, using a walking foot, using a 30 weight thread and hand quilting using a 12 weight thread.
I started teaching this quilt in September 2021 and have been slowly making and showing the pieces through out the year. Finishing it for the end of the teaching year.
Wooden Cotton Reels (2020)
Finished size 30" X 35"
This wall quilt hangs at the top of the stairs, as I go up them I see it and I still love it!!!
Sometimes when I make a quilt, by the time I finish it I don't love it, it's often that it hasn't come out how I imagined or I have got bored making it. Sometimes with a quilt I have out and am using, I get bored with it, and stop seeing it. But with this one I still see it all the time and love it.
Just before I made this, there had been a lot of sewing based fabric ranges and quilts being made using the theme. It's a theme I have used from the vintage sewing machine applique cushion, to the Conversation Quilt using sewing themed fabric.
With this wall quilt I wanted to have a graded colour scheme, using some of my favourite colours and fabrics. Also I wanted the feel of the old wooden reels, I have a few of them, some with thread on, which I use when I am creating sewing themed displays on the mantel. Some I have used as decorations, with tape measure ribbon wrapped round and nestled in a rag wreath.
So, I had decided on the colours and type of cotton reel. Each one was machine appliqued onto the background rectangle. These where put together and a narrow border of each fabric in colour order added. Then a wider white border added.
The whole thing was layered with wadding and backing and machine quilted. The cotton reels where quilted in thread to match and give a feel of thread.
The border was quilted with a traditional rope design with cotton reels. I quilt with my walking foot. The design involved a lot of stopping and starting, it wasn't a continuous design. At the end there were a lot of thread ends to sew in, but it was worth it.
For the binding I went with the same fabric colours in order.
Since I finished this quilt it has been up on the wall, the only time it came down was for December 2020, so Laura's advent calendar could go up. For December 2021 I moved a number of pictures and put her advent on the other wall on the landing, partly so I didn't have to move this wall quilt but also so Laura didn't fall down the stairs while hunting for the right day (without her glasses on!!)!!!
Pastel Sampler Quilt (2008)
Finished size 64" X 90"
Sorry this quilt is a bit creased, it's been folded up and squashed in the cupboard with all the other teaching quilts, and bits!
Yes, this quilt is a teaching one, I designed it to teach and have kept it for that, I haven't used it.
The quilt is made up of fifteen squares, it was designed as the second quilt for starters to make.
There are seven hand applique floral designs, starting with a simple one and building up, getting more complicated - more pieces and small pieces to practice needle-turn applique.
Then there are eight machine pieced squares, again getting more complicated as your skills increase.
For this quilt, as it was the way I was teaching at the time, the squares were all made, the sashing (lilac fabric) was used to join them together and the borders added.
The whole top was layered with wadding and backing fabric and quilted. The quilting is a combination of machine and hand, allowing you to practice both skills.
The border is hand quilted using a number of the flowers in the design.
I have made a number of different versions of the designs as I have demonstrated at different times the techniques. Quilt tops that just use the machine pieced designs or ones using the floral designs.
Over the years, I have seen different versions and combinations of the designs from class members, it's amazing how different the same pattern can look in different colours and fabrics. Many don't want to hand applique the floral designs and so machine applique them, and often changing elements slightly - usually having less leaves on the ones that have a lot!!!
I still use this quilt to teach but nowadays I teach it as a quilt-as-you-go, each square made, layered and quilted before the next one made. It's a lot easier and less daunting.
I really like Sampler quilts and I think they are a great way to learn, practice and build up skills.
Noah's Ark Quilt (2014)
Finished size 41" X 58"
This is the third version of this quilt. The original version was made as a full size single bed quilt as a present for a friend's son, way back in 1996!!!
Back in the 1990's we didn't have the internet and all the images at our fingertips that we have now. I thought a Noah's Ark Quilt would be lovely for a little boys quilt but I needed animals to draw up the shapes. At the time I worked in the book department of a local department store and there was in the Children's section a brilliant DK book on animals, it was interactive so the paper animals came out, I bought it for my inspiration - I'm pretty sure there is an envelope with them in, somewhere in my folders from back then.
That first quilt the animals were hand appliqued on to a background pieced to give jungle and Savannah feel.
It was one of the first quilts that we generated all the instructions for teaching on a computer!!!
In 2007 I was looking for a cot quilt for a niece and I remembered the original quilt, so I changed the size and played around with the layout and created it very similar to this one.
Forward to 2014 and I was asked for cot quilt designs from my class, as a number had grandchildren being born. I updated the Ark design again to this version.
The centre panel has a machine pieced background with the ark and dolphins machine appliqued on. Then around it the animals are machine appliqued onto the squares. All the pieces are joined together and the border added. The quilt is layered and then machine quilted.
This quilt is one of the many that are folded up in the cupboard and kept for teaching or displays/talks.
Sampler Quilt (1990's)
Finished size 56" square.
I'm not sure when I made this quilt, with my early quilts I didn't sign them by quilting on my tortoise logo, initials and the date, and this one doesn't have a label either.
I have talked about my quilting/teaching journey on other quilt stories, this quilt is from the early days of that journey.
From the fabrics, designs and techniques I would say this quilt was from the early 1990's. I began teaching Patchwork and Quilting when I was in my early 20's.
For the first few years I taught very much how I was taught, hand stitching, paper piecing and the odd bit of machining. The designs were traditional. Probably the only difference from how I was taught, is I didn't expect my pupils to draw up their own templates. When I learnt we had to draw up all our own templates and papers for piecing, there were no written instructions sheets, we had to note everything down in notebooks.
I was lucky I was with a photocopier engineer (Tony) and once he had repaired a machine, it needed testing and he would use my 'handouts' as test papers, so I would create hand written, basic instructions and templates, which I gave out for them to work from.
Later when Tony got a computer, I would type out the instructions & add the templates, slowly as technology advanced I added hand drawn diagrams.
Now the instructions are typed, photos added and templates generated. They are a lot more in-depth and designed to give full instructions and also hints & tips, they are a lot longer. And for most people I just email them the day before class, there are a few that I print them out for.
This quilt has a combination of paper pieced & hand stitched designs, there is also a couple of machine stitched ones. Each block was made. The blocks were joined with the sashing, by machine.
The top was layered with polyester wadding and backing fabric and machine quilted, just with straight lines. The edge binding was then stitched on.
This quilt has been used and washed a lot, the fabrics are soft and slightly faded. The wadding has gone, it feels almost like a coverlet (a coverlet has a front and back, no wadding).
It's not a quilt that's used anymore, it is folded up and is in my teaching quilt cupboard.
It's a quilt very much of the early years of my quilt/teaching journey. It's a bit of my history, I have come a long way.
Stars Quilt (2016)
Finished size 46" X 62"
I made this quilt as cot bed size but as it was all created in pieces built into strips, it was a design that could be easily made bigger, by making more squares and more strips.
I love stars, and they are a reoccurring theme in things. The first photo of Laura at a few hours old, she is wearing a babygrow with Twinkle twinkle star motifs. Then she had the book Laura's star. I made star quilts for my twin niece and nephew!!
So, when I was creating cot quilts at some point I had to make one with stars on. These stars are slightly different, they are soft pointed and they are appliqued on with bias binding round the edges.
I went with matching blues for the stars, squares and bias binding. The different size stars were stitched onto background squares, then made into strips with blue fabrics as infills.
I made three strips, they got layered and quilted. The strips are machine quilted with stars and round the background squares. Then they are joined together and the edge binding stitched one.
I used coordinating fabrics but this design looks really lovely with different coloured bias binding round the stars.
This quilt isn't one that has been used, it's folded up and kept in the teaching quilt cupboard.
Purple Starter Sampler Quilt (2007)
Finished size 50" square.
This quilt in many ways shows how far I have come as a patchwork quilter & as a teacher. This quilt could possibly be said to be the half way point.
When I learnt patchwork & quilting, we started with a hexagon pincushion then immediately started on making a full size bed quilt, mine was a single with a grey background and Liberty cotton's for all the patchwork (I think it's tucked somewhere in a box in the loft as Tony wouldn't let me throw it away!).
So, when I first taught Patchwork & Quilting in my early 20's I taught the same way - started with a EPP hexagon pincushion and then a full size bed quilt using traditional patterns and mostly hand made. When I took a break from teaching, I had already begun to question whether this was the right way, was a full size quilt off putting & scary? Was it too expensive for someone just starting?
When I returned to teaching I had a rethink and I still started with hexagon pincushion (& I still do teach that as the first project!) but I taught this lap quilt. It wasn't so big, it still built up skills and covered all the important techniques at the time. And it wasn't hugely expensive to make and not as scary as a full size quilt. In a ten week course most could complete this quilt.
Of the four squares two are paper pieced, the Tumbling Blocks made from diamonds and the Dresden Plate. The other two are needleturn applique, one harder than the other. The squares were stitched together with the sashing and the borders added, with flowers appliqued on.
The quilt top was layered & then along the edges of the squares and borders machine quilted. All the rest of the quilting, from the details on each square to the borders was hand quilted. Finally the binding stitched on.
This quilt was mostly about hand stitching. I have made this design and variations of it a number of times while I was teaching it, each was used for demonstration and then given them away as gifts.
This quilt I kept and it's folded up in the 'teaching' cupboard with other quilts I keep for demonstrations or display, along with the numerous files of teaching notes & instructions.
Why I said this quilt marks a half way in my teaching journey is that it shows the changes I made, from completely hand made, traditional full size quilts to small more manageable.
Since then I have travelled on, I no longer start any beginner/newbie on making a quilt. I still start with a hexagon pincushion but then I have three smaller projects, each teaching a different technique, the second piece is still the Dresden Plate design, either on a bag or cushion. The next is a butterfly design which is hand work, needleturn applique and hand quilted. The final and fourth is a machine made design, from machine stitched applique and piecing blocks to machine quilting. These four smaller, quicker projects are less daunting, they show all the skills and let the newbie work out what type of work they prefer - hand, machine or a combination of both, and importantly they aren't hugely expensive initial outlay and use basic sewing equipment. Patchwork & quilting isn't for everyone.
Once the starter items are made, then we talk about making a full size quilt, using techniques they want and one square at a time, quilt-as-you-go method, they don't have to think about the quilt as a whole just a square at a time, much more achievable and not as scary!!!
This quilt also illustrates the size and layout that I guess I would say is my style. I prefer to make square quilts varying from lap size of around 50" square to topper (sit on top of a double bed from below the pillows) of 70" square, with squares in the centre, four or nine and then a wider border round the edge.
Fabric Conversation Quilts (2016)
Finished size 54" square.
I was rather surprised when I realised that is quilt was six years old, I just hadn't realised it was made that long ago!
The fabric is Makower Haberdashery, when I saw it on their website, before it came out, I knew I had to get it. It's just got the vintage sewing theme, I can remember a lot of the old style packets and bits and bobs as my Granny had them. And I just love old sewing machines the ones with black bodies and decorative patterns on them - I have my Mum's old Singer hand machine.
So, I went and bought a metre of each fabric, there was nine of them. On Makower website they recommended a red, I think, from their Spraytime range as a coordinating fabric, but I preferred the dark plum which I have used for the joining strips.
I didn't need a metre of each fabric, I designed this pattern to use fat quarters. So I have lots of it still sitting in my fabric cupboard!!! I will use it up one day.
I looked at lots of designs but in the end I designed this simple rectangle & square design, it's bigger pieces - so shows off the fabric, simple to piece and can be made from Fat Quarters - if you bought nine Fat Quarters then you can make the quilt squares.
Once I had pieced the squares, I layered and quilted them. I designed two basic outline shapes of a sewing machine, one smaller than the other and also an outline of thread reels, I made templates of these, drew round them on the fabric and machine quilted them.
I then joined the squares together with the dark plum and also used it for the binding.
It's home was over the pile of boxes in the workroom - boxes full of quilt tops waiting to be finished & dress making stuff!! Recently I have swapped it to over the bannister's on the landing & the scrap quilt from there has gone over the boxes.
Cot version (made in 2019)
Finished size 37" X 55"
I had the fabric for a while intending to make up the cot version to use in class, but I didn't get round to it for a while. The main fabric that I chose was the hedgehog one and the others coordinated with it, it's made from six fat quarters plus the fabric for the joining strips & binding.
Like the haberdashery version it's machine quilted using the quilt-as-you-go method. The quilting is an outline of a hedgehog!!
This design is a simple quick one to make, designed to work with novelty or conversation prints, hence the name Fabric Conversation, it shows off the fabric.
Tulip Field Quilt (2020)
Finished size 66" square.
I thought I would post this quilt next, as it's tulip 🌷 season! I love this quilt, it lives folded over the back of my workroom chair, bringing colour and a smile to my face!
The fabric is Lewis & Irene's Tulip Fields, the theme is tulips, windmills and mice - think of the song A Windmill in Old Amsterdam, and this fabric is that. Except the mice don't have clogs on!!! As soon as I saw this range in preview I knew I had to buy it, even though I wouldn't normally go with fabric with orange in it. But I love tulips - which if you follow me on any of the social media platforms or read my Rambles, probably have realised! And this fabric was a must.
There were fifteen fabrics in the range, and I got a fat quarter of each plus two fabrics from the Bumbleberries range to coordinate.
For the design I looked at different patterns, including ones I have designed especially for this sort of range of fabrics but none felt right. I then remembered a photo I had taken of the floor tiles and the pattern they made in the Royal Delft factory & museum when we went to Holland.
It just felt right to use the floor tiles to inspire my design for this quilt.
I made up nine squares, layered and machine quilted them with the outline of tulip I had drawn using the fabric design as the inspiration. I created a cardboard template which drew round with air erasable pen and then quilted, using my walking foot and a Gutterman Sulky thread. The tulips are just scattered across the surface of each square as if I have just thrown them down.
Once the squares were all quilted I put them together using the grey fabric for the joining strips and finally used the grey as the binding.
It definitely feeds my slight Tulip 🌷 addiction!!!
The left over fabric has been used in a tulip themed wall hanging and also to make a fabric protection slip cases for my phone when it's in my bag!
Laura's Bookworm Quilt (2022)
Finished size 74" square.
I regularly look at different fabric manufacturers to see what is due to come out, see the current trends and just keep up to date with fabrics.
While looking, I came across Lewis & Irene's Bookworm range, at the time it wasn't out, I showed it to Laura, thinking that she would like it!! Well, she does love books, and we call her bedroom the library. I was right and so I offered to make her a quilt in it - not that she needs any more quilts!
I sort of made a promise to myself, that I wouldn't buy any more fabric, except Essentials that will be used to mix with the fabric I have to use it up. But this was an exception, after all it's for Laura.
Laura & I went through designs, I have over the years designed three quilt patterns that are for sets of fabrics. There is 'Fabric Conversation' which uses bigger pieces, ideal for bigger patterns, then there is 'Tulip Fields' and also 'Faded Glory' (I have already posted the quilt story for this one). We had a good think....
The Bookworm range has fifteen fabrics in it, plus it coordinates with a number of fabrics in the Bumbleberries range. I buy Lewis & Irene fabric from Woolwarehouse, they always show the range & also the coordinating Bumbleberries on the same page, this just makes it soo much easier. Plus they say how much metreage is available, add in the very good service and swift delivery, makes them a company that's a pleasure to shop online with.
It was decided that I would use the 'Faded Glory' design and make up nine squares. As Laura likes things organised, she doesn't do random! I would have all the squares the same way, with the big square all in the same corner.
I was allowed to mix the fabrics around! So, each square is different. For the borders Laura wanted it that the Bookworm fabric created a border all the way round.
We got Fat Quarter of all fifteen of the fabrics, then decided on the Mid grey Bumbleberries for the border (they did a book brown but we preferred the grey) and indigo for the joining strips and Black for the binding. We had to wait for the range to come out. But as soon as it did we bought it. I spent a morning cutting out the fabric for the nine squares, then over a few days pieced the design together. They were then layered and machine quilted.
In keeping with my promise to use up fabric, I decided to do so for the back of the quilt, I pulled out lots of fabrics from the brown drawer of my stash. I had loads of them, over thirty years I have ended up with lots and yet brown isn't a colour I use much. Some have been given to me, individually there were lots of lovely fabrics but I had never had a project to use them. I decided to cut them into strips, sew together and roughly cut to size. It made a lot more work, but it used up a lot of fabric. And rather than waste the trimmed pieces, these got pieced together with more fabric for the borders of the quilt.
Again it was a joint decision for the quilting design, we wanted something in the book theme but not so it over powered the fabric. In the end I drew up the outline of books on a shelf. This was easy to draw straight onto the fabric, just measured and used an air erasable pen to draw the lines. Once all the squares were finished, I joined them together and started on the borders.
The first two borders were straight forward but the other two needed a bit of maths and also careful piecing of the joining strip so that it blends in, but it was worth it. The quilting on the borders carries on the bookshelf effect.
Finally the binding was stitched on and Laura has another quilt!!!
(I am not in anyway supported or sponsored by any company and it is just my personal opinion that I express).
Machine Sample Quilt (2019)
Finished size 62" square.
This is another one of those quilts that is a utility quilt, to be used anywhere - house, garden, on holiday, I don't mind where!
When I started on my patchwork quilt journey, we were told to practice our quilting, practice, practice and more practice, till our, at the time hand quilting was perfect! Well, the teacher's version of perfect!
We were told to buy Calico as it was the cheapest fabric, and just create lots of samples. A friend doing City & Guilds was told to create lots of sample squares, that they then, I think had to dye and make into a quilt - showing their hand quilting journey.
I have two problems with this, well three if you go with the idea of hand quilting 'police' - there shouldn't be a set rule to size of hand quilting stitches, you should quilt, if you want to hand quilt, your way, your style, it's your work, as long as you are happy with the finished piece and enjoyed creating it, that's what's important.
Well, one of the problems, is this idea that Calico is a cheap fabric that should only be used for samples. I love Calico, a good quality one is soft and natural, it gets softer with age. I use it for backs of quilts and also fronts occasionally, especially utility quilts which take lots of washing & wear.
The other problem, is samples - I really can't see the point of them, they are a waste of fabric and time. I rarely make a sample, well not one that isn't made into something I can use.
This is a quilt completely made from samples!! The whole thing is a sample of machine quilting using decorative stitches on my sewing machine. Like most machines mine has lots of decorative embroidery stitches, they don't often get used, I wanted to try using them to create decorative patterns. If I used them on their standard settings then they aren't right size, too dense to work for quilting, but playing with the length and width of the stitches, changes the look and makes them work for machine quilting.
I layered up nine squares of Calico with Hobbs Heirloom, I then drew a grid of nine squares with wiggly lines - these got quilted first. I then filled in each of the nine squares with a different stitch or combination of stitches.
Three squares were stitched in dark grey cotton, three with little grey thread and three with natural coloured thread, making the quilt top a bit different.
Small Whole Cloth Quilt (2012)
Finished size 40" square.
Plain whole cloth quilts never really look spectacular when photographed it really hard to get the 'feel' of this type of quilt. When you actually see them, in person, the pattern created by the stitching, the texture and feel of the quilt to a thing of beauty.
I always wanted to make a Whole Cloth Quilt, there is something romantic about this style, be it the Welsh or Durham ones. For me it's also about the threads of history, part of my family a few generations back came from Northumberland area and I always hoped that one of my ancestors was a quilter, creating the beautiful stitched whole cloth quilts using traditional Durham designs.
I felt that I didn't have the technical abilities, or the mathematical skills to draw up a whole quilt, so I asked for a preprinted top for a present.
This top is one of the Benartex range of whole cloth designs. They range from cushion size, through to cot quilts, they used to do these smaller 40" square ones (but they don't seem to do them anymore) to big full size bed quilts. In the kit you get the preprinted front, printed in a blue water based dye, so they wash out at the end, and also the backing fabric. This lets you decide on the type of wadding you want to use. I went with my usual Hobbs Heirloom Cotton.
I loved quilting this. I quilted in a frame and this quilt is quilted to the stitch standard I was taught - 10 to 1" - basically 10 stitches, counting those on the front & back to each inch. It's a very small stitch!!!
I will say at this point I don't quilt with the rocking motion stitching that is sort of standard quilting method, I stab stitch - I prefer this, I am happier with the results and I find it better for my hands and wrists.
Not long after I finished quilting this quilt, we went to York for a long weekend and The Quilters Guild had an exhibition of Amy Emms, lots of her whole cloth quilts. It was a big light bulb moment, her quilting wasn't this tiny stitching I was taught, her stitches really varied in length and her patterns weren't perfect - she obviously drew up the design as she went, so sometimes had to fudge them to get it to fit. And yet the quilts where stunning, the patterns and textures!!!
You didn't notice the fitted in patterns or stitch size, it was just about the overall look of the finished quilt. It made me relax about my quilting, now I stitch bigger stitches and I know that if I wanted to I could design a whole quilt top myself! Maybe one day....
This quilt is used all the time, it covers the rebounder (mini trampoline) that is in the sitting room. It has cushions and knitted and crocheted throws/blankets thrown on top of it. It's also used as a background to some of my social media photos!!
It's used, washed and loved and as the years go on, it wears but that's part of its charm.
Random Squares Quilt (2009)
Finished size 62" square.
This quilt sits folded up behind the sofa, to be pulled out when Laura's friends are round, either in the sitting room or out in the garden, to snuggle into and for warmth.
It's another of those quilts that I call a utility one, to be used and washed, indoors, outdoors, on holidays , where ever it's needed.
It is made up of pre-cut 5" squares that I was given. I think the fabric is Laura Ashley. I was given the pack by a friend of my Mum's, her daughter was moving and clearing out stuff. She, the daughter, had bought the pack thinking to make them into a quilt but didn't ever get round to it.
I decided to randomly sew them all together and added the blue borders, cut to 5" the same as the squares. It was layered with wadding - Hobbs Polydown and a blue Dorma cotton sheet.
Extra wide cotton backing fabric wasn't available at the time and so I had for years been buying Dorma cotton flat sheets in sales or when seconds were available for the back of my quilts.
I used a dinner plate to mark circles on the front and then machine quilted the circles and lines going to and from them. I also quilted round the border before adding the edge binding.
Sometimes simple quilt designs are best!
Coloured Houses Quilt (2010)
Finished size 47" square.
This isn't a very big quilt, just 47" square, so not a bed topper, more of a snuggle quilt. Most of its life this quilt was folded on the back of my workroom chair, originally on its own, then with the Faded Glory quilt and later with the Tulip Fields on. But for the last couple of years it has been rolled up in a box with fleece blankets, crochet throws and woven runners in the sitting room. I pulled it out to do this Quilt story and hung it on a kitchen chair, I think that's where it's going to live from now on & I think I might use it on my wooden chair in the garden during the summer!
I can't remember why I made this quilt, it's made of scraps of fabric for the houses and binding. The houses are all machine pieced with Calico for the background and border fabric. The green was yardage I had, I used to use a lot of this range - Robert Kaufman 'fusions' fabric and had it in lots of different colours.
The top was made as a whole, layered with wadding and backing, which is Calico. Then I have machine quilted round the houses, squares and borders before hand quilting - clouds, trees and cars.
It's been used and loved and has a soft worn feel to it, it's a quilt that deserves to be used.
P.S. Laura has just remembered why I made it. I set the class a challenge to take the house pattern over summer and work it in their own colour way and add decoration, I had made lots of them as a demonstration so decided to put them together into a quilt.
Rose of Sharon Quilt (2020)
Finished size 65" square.
The Rose of Sharon design is one I have used time and time again. It inspired the big Floral Quilt and I have used it in different sizes in sampler quilts.
This version I designed for a Flower Sampler quilt that I was teaching - each of the nine flowers in that quilt used a different technique.
I decided to use the Rose of Sharon design for the hand applique square, it is stitched onto a 12" square, then a very narrow border is added before the wider is stitched on. Roses are appliqued in the corners and the embroidered design stitched. The square from the original version was made in pinks.
I needed to demonstrate, hand applique, the narrow border and the embroidery, so I decided to remake the square and decided on the grey & black colour way. The embroidery is done in a DMC stranded cotton in a variegated black to grey colour. The squares are machine quilted in white thread.
From the two squares I used to demonstrate in classes, I added two more to make the centre. As the middle is all floral, I decided to go with a square design on the border to create a frame. I made the blocks for the border in two colour ways, the black and the white version.
The Rose of Sharon design looks so different in this colour way. It's not a quilt that is used on any of our beds, it sits folded up, along with two others on the exercise bike in the corner of our sitting room.
Scattered Flowers Quilt (2017)
Finished size 55" square.
This is a quilt made from bits used as demonstration pieces in classes. The centre flowers in the pieced squares were used to show the use of fusible web and machine applique. The four squares are made up of a combination of Half Square Triangles and Quarter Square Triangles, and whole squares, again used to show cutting basic squares with rotary cutter and rulers and then creating the pieced squares and making up patterns.
I decided to put all the pieces together and made the four squares, which I then joined together with Calico sashing and borders.
It felt very plain and so I decided to add more applique flowers and randomly throw leaves across the whole design.
Once the top was made I layered it with wadding, in this case a Vlieseline Cotton wadding, it hadn't long been on the market and I wanted to try it, as the wholesaler I use was stocking it as well as my normal make. It is a thicker (higher loft) then my usual one I use - Hobbs Heirloom Cotton. It also can be quilted further apart.
I added the back, which was made up of a pack of fat quarters I had been given, it wasn't in colours I would usually use but it makes a different looking back to my usual plain Calico and it was in line with my using up bits theme with this quilt.
The thicker wadding gives a slightly different feel to the machine quilting. I quilted round the designs on the squares to add depth. Then using a deep green thread I quilted from the flowers to the leaves across the whole surface, using curving lines. Once it was finished I used Calico to bind the edges.
This quilt is what I call a utility quilt, one to be used everyday and loved, it can be used indoors or go out in the garden, I am not precious about it. I really like it, the combination of pieced squares and the flowers, it lives folded up on the exercise bike in the sitting room, with a couple of other quilts and depending on how I feel, depends on which on is on the top and seen, at the moment it's this one!
Hexagon Quilt (2016)
Finished size 66" square.
This is another quilt that is Laura's but it doesn't live in her bedroom, it's folded on the back of the sofa she sits on in our sitting room.
The fabric used is Tilda 'Sweet Christmas' from her 2014/2015 range. We both just saw it and liked it. It's not in any way Christmassy, all warm Grey's, soft pinks and reds with roses and small florals. So, it may be called 'Sweet Christmas' but it's not a quilt that is used at Christmas, this is a quilt that's used the rest of the year.
When I have taken this quilt to talks it's always been really admired, it's a firm favourite with people - I don't know whether it's the design or fabrics.
I bought a fat quarter of all the fabrics in the range, plus more of the mini spot in red used for joining strips and binding and also the Laura (that's the name of the fabric!!) warm grey fabric on the border. From each fat quarter I got out the border on each square and lots of hexagons!!
The hexagons are all English paper pieced, and then joined together. To make the nine 'flowers' nineteen hexagons were sewn together, in three different fabrics. They were then pressed, papers removed and stitched onto the background square and then borders added. Each square was layered and quilted.
The quilting is a mixture of machine, for the quilting on the background square round the flower and the square. And then hand quilting in red thread on the hexagons.
For the borders I used the Laura in warm grey and the background fabric with a strip of hexagons down the middle. Each corner square is just a single hexagon flower.
Using the red mini spot fabric for the joining strips and binding, pulls all the fabrics together.
I don't often see this quilt laid out as a whole, as it's folded on the back of the sofa!!
It makes me want to make another hexagon quilt...
Heart Quilt (2010)
Finished size 59" square.
This quilt is a follow on to the original Heart to Heart quilt, that I wrote about in last week's Quilt Stories.
When teaching a patchwork design or different technique, then I would give a full demonstration. I usually would end up with a different colour version of the quilt. But in the case of the Heart to Heart quilt I didn't need to give a full demonstration in class for all the designs, the applique didn't need that but the foundation paper pieced ones did.
These hearts are all made using the foundation paper pieced method and are from demonstrations in class. I don't make samples, personally I think they are a waste of time and fabric, so everything I trial, sample, demonstrate are used.
Each of these hearts are made using fabric I had in my stash from the shades of purples and lilacs to the calico. The nine squares were made and extra borders added to make them all the same size. They were then stitched together, borders added, and then layered and quilted as a whole top. The quilting is all machine stitched, nothing fancy, just round the hearts and borders.
This quilt is Laura's used, washed and loved, it has worn to a soft supple snuggly feel. It isn't used often now, just occasional when she has friends over (apparently we keep our house on the cold side for them!! So, they like cuddling in the quilts that are laying around).