Amid book revisions, I’ve been working on a quilt top that today sits on my big table, basted and waiting to be moved to the sofa where I do the hand-quilting. It’s a plus pattern from Wombat Quilts which I found ages ago, recently rediscovered when whittling down sites bookmarked when I first started sewing in 2014. Something about this project seemed perfect for nuptials, the plus signs emitting positive vibes, the low volume fabrics reminiscent to a wedding gown, so I decided to give it a try.
The sewing process begins….
It meant shopping for fabrics of which I have little, both in the low volume and navy prints. It meant waiting to begin until I had enough of those fabrics, as Cath’s quilt is the product of bee blocks, and I really liked the variety within her quilt. It also meant a lot of cutting, then procuring more fabrics after the sewing started, finding I didn’t have quite the variety I needed.
Matching up seams as best I could.
Honestly, making this quilt was a lot out of my comfort zone, so I have been snapping pics along the way, sharing them with my daughters. Today I’m plopping them on the blog, in a manner of debriefing. Also to say how much I loved making this quilt, and look forward to starting another very soon….
Lots of pressing involved. Fortunately I don’t mind, it’s actually very calming.
What did I like about it? Shopping for fabric is never a chore, ha ha, although it took time, because I possessed a dearth of low volume prints. Cutting them was pretty routine, and I’m still not certain whether fat quarters, quarter yard, or third yard cuts are best. I am not the sort to get to an exact science which lengths of fabric are ideal for what kind of project, although I prefer smaller cuts.
After designing a dozen blocks, I knew more fabrics were necessary. Thankfully we went on holiday, where I chose several more, then returned home, cutting those and making another ten or so blocks; thirty are needed for a 56 X 68 inch quilt top. Once I had those fabrics prepared, I tried to sew about five a day, but this past Monday I was in the mood, and completed the last nine, placing them on the big wall. I hadn’t trimmed any of them, although Cath trimmed all hers to 11.5 inches square.
The tricky part was making sure as many seams matched as was possible. Other than a few wonky spots, I’m very pleased.
Okay, so the reason I didn’t trim them as I made them was once they were done, all I wanted was to put them on the wall. I had fabric spread out all over my cutting mats, no room really even if I’d been so inclined. Then when faced with thirty blocks in need of tidying, um, no.
Except that I did, after sewing the first two rows. Basically I evened up the most obvious offenders, maybe taking off an eighth of an inch on either side of a square. I did NOT trim the tops and bottoms, only the sides. When I make this again, I’ll do it the same way.
Photographing the completed quilt top is one of the biggest thrills of the whole project. Only pulling the finished quilt from the dryer tops that fantastic notion of oh my goodness what have I accomplished….
Sewing the blocks was very easy, but because I’d chosen not to trim them, I did have reservations about how they would all come together. I noticed Cath’s blocks didn’t meet at all corners perfectly, which eased my mind, whew! But I did try to make the big squares match up, and didn’t do too badly. Because the blocks are so big, assembling the top doesn’t take that long; I started on Tuesday and by that night had nearly all the rows done. Yesterday I put together the last two, then spent the afternoon making the back.
Sizing up which piece goes where….
Half-yard cuts of Kona cotton make up the backing. I pulled out several colours, playing around until I liked what I saw.
Then it was a matter of sewing them up, long swathes of fabric pinned to within an inch of their lives. By then my husband was home, and he helped hang what I had managed, for it was too big for me to handle alone. Even then we didn’t get it completely straight, but at least it stuck to the wall so I knew how much remained to be added.
I want to note how much I enjoy all aspects of the process; this isn’t just browsing for beautiful fabrics or finding the perfect pattern. I get caught up in every step, be it cutting fabrics, designing blocks, choosing hues or slicing binding strips. Occasionally I was a little bored by walking from where unsewn blocks waited on the little quilt wall, then returning to my sewing machine and putting them together, but US Open tennis has been a distraction, and I do wonder if this time next year I’ll recall this particular project when I turn on that event.
Yes, more ironing required….
Or maybe when I make another of these quilts, I’ll consider four American women in the semi-finals or Juan Martin del Potro’s amazing comeback victory over Dominic Thiem, which led to del Potro beating Roger Federer last night. By last night I was done with this quilt, doing a little hand sewing on a different project. But for the next several evenings, a wedding quilt will be my focus; the big event is in early October and there’s no time to waste.
And voila, it’s a quilt back! Lots of colours in contrast to the top….
As I basted this quilt today, I listened to music gathered with a story in mind; either I’m writing books, editing manuscripts, or planning the next novel. But sewing fills a gap that noveling can’t manage, that of viable results. Especially since most of what I publish are ebooks, making a quilt feels so old school, lol. Yet it’s not merely what my hands produce; it’s about sharing a part of myself in which the me disappears as this quilt is adopted into a new home. As I hand-quilt the entire thing into a cohesive whole, my stitches dissolve into a silent heartbeat that I like to think travels through the fibres, infusing those who wrap themselves within it how much I love them. Maybe that happens when someone reads one of my books, but quilts offer tangible comfort.
The basting process; I’m thinking light and dark pink threads for the quilting, which will begin tonight as Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens start their match.
And with that, off I go to the living room, settling in for a couple of hours devoted to tennis, New York style. Maybe that’s what this pattern will hearken too as the years pass, others receiving different versions of a plus quilt. Thanks to Cath of Wombat Quilts for the idea; it’s greatly appreciated.