A weekend for Jo

Quilted cushion - cutting

I love this fabric. SO pretty. And here’s where I cut it up!

Man, I’ve had a good weekend! After a long overdue haircut, spending some quality time with friends and my soon-to-be goddaughter, I tried out quilting for the first time! And do you know what? It’s frickin’ awesome!

I’ve wanted to have a go at quilting for a while. I love a good cotton print, but they’re not always suitable for making clothes. They’re easy to sew, yes, but too stiff to drape nicely. They can also be mega expensive which I think defeats the object of sewing your own clothes a bit. Quilting seems like a nice compromise as you can indulge your fabric obsession and make lots of pretty things without too much bother.

I didn’t know whether I would enjoy the actual act of quilting so I decided to take the Quilted and Bound Cushion class at the Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead, led by Judith Dahmen of Needles and Lemons. Making a cushion cover is probably the perfect project for a beginner – you learn the basic techniques but without the time/money investment in a full sized quilt.

The class itself was so enjoyable. I was one of two students (the class normally takes up to four) so Judith was able to give us some close tuition, which I really appreciated. I had already chosen and cut my patchwork fabric into 3.5 in squares so I was able to get straight into arranging my layout and sewing it all together. I bought a fat quarter pack of Winter’s Lane by Moda before Christmas, which I had been dying to use for something in my old house, but then I moved in with Chris. Luckily the colour scheme goes nicely in the living room. This project meant new skills all round, as it was the first time I’d used a rotary cutter too.

Quilted cushion lay out

Here it is, post quilting and neatening, but before I put the back on and bound it up. I tried to make sure that the images on the fabric remained mostly intact.

The sewing itself wasn’t particularly hard – just straight lines and pivoting – but I needed help with the binding, especially the corners. Judith also gave us lots of handy tips for cutting (I fudged mine a bit at home, but it seemed to work out ok) and neatening up our work to produce a nice finish. It never would have crossed my mind to press the seam allowances in different directions through the rows and columns so they sit flat and slot together nicely when you sew them together.

As I may have mentioned before, I love a bit of tessellation, so the exact fit and accurate quarter-inch seams really pleased me. When it came to the actual quilting, I chose a simple cross hatch design which I think looks really effective with the fabric. Once that was done and neatened up, the rest seemed to come together really quickly. Fixing the zip in took a bit of wiggling, but I think that was because of the thickness of the material more than anything else – at that point I was sewing through about four layers of fabric plus wadding. As mentioned above, the binding was a bit of a fiddle, but it’s nothing I can’t improve on with practice.

I had so much fun at the class – I’d really recommend it to anyone thinking about taking up quilting. The Village Haberdashery has a range of quilting courses and classes, so check it out if you’re interested in learning a new skill!

So would I do it again? Hell yes! I came out of the class feeling inspired and I now want to make ALL the quilts. However, I’m going to temper my enthusiasm and start small – I’d like to make a sewing machine cover and a matching mat and then I think I’ll have a go at making something a little bigger and more ambitious. Looks like the list of Stuff I Want to Make is going to grow exponentially… Anywho, here’s a couple of gratuitous shots of the finished project.

Quilted cushion in situ

Here it is in situ. I think it goes quite nicely with that chair, though I have been vetoed regarding its permanent home.

Quilted cushion close up

OK, not that extreme.


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