I think I’ve said before much I enjoy cold and wet Sunday afternoons snuggled up watching episodes of Poirot. Back in London I’d make a little fort on the sofa with my favourite blanket, surrounding myself with drinks, snacks and the remote. I was cosy. It was ace. But we had to leave the blanket behind when we moved to America. We’ve made do with the duvet since then, but dragging it between the sofa and the bed is a ballache. We definitely needed a new one, so I thought I’d give quilting a bash. That was back in April. Fast forward six or seven months and I’ve only just finished it. So what took me so long?
Let’s go back to the beginning. I started work on it not long after we moved into our apartment. I found a simple yet striking large-scale gingham design on Pinterest which would scale up easily enough and could be made in solid colours. No faffing about with fussy shapes, tiny squares or print matching. It took me a couple of sessions to cut out and piece the squares together, and I miscalculated my fabric requirements a little and needed to jigsaw a couple of squares together. Though if I do say so myself, I’ve done a really good job with the piecing. I managed to get the corners pretty precise, so I’m feeling kinda smug.
Summer quilting hiatus
Once I’d finished the top and the backing things kind of ground to a halt. It was starting to get really warm in Seattle and I found I couldn’t face the idea of swathing myself in a quilt just for the sake of a finished project. So it sat in the cupboard for a couple of months, until I joined the Make It Happen group at Drygoods Design. MIH is like guided studio time – you work on what you want but there’s an expert, Julienne, on hand to help you with anything you need, whether it’s pants fitting or binding your first quilt. I’ll mainly use my time there for sewing clothes, but I wanted an excuse to get this quilt done.
So that’s what I did! The first thing I did was to make the quilt sandwich, which was a task in itself. I had help to safety pin everything together, but I still ended up with a blister on my finger! Then I had a couple of sessions of wrestling it through a machine to quilt it. I didn’t want to do anything too fancy, so I just went for straight lines on either side of the seams. This meant I didn’t have to mark anything on the quilt itself as I could just use the seam and a walking foot as the guides, and concentrate on the bulk. I quilted the entire thing on a standard machine, so getting it through the gap was an ordeal. I rolled it up into a sausage and worked my way out from the middle, so it would get easier as I went along, but those first few lines were a killer.
By the time I’d finished quilting, I was completely over making it. It had already taken three MIH sessions plus some solo studio time, and I just wanted it done. But I had a small problem – I hadn’t taken into account that the backing had to be a bit bigger than the top on all sides to allow for shifting when quilting. It wasn’t even, so I had to trim off a bit from the two long sides so the backing looked vaguely presentable – it still had the selvedges on it, which I didn’t want to show. It means that the front is a little weird, but I’m not too fussed – something to remember for next time, though.
Anyway, the last part was binding. I made several miles-worth of bias binding, looked up this useful tutorial for getting nice, neat corners and wonderclipped it all up. Because of the size of the quilt and my impatience, I machined the whole thing by stitching in the ditch. In hindsight I probably should have done it all by hand because I ended up with a bunch of gaps that didn’t quite make it and I had to handstitch them anyway (and it’s a nicer effect). However, I was so desperate to wrap myself up in it that I’m ultimately not that bothered. I know – I could have wrapped myself up in it WHILE handstitching, but that’s beside the point.
It’s not perfect, and I’ve learned a lot on this project. But I am kinda proud of myself for seeing this one through to the end and I’m so pleased with the overall effect. I doubt I’ll ever make a quilt this big ever again, but I might have a go at a baby quilt sometime soon. As always, one of my friends is currently pregnant, so it might be a suitable gift… Anyway, now that it’s cooler here, this quilt is coming into its own. Chris and I have been enjoying it on the sofa, and if it gets really cold it looks really nice on the bed too. The only trouble is, it looks like Netflix have removed Poirot from their list. WHAT AM I TO DO?