Below are some of the quilts I made over the 10 years or so before I started this blog. I take photos of most of my quilts, if only during the putting together stage. But not all of them. If you happen to have a quilt of mine that isn’t here, do send me a photo and I’ll happily add it!
Irish Chain Quilt – 2003
This is the first quilt I made, in 2003. It is a traditional pattern called Irish Chain. Usually, this quilt would be made from a floral print on a white background, but I preferred the drama of the batik background.
A traditional Irish Chain has all the little squares the same size, but because I used a technique called Quilt As You Go on this quilt, I had to use three different sizes of square in order to get a consistent sizing at the joins of each block.
I added the orange corners at a late stage of the design, to give the top some movement.
Each block (12″ square, in this case) was machine pieced, the batting and backing added and then the individual block was hand quilted, leaving a 1/2″ space round the sides. When all the blocks had been sandwiched and quilted, the blocks were joined by hand to assemble the whole quilt.
The Irish Chain quilt is backed with needle cord, which makes it very snuggly. It lives over the back of a settee in the living room, and the children wrap themselves in it when they come downstairs to watch TV in the mornings.
I made this quilt for my youngest daughter, in 2004. It was a bit of a gamble, as I let her choose the fabrics, and she chose a very busy palette! That’s what happens when you give a four year old the vote, I guess.
The block is Jan Mullen’s Starz block, the setting is my own. The pink and purple columns use different size blocks, so I had to make sure I’d done the maths correctly!
The sawtooth border is based on an idea from Gwen Marston’s book, Liberated Quiltmaking.
I love the assymetry of this quilt. Each star works out differently, depending on how viciously you angle the fabrics on each other when you’re stitching.
The turquoise border gives the eye somewhere to rest, and really ties together all the fussy fabrics on the top of the quilt. The sawtooth was a really neat way of using up all the scraps.
I love the way the fabrics all work together – although I did have severe doubts about them when I was assembling the blocks!
Jeans Quilt – 2007
This quilt was a Christmas present for my oldest daughter in 2007, using old jeans which were given to me by friends, family and freecyclers over the course of the year. I worked out that I could cut a 9″ square comfortably from an adult sized pair of jeans.
I was determined to use at least one of every area of a pair of jeans on the top of the quilt. So there are pockets, a fly, inside and outside seams.
The pictures show some of the pockets, and other features, that were worked into the quilt. Because the top was quite bulky, this quilt was simply tied using a fancy yarn. The batting is an old fleece blanket, and the backing is some batik flannels I’d been saving. The whole quilt is incredibly heavy and warm.
These flannels wanted to be arranged in stripes. Unfortunately, they were all slightly different widths, so the binding had to be cut much wider than usual to even out the backing.
Donkey Quilt – 2008
I made a quilt for my eldest nephew when he was born, in November 2007. My sister’s close friend then had a baby early in 2008, and Sissy asked if I would make him a quilt, too. I was back at work full time, by now, and this was my first applique baby quilt. I incorporated the eye spy idea from the stars quilt for the edge blocks.
The donkey design is enlarged and slightly adapted from an applique for a babygro in Ottobre magazine. I distorted the perspectives, and added a plaited yarn tail to give it some interesting texture.
The squares around the central panel are the Jan Mullen Squarez block, based on a simple square (similar to the Klimt quilt), but free cut without measuring the initial strips, and offsetting the central square. Each central square has an “I-spy” element.
The applique was held in place with bondaweb, and then machine stitched using a narrow zigzag stitch and Madeira machine embroidery thread.
Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have taken a picture of the donkey after I added its face and tail!
This quilt was the first in a run of baby quilts and blankets, some of which I took photos of, and some of which I didn’t. There was also quite a long period of making quilts based on square blocks, as these are quick and easy to zip up when you only have bits of time at weekends and the odd day stolen from the office!
Klimt Quilt – 2008
This is the first ‘square’ quilt. It’s essentially a log cabin block with only one fabric round each centre.
This is my own quilt, and was made over the Easter weekend, 2008. I had bought the feature fabric on Ebay a few years before, without any clear idea of what to do with it. So, when I wanted to sew on Good Friday, I grabbed my feature fabric and went to the quilt shop!
I chose a fairly busy palette and so, as with the Starz quilt, there was a high risk it would be overwhelming. However, I found some old silk velvet (left over from the slashed velvet bag) and dyed it a gorgeous purple, which tied the busy top together and calmed it down.
Each block is simply a 6 1/2″ (unfinished) square, constructed from 2 1/2″ strips of fabric. I was no great respecter of the grain, so the 9-patch ended up being even busier than before I cut the fabric!
The back of the quilt is made from cotton which I dyed with Jacquard Procion MX dye (teal green). I didn’t pre-wash the fabric, and machine dyed it without knocking the dye through the drum of the washing machine first. The result is a slightly marbled effect, which is quite pleasing. I found an old length of chiffon in the shed which I wanted to work into the back. It was nice to have a bit of 50s tea dance on the back of a 20s jazz dance quilt!
African Quilt – 2008
This one, made in 2008, was a gift for my Dad. He was brought up in Kenya, and all the fabrics on the face of this quilt are African fabrics – either wax prints from West Africa, or mud prints or other styles of African print. The feature blue blocks are Three Cats fabrics, much loved in Nigeria.
Having seen vibrant fabrics work well together on the face of the Starz, the Klimt and the donkey quilts, I was beginning to feel more confident that I could pull off some seemingly ill-matched fabrics on the face of a quilt. This one, however, nearly went badly wrong….
Many of the fabrics were blue, and I had real difficulty finding sufficient contrasting colours and tonal variations. The Three Cats blocks (in blue in the centre of the quilt) didn’t work together quite as well as I’d hoped, and it was very difficult to balance the squares so that the top didn’t simply scream.
However, the local quilt shop came up trumps, with a waxed batik in turquoise and deep, deep indigo which I used as the border and backing fabric. This just about succeeded in tying the top together!
Seahorse Quilt – 2009
This is the first baby quilt of 2009, made for a colleague who went on maternity leave in mid-February.
This quilt was a joint effort, for a colleague about to have a baby. I did the applique central panel, and then each of the team I manage at work made one of the corner blocks, under my guidance. I then bought the fabric for the top and side panels from ebay, and put the whole top together.
There were varying degrees of hesitation and ability in their own confidence from the team, and I’m enormously proud that they all had a go at this. I think the finished quilt is lovely, and the recipient was very pleased with it.
The corner blocks are the by now familiar squares first used in the Klimt quilt, the year before. They each contain an “I Spy” central square, and continue the watery theme from the central panel.
The quilt has a 100% cotton batting, and the binding is carried over from the backing fabric (supplied, as ever, by the local quilt shop!)
Wibbly Wobbly Circles – 2009
This was the second baby quilt of 2009, made for my lift share colleague’s baby, who was due in July.
This quilt was in the nature of an experiment. I’d not done anything this plain before. I wanted to see the effect of using just a few colours in a white background. For fun, I used irregular stripes of the same fabrics in a strip across the quilt back.
Having decided I liked the sprinkling of colour, I got thoroughly carried away and decided to add texture and interest with the quilting. I free machine quilted the white surfaces of the quilt, using a tight stippling effect. Free machine quilting is a relatively easy technique – once you’ve mastered breathing and steering at the same time – in which you lower the machine’s feed dogs. This means you manually move the quilt sandwich under an unregulated needle, essentially governing the size of the stitch and the direction the thread flows by moving the fabric at an even pace, using the needle to ‘doodle’ your design.
Quilting only the white fabric had the effect of making the colour blocks stand out even more – and this is yet more pronounced on the back of the quilt…
I varied the density of my little whorls of thread in the centre of the quilt, to give some variety, and added some variegated green circles to the corners of the border. These were difficult to regulate, and became the wibbly wobbly circles of the quilt title.
After this, there was something of a break in my quilting, while I fell in love with yarn, and explored what I could do with hooks and needles. However, I was, I hate to admit it, inspired by a Kaffe Fassett blanket featured in a programme whose name I simply cannot bring myself to mention, presented by a godawful C List celebrity who patronises (in the all senses of the word) the British craft scene. While that was a knitted piece, it inspired the Red Quilt, which took a couple of years to pull together.
Red Quilt 2010-11
I’d had enough of variations on a squares theme, but wanted to do more to explore the single colour idea that began to emerge from the wibbly wobbly circles quilt. This time, I went with variations on a theme of red.
I used a log cabin block as my starting point. The central piece (top right) is a traditional log cabin setting, with the squares arranged to form a cross, edged with two semi-crosses and a ‘spare’ corner. The large corner blocks are all variations on the log cabin theme – some using the central ‘hearth’ as the top corner of the block, and others assymetric, wonky cabins.
The smaller, central edge blocks are all freehand, wonky log cabins. I wanted a fabric that would read as solid to sash the whole thing together, to make some kind of unity between all the different styles of cabin, and different block sizes. At the Festival of Quilts in 2010, I went to an Amy Butler workshop, and decided one of her fabrics would be perfect – a very apt combination of modern and traditional…
The back of the quilt uses a piece of kimono fabric, and four left over log cabin blocks set in a machine dyed (by me) solid red. Half way through this project, I bought a new sewing machine, and used that to free embroider an ohm onto the top of the back, which I thought might make all the red a little more restful.
The quilt was bound with a turquoise taffeta ribbon. As it happens, a lot can change in a year, and this quilt which was originally destined for my bedroom in fact never makes it there, and now lives happily on the sofa in the snug, where the cats, the children and I make use of it to snuggle under and watch the birds on the feeders in the garden.
Puddleduck Quilt 2011
This was another baby quilt – the first one after a spate of baby blankets, actually. This one was for a couple who I knew best via Twitter, although I have worked with him in the past – and he is now, in fact, my eldest daughter’s boss!
Their baby was born a couple of weeks early, and was named Jemima, so this seemed like an obvious idea, really. The quilt is crib, rather than cot, sized, and I stitched some ribbons into the bottom of the binding. My babies all loved twiddling bits of ribbon against their noses for comfort, and I thought this might give a teeny, tiny quilt a bit of a longer life.
The fabrics on this one are from a Moda jelly roll, and the backing is a lovely, soft flannel printed with butterflies and daisies. The dragonflies in the plain green panel to the left of the puddleduck are free machine embroidered. I have quilted around the large butterflies printed on the central panel, and shadow quilted the puddle duck. The edging strips are simply stitch-in-the-ditch quilted.