Thursday, 26 August 2010


In addition to clothing, I've discovered a love of quilting. I get to be creative and inventive, but without the sometimes frustrating fitting issues that come with making clothes. I can also indulge in incorporating more patterns and shapes than I might want to use in my clothing.

Quilting has (or at least used to in my mind) have an association with drab and ugly patchwork bedspreads, but having explored it there is so much more to it than that! (Not belittling of course the enormous amount of work that goes into making a "traditional" patchwork quilt). I made my first quilt about two years ago for a friend's daughter. It's not the most ambitious quilt, but I had a limited time to make it in (so all the hand-quilting wasn't really a good idea...), but in researching it I found huge amounts of inspiration on the internet, for example the photostream here.

The quilting is a combination of hand-quilted flowers, and machine-quilted trellis (there was an awful lot of tying off threads...). Unfortunately the only place you can really see the hand-quilted flowers is on the section where they overlap onto the plain yellow (the backing was the busy flower pattern too).

The large flowers are embroidered with wool, the ends show through slightly, but for a quilt to be used by a baby, I figured that didn't matter too much!

My second quilt was made about a year ago, originally intended for another child, but I ended up keeping it. I learnt from my first quilt, and this was extremely quick to put together once I'd done the planning - it's all rectangles (apart from the elephant of course!) with straight lines of quilting. The elephant is appliqued with machine zigzag stitch, with a short stitch length so it looks like satin stitch. The only hand stitching was to finish the binding.

The back is just a fairly plain fabric so it's easier to see the quilting pattern:

Shortly after I finished this, the V&A put on an exhibition about quilts, which was absolutely amazing. It was extremely thoughtful and thought provoking, exploring the links between quilts and wealth, poverty, women's issues, and societal reform, amongst others! I found it hugely inspirational, both on an intellectual level and for the beautiful range of designs and techniques. I would highly recommend buying the catalogue.

I've recently started thinking about quilts again, and I have so many ideas and so much inspiration - if only I had time to make them all! I'm currently working on a quilt for my soon-to-be-nephew (due in a couple of weeks), which will be mainly black and white and very graphic. It's a bit more subdued than my usual taste, but it suits my sister's aesthetic. It's quite a personal quilt, not necessarily in design, but definitely in the work that will go into it. I've had some difficulties in my relationship with my sister of late, and I'm hoping this quilt will say a few things from me, but using something better than my words...

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