About a year ago, in a fit of Christmas gift making enthusiasm, I started a quilt for Alice. It would be the first quilt I made for someone other than myself. Until I started sewing it, I didn’t realise how that would change my quilting experience. As a beginner, I’d floated into quilting in a state of ignorance. I watched some tutorials, talked to my mum and a few other quilters and thought yeah, sure I can do this. And I did do it. Happily. Relatively successfully. I learned good things.
When it came to a quilt for Alice, the piecing went really well. I was happy with the design and the fabric. But then that pressured lead up to Christmas happened and the quilting went HORRIBLY awry. I threw it aside and bought her a gift instead.
Her birthday is in March. Under my mum’s instruction, I attempted to fix what had gone wrong the first time, doing some hand quilting. We looked at it in February, half done, and my mum was firm in her assessment. It wasn’t working. Puckered and uneven, it went into a cupboard ‘for later’.
I don’t like projects to linger for too long. More than a year and I know I’ll never get back to them. So I try not to let projects go that long because I hate to think that the time and money spent on it would be wasted.
As I neared the end of my five weeks of leave in July, I knew that the clock was ticking and I really, really wanted to get Alice’s quilt finished. I wanted her to receive it in winter when she could really understand its value. In summer, a quilt’s value, especially when you’re only three, is too theoretical.
Like many jobs that are long put off, when you finally get to them, they take almost no time. Last Wednesday I sat down at the machine and, having watched tutorials on wavy quilting, I set out to finish what I had begun. Two days later, the whole thing was done. Two days. After nearly a year? Yeah. I know. Here it is.
The pattern is based on a Moda Bake Shop design, The Stacked Coins Baby Quilt. Such a simple, pretty design. Just a whole lot of charm squares halved and sewn into long strips (stacked coins). I wanted for Alice something pretty, not too babyish, and not entirely pink. I didn’t mind a bit of pink in it but there’s so much red and blue and green that it’s nicely balanced, I think. The Moda Charm Squares I chose really grew on me as I worked with them.
I went with wavy lines in the end because it was a style I hadn’t tried before, and there was some freedom in just going with the flow with my machine – waving in and out. It’s not worked out quite as I imagined, but I’m pretty happy with it for a first go. Wavy lines are forgiving, I think. If you are trying to be straight and not getting it right, it shows. Wavy lines aren’t meant to be perfect.
I gave it to Alice yesterday. She was delighted. She understood immediately that it was something she could take to her house, that it was for her to sit on, wrap herself in and enjoy. I couldn’t have been happier with her response.
For much her visit here this weekend, it’s been more of a play mat. Somewhere to read, play with the iPad or, as we discovered with great amusement last night, to hide.
One of the really difficult parts of this quilt, for a beginner, was the back. I had the idea early on to do a pieced back, with a single strip of across it that matched the front. Every time I tried to quilt it, it warped. The nice straight strip went wobbly. In the end, I went with it. It wanted to warp. It was part of why I chose wavy lines.
I’ve got a lifetime of quilting ahead of me to figure out how to make it not warp and I wasn’t going to let it stop me from finishing this gift for Alice, in the end. And I’m glad. I kind of like it, when I see it like this. It’s as wavy as the quilting lines.
And you know what? In the end, a quilt is meant to keep a person, or people, warm. I’ll leave the perfection to the show quilters and to me in the future. For now, this is just a lovely, happy piece that’s going to keep my special girl warm. A hug rug, as my mum likes to call them.
Oh and there’s the binding. Which you can’t see from the aerial shots is actually a pretty polka dot design. Here’s a close up from the day I was making the binding. It’s fast becoming my favourite part, attaching that neat little strip that makes it all a finished piece.
I loved every minute of attaching that binding. I loved my choice of fabric. After years of watching people quilt with mild curiosity about what it all entails, I’m kind of getting it. It’s very clever and amazingly satisfying, even when it’s not quite perfect.