Sunday, 20 January 2013

Patchy Passion

A few years ago I decided I wanted to give this patchwork lark a go. I bought a few books, asked people who might know a few questions and then got on with it. That pretty much sums up my approach to anything new that I want to learn. The interesting thing with learning new skills is the fact that you never actually stop learning. There is always more to try, more to think about and more to get excited about.

The first patchy thing I made was a trivet. It wasn't this one actually. The one I made is in a beautiful 1950's rose fabric and is still being used every day. My mum loved it so and asked me to make one for her too. This is hers, so that makes this my second ever patchy make. 

If you're new to patchwork I'd say starting small like this is a pretty good place to start. I tried out most of the things I needed to know without me running the risk of screwing up loads of fabric.

Then I moved on to other useful things that weren't too time consumming.  I made a fair few patchy cushions handcutting all the pieces. I've never got my head around a rotary cutter and a big measuring square thing. This is a thing to be tackled this year. I'm wasting a lot of time now my patching dreams are getting bigger and grander. 

As I got a wee bit more confident patching simple squares on the machine my head turned to thinking of different shapes. Then I saw a mini hex made as a patch and knew I had to have a go. I grabbed my jeans with the huge knee rip and got going with learning about paper piecing and the difficulties of cutting the perfect hexaganol shape.

As I started to get more confident with patchwork I began making it my own. I added rows of colourful running stitch to add extra zing to the patterns. I stripped thin slivers of polka dot fabric and handstitched that between the odd row of squaress.

Finally I felt brave enough to have a go at my first ever quilt. I chopped up as many of Little Bun's old dresses and favourite images as I could into large squares, stitched them all together and then found it wasn't quite big enough. To save the situation I added a white border before making my first quilt sandwich. I didn't know then that there are different types of wadding so this is a squodgy quilt as I used synthetic rather than cotton which is thinner.  Once I'd pinned all three layers together I wimped out of sewing through them. I chose to thread through handties of red floss.

Next up I made my first ever proper quilt. I'd learnt quite a lot from what I'd done wrong before. I always find I learn more from going over all that I've done wrong more than I do from what I've done right. This is the teacher in me, we're taught to constantly reflect on our practice and so you can't blame me for doing this in my making too.

Miss Rosey's quilt took an age as I chose to handstitch the entire thing. One reason was because I prefer the look of handstitching. I love all the colourful rows running in different patterns and pressing the fabric down far more softly than machine stitching does. The other reason was because I'm not as neat with a sewing machine and I didn't want to risk cocking up all my hard work. 

In between times I stitched yet more cushions to sell at market and gibe my pitch a colouful backdrop. These two are now owned by my friend Ruth who swapped them for her car when we needed it.

Now both the Bun's had quilts of their own I wanted one for our bed so I started chopping again. I went for oblongs laid out like bricks so I didn't have to worry too much about all the corners lining up. I really like this stage where I have all the pieces cut and then I can lay them out moving them up and down until it all looks right to my eye.

Alongside working on this quilt I started on a larger project (one I wonder if I'll ever finish). I was so taken with an image on Mary's blog that I couldn't get it out of my head. In the end I drew up my own plan and got going with my own large hexie plates. This one's good for taking out with me to work on so perhaps one day it'll be a quilt as well.

I'm sure you'll remember my most recent quilt? The one I made for my mum for Christmas. My most ambitious yet working to a nine square pattern. The diagonal stitching is my favourite thing about this one. Without it I don't think it would have worked so well for me,

Now an absolute age before I started the Christmas Lap Quilt I'd cut and sewn up a quilt made from tons of triangular flag shapes. I had to forget all about it so I could get mum's made in time for the 25th.

This Playday Flags Quilt is my biggest yet. It was too large for any of the sheets I had to back it with and so it just lingered in a basket until a friend, who makes great things, passed a good idea on to me. The tip was to use a blanket to replace the wadding and backing. Last Friday I pinned the two layers together with my proper curved quilty pins and then put it aside to be handstitched over the next few weeks. 

Then it got really snowy cold. This Friday we all had a home day. School was cancelled, Mr is self-employed and set up his office by the woodburner and I had the day off anyway, but had no school run to dictate my sewing hours by.

I woke up thinking we need that really big quilt now and so I decided to machine quilt for the first time ever. Handstitching is all very well if you don't need the quilt in a hurry. I set up the walking foot on my machine (I think that's what it is?) a bit fell off, but it still worked and off I went stitching in the ditches.

Later on we cosied by the fire, me under the blankie quilt while I handstitched the binding along the edges. I had already started handstitching this one so it does have four rows to jolly it up.

Last night Little Bun piled it on top of the first quilt I ever made and snuggled down for a cosy night.

I'm now officially hooked to this patchy lark and fancy trying out all sorts of patterns. I've sorted myself out with a decent rotary cutter as I don't think I can face handcutting hundreds more mis-matching squares. Pretty much all the way along I've followed advice when I couldn't work something out or I've just had a go at doing my own way. My quilts aren't at all perfect, but then my mum did tell me they weren't going in for a competition when I was coming over all critical. The only question left then is what will we do with all of these quilts if I get obsessed?


  1. Your quilts are lovely - so cheerful.

    I always think quilts make perfect curtains as well as using them on beds and there always needs to be a spare one to use as a poorly blanket.

  2. They are so pretty! I too was playing with the rotary cutter yesterday, not quite getting the hang of it, then I realise my cutter was for right handed people and I use my left! I'm not sure if it makes too much difference but it could be the reason it feels odd! I had a quilt pattern book for Christmas and really feel like 'giving it a go'!
    Keep at it Lisa, you know you'll get addicted, it's just the way we are............:) x

  3. Oh they are all so pretty! Julie x

  4. This post is a visual joy. Quilt on.............

  5. Oh Lisa they're amazing!! So far I've only made one quilt, and lots of patchwork cushion covers...but I do think that this will be the year of the quilt! I have a serious urge to get my cutter out today. And I know exactly what you can do when you have too many quilts...sell them! I'm sure people would be delighted to own one of your gorgeous creations. Thanks for the wonderful eye candy! Rachel x

  6. Oh Lisa, I have loved this post.

    Making a patchwork quilt has been on my wish list forever. But I have always been put off my the sheer amount of careful work involved. I am not very accurate in my cutting as some of my previous patchwork makes have proved but over the years have made the tops but never got anyfurther than that.

    I like the way you have overcome you desire to make quilts by starting off small.(me I have jumped right in at the deep end and ended up drowning.) It has inspired me to have a go at something smaller but finishing the quilting process.

    I love your quilts they are bright colourful and gorgeous! And what lucky buns to be able to sleep under them!

    As for making loads and what to do with them? Sell them of course there are lots of people out there that would loved to own such lovely useful and pretty items!

    P x

  7. A LOVELY post Lisa, I'm like you and just go for it when I try anything new, making mistakes is a good way to learn ..... your quilts are all beautiful, and not perfect is better I think, they are to be loved for years to come, all that love and time in the stitches. xx

  8. Your quilts are gorgeous - you choose such lovely fabrics and mix them well which is an art in itself. I only ever do small patchworky things - seem a bit scared of big projects for some reason. Hope you are keeping warm. Karen xx

  9. I really enjoyed this post because I've been thinking about trying quilting for a wee while and this has made me more determined. Your quilts are just gorgeous!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  10. They are lovely! I've never really had a go at patchwork but i've always admired it. perhaps this is the year to give it a go. Perhaps I'll start with a small cushion and work my way up to a quilt. xx Pixiedust xx

  11. Wow so much lovliness in one post, absolutely gorgeous
    Karen x

  12. They look great, Lisa, I love your use of colour. There will be no stopping you now you've got the bug! You'll never look back once you've started using a rotary cutter and ruler because not only is it obviously faster, but because its accurate, it makes it so much more pleasurable when you come to sew something together. I wonder have you tried using double fold binding? It's easy but also sturdy. As to having lots of quilts, I just have them in piles round the house and they look great. I change round the ones we use on the beds and sofas every now and then. You can never have too many!
    Hen xxx

  13. Beautiful quilts hunny!
    I've been patchworking for years now and there is something so satisfying about piecing together small snippets and watching them grow into snuggly warm rainbows...or squishy squares of feathery cosiness.

    have fun with your rotary cutter as you'll enjoy the speed at which your projects grow...

    Tilly x

  14. You really have the talent for it and the eye for beautiful vintage fabric combinations!- it looks so beautiful on the buns beds! pretty in deedy!!!!
    I love those colours! ~ happy brights on a very cold grey day here! xx

  15. Lovely quilts Lisa and such scrumptious colours. I have just made 2 hexie cushions for the dining room and have to say I am hooked too. Iv'e loved hand stitching the little pieces together, I don't think I'm quite brave enough to go for the full quilt yet though!
    Keep on patching!
    : )

  16. Your quilts are lovely. What color! I made 9 quilts from last May to Christmas for kids and grandkids gifts. I put the sewing machine away and have been painting the kitchen and am almost done so will be making curtains for the kitchen windows...I love, love, love to sew! and the quilts are a favorite.

  17. Hi - your quilts are really pretty. I think I like your Mum's best of all. I haven't done any quilting yet but am hovering about the edges by buying books and reading all about it at the moment. I haven't taken the plunge yet because I am still scared of my sewing machine (lol I bought it over a year ago and haven't even threaded it yet; I so prefer the old fashioned manual ones). I bought a sizzix die cutter a few years ago when I was doing papercrafting and they have just brought out a whole range of patchwork dies so you can cut perfect shapes using the die cutter. I haven't tried it yet but it seems a great idea for complicated shapes like hexagons doesn't it. xxx

  18. I loved this post; I loved the story in it, your new passion shines through....
    I am looking forward to seeing your next make.
    That blanket idea is a fab one.
    It is all the layers that put me off quilting so I might give this one another look?
    bestest daisy x

  19. i have just started quilting. I don't know how youve done it without a roatry cutter. I am no saint .... due to lack of patients!!! What you have created is bloomin marvelous!

    I made three cushions yesterday with my lovely fabric from your etsy shop. i am chuffed!

  20. Oh your quilts are just lovely ... I really like the hand stitching you used to quilt them ... I have started one ... a made up pattern but have developed a fear of machine quilting ... I think I will go with hand tying or quilting my first ... it will be lovely to see your next patchy make ... Bee xx

  21. Good grief I had no idea what a journey this would be when I started reading this post! These quilts are beautiful and I love the fact that you have used favourite old clothes. You've inspired me to try something new - although I am very much at the trivet stage x

  22. Well done, doing one of these is on my wish list of "things to do". One day I'll get round to it!

  23. It's a bit like me with crochet blankets.What am I going to do with them all.

  24. I'm speechless...these blankets are all so pretty...

    love them! xx

  25. Hi Lisa, In this weather I don't think you need to worry about the quilt mountain. The more quilts, the warmer the buns! I was a bit sceptical about rotary cutters until I got one. I always thought everyone used a cereal packet square to draw round. however I must say my points match up so much better now and it's quicker, always a bonus when there's so much to make.
    We finally got our helping of snow on Friday and guess what my Head shut the school! What's really funny is that I used to work the beginning of the week and have just swapped to do the end of the week. This was to be my first Friday. I'm sick of it now it's all icey and want it to wash away so I can have 2 days peace on Monday and Tuesday.
    Have a good week

  26. Nothing wrong with your patchwork skills!
    I love all your vintage colours, right up my street!

  27. wow Lisa, your quilts and cushions are just beautiful, I wish I had the patience to make one and I really admire anyone else who does!
    I love the colours you use and spotty patches in some of them.
    Really,really gorgeous.. you clever clogs you!! xx

  28. Woah, I'm in patchwork heaven. So gorgeous. xx

  29. your new quilt is gorgeous! and I particularly like Miss Rosie's with all the vintage sheets. I did laugh to myself when you said a bit fell off the machine but it still worked. It's true we don't let things like that stop us do we! I wonder what it did :) Heather x

  30. Your new quilt is gorgeous - I'm not surprised it was pinched for bedtime snuggles; and incidentally that answers your question about what to do with them - pile them up, love them and use them.

    I would say do persevere with the rotary cutter though, it makes cutting out so much faster and more accurate which in turn makes it easier to get corners to match up.

  31. It's great to look back on your crafting, they look great to me. My favourite is the blocky one because I love the bright colours. My husband is always saying' not another blanket many do we need' the answer is ...loads. Because as you make them you want to try something different, different fabrics, different colours or styles so it can be very addictive. I have two on the go at the moment, one needs binding and the other one needs a backing and quilting. I already have a stack but you do need them...?? I want to try the flag quilt in the 'gentle art of quilting next' I think you have already tried it? Keep quilting sarah x

  32. Your quilts are all fab, i love your use of colour, your mixture of vintage and new cloths. I was always taught that there is never one right way to do things, i have learnt so many different ways to do the binding for example, and just use whichever one suits the fabric i have or what mood i am in that day. As always super blog!

  33. So clever, your quilts are stunning
    Thea x

  34. Wow! From a few simple trivets to beautiful full-sized quilts ... such beautiful colours ... you've certainly mastered this skill. It's great learning something new ... all the possibilities become so exciting! Wendy

  35. absolutely scrumptious patchwork , love it!!!!

  36. What a wonderful post and what beautiful quilts. Love them.
    Carol xx


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